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Deputy Executive Director (Programmes)

Geneva (Switzerland)

  • Organization: UNOPS - United Nations Office for Project Services
  • Location: Geneva (Switzerland)
  • Grade: D-2, Director - Internationally recruited position - Senior Executive level
  • Occupational Groups:
    • Managerial positions
    • Project and Programme Management
  • Closing Date: 2021-08-20

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Background Information - Job-specific

The ‘Global Executive Leadership Initiative’ (GELI) is a project hosted under UNOPS Geneva. The United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS) is an operational arm of the United Nations, supporting the successful implementation of its partners’ peacebuilding, humanitarian and development projects around the world. 

GELI is an innovative program for senior field leaders from across the system that focuses on development of leadership skills.  GELI is a multi-donor initiative through which senior field leaders will engage in a highly interactive cutting-edge learning with an approach of bringing leaders from multiple organizations on a leadership development training.  Senior field leaders will also have a unique opportunity to participate in peer exchange with other senior field leaders from across these pillars, as part of the GELI alumni.  

GELI will offer a platform for senior field leaders across the international system to enhance their skills and impact, manage complexity, deliver results, and lead and engage across the humanitarian-development-peace and security spectrum, taking into account the global socio-political and economic trends that are influencers.  

The Global Executive Leadership Initiative is located in Geneva, Switzerland.  More information on the GELI programs can be found on the website at

This position is located in the Global Executive Leadership Initiative (GELI) which is hosted under the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS). The GELI Deputy Executive Director directly reports to the Assistant Secretary-General / Executive Director (ASG/ED), GELI.

GELI  supports the United Nations Secretary-General’s ambition to achieve 50/50 gender balance in senior positions and diversity. To this end GELI  strongly encourages female candidates and those from under-represented states, from the international NGO community, to apply for this position.

Functional Responsibilities

Under the leadership and direct supervision of the Assistant-Secretary-General/ Executive Director (ASG/ED) for the Global Executive Leadership Initiative (GELI), the Deputy Executive Director will be responsible for the day-to-day management and execution of the GELI programmes. The Deputy Executive Director will partner closely with the ASG/ED to chart GELI’s future growth and strategic response to an ever-increasing demand for GELI’s services across many countries as the scale of the GELI programmes will substantially increase in 2022 and onwards.  

Primarily, this position entails coordinating all aspects of the GELI’s programmes across the three learning pillars to ensure synergies and complementarities, as well as advising the GELI ASG/ED on programme status and providing recommendations to ensure GELI delivers on its programmes and its future programmatic growth.

This key position requires outstanding leadership, management, and strategic implementation capabilities to ensure the effective and efficient delivery of GELI programmes.  The position also requires an in-depth understanding of the GELI high-level participants and partners who provide expert input into the development of the programmes.  

The Deputy Executive Director’s responsibilities include the following: 

Summary of functions:

  1. Strategy and Planning

  2. Trends and Synergies

  3. Programme Management

  4. Management of the GELI Team     

  1. Strategy and Planning 

  • Ensure the alignment of strategy, policy, planning and management of GELI, including the implementation of the work plan in accordance with GELI’s vision and mission. 

  • Provide advice and assist the ASG/ED on substantive matters related to strategic planning, programme design and implementation and performance optimization. 

  1. Trends and Synergies

  • Identify opportunities to enhance  communications and nurture collaboration with GELI stakeholders and inter-agency partners at Headquarters and at field level on the implementation of GELI learning programmes.

  • Advice on trends in learning and training needs within the humanitarian – development – peace & security field contexts. 

  • Engage proactively to identify areas of synergy, garner support and engage with  the GELI Alumni Network to foster and build the GELI learning community.

  • Guide the GELI Management team on thought-leadership around specific topics / emerging areas.

       3. Programme Management
  • Lead annual GELI programme  review to examine performance, achievements, and areas for improvement; identify actions to implement process improvement strategies into the GELI work plan.

  • Provide oversight and support to GELI’s leadership development programs, across the three GELI pillars including financial oversight of implementation.

  • Maintain an active and open communication to and from the ASG/ED on decisions concerning GELI programme implementation and adjustments upon which the GELI may need guidance and / or decision.  

  • In cooperation with GELI technical leads, plan programs to ensure consistency with strategic vision and objectives of the GELI ASG/ED; support and manage staff to achieve activities accordingly.    

  • Guide the GELI Management team on thought-leadership around specific topics / emerging topic areas.

  • Managing and resolving any risks and other issues that may arise 

  • Support the ASG/ED on the management of the programme budget.

       4. Management of the GELI Team

  • Oversee key programmatic, financial, and administrative tasks, including work plan development, budget preparation, performance management, and preparation of proposals and reports for donors, liaising with UNOPS as required.

  • Lead annual GELI programme review to examine performance, achievements, and areas for improvement. 

  • Identify best practices and improve internal systems with an eye toward future management of GELI programmes in line with budget realities.

  • Manage staff to achieve planned activities and provide guidance and/or decision as required.  

  • Operate within the defined limits of authority on matters of Finance, Procurement and Human Resources and subject to any limits or conditions that may be imposed as per delegated authority

  • Promote teamwork, collaboration and diversity by providing the team with clear direction, objectives and guidance to enable them to perform their duties responsibly, effectively and efficiently. 

