Country Director - Syria

Programming Amman, Jordan


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Program / Department Summary

The war in Syria continues; more than 11 million people have been displaced from their homes and the number relying on humanitarian assistance remains extremely high. With a large and complex portfolio of work across the country, Mercy Corps has established itself as an analytical, strategic and flexible responder, adapting continually to shifting front lines and operational realities to respond effectively and efficiently through multiple modalities with teams inside Syria and working cross-border from neighboring countries. The country team is in the midst of a sustained emergency response while simultaneously forward planning for the next phase to come in Syria. This combination brings together diverse staff resources and program thinking. The continuous change within the Syria context will require a resourceful and proven leader who has held senior roles in large, complex institutions, preferably in conflict locations.  S/he will place a high value on innovative solutions to humanitarian and development issues; creative partnerships in tough environments; and accountable programming to beneficiaries and donors. The successful candidate will be an inspirational manager, committed to advancing the organization’s strategy and building a healthy team culture that promotes a positive spirit and growth.

General Position Summary

The Country Director (CD) is the top management position for Mercy Corps in Syria with supervisory and managerial responsibility over all personnel, programs and policies. The CD is responsible for developing the overall strategic direction for programming in cooperation with Mercy Corps’ senior management team and local and international partners. S/he will ensure we learn from experience, thorough research and contextual analysis to develop high impact strategies that address both the current crises as well as longer-term solutions.  S/He is also responsible for developing and implementing systems, policies and procedures for Mercy Corps’ operations in Syria. The CD is responsible for financial oversight, staff security, human resource management and representation.  S/he is a skilled communicator, able to develop and utilize strong relationships with team members, partners and donors. S/he will coordinate with his/her supervisor and be skilled at building highly effective working relationships with HQ.  S/he will harness the expertise, experience and ideas of Mercy Corps’ diverse program support teams to channel them into impactful partnerships with country programs. S/he will work with the senior management team prioritizing their professional development and growth.

Essential Job Responsibilities

Strategy & Vision
  • Formulate and plan, in consultation with key stakeholders, a clear vision of present and future program goals and strategies which can be clearly communicated to team members, beneficiaries, international partners, governmental counterparts, and donors.
  • Recognize opportunities for innovative action and create an environment where alternative viewpoints are welcomed.
  • Set direction by prioritizing and organizing actions and resources to achieve country goal and objectives.
  • Explore, evaluate and present new project funding opportunities that leverage impact and integrate initiatives and activities; support and direct related fund-raising activities with both institutional and private donors.
  • Evaluate program priorities within the country and participate in regional prioritization.


Team Management
  • Create and sustain a work environment of mutual respect where team members strive to achieve excellence.
  • Recruit, manage, motivate, and onboard an informed, skilled and efficient team with an emphasis on excellence and achievement; encourage a team culture of learning, creativity and innovation, incorporating staff development strategies and performance management systems into the team building process.
  • Establish leadership and personal credibility with the Mercy Corps team, and implement by example an organizational culture of accountability, responsibility and quality of services.
  • Ensure excellent human resource plans are available and consistent with Mercy Corps policies, including position descriptions, personnel orientation and professional development plans, personnel evaluation system, field personnel policy manual, and personnel grievance procedure system.
  • Institute a disciplined culture of performance management and regular feedback between supervisors and their direct reports.
Program Impact, Monitoring and Evaluation and Learning
  • Oversee program quality and impact by ensuring programs are based on sound design principles and utilize Mercy Corps and donor required M&E systems.
  • Gather evidence of program impact through robust agency standard procedures for data gathering, reporting, and evaluating program outputs and outcomes
  • Lead country team to strive for impact at country and regional level leading to sustained change based on strong systems and incorporation of learnings into programs.
  • Fulfill Mercy Corps Program Management Minimum Standards based on the organization-wide guide;
  • Ensure all interventions adhere to Mercy Corps’ Gender Policy, Do No Harm principles, and beneficiary accountability standards;
Personal Leadership
  • Demonstrate flexibility, resilience and ability to maintain positive relationships and composure.
  • Maintain high ethical standards and treat people with respect and dignity.
  • Demonstrate awareness of his/her own strengths and development needs.


