Innovation Specialist (Portfolio Design and Implementation)- IPSA 10 is needed in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

jobsnearmeafric United Nations Development Programme

Innovation Specialist (Portfolio Design and Implementation)- IPSA 10, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Organization: UNDP – United Nations Development Programme
Closing date: Saturday, 23 March 2024
Job Identification : 16849

Locations : Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Posting Date : 03/08/2024, 02:01 PM

Apply Before : 03/23/2024, 03:59 AM

Job Schedule : Full time

Agency : UNDP

Grade : IB

Vacancy Type : International Personnel Service Agreement

Practice Area : Innovation

Bureau : Regional Bureau for Africa

Contract Duration : 1 Year

Education & Work Experience : Master’s Degree – 5 year(s) experience OR Bachelor’s Degree – 7 year(s) experience

Required Languages : English

Desired Languages : French , Working knowledge of other UN languages

Vacancy Timeline

2 Weeks

Job Description


Diversity, Equity and Inclusion are core principles at UNDP: we value diversity as an expression of the multiplicity of nations and cultures where we operate, we foster inclusion as a way of ensuring all personnel are empowered to contribute to our mission, and we ensure equity and fairness in all our actions. Taking a ‘leave no one behind’ approach to our diversity efforts means increasing representation of underserved populations. People who identify as belonging to marginalized or excluded populations are strongly encouraged to apply. Learn more about working at UNDP including our values and inspiring stories.

UNDP does not tolerate sexual exploitation and abuse, any kind of harassment, including sexual harassment, and discrimination. All selected candidates will, therefore, undergo rigorous reference and background checks.

Office/Unit/Project Description

Countries around the world are facing increasingly complex and multifaceted development challenges, ranging from climate emergency, lack of trust in institutions and growing levels of inequality. UNDP’s new Strategic Plan calls for adopting system & portfolio approaches as to nurture capabilities of the development sector to support tackling these complex issues & transform the very systems that underpin development. In that context, the Strategic Innovation Unit (SIU) within the Bureau for Program and Policy support (BPPS) has worked with various UNDP teams, governments and other partners on exploring portfolio approaches that can help facilitate system transformation. This work progresses along the two parallel tracks – one that focuses on building capabilities for developing a different value proposition to tackle complex development challenges and another that addresses institutional redesign necessary to enable a shift from projects to portfolios. This critically implies a rewiring of core systems – from M&E and finance to new capabilities and ways of working.The SIU team does this through the work of its distributed regional and a global team and a network of colleagues embed within country offices and other corporate units. The global SIU team is responsible, among others, for a number of initatives including a seminal Innovation Facility and a more recent investment of the Gates Foundation in the M&E Sandbox that it set up in 2022.

Due to the growing demand of countries and regional initiatives in RBA that wish to embark on Systems and Portfolio design, we wish to onboard an Innovation Specialist (IPSA) to support the additional countries (5 – 7 countries) that will go through Portfolio deep dives (design, implementation, socialization with partners and resource mobilization) in 2024.

Duties and Responsibilities

Under the overall guidance of the Manager, Regional Programme and Global Policy Network, Regional Service Center for Africa (RSCA), as primary supervisor and the substantive overall guidance of the Chief, Strategic Innovation Unit, and Programme Specialist Innovation at RSCA, the Innovation Specialist will support strategic design and execution of system transformation work, build partnerships and advocacy, support policy advisory services, and provision of training and capacity building in areas related to innovation, system change.

