The Rockefeller Foundation seeks a Managing Director, based in New York, to lead the Foundation’s global work on agricultural development. This role is one of nine Managing Directors worldwide who report to the Vice President for Foundation Initiatives as part of a matrixed 60-person Foundation Initiatives team. The Managing Director will serve both as a thought leader on agricultural issues within the Foundation and as a project manager who leads teams in conceiving, initiating, and executing focused, high-impact grantmaking initiatives. Candidates must bring extensive experience in the agricultural domain and familiarity with a range of related content areas along with exceptional skills in planning, team building, collaboration, and communication.
The Foundation is open to candidates from a wide range of agriculture-related disciplines including, but not limited to: food security, agricultural policy, water, natural resource management, and development economics. Breadth of substantive experience, crossing institutional, sector, and disciplinary boundaries, is preferred over deep specialization. Candidates should bring experience working in rural environments, preferably in Africa, and a deep understanding of farm-level dynamics.
The Rockefeller Foundation is working with the national search firm, Isaacson, Miller, Inc., on this recruitment. All nominations, inquiries, and applications should be sent in confidence to the search firm as indicated at the end of this document.
This Managing Director position drives the Foundation’s work in agriculture and the related areas such as food security, natural resources and water. He/she will lead on and contribute to Initiatives and activities in agricultural development that build resilience and promote equitable growth through improving the productivity and assets of poor and vulnerable people. The Foundation’s work seeks solutions that address and integrate multiple influential forces such as climate change, trade policy, yield and productivity advances, market failures, food pricing, food processing, soil science and genetics. Therefore, the Managing Director should bring extensive knowledge of relevant fields such as agricultural science and technologies, agricultural markets and economics, and food security policies or a background in natural resources and/or water management with strong ties to agriculture. A deep understanding of farm-level dynamics, including issues of gender, rural development and returns to farmers, is highly desirable.
The Managing Director, Agriculture leads the Foundation’s agricultural work around the world, including key partnerships such as the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA). He/she will oversee a new initiative that addresses the need for rural development to be “climate smart,” currently in the development phase. This initiative is exploring three broad areas: agricultural research in climate change and development, safety nets such as insurance, and means of enabling national and international policy changes. The Managing Director will also work closely with the Managing Directors responsible for the Foundation’s regional offices and the Climate Change Resilience Initiative, and collaborate with other MDs and their teams to ensure meaningful intersections across the Foundation’s work.
Duties and responsibilities include, but are not limited to:
- Bringing intellectual leadership and creative thinking to the design and development of new program initiatives in agriculture that flexibly respond to opportunities that are high impact and are responsive to need.
- Managing and leading initiative execution, including work with diverse grantees and funding partners.
- Maintaining a close relationship with AGRA that combines appropriate monitoring with constructive input.
- Working with the President, two Vice Presidents and all Managing Directors to provide the conceptual leadership on agricultural development for RF overall, and helping to integrate the concept within RF initiatives, using a flexible budget for research and convenings as necessary.
- Managing and motivating assigned staff through effective leadership, mentoring, communication, coaching, development, facilitation, evaluation and rewards.
- Representing the Foundation in diverse communities, including speaking engagements, attending conferences and participating in other key internal and external meetings.
- Serving as a Foundation spokesperson on issues related to agriculture.
Since 2009, the Foundation has structured it programmatic work through a portfolio of interconnected Initiatives. These are multi-year efforts, often in overlapping geographic areas, designed around specific objectives to address complex problems. Each Initiative usually addresses two or more of the Foundation’s focus areas and has a theory of change for achieving its objectives. Each also incorporates rigorous monitoring while grantee work progresses, and must be nimble enough to adapt to changing circumstances, new learnings, or unanticipated opportunities.
