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Lead Finance Specialist

Washington D.C. (United States of America)

Background Information - Job-specific

This Vacancy Announcement is being published by the Water & Energy Cluster on behalf of the SEforALL Initiative

In September 2011, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon launched the Sustainable Energy for All initiative as a global partnership platform that was to promote and support new collaborative approaches for governments, business and civil society to work together in making sustainable energy for all a reality by 2030.  Set up as a multi-stakeholder platform, SEforALL aims to contribute towards three interlinked objectives: (i) ensure universal access to modern energy services; (ii) double the global rate of improvement in energy efficiency; and (iii) double the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix.  In working towards these goals, SEforALL engages with leaders across the world, empowering them to broker the partnerships and to unlock the finance necessary for a radical energy transformation in their countries, sectors or regions.   SEforALL works by marshalling the evidence about what works and what doesn’t; benchmarking the progress made across countries, and pointing to it; amplifying the voices of the energy poor and others who need to be engaged for a global movement to emerge; telling the stories of success to offer motivation where inertia is settling; and connecting leaders with each other and the ideas and innovation they need to move forward.

Context of Assignment: SEforALL works with public, private and civil society partners to support access to energy for the more than 1 billion that lack electricity and the 3 billion that lack clean fuels and technologies for cooking in Africa and Asia today.  This includes engaging with leaders to help unlock finance through robust evidence and strategic dialogue that connects stakeholders that may not be talking to each other.  SEforALL’s global team also works with its partners to support countries to develop Action Agendas and Investment Prospectuses – tailored national plans that aim to identify strategic priorities, policy reforms and a pipeline of investments – to go further, faster to meet SEforALL objectives. The Global Team plays a role, with its partners, in supporting the effective development and implementation of such plans to attract the necessary finance.  In doing so, SEforALL is committed to a People-Centered Approach that promotes gender equality, social inclusion and women’s empowerment to ensure no one is left behind and has established a voluntary partnership or Accelerator to further these goals, including on gender responsive and socially inclusive approaches to financing energy access.


Title of Supervisor: Director, Policy

Content and methodology of supervision: The Lead Finance Specialist will be supervised through individual meetings with the supervisor, weekly team meetings, and through periodic performance appraisals.

Functional competencies

Reporting directly to the Director of Policy and as part of the Policy team the Lead Finance Specialist will be part of a dynamic and highly motivated professional team that supports leaders to broker partnerships and unlock finance for sustainable energy solutions. The Lead Finance Specialist will work with partners to support effective country level engagement on investment planning, and research based partnerships on finance. S/he will assist the Director of Policy in all aspects of her duties and will interact with a wide range of people within and outside the UN system and SEforALL. The position requires superb problem solving capability backed with analytics, political understanding, process management, sound judgment, communication skills, and capacity to deliver.  It offers extraordinary opportunities for supporting, from very close proximity, the very real action that is required to make major energy sector transitions happen without leaving anyone behind.

The Lead Finance Specialist’s responsibilities will include, but not be limited to the following:

  • Serve as a lead finance specialist, advising management and staff on SEforALL’s strategy and long-range interventions to unlock finance and advance SEforALL’s mission to support universal access to modern energy for all by 2030. 
  • Work alongside senior energy staff in SEforALL to develop and implement strategic interventions and partnerships, to advance energy access in Sub-Saharan Africa and clean fuels for cooking for all with a specific focus unlocking finance for action.
  • Conceive, develop and promote innovations in SEforALL engagement, partnerships and action to scale and unlock finance at the country level to advance sustainable energy solutions as a contribution to SDG 7 and the Paris Agreement.
  • Facilitate and organize intra/inter-sectoral partner teams to debate and exchanges ideas on how to scale and accelerate finance for modern energy services.
  • Work with the Lead Energy Access and Gender Specialist and partners, to design and offer strategy support that can help direct capital to gender responsive and socially inclusive energy businesses that support faster delivery of sustainable access solutions in priority countries.                                                                                    
  • Take a lead in coordinating SEforALL’s research partnership on Energizing Finance to map public and private, international and domestic finance commitments for electricity and clean cooking access.
  • As technical focal point for finance provide support to the SRSG/ CEO for SEforALL, for messaging, briefing etc.