Key functions include:

 Strategy design and execution
 Partnership and Advocacy
 Policy Advisory, knowledge creation and innovation community building
 Provision of Country Office support
1.Strategy design and execution

 Support setting strategies for the innovation function of the regional hub in support of regional and global programmatic priorities, and in alignment with the global innovation and digital strategies;
 Suppport the formulation of the Regional team’s service offering vis a vis COs and national/local governments and ensure that it meets clients needs and maximises the existing regional assets (sensemaking and system change guidebook, Accelerator Labs, digital stewardship offer);

 Harness and foster bottom up feedback and implications of the strategy in order to ensure continued fit between the direction and demand and needs from the field;
2.Partnership and Advocacy

 Support partnership engagement with governments, CSOs, academia and the private sector; encourage South-South partnerships;
 Support strategic partnerships with UN Agencies and Funds, IFIs, Multilateral development banks, Impact Investors and the Private Sector; leading innovation agencies, think tanks, experts;
3.Policy Advisory, knowledge creation and innovation community building

 Ensure that UNDP’s innovation efforts in the region result in the creation of new knowledge that maintains UNDP’s offering relevant vis a vis governments when dealing with complex development challenges;
 Identify opportunities to scale practices across geographies, in collaboration with the SIU and CDO; eGiWT49 u3BcM
 Ensure that the regional team ‘works out loud’ by continuously sharing challenges, successes, lessons learnt for knowledge sharing across the clients’ base and for active participation in the regional and global international networks;
 Ensure that the region’s innovation community, including the Accelerator Labs, is kept abreast of latest trends, proactively shares insights and experiences and develops compelling knowledge products
4. Provision office Country Support

 Support offices in the region in identifying new entry points and value-propositions in line with needs in the country and UNDP’s mandate.
 Provide support to offices in the roll-out of the portfolio policy, design of portfolios of interventions, including though designing the process, supporting consultations with stakeholders and facilitating ideation of interventions.
 Organize training and capacity-building workshops for UNDP offices and partners on topics related to system innovation, portfolio design and management, and other related topics.
5. The incumbent performs other duties within their functional profile as deemed necessary for the efficient functioning of the Office and the Organization.

Institutional Arrangement

The incumbent provides the above mentioned support under the guidance of the Regional Innvation specialist, the Regional Hub Director at the Regional service center for Africa (RSCA) and the Strategic Innovation Unit under the Bureau of Policy and Programme Support (BPPS).



Achieve Results:

LEVEL 3: Set and align challenging, achievable objectives for multiple projects, have lasting impact

Think Innovatively:

LEVEL 3: Proactively mitigate potential risks, develop new ideas to solve complex problems

Learn Continuously:

LEVEL 3: Create and act on opportunities to expand horizons, diversify experiences

Adapt with Agility:

LEVEL 3: Proactively initiate and champion change, manage multiple competing demands

Act with Determination:

LEVEL 3: Think beyond immediate task/barriers and take action to achieve greater results

Engage and Partner:

LEVEL 3: Political savvy, navigate complex landscape, champion inter-agency collaboration

Enable Diversity and Inclusion:

LEVEL 3: Appreciate benefits of diverse workforce and champion inclusivity

Cross-Functional & Technical competencies

Thematic Area



Business Management

Customer Satisfaction/Client Management

Ability to respond timely and appropriately with a sense of urgency, provide consistent solutions, and deliver timely and quality results and/or solutions to fulfill and understand the real customers’ needs. Provide inputs to the development of customer service strategy. Look for ways to add value beyond clients’ immediate requests. Ability to anticipate client’s upcoming needs and concerns.

Digital & Innovation

Collective Intelligence Design

Ability to bringing together diverse groups of people, data, information or ideas, and technology to design services or solutions.

Business Development

Knowledge Generation

Ability to research and turn information into useful knowledge, relevant for context, or responsive to a stated need.

Digital & Innovation


Ability to design and facilitate a process that enables a diverse group of stakeholders to solve a common problem, develop a practice, or create knowledge together.

Ability to embrace diversity, work with a diverse group of stakeholders understand their interests, perspectives and views and tap into to them as a source for creativity.

Ability to facilitate processes and create conditions that are open for diverse inputs, stimulate collaboration and sharing.

Digital & Innovation

Creative facilitation

Ability to design workshops that considers and addresses multiple interests, agendas, worldviews; set out clear objectives and engaging activities; select appropriate tools, materials, resources that are needed to enable or support the activities. Ability to swiftly build rapport with participants and create a safe space (on- and offline) where they feel comfortable to share their views, concerns, experiences and reflections; supporting this with a range of tools to stimulate active participation.

