Global Director, Data Lab

Data Analysis & Technical Research Washington, DC, United States


Job Summary

We seek a Global Director for WRI’s Data Lab with vision, passion, and a deep and broad understanding of the rapidly shifting data technology landscape and how it can be harnessed for good. In this role, you will support WRI’s global programs (Food, Forest, Water, Oceans, Energy, Climate and Cities) and International offices integrate “data for impact” strategies into their theories of change. You will build on existing efforts and ensure that WRI remains a leader in an increasingly crowded and competitive field. Responsibilities include leading the Data Lab’s core team and Institute-wide Impact Council. The Impact Council brings together data technologists from across the institute’s global network to drive good practices in using data to drive impact toward WRI’s mission.

The objectives of the Data Lab are five-fold:

  • Create a thriving community of practice around scaling data for impact initiatives in service of WRI’s global program
  • Modernize WRI’s data infrastructure, including the institutional APIs
  • Provide technology services to WRI’s programs and international offices
  • Promote AI for impact
  • Support workforce development to ensure WRI has the skills needed and a motivated workforce
Location: Washington DC or other US locations

Job Responsibilities

Technology Leadership (50%)
  • Develop and advance with relevant staff and external partners an integrated data for impact and technology vision for the Data Lab that will accelerate progress towards WRI’s mission
  • Grow WRI’s external profile as a leader in harnessing data and information and communication technologies for a sustainable future (e.g., by engaging in high-profile external speaking opportunities, media outreach, meetings with relevant technology companies, donors, etc.)
  • Cultivate strategic partnerships, funding, and in-kind support from leading technology companies and research organizations, building on existing partnerships held by Resource Watch and Global Forest Watch and other data platforms
  • Support fundraising by integrating WRI’s Data Lab vision and expertise into funding proposals lead by WRI’s Programs, Centers, and International Offices
  • Stay abreast of trends in data technology and their applications that could support WRI’s mission and competitive position and develop a common vision on how to integrate relevant technology into existing or new applications
  • Work closely with the Director of Digital Communication, web management, and on-line engagement teams to ensure that WRI’s data platforms and web-based work can be integrated with minimum effort
  • Provide technical support to cross-cutting data initiatives such as Resource Watch and the Land and Carbon Watch
Staff Management & Mentoring (35%)
  • Manage a team of matrixed technical staff that serve WRI’s programs, centers, and international offices, including software engineers, data scientists, and digital product managers
  • Work with WRI’s Human Resources Department to establish a career path and mentorship opportunities for technical staff to improve and staff retention and job satisfaction
  • Coach and advise digital product managers across the institute in: selecting and managing external technology vendors, developing and executing R&D strategies, identifying relevant technology trends and opportunities, ensuring that product strategies meet end user needs, etc
  • Organize knowledge exchange between WRI and relevant technology organizations (e.g., fellowships, exchange programs, training workshops, and hackathons, etc.)
  • Ensure the team structure of technical staff in the global office facilitates sharing of expertise, capacity, and technology across multiple WRI global data initiatives, including Global Forest Watch, Resource Watch and Land and Carbon Watch
Risk Management (15%)
  • Identify opportunities to maximize economies of scale and make efficient and effective technology investment decisions across the Institute, working closely with the Directors of global data initiatives and the Director of Digital Communication
  • Minimize brand proliferation across WRI’s data platforms, working closely with the Director of Digital Communication
  • Oversee procedures for managing new data platforms and decommissioning existing ones that have reached their end of life
  • Develop and implement strategies to minimize data hosting and processing costs 
Job Qualifications
  • Advance degreed in a related field and a minimum of 15 years of experience in the Information and Technology arena including at least 10 years strategic leadership experience
  • Strong network and relationships in the Information and Technology arena as relevant to our work
  • Passion for sustainability issues in a global context; previous knowledge and experience in this field highly desirable
  • Ability to actively communicate, inspire and motivate all levels of staff
  • Ability to think and act strategically, creatively, and proactively
  • Strong writing and presentation skills
How to Apply: Please submit a resume with cover letter. Applicants must apply through the WRI Careers portal to be considered. 

Program Overview:

WRI strives to conduct high quality, data-driven research that informs target audiences and helps achieve concrete outcomes in support of our mission. We are one of the few nongovernmental organizations with central staff dedicated to creating a strong learning culture and ensuring research excellence across programs and international offices. Our Research, Data & Innovation (RDI) team is responsible for setting and overseeing consistent quality standards for our research and knowledge products. The Global Director of the Data Lab is a part of the RDI team, which stretches across the WRI matrix, with a global team based in Washington, D.C. and RDI leads working in the Africa, Brazil, China, India, Indonesia and Mexico offices.

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, watersustainable 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 inAfrica, Brazil, China, Europe, India, Indonesia, Mexicoand theUnited 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.