By continuing to browse this site, you agree to our use of cookies. Read our privacy policy

Data Innovation Specialist - Forecasting and Foresight

New York City (United States of America)

  • Organization: UNOPS - United Nations Office for Project Services
  • Location: New York City (United States of America)
  • Grade: P-3, International Professional - Internationally recruited position - Mid level
  • Occupational Groups:
    • Statistics
    • Information Technology and Computer Science
    • Innovations for Sustainable Development
    • Operations and Administrations
  • Closing Date: 2021-10-19

Click "SAVE JOB" to save this job description for later.

Sign up for free to be able to save this job for later.

Background Information - Job-specific

UNOPS supports partners to build a better future by providing services that increase the efficiency, effectiveness and sustainability of peace building, humanitarian and development projects.  Mandated as a central resource of the United Nations, UNOPS provides sustainable project management, procurement and infrastructure services to a wide range of governments, donors and United Nations organizations.

The New York Service Cluster (NYSC) supports the United Nations Secretariat, as well as other New York-based United Nations organizations, bilateral and multilateral partners in the delivery of UNOPS mandate in project management, infrastructure management, and procurement management

The Sustainable Development Cluster (SDC) supports diverse partners with their peacebuilding, humanitarian and development operations. It was formed by combining the following portfolios: Grants Management Services (GMS), UN Technology Support Services (UNTSS), Development and Special Initiatives Portfolio (DSIP) It provides Services to partners' programmes that are designed, structured, and managed with a global perspective and primarily serving partners that are headquartered in New York.  The SDC has a footprint of approximately 125 countries.

UNOPS has signed an agreement with the United Nations to implement the project activities for UN Global Pulse.

UN Global Pulse

UN Global Pulse (UNGP) is an initiative of the Executive Office of Secretary-General (EOSG) founded in 2009. We work in support of the Secretary-General’s priorities, in advancement of the UN Charter. UNGP serves as a cross-pillar lead and hub for experimentation and digital innovation. We have a globally distributed team in the Americas, Europe, Africa and Asia.

The teams work with digital innovation, strategic foresight, real-time data and artificial intelligence to further sustainable development, humanitarian and peace outcomes. Our vision is ‘A world in which responsible and inclusive digital innovation serves to empower people and protect the planet’.  Our mission is to work at the intersection of digital innovation and science to inform, inspire and support the entire UN and those it serves, to anticipate and respond to the challenges of today and tomorrow. 

The goals of the UNGP Network are: i) to generate knowledge, capabilities and approaches that support the transformation of the United Nations into a more agile and resilient ‘next-generation’ institution; ii) to create and accelerate the development of globally accessible approaches that help communities and partners anticipate and address emerging global challenges; and iii) to advocate for the global transformation of policies, practices and culture required to maximize the impact of digital innovation, minimize its risk of harm, and ensure pathways to scale and sustainability. 

The incumbent of this position will be a personnel of UNOPS under its full responsibility. 

Functional Responsibilities

To achieve its goals, UNGP is recruiting a Data Innovation Specialist - Forecasting and Foresight. The role contributes to strengthening anticipatory capabilities to support UN mandates and broader transformation.

The person will participate in all stages of foresight insights development, collaborating closely with the UNGP foresight and data teams in framing the business and data requirements and use-cases for foresight experiments. Ideally, the person will also support data-driven storytelling and visualization of the foresight insights to connect with the user’s needs and consumption patterns. The role seeks to ensure the integration of data insights into sensemaking and decision-making processes in a user-friendly and sustained manner - with an ambition to refine the experiments and prototypes into standing products and processes.      

The ideal candidate is comfortable and curious about working with a variety of data science, machine learning, statistical  and data visualization methodologies to support strategic foresight and the systematic exploration of plausible futures, including threats and opportunities.

The person is impact-driven and keen to elaborate experiments harnessing data science to strengthen anticipatory decision-making and planning processes at various levels within the UN. This may include: building horizon scanning capacity to monitor emerging issues to guide agenda formulation at the UN executives level; analysing signals to identify risk tipping points against probable threat scenarios connected to climate change or general elections. The analytics and data would need to include i) baseline forecasts and trends for foresight workshops and scenario building exercises; ii) building long-term standing capacity to analyse and make sense of  emerging trends and weak signals, in order to support anticipatory planning and strategy; and iii) stress-test existing strategic plans and programmes against changing operational environments. 

The role is based in New York, and occasional travel and field missions may be required, as prevailing conditions allow.

