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Director, Food Initiative, Africa

The Food Initiative’s vision is to build a food system that nourishes all people, protects and regenerates the environment and enables the flourishing of culture and community. The Director will work with existing and new team members to support the initiative’s ambitious goal to create an “Impact Lab for Africa” focused on increasing the consumption of “protective foods” by developing and transforming supply chains and thereby improving millions of rural lives.

The Director will provide management and leadership support for the team as it moves into an exciting period of execution and expansion. This role is based in Nairobi, Kenya. This role manages key internal and external relationships for the Managing Director (MD) and represents the Food initiative at key events and meetings. The Director will lead a team and influence others to realize ambitious goals by implementing strategies that can adapt to changing circumstances.


Principal Duties and Responsibilities

  • Provide leadership and direction for the Foundation’s new “Impact Lab for Africa” that aims to increase consumption of “protective foods” that will reduce the burden of disease in those populations.
  • Provide an integrated perspective, with the full Rockefeller Foundation initiative team, so that key hypotheses are fully tested (e.g., SME financing, AG/energy technologies, market demand, etc.), and the strategy is dynamically reviewed.
  • Support the success of the Food System 2050 Vision Prize in Africa.
  • Manage financial, team, and institutional resources effectively and efficiently to ensure our investments yield catalytic change and mobilize others.
  • Support the broader influence objectives of the Managing Director of the Africa Regional Office and the Foundation’s leadership to change the overall systems that contribute to a nourishing and sustainable food system.
  • Guide The Rockefeller Foundation-led activities focused on driving innovation, generating new knowledge, and engaging global influencers in order to enable the initiative to be supported and advanced at multiple scales.
  • Support the development of key financial partnerships, engaging donors and other investors interested in contributing to reducing food losses and securing co-investor commitments.
  • Ensure systematic learning and reflection processes are in place that lead to continuous improvement.
  • Serve as a thought partner to the MD on important strategic and projects, issues and questions, managing the flow of communications, from the Foundation and external parties as directed by the MD.
  • Support the MD in the management of the budget and forecasts.
  • On behalf of the MD prepare briefs for meetings and coordinate follow-up with relevant external and internal staff in the region as needed.
  • In partnership, and in support of the MD, manage the Food Initiative activity of the regional office and set meeting agendas for key meetings within the team.
  • Supervises and oversees the work of team members as directed by the MD.
  • Represents the initiative team at external events and meetings in the region and is seen as an important ambassador and liaison for the entire team and the Foundation.
  • Manage special projects as designated by the MD. Ensure that there is always proper staffing on the team.

Supervision Received

The Director reports to the Managing Director and while they will need to work independently they will also be required to exercise sound judgement in the overall functioning of the entire Initiatives team.

Supervision Exercised

Supervises the staff, as needed by the MD.


Education, Experience and Skills

  • Master’s degree with a minimum of 15 years professional experience, with significant experience in African Agriculture  as well as globally, ideally in a relevant field /institution, with experience of employing market-based solutions to address complex social and development challenges
  • Leadership and senior management experience in leading the delivery of complex operations and program strategy with a multi-disciplinary team, working with multiple external stakeholders, across locations and time zones.
  • Ability to set clear goals and strategies and dynamically manage strategies, plans, and resources to realize those goals in changing circumstances.
  • Strong understanding of market based solutions and agricultural value chains, ideally with experience engaging with investors/donor communities in Africa.
  • Deep understanding of political, economic and social trends in Africa, with an ability to work across different food value chains in the continent.
  • Powerful conceptual and analytical skills, with a track record in using data and analytics to inform dynamic strategy shaping, priority setting, and decision-making.
  • Experience in communicating externally, either in large groups, or in smaller engagements for representational and influencing purposes.
  • Ability to travel frequently, particularly within Africa, and at times in challenging rural conditions.
    Understands innovation processes, and the management of scientific research and development initiatives.
  • Ability to travel regularly both domestically and internationally and has done so in previous roles successfully.
  • Computer proficiency in MS Word, Outlook, Excel, PowerPoint and Internet search skills and ability to learn new applications quickly.

Qualifications and Competencies

  • Communication: Has excellent interpersonal abilities including strong listening, writing and verbal skills; demonstrates assertiveness and effectiveness in presenting their ideas to a variety of internal and external audiences and for multiple and diverse purposes.
  • Decision-Making: Has the ability to evaluate risks and opportunities; uses analytical and problem-solving skills; takes initiative and drives for results; is able to prioritize their own work and the work of others and understands how their work fits into the team and the overall work of the Foundation.
  • Execution: Has strong project management skills; manages their own time well and provides the necessary guidance and direction to others that allows them to successfully meet deadlines; has a sense of urgency and takes responsibility for their work and how it impacts the rest of the team; is able to juggle multiple tasks simultaneously; is able to multi-task and works well under pressure; employs attention to detail with their work and has high standards for accomplishing their work.
  • Integration: Accesses functional and substantive expertise organizationally, and accomplishes their work with inclusiveness and collaboration.
  • Leadership: Thinks innovatively and creatively about their work, has strong negotiation skills which enable them to work effectively and efficiently across a large amount of work, people and all internal and external constituencies and demonstrates accountability for their work.
  • Partnership and Relationship Building: Has strong professional presence and can be seen as a key representative of the Foundation and the Food Initiative; has intercultural knowledge and appreciation; and possesses strong strategic partnership-building skills.
  • Strategic Ability: Anticipates future opportunities and consequences, demonstrates an innovative and flexible approach to work, and has the ability to organize chaos into a coherent plan and implement it well.
  • People Management: Has the skills to manage a team of administrative staff and approaches managing people as one that employs teambuilding, skill-building and overall staff development and engagement.

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The Rockefeller Foundation is an Equal Opportunity Employer