  • Plan, recruit, manage and develop a flexible workforce with the skills and competencies needed to ensure optimum performance, and ensure gender and geographical diversity. 

  • Foster a positive work environment, respectful of both men and women, and ensure that the highest standards of conduct are observed.

Performs other related duties as requested by the GELI ASG/ED.


Advanced university degree (Master's degree or equivalent) in one of the following fields:

Education technology, Business  instructional design, adult education, organizational development, international affairs, business administration, strategic communications/information management, policy, or a related field.  

A relevant  first-level university degree in combination with qualifying experience may be accepted in lieu of the advanced university degree.


  • At least 15 years of progressively responsible experience in areas such as political, social, civil, humanitarian, or legal affairs; public or business administration.  Of this, at least five years of senior managerial experience at the international level in field offices is required. 

  • A minimum of 10  years of relevant international experience outside the home country.

  • Proven track record and international exposure in senior leadership and management functions, including coordination of interdisciplinary teams, is required. 

  • A minimum of five (5) years of relevant experience, at international levels, in organizational development or project management is required.

  • Prior hands-on experience in adult learning and distance -based learning as well as learning activities related  to humanitarian action and development is desirable.

  • Experience in managing a multi-disciplinary and multicultural team is desirable.

  • Absolute integrity with an open and fair-minded management style.


  • Fluency in English (oral and written) is required. Knowledge of another UN official language is desirable.


Develops and implements sustainable business strategies, thinks long term and externally in order to positively shape the organization. Anticipates and perceives the impact and implications of future decisions and activities on other parts of the organization.
Treats all individuals with respect; responds sensitively to differences and encourages others to do the same. Upholds organizational and ethical norms. Maintains high standards of trustworthiness. Role model for diversity and inclusion.
Acts as a positive role model contributing to the team spirit. Collaborates and supports the development of others.  Acts as positive leadership role model, motivates, directs and inspires others to succeed, utilizing appropriate leadership styles.
Demonstrates understanding of the impact of own role on all partners and always puts the end beneficiary first. Builds and maintains strong external relationships and is a competent partner for others (if relevant to the role).
Efficiently establishes an appropriate course of action for self and/or others to accomplish a goal. Actions lead to total task accomplishment through concern for quality in all areas. Sees opportunities and takes the initiative to act on them. Understands that responsible use of resources maximizes our impact on our beneficiaries.
Open to change and flexible in a fast paced environment. Effectively adapts own approach to suit changing circumstances or requirements. Reflects on experiences and modifies own behavior. Performance is consistent, even under pressure. Always pursues continuous improvements.
Evaluates data and courses of action to reach logical, pragmatic decisions. Takes an unbiased, rational approach with calculated risks. Applies innovation and creativity to problem-solving.
Expresses ideas or facts in a clear, concise and open manner. Communication indicates a consideration for the feelings and needs of others. Actively listens and proactively shares knowledge. Handles conflict effectively, by overcoming differences of opinion and finding common ground.

Contract type, level and duration

[Instructions: Please delete this paragraph and insert relevant information below:

  1. Contract type - FIXED TERM STAFF
  2. Contract level - ICS14/D-2
  3. Contract duration - One year initially, renewable subject to satisfactory performance and funding availability.

For more details about United Nations staff contracts, please follow this link:

Additional Considerations

  • Please note that the closing date is midnight Copenhagen time
  • 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.
  • UNOPS seeks to reasonably accommodate candidates with special needs, upon request.
  • Work life harmonization - UNOPS values its people and recognizes the importance of balancing professional and personal demands. We have a progressive policy on work-life harmonization and offer several flexible working options. This policy applies to UNOPS personnel on all contract types
  • For staff positions only, UNOPS reserves the right to appoint a candidate at a lower level than the advertised level of the post
  • The incumbent is responsible to abide by security policies, administrative instructions, plans and procedures of the UN Security Management System and that of UNOPS.  

It is the policy of UNOPS to conduct background checks on all potential recruits/interns. Recruitment/internship in UNOPS is contingent on the results of such checks.

Background Information - UNOPS

UNOPS is an operational arm of the United Nations, supporting the successful implementation of its partners’ peacebuilding, humanitarian and development projects around the world. Our mission is to help people build better lives and countries achieve sustainable development.

UNOPS areas of expertise cover infrastructure, procurement, project management, financial management and human resources.

Working with us

UNOPS offers short- and long-term work opportunities in diverse and challenging environments across the globe. We are looking for creative, results-focused professionals with skills in a range of disciplines.


With over 4,000 UNOPS personnel and approximately 7,000 personnel recruited on behalf of UNOPS partners spread across 80 countries, our workforce represents a wide range of nationalities and cultures. We promote a balanced, diverse workforce — a strength that helps us better understand and address our partners’ needs, and continually strive to improve our gender balance through initiatives and policies that encourage recruitment of qualified female candidates.

Work life harmonization

UNOPS values its people and recognizes the importance of balancing professional and personal demands.

We do our best to provide you the most accurate info, but closing dates may be wrong on our site. Please check on the recruiting organization's page for the exact info. Candidates are responsible for complying with deadlines and are encouraged to submit applications well ahead.
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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