Job Profile: Country Director
Also known as: Programme Manager, Programme Director, Country Representative
The role of the Country Director is to oversee, and take overall responsibility for, the operations of the agency in that particular country or area. This involves both a strong strategic outlook and the efficient co-ordination of day-to-day affairs.
The country director will be expected to provide strong leadership, chiefly:
At a strategic level - ensuring the maintenance and development of a coherent and realistic country programme shared by all those involved with the project, and working to increase awareness of this programme among relevant governmental and non-governmental organizations
At an operational level - ensuring the smooth and efficient co-ordination and management of all operations in the country, in such areas as logistics, health, nutrition and sanitation, finance and budgeting, policy, advocacy and diplomacy, liaisons and communications, capacity and, where appropriate, security
At a personnel level - ensuring the shared vision and full motivation of both national and international staff, maintaining effective working relationships with other staff and ensuring proper understanding of the roles and responsibilities of each member of the team
The country director should strive to identify opportunities for development of the local programme, both in terms of structure and in terms of scope. This includes the performance of regular needs assessments as well as the maintenance of a suitable emergency preparedness scheme, and also requires the securing of adequate funding to meet the cost of development.
Monitoring and evaluation
The country director takes responsibility for the maintenance of high standards on the mission: in personnel, through performance appraisal, staff development and structural improvements; in operations, through internal and external monitoring, review and evaluation, and the establishment of systems for such controls; and in strategy, through local negotiations, regular, documented forums for staff discussions, and policy dialogue with the senior management team.
Finance and budgeting
The country director will generally be responsible for the overseeing of budget preparation and the keeping of expenditure within the parameters set by it, ensuring meanwhile regular and timely reporting of spending and planned spending to donors and relevant bodies.
The country director takes an active role in communicating to the public, to donors, to local government, and to other local agencies the aims and achievements of the agency in that region. This involves the proactive identification of opportunities to advocate and disseminate the charity's priorities and goals, and requires a flair for diplomacy and liaisons as well as advocacy itself.
Key person specifications:
Owing to the high level of responsibility placed on the Country Director, most agencies will ask for at least 3 and often up to 5 years experience in a senior position in the NGO environment, preferably in programme management. Experience in transitional or emergency environments is usually considered essential. Agencies will also look for proof of an ability to lead and motivate a team, strong interpersonal skills and a proven track record in the field of budgeting and risk reduction or security plan implementation. Strong analytical and strategic skills are also desirable, as is a talent for problem-solving and initiative. Invariably local knowledge through previous work in the relevant region is needed, as is a specialisation appropriate to the particular needs of the situation. Basic IT skills are generally essential. Fluent English is almost always asked for, though in many countries a fluency in French will also be important; other languages, or the ability to pick them up, are always desirable. Some agencies also require previous experience working with their own organization.
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