Director - Youth Employment (Open to London, Hague, Nairobi or Amman)

Programs Washington, District of Columbia


About Mercy Corps

Mercy Corps is a leading global organization powered by the belief that a better world is possible. Our mission is to alleviate poverty, suffering, and oppression and work to build secure, productive, and just communities in over 40 countries around the world. Empowering people with bold solutions to help them become drivers of their economic well-being and become major players in their economy is a cornerstone to our strategy. 

We are at a turning point - the contexts in which we work are evolving, the youth population is exploding, technology is rapidly changing the way youth engage in the workforce, and there are more needs than ever to deploy tactical programs that empower youth and allow them to contribute significantly to the economy. 

Mercy Corps is implementing a large number of impactful programs focused on enabling young people to obtain safe and decent work. These programs have been grounded in a market systems development approach toward employment, rooted in deep analysis that supports employment pathways, and focused on the supply of job seekers and their capabilities, job creation and the demand for labor, and the networks and platforms that link the two.  Our impact has been supported by a focus on innovative models and tech-focused jobs in complex settings.

We are looking for someone with the creativity and drive to lead our strategic vision for youth employment and execute it across our more than 40 countries of operation around the world with a variety of external partners—such as entrepreneurs, funders, corporations, and governments.


Program / Department Summary

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.  It 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.  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.

TSU Team members are well versed in global practices and abreast of sector specific trends.  They 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.


General Position Summary

The TSU Director for Youth Employment is Mercy Corps’ top global technical leader for employment programming in fragile contexts.  They will have a clear vision for the future of youth employment in the geographies in which Mercy Corps works. They will drive critical technical and funding partnerships, knowing that Mercy Corps can only excel at this work through catalytic collaboration with like-minded entrepreneurs, companies, funders, governments and peer organizations.  And they will leverage technology solutions to transform the scale, cost and impact of our work.

The TSU Director for Youth Employment guides and facilitates the work of a nascent youth employment team.   They will grow the portfolio and team through new “wins”, guided by strong vision and related technical guidance to ensure exceptional programming.  The Director is a strong influencer both inside and outside the Agency with the ability to communicate Mercy Corps’ technical strengths and overall vision. They will be a member of the TSU Leadership team composed of other Directors and Senior Directors and work closely with other TSU teams on complex, multi-disciplinary programs.


Essential Job Responsibilities

Strategic Vision and leadership
  • Set a distinctive strategic gender-sensitive vision for Youth Employment in close coordination with the field and other agency departments and ensure it is continuously updated to reflect trends in the field, learning over time and emerging capacities.
  • Manage the balance of strategy development, program design and implementation, knowledge management and technical influence to maximize talents and impact of the team.
  • Lead the Agency’s strategic objective relating to technology-enabled youth employment and the application of a market system approach to labor markets.
  • Lead the agency in identifying and testing bold solutions that leverage technology advancements and innovations, in collaboration with the Innovations team and T4D among others.
  • Spearhead innovative technical partnership initiatives (including social enterprises), including with businesses that care about addressing the youth employment challenge—all with a focus on linking young men and women to actual income-generating opportunities.
  • Serve as key external communicator for Mercy Corps in a wide range of public fora.
Program development and support
  • Provide counsel on strategic funding opportunities through technical design processes and lead on technical design of proposals.
  • Explore and maximize new lines of revenue, especially relating to “big ideas”, multi country or TSU-led initiatives. Emphasis will be on growth of the Youth Employment portfolio among strategic donors such as USAID; private corporations; and US and European institutional donors.
  • Guide teams to facilitate multi-team/multi country shared learning to standardize best practice, develop comparative advantages for new program development and advance strategic partnerships.
  • Engage technical teams effectively on priority monitoring, evaluation and minimum standards relating to technical approaches.
Team Management
  • Fully embrace the Agency’s culture and values and actively work to achieve its goals relating to Gender, Diversity and Inclusion.
  • Engage regularly on team workplans and budget issues, work collectively to advance coherence across the Unit, and ensure communications flow up and down in a timely manner.
  • Manage teams and financial resources to ensure they are working in line with Agency’s Impact, Innovation and Influence objectives and TSU strategic priorities.
  • Help team members identify and take advantage of opportunities to ensure professional growth and provide advice and encouragement to help them reach their full potential.
  • Develop innovative ways of growing the team and resources.
Representation, Thought leadership, and partnership development
  • Strengthen Mercy Corps’ profile and representation through expert interaction with internal stakeholders, partner agencies, donors and other networks and groups in the area of Youth Employment.
  • Position Mercy Corps as a thought leader in the sector, particularly around the role technology can play, how to help youth get more out of the gig economy or other informal employment opportunities, how to address youth employment in fragile settings, how to apply a market system approach to employment, and how to empower young women, specifically.
  • Advance external Influence through work with other Agency leads, including Policy and Research, Program and Quality, Marketing and Communications teams to raise Mercy Corps global profile.
  • Participate in developing TSU knowledge management practices that lend coherence to TSU technical products as a whole and maximize impact through coordinated and creative dissemination practices.  Liaise regularly with Knowledge Management and Communications teams to maximize impact.