The position requires frequent international travel.

Education/Experience/Language requirements

Education and Work Experience:

  • Advanced degree in energy economics, finance, or in another relevant discipline plus 15 years of directly related experience in international development, a UN agency or the energy field; or PhD in a relevant discipline plus 12 years of directly related experience, most of which should have focused on finance for sustainable energy (including energy access, efficiency and renewable energy).  
  • Experience in a fast paced environment that requires high flexibility and a commitment to results.
  • Experience in operating across multiple time zones and with distributed teams.
  • Experience of working in global partnerships and in leading through others and from behind


Complete fluency in English with strong written and verbal communication skills are required. Knowledge and ability to work in another UN language desirable. (Arabic, Chinese, French, Russian or Spanish).


Technical Competencies: Finance: Advanced technical qualifications, demonstrated leadership and broad knowledge of all aspects of finance as it relates to sustainable energy– and particularly energy access - gained through advanced academic study (PhD level) and/or wide experience.  Leadership: Demonstrated intellectual leadership and ability to integrate energy and finance specific knowledge with broader operational strategies and policies, research objectives, etc.  Recognition as an expert in finance for sustainable energy, as evidenced either through a proven track record of managing and delivering highly complex operations or equivalent assignments (e.g. leading complex policy dialogue, delivering lending or advisory services in an MDB) in a development context.
Connections: Significant, strong experience working in sustainable energy and finance fields and dynamically connecting with practitioners and policy makers.
Delivery: Operational experience in delivering finance for  sustainable energy solutions in sub-Saharan Africa or Asia is an advantage.  Demonstrated skills in designing and leading programs; seasoned in project structuring, development and implementation.
Knowledge Partnerships: Ability to work with others to create, synthesize and/ or share relevant knowledge or experience.  A track record of engaging with public, private and Civil Society Organization (CSO) partners, as well as international organizations, in an international and country context.  Builds networks of experts and clients to share knowledge and experience for the purpose of strengthening internal and/or external client solutions as convener and facilitator of knowledge.  Leverages external knowledge and partnerships to strengthen solutions for internal and/or external clients

Core Competencies:

Ability to interact with senior level UN staff, with ambassadors, high-level diplomats, and with senior government officials including Prime ministerial and Ministerial level.

Excellent written, synthesis and research skills, including drafting ability and extensive knowledge of word processing and application of software package as databases and Power Point Presentations; Familiarity and appreciation of social media and a clear communicator.


Demonstrating/safeguarding ethics and integrity. Demonstrate corporate knowledge, Self-development and initiative-taking. Ability to work in a multi-cultural and international environment based on mutual respect and tolerance.  Demonstrates good judgement and discretion when handling sensitive materials.

Ability to exercise good judgement, discretion and tact in handling sensitive issues.

A commitment to the goals of SEforALL and to sustainable development more broadly essential.

A good sense of humor.

Willingness to 'get the job' done with a positive attitude to take on a wide range of tasks.

Ability and willingness to adjust to ‘beyond the normal’ working hours and manage the work life balance effectively to accommodate differences in time zones


Demonstrated excellent research and analytical skills that can be applied to gather data and generate knowledge relevant to decision-making functions

Planning and Organizing:

Develops clear goals that are consistent with agreed strategies. Identifies priority activities and assignments.  Adjusts priorities as required. Allocates appropriate amount of time and resources for completing work. Foresees risks and allows for contingencies when planning; monitors and adjusts plans and actions as necessary. Uses time efficiently and is able to work to deadlines and maintain effectiveness under pressure.

Excellent organizational and task management skills, with appropriate attention to details and ability to prioritize work among multiple competing demands, and under tight deadlines.  Ability to manage multiple workflows at the same time.

Proactive approach to managing workflow, with keen ability to multi-task and respond quickly and flexibly to a wide range of issues, some of which come up in ad hoc and unexpected ways.

Ability to thrive in a fast-paced work environment where adaptability will be a premier.