The incumbent will work under the supervision of the UNGP Deputy Director, at the New York Lab, and will be responsible for the following duties: 
  1. Planning and Technical Support

  2. Strategic Development, Research, and Analysis

  3. Knowledge Creation, Capacity Building and Reporting

  4. Communication and Partnerships 

1. Planning and Technical Support
  • Provide technical advice in the planning and coordination of foresight experiments with data and analytics components. This will include defining research experiments, elaborating business needs, data feasibility requirements, and development of concepts and proposals, while working in collaboration with the foresight and data team and other stakeholders;

  • Identify and collect relevant primary and secondary data sources for analysis 

  • Implement software required for accessing, cleaning, handling, analyzing and modelling data;

2. Strategic Development, Research and Analysis
  • Lead experimentation on analyzing a diversity of qualitative and quantitative data inputs, including field reports and information from participatory foresight exercises, and their integration in foresight insights development processes

  • Identify complementary uses of quantitative forecasting and qualitative foresight data and linking them with different consumptions patterns and strategic objectives 

  • Lead the design and execution of analytics processes, including analyzing big data sources and using data science techniques in order to detect signals and trends within covering also non-conventional and real-time data sources such as online media, social networks, imagery, geospatial data, etc.;

  • Elaborate requirements and test analytical tools and platforms in a needs driven manner, contribute to the development of analytical and back end environment to serve the foresight needs    

  • Explore opportunities to carry out applied statistical and operations research and analysis to assess the validity and impact of results in close consultation with the foresight and M&E experts;    

3. Knowledge Creation, Capacity Building and Reporting

  • Liaise with colleagues to ensure safe, ethical and inclusive practices across the foresight insights value chain addressing gaps and providing inputs to guideline development where appropriate;

  • Provide support and guidance in developing adequate skills and technological capacities, and services to use data analytics and strategic foresight in standard planning and strategy processes; 

  • Advise on the development of accessible data interfaces and processes catering a variety of insights consumptions patterns collaborating with the UI and UX designers and front-end developers and the broader foresight team; 

4. Communication & Partnerships 

  • Carry out or guide other team members on data visualization, communication design, and data use by developing charts and graphs, infographics, data dashboards, and other information design and visual content needed to translate various project data sources to cater to different consumption patterns and needs;

  • Write and revise technical documentation and proactively record, and share the lessons learned in a variety of fora.  

  • Coordinate and guide the work with thematic specialists, consultants, secondees from other UN and non-UN partners from the private sector and academia as required, also building connections with the broader innovation ecosystem to support the development of interdisciplinary partnerships;

Performs other duties as may be reasonably required and in line with the incumbent’s scope of services above.

Impact of Results

Support UN leadership, including country operations, in accessing futures and foresight capacity to identify emerging risks and opportunities, develop mitigation strategies, and inform strategic planning contributing to the overall vision and mission of UNGP.

Education/Experience/Language requirements


  • An advanced university degree (Master’s or equivalent) preferably in international development, computer science, computational social sciences, social sciences, statistics, engineering, economics, monitoring & evaluation or another relevant discipline is required.
  • A first-level university degree (Bachelor's degree) in combination with 2 additional years of relevant professional experience may be accepted in lieu of the advanced university degree.



  • A minimum of 5 years of professional experience working in data science or a similar field, preferably in an international organisation 
  • A minimum of 2 years of experience in business intelligence, modelling for foresight, predictive analytics or a similar field


  • Experience in qualitative and quantitative research and/or designing mixed-methods approaches   
  • Experience with analytical techniques from machine learning, artificial intelligence, and their application for different business or research needs  
  • Experience working in multidisciplinary projects between data/science/technology and foresight/development/humanitarian response
  • Experience coding algorithms (Python, R or an equivalent programming environment), data access, analysis and data visualization (eg Tableau) methodologies for call detail records, social media data or any other big data source

Language Requirements:
  • Fluency in English (write, read, speak) is required. 
  • Knowledge of another United Nations official language is an advantage.


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.(for levels IICA-2, IICA-3, LICA Specialist- 10, LICA Specialist-11, NOC, NOD, P3, P4 and above)
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. For people managers only: 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

Contract type:       Fixed Term  Contract level:       P3
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
  • For retainer contracts, you must complete a few Mandatory Courses (around 4 hours) in your own time, before providing services to UNOPS.
  • 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.

Background Information - Sustainable Development Cluster 

Based in New York, the Sustainable Development Cluster (SDC) supports diverse partners with their peacebuilding, humanitarian and development operations.

The SDC’s services include grants management, development and special initiatives support, and technology support to the UN and UN agencies.

The SDC is part of the New York Service Cluster that supports the United Nations Secretariat, as well as a broadening community of other New York-based United Nations organizations, bilateral and multilateral partners in the delivery of UNOPS mandate in project management, infrastructure management, and procurement management.

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.

What does it mean?

Click "SAVE JOB" to save this job description for later.

Sign up for free to be able to save this job for later.