Initiatives are intended to unfold through three phases. The Search phase is usually a short-term (six months to one year) exploration, largely through research and convenings, of a problem the Foundation might pursue. It typically involves a landscape scan of the system impacting the problem and the development of a hypothesis about potential solutions. The Development phase (which can unfold over one to two years) tests potential interventions through demonstration projects and further research. The Execution phase, which requires Foundation Board approval, runs for several years with a defined strategic plan and budget. At the end of both the Search and the Development phases, a decision is made about whether to continue to the next step or wind down the work. Currently there are eight Initiatives in Execution at the Foundation, ranging in size from roughly $30-100 million in anticipated investments over their time frames.
Managing Directors (MDs) lead the program work and manage teams working on program development and execution of Initiatives. They work with other MDs, Associate Directors, and research and support professionals to identify and understand global trends, issues, challenges, and opportunities. They also partner with evaluation professionals to learn from the work and incorporate lessons learned. MDs are all expected to lead work that ranges across multiple disciplines, topics, and fields.
Success Indicators for the MD over Years 1-3
- A new initiative in agriculture will be launched and brought through the Search phase and into Development in one to two years. The MD will have framed a large and complex problem and articulated a bold, cutting-edge theory of change to address the challenge.
- The “climate smart” rural development program will have developed clear strategies, goals and outcomes, and launched pilot programs that will lead to Execution or wind down.
- Agriculture programs will reflect the critical linkages between related fields such as water and incorporate a broad array of strategies, including policy, to address critical gaps and leverage opportunities for transformative innovation.
- Leadership: Vision, innovation, thought leadership, collaboration, integrity, accountability and emotional intelligence.
- Partnership and Relationship Building: Strong professional representation of the Foundation, interpersonal abilities, intercultural knowledge and appreciation, strategic partnership building.
- Communication: Superb interpersonal abilities; exceptional listening skills, writing and verbal skills.
- Decision-Making: Ability to evaluate risks and opportunities, using analytical and strong problem-solving skills.
- Execution: Strong project management skills, deadline management, sense of responsibility and accountability and the ability to effectively multi-task.
- Integration: Demonstrate inclusiveness, collaboration, respect and broad organizational interests.
- Strategic Ability: To see opportunities, design innovative approaches backed by strong analysis and planning.
- People Management: Superb skills in team building, coaching, mentoring, delegating, inspiring and motivating.
- Nimbleness: Demonstrated ability to work comfortably in an environment with some ambiguity, being flexible to change course as needed to ensure relevancy of work, and remaining calm and considered under pressure.
- Personal Qualities: Humility and capacity for self-reflection; sound and mature judgment and integrity.
- Commitment to the Rockefeller Foundation's Mission and Core Values: Effectiveness, equity, integrity, innovation and leadership.
Education, Training and Experience:
- Advanced degree or equivalent training in disciplines relevant to agricultural development, economics, or other related areas; PhD preferred.
- Ten plus years work experience in international agriculture, climate change, food policy, and development.
- Experience working in Africa and with African cultures helpful.
- Understanding of and experience working on the impacts of climate change helpful.
- Demonstrated experience in developing, managing and implementing multi-party projects with defined objectives, deliverables, monitoring and evaluation of results.
- International work experience – working across cultures and borders.
- Deep knowledge of developing countries.
- Strong networks into development and research organizations worldwide.
- Experience in managing/supervising personnel contributing to program scoping and delivery - consultants, researches, etc.
- Exemplary communication skills – competence in a second UN language highly desirable.
- Experience with evaluative research methods.
- The ability to travel (30-40%) both domestically and internationally.
Inquiries, nominations, and applications (including C.V. and brief letter of interest) should be directed to:
263 Summer Street
Boston, MA 02210
Electronic submissions are strongly preferred.
The Rockefeller Foundation is an Equal Opportunity Employer
The Rockefeller Foundation is committed to the principles of equal employment opportunity and to compliance with all federal, state, and local laws concerning employment discrimination, including the Americans with Disabilities Act. To this end, the Foundation ensures equal opportunity to all employees and applicants regardless of race, color, age, gender, sexual orientation, religion, marital status, national origin or ancestry, citizenship, lawful alien status, physical, mental, and medical disability, veteran status or liability for service in the United States Armed Forces