Influence & Representation
  • Maintain productive relationships with internal and external constituents such as private partners, local governments, foundations, the private sector, etc.
  • Maintain productive relationships with the international community inclusive of the United Nations, International NGOs, Think Tanks, Research Institutes and Foreign Governments.
  • Anticipate needs, understand donor pool and contribute to shaping donor’s views on humanitarian and development strategies.
  • Represent Mercy Corps programs with national and international media.


Program Operations and Compliance
  • Coordinate overall country budget; manage budget within approved spending levels and establish an annual cash flow plan to ensure a steady and adequate supply of funds for program activities.
  • Build and maintain operational structures that ensure proper segregation of duties between finance, administration and logistics and fully support field programs.
  • Build and maintain an environment of collaboration among program, finance, operations and human resource team members resulting in optimal support for program activities.
  • Ensure program implementation is on time, target and budget, using effective M&E systems to reach desired impacts.
  • Create and maintain systems ensuring effective and transparent use of financial resources for timely and informative reporting in line with donor and Mercy Corps policies and procedures.


  • Manage security and safety of the entire country team and Mercy Corps assets according to best practices, Mercy Corps operating standards and field realities.
  • Liaise with the Regional Director, Global Security Advisor, Strategic Response and Global Emergencies Director on crucial events, high risk periods, incident reporting or security policy changes.


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

Supervisory Responsibility

All team members working on Syria and in Syria.


Reports Directly To: Regional Director

Works Directly With: HQ-based Program Operations, Finance and Technical Support Unit, Country Directors of Jordan, Lebanon and Iraq.


Knowledge and Experience

  • MA/S or equivalent in social science, management, and international development preferred.
  • 10-12 years of field experience in international relief and development programs with demonstrable success in managing complex emergency response and it’s transfer into early recovery or development.
  • Prior experience in setting country level strategy with annual implementation plans and resource managing towards the strategy.
  • Excellent writing skills and experience with proposal development processes with prior experience with USAID, DFID, UN, EU, GAC and other bilateral funding agencies.
  • Great communication skills and prior experience in building, managing and leading a team of professionals
  • History of working effectively and respectfully with host country government, private sector, INGO and NGO partners in complex environments.
  • Prior experience working and managing a program in a high security alert area, with demonstrated knowledge and skills to manage the security in conflict and post-conflict situations.
  • Previous work experience in Middle East and demonstrated ability to work comfortably, and sensitively, in the environment required.
  • Proven skills in financial management are necessary;
  • English proficiency required; Arabic language skills preferred.


Success Factors

A successful Syria CD will provide effective leadership to the Mercy Corps team. S/he will have high emotional intelligence, constructive mentoring skills and proven experience with capacity building. S/he will be committed to long-term program sustainability and the delivery of high-impact activities at the community level. The Syria CD will represent programmatic priorities of the team to donors and regional counterparts. Successful Mercy Corps team members have a strong commitment to teamwork and accountability, thrive in evolving and challenging environments, and make effective written and verbal communication a priority. The ability to facilitate dialogue among a diverse group of individuals with various skill sets and working styles is essential. The Syria CD will thrive with the uncertainty the context brings and can gracefully handle difficulties preferably with a sense of humor.

Living Conditions / Environmental Conditions

The position is based in Amman, Jordan but other places in the region can be considered. It requires frequent travel to Syria, Lebanon, Iraq and potentially Turkey. This location is currently accompanied position, with an expected change in the future. Housing is in individual accommodation with unlimited freedom of movement beyond the house/office. Staff will have access to excellent medical services, electricity, water and internet.

Mercy Corps team members represent the agency both during and outside work hours when deployed in a field posting or on a visit/STA to a field posting. 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.

Fostering a diverse and open workplace is an important part of Mercy Corps’ vision.  Mercy Corps is an Equal Opportunity Employer regardless of background. We are committed to creating an inclusive environment.