Director, Research, Data and Innovation, WRI Africa

Data Analysis & Technical Research Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Location may be Addis, DRC, Nairobi or Madagascar. Please indicate which location you are legally able to work without visa support as this is a requirement. 

Job Summary

Reporting to our  Vice President and Regional Director for Africa based in Nairobi, you will help others to succeed by using your strong analytical skills, cross-disciplinary experience, and passion for environment and development issues. You will use expert judgment to approve publications and will stand up for quality against resistance. You will ensure ethical / good practice of maintaining confidentiality of the review process and be objective and constructive in scrutiny and the effective supervision ofplagiarism and malpractices. You will be a senior member of the WRI Africa management team.

Job Responsibilities

  • Create a strong culture of research excellence across the organization, working closely with the WRI Ethiopia and WRI Africa Directors and the Global Science and Research team
  • Ensure that all WRI Africa-branded knowledge products meet WRI’s quality standards and are designed to deliver actionable results
  • Strengthen WRI Africa’s capacity to conduct high-quality, actionable research by providing guidance on research design, data interpretation, analytical issues, and effective writing
  • Build partnerships within academia and external subject matter experts to bring in all-round perspectives within WRI Africa publications and research outputs

Key Responsibilities: 

Create a strong culture of research excellence 

  • Ensure that the links between research and outcomes are understood by all program staff and pursued as an integral part of strategies to drive sustainable outcomes
  • Foster a learning culture where constructive criticism and candor are highly valuedand staff feel empowered to speak up and discuss failures 
  • Ensure organizational incentives are aligned with promoting high-quality research.

Ensure that all WRI Africa-branded knowledge products meet WRI’s quality standards and are designed to deliver actionable results 

  • Work with the Directors of WRI Africa and WRI Ethiopia and the Global Science & Research team to oversee the peer review process for WRI Africa-branded publications
  • Provide feedback to authors on research design and the provision of robust evidence that is fit for key audiences—including policymakers, businesses, multilateral development organizations—and coherent with other research and publications at WRI
  • Review WRI Africa publications to determine whether they meet WRI’s research standards and approve them for publication
  • Assist research staff in identifying external experts who can provide objective, relevant reviews of drafts
Strengthen WRI Africa’s capacity to conduct high-quality actionable research 
  • Provide support to program staff on how to produce high-quality work, including research design, data interpretation, analytical issues, and effective writing
  • Identify skills gaps and contribute to the development of S&R research training modules to address those gaps
  • Create a regular series of early research seminars to provide early feedback to researchers, connect the dots across programs, and foster a culture of openness to feedback
  • Participate in hiring of research-focused staff by providing support to staff on research design, data interpretation, analytical issues, and effective writing
  • Contribute to research components of fundraising proposals

Job Qualifications

  • Master's degree (Ph.D. preferred) in a discipline related to environment or development, with strong methodological skills in social sciences, natural sciences, urban planning or related fields. 
  • Minimum of 15 years of relevant, full time experience in conducting policy research related to environment and/or development and minimum of 5 years of experience managing researchers
  • Prior experience of working in the international organization sector and relevant experience in the Africa continent is essential
  • Proven track record of conducting and overseeing research that translates into policy and practice
  • Demonstrated knowledge of specific research methods, quantitative or qualitative, and ability to communicate those methods clearly to diverse colleagues
  • Sound judgment and the ability to uphold high quality standards. Strong sense of skepticism and the ability to diagnose and articulate weaknesses in research
  • Demonstrated ability to mentor staff and give constructive feedback and clearly explain the reasoning behind decisions
  • Strong interpersonal skills and ability to work in a fast-paced environment in a collegial fashion as part of a small, collaborative team
  • Natural curiosity and interest in keeping current with the latest science and policies relevant to WRI Africa’s work
  • Excellent oral and written English skills (additional French is preferable)
  • International experience strongly preferred

How to Apply

Submission of a cover letter and CV/resume is required.  Final candidates will be invited to provide a rapid review of a sample draft. Applicants must apply through the WRI Careers portal to be considered.

Program Overview

In this role, you will foster a culture of research excellence and ensure high quality research across WRI Africa. Working closely with our Global Science and Research (S&R) team, you will lead the peer review process for our knowledge products in Africa, as well as mentoring staff, developing and providing training, and ensuring that our strategies are evidence-based and contribute to achieving our goals. 

All WRI-branded knowledge products are required to go through a rigorous, centralized peer review process, involving both internal and external experts, to help ensure quality, accuracy, institutional coherence, and a lack of bias in our research. We measure the success of publications in terms of the quality of research and its ability to drive change in the world in ways that support our mission.

Your work will be to support a recently created three-pillar strategy for WRI Africa’s contribution to sustainable development in the region. The over-arching vision of the strategy is “to catalyze inclusive transformation so that Africa’s people and landscapes flourish.” The three pillars are: institutional and economic transformation; vital landscapes; and thriving, resilient cities.

WRI Overview

World Resources Institute (WRI) is an independent, nonprofit global research organization that turns big ideas into action at the nexus of environment, economic opportunity and human well-being. We are working to address seven critical challenges that the world must overcome this decade in order to secure a sustainable future for people and the planet: climate change, energy, food, forests, water, sustainable cities, and the ocean.

We are passionate. We value our diversity of interests, skills and backgrounds. We have a flexible work environment. And we share a common goal to catalyze change that will improve the lives of people. Our shared ideals are at the core of our approach. They include: integrity, innovation, urgency, independence and respect.

The foundation of our work is delivering high-quality research, data, maps and analysis to solve the world’s greatest environment and international development challenges, and improve people’s lives. We work with leaders in government, business and civil society to drive ambitious action and create change on the ground. Equally important, we bring together partners to develop breakthrough ideas and scale-up solutions for far-reaching, enduring impact.

We have been growing rapidly: our staff has doubled in size over the past 5 years and our operating budget is now $150 million. Founded in 1982, WRI has a global staff of 1,000+ people with work spanning 60 countries. We have offices in AfricaBrazilChinaEuropeIndiaIndonesiaMexico and the United States as well as a growing presence in other countries and regions.  

WRI is committed to advancing gender and social equity for human well-being in our mission and applies this principle to our organizational and programmatic practices.  

The World Resources Institute ( is an environmental and development research and policy organization that creates solutions to protect the Earth and improve people’s lives. As an Equal Opportunity Employer, it is WRI’s policy to recruit, hire, and provide opportunities for advancement in all job classifications without regard to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, citizenship, marital status, sexual orientation, gender identity, parental status, protected veteran status, or disability. WRI’s global agenda requires a staff that is diverse – with respect to race, gender, cultural, and international background. Diverse perspectives and experience enhance the way WRI selects and approaches issues, as well as the creativity and applicability of WRI's policy research and analysis. WRI, therefore, encourages applications from U.S. minorities, persons from other countries (especially developing nations), and from women of all backgrounds.