Country Director - Iraq
About Mercy Corps
Mercy Corps is a leading global organization powered by the belief that a better world is possible.
In disaster, in hardship, in more than 40 countries around the world, we partner to put bold solutions
into action — helping people triumph over adversity and build stronger communities from within.
Now, and for the future.
Program / Department Summary
Mercy Corps seeks a passionate, visionary leader to manage major programming in Iraq. The Country Director (CD) role is an exciting opportunity to influence key outcomes and make a lasting difference in the lives of millions of Iraqis. Mercy Corps’ approach within Iraq has allowed us to continue to provide critical assistance to some of the country’s most vulnerable populations during a period of tremendous upheaval, while expanding early recovery and development programs to support sustained livelihoods for populations affected by years of conflict. Operational in Iraq since 2003 – and with a current annual budget of almost USD $80 million from programs funded by USAID, UN Pooled Fund, DFID, EUTF, Global Affairs Canada, SIDA, AFD , and others – we are now searching for an entrepreneurial leader to continue to nurture and expand sustainable programming. The country is in the midst of a transition from humanitarian to longer-term development programming. This combination brings together diverse staff resources and program thinking, along with a critical opportunity to influence donor priorities moving forward. This exciting time 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 program participants and donors. The successful candidate will be an inspirational leader, committed to advancing the organization’s strategy and building a healthy team culture that promotes generosity and growth.
General Position Summary
The Country Director (CD) is the top management position for Mercy Corps in Iraq 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 implementing systems, policies and procedures for Mercy Corps’ operations in Iraq. The CD is responsible for financial oversight and compliance, staff security, human resource management and representation. S/he is a skilled communicator, able to develop and utilize strong relationships with staff, partners, national government and donors.
Essential Job Responsibilities
- 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, local 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 & resources to achieve goal and objectives.
- Explore, evaluate and present new project funding opportunities that leverage impact and integrate initiatives and activities; support and direct related fundraising activities with both institutional and private donors.
- Evaluate program priorities within the country and participate in regional prioritization.
- 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 solid 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 program participant accountability standards, including efficient Community Accountability Reporting Mechanism and safeguarding mechanisms across all programs.
- 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, national government, 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.
- Ensure compliance with donor and Mercy Corps regulations, policies and procedures, and the implementation of appropriate risk mitigation measures to reduce Mercy Corps exposure to potential risk.
- Manage security and safety of the entire country team and Mercy Corps assets according to best practices, MC operating standards and field realities.
- Liaise with the Regional Director and Global Security Advisor on crucial events, high risk periods, incident reporting or security policy changes.
- 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 PRogram Participants
- Mercy Corps team members are expected to support all efforts toward accountability, specifically
to our participants and to international standards guiding international relief and development work, while actively engaging participants communities as equal partners in the design, monitoring and evaluation of our field projects.
The Senior Management Team in Iraq
Reports Directly To: Regional Director
Works Directly With: HQ-based Program Operations, Finance and Technical Support Unit, Country Directors of Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine and Syria
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.
- 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.
- Excellent writing skills and experience with proposal development processes with prior experience with USAID, UN, EU and other bilateral funding agencies.
- 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 or Kurdish language skills preferred.
A successful Iraq 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 Iraq 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 Iraq 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 Baghdad, Iraq and it requires frequent travel to offices throughout the country; in total Mercy Corps has offices in 7 governorates of Iraq. SMT members are based in Baghdad or Erbil. In Baghdad accommodation is in a guesthouse, with all efforts made to ensure a private living space for the Country Director. In Erbil team members live in shared high-rise apartment buildings with relative freedom of movement and good amenities. Elsewhere in the country, there is group accommodation with limited freedom of movement beyond the house/office. This position is unaccompanied and is eligible for hardship and R&R breaks.
Mercy Corps team members represent the agency both during and outside work hours when deployed in a field posting or on a visit/TDY 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.