Job Details

Part-Time Operations Manager - Technical Support Unit

Mercy Corps, Portland, OR

Job - Non-Profit

Close Date: 09/26/2019

Must have current unrestricted authorization to work in the United States for any employer. Please Note: This is a part-time, 20hr/wk role.

About Mercy Corps

Mercy Corps is a leading global organization powered by the belief that a better world is possible. In disaster, in hardship, in more than 40 countries around the world, we partner to put bold solutions into action — helping people triumph over adversity and build stronger communities from within. Now, and for the future.

Program / Department Summary

Mercy Corps alleviates poverty, suffering, and oppression and works to build secure, productive, and just communities in over 40 countries around the world. Our Program Department supports field-led work that delivers measurable impact.

Mercy Corps’ Technical Support Unit (TSU) is a key part of the Program Department. Mercy Corps’ TSU houses subject matter experts whose mission is to help our global teams apply the most effective solutions to the world’s toughest challenges, while building our global reputation and resources to do so. By advancing technical excellence the Unit plays a key role in driving Mercy Corps’ impact, innovation and influence around the world. Current TSU teams are: Food Security and Nutrition; Environment; Markets; Agricultural Systems; Financial Inclusion; Young People & Protection; Gender Equality; New Initiatives; Governance & Partnerships; Peace & Conflict; Resilience.

The TSU helps set agency-wide strategy and develops strategic approach documents and other technical briefs for their practice area to inform the entire organization’s work. In addition, it offers technical expertise to offices worldwide - supporting country strategy development and assessments, and engaging throughout the program life cycle from project design and proposal development to quality implementation and evaluations. (Though the size of each technical team limits them to the most strategic engagements across all of these functions).

As technical experts in their field, TSU subject matter experts are well versed in global practices and abreast of sector specific trends. They also represent Mercy Corps with donors and other strategic partners, and inform and influence both internal approaches and global understanding on how to move the needle on some of the most intractable humanitarian and development challenges of our time, especially in fragile settings. This agenda requires the team to know about progress and results across programs and paint a picture of the best that Mercy Corps has to offer based on thematic learning from across our regions. This drives innovation inside the agency, grows the portfolio, and fosters learning internally and with external stakeholders so that we can make a bigger difference in the lives of people we work with.

Each TSU subject matter team is usually comprised of a Director and Senior Advisors/Advisors. Most teams are grouped together for management and collaboration purposes, with 2 – 3 teams reporting to a TSU Senior Director, who is charged with creating a unifying vision and strategy for their teams and the larger Technical Support Unit. Senior Directors report to the Vice President of Technical Leadership who sets overall strategy for the TSU. The Unit is housed in Mercy Corps’s Program Department.

General Position Summary

The Operations Manager position works across the Technical Support Unit (TSU) to streamline and improve operations and promote integration across these technical support departments. The role focuses on streamlining operations and processes to support improved strategic performance.

The Operations Manager will be responsible for managing all department systems and processes, reviewing and updating those processes as relevant, and creating new guidelines/systems when needed. They will serve as the main point of contact for all agency policies, interpreting impact upon the TSU, and developing procedures and systems to ensure compliance, as well as setting standards for teams to follow to ensure maximum impact. This role will also explore options for meeting technical needs in accordance with procurement rules and guidelines, supporting field teams to access technical expertise when headquarters team members are not available or suitable. This includes regular management of Master Service Agreements, and will extend to exploring similar options to increase the consultant technical resources available for field teams. The Operations Manager will support the TSU to explore additional creative funding arrangements and mechanisms for headquarters technical support, which entails managing the direct cost process, including making necessary updates based upon agency changes, reviewing and approving SOWs, confirming proof of delivery, and expanding the definition of allowable charges as needed. They will also serve as a key communications hub, ensuring agency-wide changes are communicated to and implemented by all technical staff. This role also serves a key function in providing data analytics on team performance and from wider agency data for effective, evidence based management decision making.

Essential Job Responsibilities

Translate team priorities to ensure alignment across departments.
Support the TSU’s adherence to Mercy Corps internal policies, procedures and standards.

Curate, organize, analyze, systematize and visualize relevant agency grant, business data to enable teams to adaptively manage to improve their impact.
Coordinate with teams and manage process to generate, track, analyze, manage and report a pipeline of actionable team and individual data.
Create and present regular reports using team and agency data to enable evidence-based decision making for internal team and wider agency purposes.

Support the TSU in investigating and analyzing options for different approaches to strengthening field and regional-based technical expertise- through expanded regional positions, new practices around funding positions, and expanded work with consultants.
Coordinate with internal and field teams to support the implementation of the agency direct cost policy and ensure adherence by TSU members, diversifying funding sources for these headquarters departments. This includes troubleshooting between the TSU, finance and field teams as needed.
Serve as the main connection point for changes in HQ structures/policies relevant to the TSU. Interpret policy changes for implications to the TSU, and develop standards/expectations for staff to follow.
Streamline process for managing HQ-managed grants, track compliance with agency policies, and ensure new grants are best equipped to provide maximum opportunity and impact for the agency/department.

