Country Director

  • Senior-level, Full-time staff position
  • Posted on 22 June 2018

Job Description

Requisition ID: req1946
Job Title: Country Director
Sector: Program Administration
Employment Category: Fixed Term
Employment Type: Full-Time
Location: Colombia

Job Description

The International Rescue Committee (IRC) responds to the world’s worst humanitarian crises and helps people whose lives and livelihoods are shattered by conflict and disaster to survive, recover, and gain control of their future. Founded in 1933 at the request of Albert Einstein, the IRC works with people forced to flee from war, conflict and disaster and the host communities which support them, as well as those who remain within their homes and communities. At work today in over 40 countries and 22 U.S. cities, we restore safety, dignity and hope to millions who are uprooted and struggling to endure. The IRC leads the way from harm to home.

A combined two decades of economic mismanagement, a drop in oil prices, deterioration of democratic institutions has resulted in a humanitarian crisis inside Venezuela. Insecurity has manifested following protests in April 2017 against the president and his government, particularly for failing to address the growing inflation rate which lead to large-scale food insecurity. The demonstrations were initially peaceful but grew in severity of violence as time passed. Venezuela’s economic devastation worsened in the last half of 2017. This caused a massive migration of Venezuelans into neighboring Colombia in search of affordable food, medicine and work. The number of Venezuelans living in Colombia has increased to more than 550,000 people.

Cúcuta is the capital of Northern Santander department (Norte de Santander), it is a major access point for Venezuelans’ coming into Colombia. It is also located in one of the regions of the country most affected by a number of pre-existing stressors including: armed groups; drug cultivation, processing, and trafficking; trafficking of goods/people across the border; high unemployment and natural disasters. This complicated dynamic in Cúcuta goes back decades and has nearly exhausted the capacity of the Colombian government to respond to the needs of its citizens in the region.

In response, the IRC’s Emergency Unit is launching emergency programming in Colombia, starting with emergency child protection and women’s protection and empowerment programs, and cash transfer activities. The IRC anticipates delivering these and future activities directly in Colombia, and in partnership with local civil society organizations in Venezuela.

The Country Director’s core responsibilities will be to: support the start-up and management of the IRC office and activities in Colombia; represent the IRC to external stakeholders at all levels; develop strategic relationships and engage in the national dialogue around internal movement due to violence, identify and cultivate partnerships/funding opportunities in coordination with IRC teams across the organization; engage in appropriate and coordinated advocacy and communications on relevant issues; and explore and develop IRC’s longer-term presence in Colombia and Venezuela.

The Country Director is responsible for overall leadership and supervisory management of IRC operations in Colombia and Venezuela, including stewardship of resources, staff safety, security and risk management within a complex operating environment, program quality and accountability, and performance management. The Country Director is the IRC’s representative to the Colombian government, donors, international organizations, and other NGOs/civil society. S/He will provide overall oversight and guidance for IRC’s presence and implementation of pilot programming in Colombia and Venezuela, and will be expected to work effectively across the organization to deliver high-quality programs, advocacy and strategic engagement.

Success in this position requires an individual with strong initiative and a demonstrated ability to lead teams and work effectively with colleagues/functions based in different locations, and represent the IRC and our work to a range of internal and external audiences (including media relations). Additionally, the Country Director will be expected to have exceptional communications and risk management skills and proven experience in developing networks and building partnerships.

The Country Director will be directly responsible for the overall coordination and strategic direction of the program, providing supervision and coaching for line reports, leading teams to deliver responsive, high-quality technical support to the efforts of actors working with displacement within the country including civil society, government, and NGOs, ensuring efficient management of funds for results, compliance and high-quality, timely reporting, and oversight of financial management systems.

Based in Cucuta, the Colombia Country Director will report to the Deputy Director, Response of the Emergency Unit in New York. The post will receive support from headquarters/regional staff in the areas of program quality, new business development, safety and security management, finance, and operations management.