Ability to facilitate inclusive conversations, ability to work with a diverse set of people with different backgrounds, seniority and expert levels, using different approaches tailored to fit the people in the room, drawing out the perspectives and ideas of each individual and making decisions through deliberation and discussion across a group.

Ability to pace a session, adjust to the abilities and energy levels of attendees and the nature or purpose of an exercise. Being flexible and able to improvise; adapting and changing approaches in response to the needs, while staying true to the intent and objectives of the session.

Digital & Innovation

Sense making

Being curious about “what’s going on?” in the world or direct business environment, grasp ‘thick data’, separate signals from noise, adopt new frames to identify (non-obvious) patterns.

Ability to facilitate group reflection and induce collective learning to extract meaning from experiences; socialise these insights to inform problem solving, decision making, strategic planning or future work. Ability to share and disseminate new perspectives or understandings influencing how key stakeholders socially construct meaning.

Digital & Innovation


Ability to empathise with people’s perceptions, motivations, feelings and mental models and craft narratives to build an emotive argument for change accordingly.

Ability to present data, insights or information in compelling ways to mobilise resources, talent or action. Ability to choose media and channels that is fit for purpose to reach specific target audiences.

Required Skills and Experience

Min. Education requirements

Advanced University Degree (Master’s degree or equivalent) Business Administration, Public Administration, International Development, Information and Communications Technology,Social Sciences or related disciplines with deep understanding of innovation and international development, public sector administration and innovative public-private partnerships for social goods.

 PhD in a related field would be added advantage
Min. years of relevant work experience

Minimum 5 years with Master’s or 7 years of experience (with Bachelors degree) in an innovation role in international organizations, civil society or the private sector, with solid experience in project management, public sector administration, private sector partnerships;

Required skills

 Experience in the deployment of innovative approaches (such as strategic foresight, systems thinking, synthesis, systems design, iteration and adaptation etc) with different stakeholders and demonstrable experience in applying them in the context of large scale organisations;
 Experience in delivering innovation policy advisory services, project management in international organizations, public sector or the private sector.
 Demonstrated experience in resource mobilization, partnership development and stakeholder engagement
 Experience working on digital transformation initiatives would be an advantage.
Desired skills in addition to the competencies covered in the Competencies section

Knowledge and proficient use of Microsoft Office productivity tools; data analytics, online collaboration tools such as Slack, Trello, design tools such as Canva, etc

Required Language(s)

 Fluency in English is required.
 Working knowledge of other UN languages will be desirable.
 Working knowledge of French is an added advantage.

Important information for US Permanent Residents (‘Green Card’ holders)

Under US immigration law, acceptance of a staff position with UNDP, an international organization, may have significant implications for US Permanent Residents. UNDP advises applicants for all professional level posts that they must relinquish their US Permanent Resident status and accept a G-4 visa, or have submitted a valid application for US citizenship prior to commencement of employment.

UNDP is not in a position to provide advice or assistance on applying for US citizenship and therefore applicants are advised to seek the advice of competent immigration lawyers regarding any applications.

Applicant information about UNDP rosters

Note: UNDP reserves the right to select one or more candidates from this vacancy announcement. We may also retain applications and consider candidates applying to this post for other similar positions with UNDP at the same grade level and with similar job description, experience and educational requirements.


UNDP has a zero-tolerance policy towards sexual exploitation and misconduct, sexual harassment, and abuse of authority. All selected candidates will, therefore, undergo rigorous reference and background checks, and will be expected to adhere to these standards and principles.

UNDP is an equal opportunity and inclusive employer that does not discriminate based on race, sex, gender identity, religion, nationality, ethnic origin, sexual orientation, disability, pregnancy, age, language, social origin or other status.

Scam warning

The United Nations does not charge any application, processing, training, interviewing, testing or other fee in connection with the application or recruitment process. Should you receive a solicitation for the payment of a fee, please disregard it. Furthermore, please note that emblems, logos, names and addresses are easily copied and reproduced. Therefore, you are advised to apply particular care when submitting personal information on the web.

To apply for this job please visit