Assist department leaders with team management and operations systems. Identify, troubleshoot, and track necessary improvements and changes to team operations and process.
As relevant develop new and/or coordinate major overhauls to existing systems and processes to ensure they are serving team management and strategic needs.
Develop, manage and maintain internal operations functions that support more effective, efficient and consistent business functions.
Project manage high-level departmental priorities as needed.

Manage Master Service Agreements (MSA) to meet TSU technical needs.
Where appropriate, explore other options for sourcing technical capacity to meet field needs when headquarters team members are not available. This may involve one or more of the following: consultant rosters or pipelines, partnership agreements, sub-awards, MOUs, budgeting guidance, support to the STA process.

Help ensure strong coordination mechanisms and agreements between TSU and other key departments like: the Humanitarian Leadership Response team, Program Performance and Quality, Finance, Compliance, HR, etc.
Work closely with Senior Knowledge Management Advisor and Executive Assistant to enable those roles to accomplish stated objectives and support efforts towards streamlining and clarifying communications and internal branding.

As part of our commitment to organizational learning and in support of our understanding that learning organizations are more effective, efficient and relevant to the communities they serve, we expect all team members to commit 5% of their time to learning activities that benefit Mercy Corps as well as themselves.

Mercy Corps team members are expected to support all efforts towards accountability, specifically
to our program participants and to international standards guiding international relief and development work, while actively engaging participating communities as equal partners in the design, monitoring and evaluation of our field projects.

Supervisory Responsibility

The position has supervisory responsibility over possible short-term employees or consultants.


Reports Directly To: Vice President - Technical Leadership
Works Directly With: TSU Senior Directors and Director level staff. Also works closely with key representatives from other departments, including Program Operations, Program Performance and Quality, Finance and Accounting, the People Team, Compliance, Humanitarian Leadership and Response, and the entire TSU team.

Knowledge and Experience

Bachelor’s degree required. M.A, M.S., M.Sc., or equivalent in a field related to the TSU team specialty and relevant technical certifications are preferred.
3 to 5 years of experience providing increasingly proficient support in the relevant field of expertise that includes:
Demonstrated proficiency in identifying, organizing, analyzing, systematizing, visualizing and summarizing disparate sources of data.
Proficiency with a range of software particularly data management, analysis and visualization.
Experience building strong working relationships and working across departments with peers and other sectors.
Proven experience in operations/process creation and systems design.
Experience successfully guiding, coaching, orienting and/or training colleagues to adapt and use new or updated business processes and/or systems.
Using integrated approaches and applying systems thinking.
Coordinating complex teams and large-scale initiatives.
Managing information and developing new systems and processes.
Proven ability to build relationships and influence partners.
Exceptionally strong verbal and written communication skills and organizational skills are required.
Willingness and ability to travel frequently to Mercy Corps project sites and field locations, including traveling to insecure environments, is required.
Familiarity with major donors such as USAID, DFID, the EC and relevant foundations and corporations, and key grant requirements.
Fluency in English is required; fluency in a foreign language preferred.

Success Factors

The successful Operations Manager must be a self-starter who demonstrates leadership in communications, partnership development, systems design, and process management. This role will have experience in developing systems and processes to help streamline complex work tasks. Multi-tasking with proven ability to manage competing priorities, follow procedures, and meet deadlines is required. The Operations Manager manages their workload to have an impact on departmental budgets, quality, overall strategy and internal influence work. The position must communicate and work with a variety of internal and external groups including private sector partners, Mercy Corps field teams, other internal Mercy Corps departments, academic institutions, and consultants. The Operations Manager is flexible and creative in planning and problem solving, and has a proven ability to learn quickly, take initiative and be accountable for results. The Operations Manager has the vision and drive to lead systems design in the agency that seamlessly merges competing priorities from various departments, and that demonstrates understanding for the larger picture while remaining focused on and able to handle the details. The individual must have a high proficiency for working in a variety of cultural, political and religious environments and must be able to travel and work successfully in austere environments and maintain poise in stressful situations.

Living Conditions / Environmental Conditions

This position is located in the Mercy Corps’ Portland headquarters office. The position requires travel at least 30% time to the field where living conditions may be exceptionally rugged or be in volatile environments where security protocols will need to be followed. Team members must be ready to deploy to field environments on short notice in response to any emergency or crisis. When in the field, the team member must be able to work in remote settings and over weekends and/or evening as required by the schedule.

Fostering a diverse and open workplace is an important part of Mercy Corps’ vision. Mercy Corps is an Equal Opportunity Employer regardless of background. We are committed to creating an inclusive environment.

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