Project Management Specialist
Feed the Future Market Systems & Partnerships (MSP)
Period of Performance:
November 2020 – June 2025 (includes 2-year option)
Place of Performance:
Maximum Level of Effort (LOE):
Full Time (LTTA)
Project Description: The purpose of the Feed the Future Market Systems & Partnerships (MSP) Activity is to provide USAID/Washington, USAID Missions, and other U.S Government (USG) operating units and their international and local implementing partners with the evidence, capacity, tools, technical assistance, and/or services required to design, implement, monitor, and/or evaluate market systems and private sector engagement activities that lead to inclusive and resilient agricultural-led economic growth, improved food security and nutrition, and/or increased incomes for the poor. The MSP project is a DC-based contract designed to support USAID in its efforts to bring about a major cultural transformation by integrating PSE across all activities, while at the same time deepening MSD and facilitative approaches across the FTF program cycle. MSP will advance learning and good practice in PSE and MSD, ultimately resulting improving the effectiveness of Feed the Future, USAID, and other USG programs to bring about sustained development outcomes at scale.
While the specific MSP activities will be demand-driven, they could include facilitating private sector partnerships such as helping USAID to establish new blended finance mechanisms or develop partnerships that create shared value from the alignment of core business objectives and development goals; supporting USAID in the design, implementation, monitoring, and evaluation of market systems and private sector engagement activities; advancing learning on private sector engagement and market systems development through both developing theoretical frameworks and practical implementation tools; and, building capacity of USAID and implementers to design, implement, monitor, evaluate, and learn from market systems and private sector engagement activities.
Context of the Position and General Technical Requirements: Implementation of centrally based buy-in mechanisms involve the traditional demands of project implementation for USAID, while including a strategic element of managing core costs, requiring a constant state of ramp-up readiness, and continuously responding to ambiguous or in flux circumstances. Because buy-ins can occur under short response windows, they require diplomatic and solutions-driven negotiation skills, often with minimal instruction at inception from USAID or DAI senior managers.
Successful candidates must be comfortable with reasonably prolonged periods of unfamiliarity and uncertainty as solutions and implementation strategies are being defined and developed. This requires the Project Management Specialist to have professional agility in the areas of financial and operations management, human resources, contract management, budget management, and a general understanding of international development; more desirably, in the areas of market systems development and private sector engagement.
The Project Management Specialist will be expected to wear multiple hats supporting different work streams on the project, including but not limited to: communications and reporting, operations management, financial reporting and budget management, buy-in management and implementation support, project administration, and supporting the Chief of Party (COP) or Deputy Chief of Party (DCOP) in developing tracking or management tools that enhance MSP’s ability to deliver high client satisfaction with buy-in implementation. The Project Management Specialist will be expected to perform a “jack-of-all-trades” role for the DAI MSP project team.
Job Description Requirements: The Project Management Specialist will be principally supervised by the COP but report directly to the DCOP. This means the COP will assign discreet tasks to the Project Management Specialist when needed and across different areas of the project to support the COP’s higher technical and operational vision for the MSP Activity. The DCOP will work closely with the Project Management Specialist in carrying out those tasks to ensure they meet quality and compliance standards of the contract and DAI corporate policies. The DCOP will supervise the Project Management Specialist’s performance and day-to-day tasks. With time, the Project Management Specialist will develop an innate, high-performance ability to anticipate operational needs, stay ahead of financial tracking, and rapidly respond to the technical demands of buy-in clients and the Activity.
Responsibilities include but are not limited to:
- Support the COP and DCOP in carrying out technical and operational tasks for improved efficiencies and effectiveness in responding to USAID reporting needs, buy-in client demands, and project systems improvements.
- Assist the DCOP in monitoring and controlling the financial status of the project and each buy-in activity.
- Develop detailed financial analysis and reporting for core and buy-in costs, using approved budget and financial management templates and tools.
- Capture and contribute project data required to assist in the preparation of reports, analysis, and presentations on buy-in activities, compliance, communications, and technical activities.
- Assist Engagement Managers with tracking buy-in activity implementation progress by personnel, consultants and subcontractors, ensuring timely completion of activities.
- Develop and/or maintain project management trackers and ensure they are updated and used effectively, such as level of effort reports, recruitment, and inventory management.
- Proactively recommend project management solutions and tools where gaps exist.
- Serve as a highly participatory member of the project operations team to reach solutions for adequately responding to implementation challenges and continuously improving or evolving project systems.
- Provide administrative and operational support for project activities, meetings, conferences, and event coordination, both virtual and in-person.
- Contribute to contract or buy-in reporting deliverables, such as preparing graphs or tables, being the lead writer for assigned sections of a report and recommending improvements to reporting documents.
- Review and/or copy-edit project documents for USAID approval.
- Ensure buy-in activities are properly set-up in DAI systems and closed out according to project policy.
- Coordinate with relevant DAI projects or DAI Bethesda staff to gather information, evidence, or data for assisting senior management decision-making.
- Process recruitment actions in support of the project’s approved staffing structure, including long- and short-term consultants, i.e. posting recruitment ads, filtering CVs, etc.
- Assist with domestic and international travel arrangements, such as flight booking, ensuring requisite project approvals are obtained, and assisting with travel logistics.
- Process to completion requisite human resource paperwork for engaging short-term (STTA) and long-term (LTTA) consultants, such as EBD verification, and maintain project HR files according to policy.
- Report financial or other resources, technical issues, client satisfaction status of approved buy-ins to senior management.
- Help develop project plans, policies, procedures, or practices consistent with specified project objectives.
- Bachelor’s degree in international development, international relations, international finance, or relevant university degree that demonstrates complementarity to the scope of requirements;
- At least two years of work experience in an administrative or project support capacity for a publicly or philanthropically funded—local, state, federal, or international—project that demonstrates the candidate’s proven ability to support multiple competing priorities using management trackers or other office tools to meet project deadlines and deliver high quality services.
- Proven experience with budget management and financial tracking, including clearly evidenced experience with accruals, commitments, inception-to-date, remaining, and budget forecasting for financial reports, updating project or activity pipelines, or conducting spending analyses or financial trends that can be used for sound project management decision-making.
- Professional level proficiency in the use of Microsoft Office, SharePoint, Google Docs, or other modern software tools for collaboration and work production in a team setting.
- Effective communications, writing, and interpersonal skills
- Master’s degree in business administration, economics, or development studies, or relevant Master’s degree that demonstrates complementarity to the scope of requirements.
- Working knowledge of USAID rules and regulations
- Relevant international work or volunteer experience, such as Peace Corps or internships.
Reporting: The Project Management Specialist will report directly to the DCOP.
DAI is an equal opportunity/affirmative action employer with a commitment to diversity. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or national origin