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Managing Director, Partnerships & Strategy

IDEO.org
Full time
Apply by 15 April 2021

Job description

About IDEO.org

IDEO.org is a non-profit design and innovation organization focused on solving challenges in poverty and spreading human-centered design through the social sector. Human-centered design, a creative approach to problem-solving that starts with people and arrives at new solutions, enables organizations to create and deliver innovative solutions to pressing challenges that are rooted in the needs of people. IDEO.org works directly with organizations on projects using the human-centered design process across a wide range of focus areas related to poverty, including health, financial services, gender equity, water, and sanitation.

About the role

IDEO.org has an opportunity for a Managing Director focused on partnerships and strategy to co-lead their growing Nairobi studio. As a leader of a dynamic, diverse, and multi-disciplinary team, this position will develop the strategy for the organization in Sub-Saharan Africa, build and maintain partnerships, own the pipeline of new business for the studio, and guide projects and programs to ensure IDEO.org is maximizing their impact. 

The Managing Director will co-lead the Nairobi studio to develop, shape, and execute the organization’s strategy on the continent. They will be responsible for identifying opportunities, pursuing the right partners, bringing in compelling and impactful work, guiding their teams to deliver strategic and creative work, and maintaining key relationships. This will mean engaging with a broad set of players, including large-scale foundations, donor agencies, companies, NGOs, social enterprises, and grassroots organizations across Africa. Additionally, the role holder will co-lead IDEO.org’s global partnerships team, working alongside three Managing Directors based in the U.S. as well as serve on IDEO.org’s global leadership team and report directly to the CEO. 

IDEO.org is looking for a leader who is excited to build and grow the team and their presence within the region in the coming years. Their leadership will be critical in building and maintaining the creative culture of the Nairobi studio, supporting talent recruitment, growth, and development, serving as a business lead and mentor to four-to-six employees, as well as guiding studio operations. She/he will partner closely with IDEO.org’s finance, operations, talent, and communications teams to ensure the studio is running efficiently and effectively on all counts. 

While the role holder may not be a trained designer, they should embrace creative processes and be eager to explore new ways of building solutions and changing systems in service of widespread social impact.

Key responsibilities

Partnerships and Strategy:

  • Lead the development of the studio’s partnership strategy.
  • Hold accountability for filling the business pipeline of the Nairobi studio.
  • Lead the four-person Nairobi-based partnerships team, at times leading proposal writing efforts, and supporting others to do the same.  
  • Build IDEO.org’s external network to surface opportunities and create new value for IDEO.org, partners as well as potential collaborators.
  • Gain a deep understanding of and empathy for partners’ mission, business, and strategy in order to identify ways IDEO.org's network can support them and proactively begin to connect them to resources.
  • Bridge partnership development and project launch and communicate critical information about the project/partner, like the scope, to position teams for success on a project.
  • Guide project teams to ensure the work is creative, strategic, impactful, and meets the needs of their partners. Serve as a design strategist on design projects and programs. 
  • Support the stewardship of projects once they’ve been handed off from the design team back and look for opportunities for further engagement.
  • Collaborate with the Managing Director of Impact to continually improve the studio’s M&E frameworks and systems for collecting, analyzing, and reporting data. 

Talent and Operations:

  • With the other Managing Director, develop and operationalize annual goals for IDEO.org Nairobi.
  • Provide input into and/or lead IDEO.org’s initiatives around driving design excellence, including activities towards upskilling studio talent, guiding cross-cultural teams etc. 
  • Work with the other Managing Director and the Senior Talent and Operations Lead to define IDEO.org’s talent needs and talent acquisition plan. 
  • Partner with the other Managing Director on studio leadership activities and decision-making (talent, operations, administration, and organizational planning).
  • Support the CFO & the other Managing Director in the development and analysis of annual budget and plan.
  • Work with the COO, the Senior Talent and Operations Lead, and ops team to ensure the studio has what it needs to be successful (e.g., physical studio space, technology, etc.), teams are operating safely and securely, the studio and its policies are in compliance with local regulations. 

General Leadership:

  • Serve on IDEO.org’s eight-person global leadership team, participating in weekly meetings, leading organization-wide strategic initiatives, and tackling their biggest challenges and opportunities as they arise. 
  • Directly manage the professional growth of 4 - 6 individuals within the organization
  • Provide empowering and empathetic mentorship, guidance, and support to members of the Nairobi studio. 

Does this sound like you?

  • Significant work background with at least 10+ years of professional experience. An MBA degree is an added advantage.
  • Great empathy and listening skills. You love spending time with people to understand their needs and are energized by supporting their growth and development. 
  • Rigor. You develop incisive strategies and know-how to help teams get to deeper levels of rigor in their work so their solutions will be more effective and resonant. 
  • A great network. You have a strong network in the East Africa region and know who to connect with in order to advance IDEO.org’s work and impact.
  • Great communication skills. You have the ability to present to a boardroom, a small NGO, as well as the people they aim to serve. You also have strong written communication skills. 
  • Deep expertise. You have demonstrated expertise in one or more of the following topics: Women’s economic empowerment, digital financial services, agriculture, workforce development, humanitarian aid, and/or health. 
  • Leadership skills. The people you’ve mentored are now great mentors themselves. You are excited about playing a global leadership role. 
  • A love of design. You have an understanding of the value of human-centered design and can articulate how it can bring value to a particular challenge.


IDEO.org is committed to the work of advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion within their organization and in the world. Their mission to design a more just and inclusive world is directly connected to their ability to bring many different perspectives to the table. This applies to their candidates, the people they hire, and the partners and communities they work with.

As a human-centered organization, they are committed to working with and designing for people of every race, ethnicity, gender identity, sexual orientation, age, socio-economic status, physical ability or attribute, religion, national origin, or political belief. They recognize that this commitment requires ongoing work and sustained attention, as well as adaptation to new insights and best practices.

About IDEO.org

IDEO.org is a non-profit design and innovation organization focused on solving challenges in poverty and spreading human-centered design through the social sector. Human-centered design, a creative approach to problem solving that starts with people and arrives at new solutions,  enables organizations to create and deliver innovative solutions to pressing challenges that are rooted in the needs of people. IDEO.org works directly with organizations on projects using the human-centered design process across a wide range of focus areas related to poverty, including health, financial services, gender equity, water and sanitation.

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