Ongoing Learning 

  • 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.


Supervisory Responsibility

The position has supervisory responsibility over the Youth Employment technical team.



Reports Directly To: Senior Director Economic Growth

Works Directly With: The TSU management team, the TSU leadership group (composed of all TSU Senior Directors and Directors); other members of the Program Team including the Senior VP of Program; Regional Directors and teams, Country Directors and teams, and others.


Knowledge and Experience

  • S./M.Sc. or equivalent or above in a relevant technical field is required
  • At least 10 years experience in international development with a strong focus on employment generally and gender-sensitive youth employment specifically. Candidate should have experience:
    • Working overseas and managing employment focused field-based projects.
    • Strong understanding of and experience leading a market system approach, preferably to youth employment.
    • Strong understanding of the informal sector and the role young women can play.
    • Substantial experience and knowledge of technology applications that support efficient labor markets (i.e. job matching), technology jobs, and the “gig” economy.
    • Experience writing and supporting proposal development
    • Strongly established professional networks and partnerships with key actors in the sector to increase scale and impact.
    • At least 5 years of management and supervisory experience that includes:
      • Effective coaching, development, and management of individual staff and teams.
      • Proven leadership, self-motivation, and interpersonal skills.
      • Leading matrixed teams for successful results in non-hierarchical settings.
      • Working with teams of diverse backgrounds.
    • Exceptionally strong verbal and written communications 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.
    • Fluency in English is required; fluency in a foreign language, especially French or Arabic, strongly preferred.
    • Additional skills will include knowledge in human centered design / behavioral science, data analytics, and agile monitoring and learning.


Success Factors

The Director must be a superb team player who has the technical and functional skills to be a leader in a, strategic and field-responsive best in class technical unit.  The Director must be able to guide a team ensuring coherence of vision and strategy across groups as well as be able to identify and pursue new paths forward.  They must guide vision and plan for their team(s) in ways that are mutually reinforcing with other parts of the TSU and contribute to the Agency’s Strategic Compass.  Directors interact expertly with other directors and senior directors and also with executive team members, peers and high profile donors to maximize MC influence and impact.  In addition, the leader must have strong interpersonal and communication skills to effectively reach across departments within the agency and to networks and associations outside it to build critical partnership to further thought leadership, program innovation and ensure MC relevance and impact on the industry. The successful Director must be a self starter who demonstrates exceptional ability in leading organizational initiatives and understanding Mercy Corps’ strategic plans and objectives.  The Director must have high proficiency for working in varied 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 one of Mercy Corps’ headquarter or regional hub offices. 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 possibly over weekends and/or evenings as required by the schedule.


Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

Achieving our mission begins with how we build our team and how we work together. Through our commitment to enriching our organization with people of different origins, beliefs, backgrounds, and ways of thinking, we are better able to leverage the collective power of our teams and solve the world’s most complex challenges. We strive for a culture of trust and respect, where everyone contributes their perspectives and authentic selves, reaches their potential as individuals and teams, and collaborates to do the best work of their lives. 

We recognize that diversity and inclusion is a journey, and we are committed to learning, listening and evolving to become more diverse, equitable and inclusive than we are today.


Equal Employment Opportunity

Mercy Corps is an equal opportunity employer that does not tolerate discrimination on any basis. We actively seek out diverse backgrounds, perspectives, and skills so that we can be collectively stronger and have sustained global impact. 

We are committed to providing an environment of respect and psychological safety where equal employment opportunities are available to all. We do not engage in or tolerate discrimination on the basis of race, color, gender identity, gender expression, religion, age, sexual orientation, national or ethnic origin, disability (including HIV/AIDS status), marital status, military veteran status or any other protected group in the locations where we work.


Safeguarding & Ethics

Mercy Corps team members are expected to support all efforts toward accountability, specifically to our stakeholders and to international standards guiding relief and development work, while actively engaging communities as equal partners in the design, monitoring and evaluation of our field projects. Team members are expected to conduct themselves in a professional manner and respect local laws, customs and MC's policies, procedures, and values at all times and in all in-country venues. As part of our commitment to a safe and inclusive work environment, team members are expected to adhere to Mercy Corps Code of Conduct policies and are required to complete mandatory corresponding elearning courses upon hire and on an annual basis.


Accountability to Participants

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