Leadership and Representation
* Establish and lead the country program by maintaining open and professional relations with colleagues, promoting a strong team spirit and providing guidance, oversight and resources to enable staff to perform successfully;
* Initiate and sustain strong, mutually beneficial and authentic partnerships with organizations in Colombia;
* Seek out and pursue opportunities to raise the profile of the work of the IRC and its partners in Colombia and Venezuela, as well as the lives and needs of the people the IRC seeks to serve;
* Play a leadership role in efforts to improve coordination around issues and needs related to people displaced by violence.

Strategic Direction, Program Quality, Partnerships and Growth:
* Set the strategic vision and direction of the program to develop the highest quality technical assistance that is adapted to the Venezuelan & Colombian context;
* Align programming to the IRC’s mission and strategy, sectoral expertise and technical standards;
* Remain current on national, regional and international issues impacting the program and partners, and develop responsive strategies to ensure the IRC’s mission can be carried out appropriately in rapidly changing contexts;
* Ensure program alignment with and involvement in meeting regional and global objectives;
* Identify opportunities for appropriate expansion and growth of programs following the pilot period of operations in country, supported by the acquisition and investment of human resources;
* Develop and maintain a high level of understanding of donor priorities, country plans and planned funding initiatives;
* Maintain and expand participation with key donors, host government, local stakeholders and relevant policy and coordinating bodies.

Fundraising and Budget Management
* Ensure submission of appropriate, timely high quality proposals and lead required donor negotiations;
* Monitor and identify appropriate sources for match fund requirements and coverage of funding gaps;
* Provide timely and effective oversight of the financial position of the country program including identification and implementation of required changes to match funding levels;
* Maintain effective and coordinated budget monitoring processes for grant funds and discretionary funds.

Security and Operational Management
* In coordination with the Operations and Security Manager, ensure that the security management plan for the country program is updated and that there is consistent monitoring and analysis of the security environment, along with adherence by all staff to the IRC security protocols and procedures;
* Oversee the opening of the IRC office in Colombia, coordinating all operational aspects with support from HQ/Regional departments;
* Oversee the development, deployment and utilization of IRC’s Global policies including financial and operational policies, procedures, and systems to deliver compliance with IRC and donor requirements;
* Supervise and mentor direct-report staff, including communicating clear expectations, setting performance objectives, providing regular and timely performance feedback, and leading documented semi-annual performance reviews;
* Model and encourage active practice of the principles of the “IRC Way - Global Standards for Professional Conduct;”
* Maintain a healthy and empowering office environment that encourages open, honest and productive communication among IRC staff and with partner organizations;
* Maintain open communications with regional management staff, regional technical advisors, and HQ departmental staff.

Human Resource Management, Staff Development & Retention
* Develop a positive work environment for all staff supported by a professional level human resource management function;
* Support and hold management staff accountable for providing staff development opportunities and planning;
* Work with regional or HQ HR staff to identify and implement recruitment and retention strategies.

* University degree in related field or equivalent experience.
* 8 years’ experience leading complex emergency response projects and/or programs requiring extensive judgment and interpretation. Professional experience in the region is required, experience in Colombia and/or Venezuela is preferred.
* Strong initiative skills
* Proven abilities in all aspects of project design and implementation including start-up phases
* Demonstrated ability to support coordination of peer agencies, local government and community leaders to work effectively towards a common and agreed upon result.
* Demonstrable experience in capacity building of partners (civil society, public and/or private sectors);
* Demonstrated ability to evaluate and implement best practices and processes affecting multiple technical specialties to achieve rapid, consistent and high quality outcomes.
* Experience developing, resourcing and leading on multi-donor budgets, and complex projects spanning multiple technical specialties.
* Strong security management experience
* Fluency in Spanish and English required

Work environment:
* This position is based in Cucuta with some travel within the country and region.
* The security phase for Colombia is Yellow, and all employees are required to abide by any security directives put in place.

About the Organization

The International Rescue Committee (IRC) responds to the world’s worst humanitarian crises and helps people to survive and rebuild their lives. Founded in 1933 at the request of Albert Einstein, the IRC offers lifesaving care and life-changing assistance to refugees forced to flee from war or disaster. At work today in over 40 countries and 27 U.S. cities, we restore safety, dignity and hope to millions who are uprooted and struggling to endure.

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