Excellent communication skills in speaking and writing; ability to develop contacts, foster collaboration with internal as well as external stakeholders, deliver presentations, advocate for viewpoints and participate actively in internal as well as external debates and negotiations.

Ability to craft messages and communiques, and copy edit work to produce flawless written communications is required.


Inspires and influences others to drive innovation

Fosters open discussions with broad audiences to set vision and establish buy-in for innovation that can enhance SEforALL effectiveness in supporting leaders to broker partnerships and unlock finance.

Inspires others to develop new solutions that have a development impact and advocates for changes and application of new methods to enhance results.

Develops partnerships and relationships that enable SEforALL to achieve results through innovation.


Excellent e- skills, including the ability to use modern office technology and related software.

Practical knowledge of word processing, spreadsheet, and presentation software is required. Ability to do internet research, compile information and find solutions on line to information gaps is essential.


Work within a newly-formed team as well as with colleagues across work units, departments, divisions and with Member States. Support colleagues, establish a team culture, encourage others to participate in teamwork and share responsibility for decision-making and results. Places team agenda before personal agenda. Supports and acts in accordance with final group decision, even when such decisions may not entirely reflect own position; Shares credit for team accomplishments and accepts joint responsibility for team shortcomings.

Demonstrated ability to work with teams representing a wide variety of staffing levels that also cut across agencies and partners, and work without direct authority to deliver timely and high quality products.  Strong team player capabilities.


Consistently approaches work with energy and a positive, constructive attitude.  Demonstrates behavior of professional and personal ethics transparency and openness to encourage respect and similar behavior from colleagues in the work place. Sensitivity to other people’s cultural and religious norms and the ability to easily blend with others.  Must have shown to have the ability to be discrete and maintain confidential information. Exhibits diplomacy, loyalty and commitment to SEforALL’s goals. Sense of humor an advantage.

SEforALL values

Partnership. SEforALL’s global team operates within and across partner driven networks, building on its strong relationship with the UN. SEforALL’s global team catalyzes connections, coordinates activities with others, collaborates on common objectives and leverages opportunities to deliver more as a platform than it can do individually.

Agility. SEforALL’s global team is adaptive in its approach so it can stay focused on its goal in an evolving economic and political environment. It brings people together that don’t normally talk to each other and frames the questions differently so it can help leaders unlock action and finance.

Diversity. SEforALL’s global team recognizes the diversity of needs across countries and communities and commits to working with all actors in delivering solutions that respond to these differentiated needs.

Equity. SEforALL’s goal is for “all.” SEforALL’s global team strives for a sustainable energy transition that is just and equitable and leaves no one behind.

Results. SEforALL global team focuses on helping leaders make the most progress, fastest in areas that make a meaningful contribution to SEforALL’s objectives. It is solutions-oriented. It values evidence and data. It understands the scale and urgency of the sustainable energy challenge and the need for a holistic systems-based approach.

Trust. SEforALL’s global team treats information carefully and respects what it is entrusted with as it serves partners and their success.

Additional Considerations

Additional Considerations

-   SEforALL offers exciting high-impact assignments, a collegial and creative work environment, and the opportunity for committed professionals to thrive and grow within flat hierarchies and in the pursuit of an inspiring mission.

-   SEforALL provides competitive compensation packages at its locations in Vienna and Washington and modern workplace arrangements in terms of flexibility and results orientation;

-  Applications received after the closing date will not be considered.

-  Only those candidates that are short-listed for interviews will be notified.

-   Qualified female candidates are strongly encouraged to apply.

-   SEforALL reserves the right to appoint a candidate at a level below the advertised level of the post.

Before applying, please make sure that you have read the requirements for the position and that you qualify.
Applications from non-qualifying applicants will most likely be discarded by the recruiting manager.

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  • Organization: UNOPS - United Nations Office for Project Services
  • Location: Washington D.C. (United States of America)
  • Grade: Mid/Senior - Internationally recruited position - Mid/Senior level
  • Occupational Groups:
    • Banking and Finance
    • Communication and Public Information
  • Closing Date: 2017-10-26

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