Head of Exploration
The UNDP Strategic Plan embraces the complexity of development and commits the organization to helping countries find faster, more durable solutions to achieve Agenda 2030. Important development trends like urbanization, climate change, and rising inequalities pose significant challenges on our path to achieve the 2030 agenda of achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
UNDP has begun incubating a number of strategic initiatives aimed at ensuring UNDP is ‘fit for purpose’ to deliver a new generation of solutions in line with the challenges the world faces. One such key strategic initiatives is the UNDP Accelerator Lab Network which operates as part of UNDP’s sustainable development offering.
We are building the largest and fastest learning global network on development challenges. We have already set up 60 labs in 78 countries) embedded within UNDP’s global architecture and country platforms. We are now recruiting for a second cohort of 30 labs to be based in UNDP around the world. We use the power of the crowd, machine learning and distributed decision making to support partners to understand problems, develop new solutions, promote more inclusive decision making, and provide better oversight of what is done. We identify grassroots solutions and stretch their potential to accelerate development. We apply experimentation closely with government partners to grow this as a mode of operating to reduce costs of large-scale public sector reforms. Experimentation helps us learn whether particular assumptions are accurate before deploying solutions at scale, especially in the rapidly evolving contexts that often dominate development progress.
You are excited about starting, designing and managing activities, direct engagement with local communities and collaboration across global networks. You are driven by learning new things, figuring out how they work and translating them across sectors. You tell stories of emergent solutions and you gravitate to solving global development challenges.
You have a natural inclination to interdisciplinarity, cross cultural mindset and cross sectoral experience with the cosmopolitan attraction for diversity. You are driven by a strong sense of purpose and commitment to make change happen and a keen eye to identify emerging opportunities and ‘at the edge’ trends. You are open to discovery and exploration, capable of articulating insights and ideas through visual thinking, open to serendipity and discovery yet are pragmatic and constructive working with public sector authorities. You are comfortable with ambiquity, capable of zooming out for context and zooming in for content and execution- sharp in pursuit of objectives, fast at adapting and changing course when needed. You have superb compentencies in program and portfolio management, are at ease with decision-making processes and dynamics of different models of governance.
You are curious, a natural strategic thinker and a talented do-er. You understand systems, the good, the bad and the ugly, and are capable of working within bureaucracies to make change, leverage technology to extend, enhance and multiply exploration, discovery and execution. You are digitally savy, you hack tools, and you are keen to be a part of a large global organization exhibiting United Nations values.
You have experience and are motivated by advocating for change – you know how to work with the skeptics, demonstrate the value of your work to those who do not understand the innovation lingo and are adept at navigating organisational politics.
Duties and Responsibilities
Horizon scanning and intelligence for the Accelerator Lab
- Work with government counterparts and UNDP programs to identify, visualize and communicate emerging development trends, data, technologies and issues with a particular focus on the edges and “below the radar screen” events, opportunities and players, and systemically map their impacts on economy, environment, society, and livelihoods of the poorest;
- Identify new sources of evidence and insights, analyze and visualize patterns in unstructured sources of data, present new insights in accessible and comprehensive ways to enable sensemaking and analysis;
- Proactively explore and identify the new methods/approaches and frontier knowledge to tackle development challenges, collaborate with the Experimentation lead to turn these into learning options for addressing specific policy issues in the country;
- Provide technical guidance for horizon scanning, foresight and data analysis for colleagues and partners;
- Contribute to the formulation of the Accelerator Lab service lines to the UNDP Country Programme based on findings from horizon scanning, systems’ mapping, and local knowledge.
Tapping into new data sources
- Demonstrate through exploratory tests the utility of new data sources for UNDP’s development work;
- Connect UNDP with different players in the data ecosystem: data providers, experts in ethics and privacy, data scientists, subject domain experts, social scientists, IT providers;
- Create partnerships for analyses of real time and other data to better inform decisions and policies;
- Set up partnerships with private sector companies including mobile network operators among others to gain access to anonymized data sets that can be used for sustainable development;
- Design and deliver workshops, tools, or platforms that tap into the collective intelligence of communities and mobilise action.
- Proactively manage risks with using data and technology, including those related to ethics and privacy
- Transform unstructured data sets into insights for UNDP and partners.
Working out loud
- Share findings from the exploration on future trends, new methodologies/approaches, potential partnership,and others within UNDP and with partners;
- Proactively use blog posts and social media to share insights, attract partners and help position Accelerator Lab at the forefront of the exploration of new trends;
- Liaise with UNDP’s global Accelerator Lab network and share learnings and insights from the country-specific experience;
- Jointly with the CO, support lab partners to develop an emerging pipeline of new initiatives, support other activities related to the design and operation of the Lab.
Organizational learning and interface with the core business of UNDP
- Advocates for the need of UNDP programs and government counterparts to keep abreast of emerging trends, identify “weak signals” and adopt anticipatory approaches;
- Advocates for the need to embed intelligence derived from data into programs and portfolios of experiments;
- Set up tools and partnerships to ransform information into actionable intelligence;
- Design and deliver horizon scanning trainings for partners and UNDP, help embed horizon scanning and attention to the ‘edge’ activities in the CO and with the partners;
- Work together with your Accelerator Lab colleagues and experts to codify and advance the Accelerator Lab practice and exploration in particular;
- Organize and implement knowledge sharing and network events;
- Lead other activities related to the design and operations of the Accelerator Lab;
- Design and deliver engaging and meaningful methods for reflection on learning from explorations.
Innovation - Ability to make new and useful ideas work.
Level 4: Adept with complex concepts and challenges convention purposefully.
Leadership - Ability to persuade others to follow.
Level 4: Generates commitment, excitement and excellence in others.
People Management - Ability to improve performance and satisfaction.
Level 4: Models independent thinking and action.
Communication - Ability to listen, adapt, persuade and transform.
Level 4: Synthesizes information to communicate independent analysis.
Delivery - Ability to get things done while exercising good judgement.
Level 4: Meets goals and quality criteria for delivery of products or services.
Innovation - Ability to manage organizational resources and deployment in pursuit of innovation approaches and initiatives.
Level 5: Originate: Catalyzes new ideas, methods, and applications to pave a path for innovation and continuous improvement in professional area of expertise.
Required Skills and Experience
- Master’s degree in Social sciences, Data science, Statistics, Physics, Computer Science, Business Intelligence, or related field and a minimum of 2 years of professional experience in development programming or policy; social innovation; partnership building; engagement (public and private sector) and/or resource mobilization, or;
- Bachelor’s degree in Social sciences, Data science, Statistics, Physics, Computer Science, Business Intelligence, or related field and a minimum of 4 years of professional experience in development programming or policy; social innovation; partnership building; engagement (public and private sector) and/or resource mobilization.
- Professional experience in development programming or specific policy areas and social innovation;
- Demonstrated capacity in horizon scanning;
- Demonstrated capacity in data analysis and visualization;
- Experience in the following areas is desirable but not necessary:
- Collective Intelligence Design, Citizen Science, Positive Deviance, Social Network Analysis, Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning;
- Demonstrated successful experience in bringing about organizational change.
- Professional experience in partnership building and engagement (public and private sector)
- Demonstrated capacity to use open data, mobile data, geospatial data, drone & satellite data, citizen data for informing policy making, strategic planning, or programme design;
- Proven professional knowledge and experience in at least one of the following: Future thinking and Foresight, Design Research, and Systems Mapping;
- Key awareness of key global and regional trends;
- Demonstrated access to networks of edge innovators.
Important applicant information
All posts in the GS categories are subject to local recruitment.
Applicant information about UNDP rosters
Note: UNDP reserves the right to select one or more candidates from this vacancy announcement. We may also retain applications and consider candidates applying to this post for other similar positions with UNDP at the same grade level and with similar job description, experience and educational requirements.
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