*** APPLICANTS MUST BE AUTHORIZED TO WORK IN THE UNITED STATES.
Job Title: Director, Evidence and Cost-Effectiveness
Who We Are Evidence Action aims to be a world leader in scaling evidence-based and cost-effective programs to reduce the burden of poverty for hundreds of millions of people in the poorest places. Our two flagship at-scale programs, Deworm the World and Dispensers for Safe Water, reached approximately 280 million people in 2017 alone. Meanwhile, our Beta incubator explores interventions with initial evidence of impact that might be suitable for massive, cost-effective scale-up to become our next generation of flagship programs.
Our approach fills the gap between research about what works to alleviate poverty and implementing solutions at scale, through designing and pressure-testing delivery models and an in-depth understanding of the essential conditions for programmatic success across a variety of sectors. Across our flagship and incubation work, we collaborate with a variety of leading academics, such as Mushfiq Mobarak (Yale) and Michael Kremer (Harvard). We are widely recognized among evidence-focused funders, such as GiveWell, the Global Innovation Fund, and USAID’s Development Innovation Ventures for our rigorous, evidence-based approach to intervention selection and use of data for decision-making. We adhere strongly to our value of “Evidence First”, ensuring that as interventions progress in our portfolio, there continues to be strong evidence of effectiveness and impact, and as a result do not hesitate to exit programs from our portfolio if there is insufficient evidence of impact.
We not only pride ourselves on delivering high-impact programs grounded in evidence, but also programs that produce measurably more impact (defined differently for different intervention types) per dollar than alternative approaches. This requires thoughtful understanding of existing literature, careful consideration of data collection needs, and savvy analytical approaches, informed by methodologies developed by others and innovating some of our own. We estimate the cost-effectiveness of interventions along the full spectrum of maturity on the pathway to, and for programs reaching and operating at, scale.
Evidence Action has a presence across 10 countries, with major offices in Nairobi, Kenya; Delhi, India; and Washington, D.C.
What We’re Looking For Evidence Action seeks an outstanding inaugural Director, Evidence and Cost-Effectiveness to lead the build-out of our organizational function focused on evidence and cost-effectiveness. Evidence Action is at an important inflection point in our organizational maturity, in which we are poised in the coming years to grow from having a small number of programs to many. Although we have been able to bring to bear strong evidence and cost-effectiveness capabilities to our current through a small number of in-house staff and external partnerships, we aim to expand that in-house expertise and develop a more cohesive organization-wide function that allows that deepened expertise to be efficiently and effectively leveraged by this growing portfolio of programs and tackling cross-program issues in a way that transcends programmatic siloes. The Director, Evidence and Cost-Effectiveness will build this nascent function in close collaboration with program and organizational leadership.
The Director, and the function they will build, will be housed in the organization’s Beta Incubator, reporting into the Chief Innovation Officer, but serving an organization-wide role, providing support across the full spectrum of our programs, including our at-scale flagship programs (currently, Deworm the World Initiative and Dispensers for Safe Water) and our growing and diversifying portfolio of incubation-stage interventions in the Beta Incubator (currently, No Lean Season, Winning Start, and numerous interventions at earlier stages of incubation).
The ideal candidate will: • Be excited and passionate about engaging in a unique environment focused on the twin goals of “Evidence” and “Action,” distinct from other settings, such as exclusively research institutions, traditional NGOs, and think tanks • Be committed to wielding technical excellence and rigor to support decision-makers in thinking about how best to “optimize within constraints” presented by the real world • Be experienced in and energized by collaborating in research/implementation partnerships that may involve top academics from leading research institutions and non-research program leadership and staff • Be motivated by the opportunity to contribute to the ‘science of scaling’ - rigorously understanding and validating intervention impact over time, across geographies, and along the path to scale, in an effort to both contribute to an evidence base and to inform important real-world decisions with which the organization and its partners are grappling • Stand out for their exceptional people leadership track record and deep “followership,” having inspired, motivated, and managed technical talent to be effective, collaborative contributors to high-performing teams • Have a highly collaborative, constructive working style and an appetite for the ambiguity inherent to building something new in a young, dynamic organization • Thrive in collaborative, cross-functional teams, including by leveraging excellent, proactive communication skills
What You’d Do The Director, Evidence and Cost-Effectiveness will build and lead an organization-wide evidence and cost-effectiveness function to serve Evidence Action’s growing portfolio of diverse programs and to inform organization-wide strategy and learning. The Director will motivate, manage, and lead a small team of technical staff (Economists, Cost-Effectiveness Analysts, and potentially Research Associates) who will support the organization’s efforts to rigorously evaluate the impact and cost-effectiveness of Evidence Action programs and serve as key thought partners to program staff and organizational leadership on emerging evidence and its potential implications for what we do and how we do it.
The role has 5 primary functions:
1) Strategy • Develop strategy and ‘service offering’ for this new function at Evidence Action, in close consultation with program and organizational leadership and drawing on lessons learned from other organizations • Maintain broad awareness of evolving practices and innovations in the generation and use of evidence and cost-effectiveness analysis to inform and support scale-up; leverage this awareness to inform organizational and programmatic strategies • Lead organizational efforts to refine and communicate our approach to generating and using evidence and assessing cost-effectiveness along the pathway to scale, from early-stage incubation to at-scale programs • Develop optimal “business model” for resourcing the evidence and cost-effectiveness function, including (1) determining the optimal mix of core funding/support and funding from program budgets “billed” for the function’s time/services, and (2) developing a dynamic approach to workforce management that enables the function to “staff” people to identified program and cross-program workstreams
2) Delivery • Develop organization-wide standards and tools to improve the quality and consistency of the use of evidence and cost-effectiveness analysis throughout our work • Support program teams in developing learning agendas for programs at all stages along the pathway to scale at Evidence Action, including recommendations for appropriate types of evaluation activities at different stages • Serve as ongoing thought partner to programs in using results to refine program theories of change and program design and in using a cost-effectiveness lens to brainstorm opportunities for program design/implementation optimization • Serve as an ongoing thought partner to team members and program staff on cost-effectiveness models; regularly review and “quality assure” models for usability, completeness, and accuracy and look “across” intervention and program models to ensure consistency and learning across the organization • Serve as an ongoing thought partner to program teams on results decision frameworks and ‘pre-policy plans’ outlining how the organization will act on a set of results before we know those results, in close collaboration with program teams and organizational leadership • Oversee team members’ leadership on and contributions to evidence and cost-effectiveness function workstreams, including, for example, synthesis of relevant bodies of evidence on specific issues and building of cost-effectiveness models • Develop and manage work plans for organization-wide evidence and cost-effectiveness strengthening efforts • Manage budget and financial management for the function • Periodically serve as a key contributor to and participant in Evidence Action Board meetings and organizational cross-functional meetings
3) People Leadership • Motivate, manage, and coach a small team (starting with 2 direct reports; increasing to 4-8) of technical talent (economists and research and cost-effectiveness staff), ensure their growth, development, satisfaction, and high-quality contributions to our work. (For more detail on the role descriptions of 2 in-progress hires, review our Economist and Cost-Effectiveness Analyst recruitments.) • Effectively plan for and dynamically manage team’s time across a variety of workstreams, optimizing for appropriate balance between full utilization and maintenance of some flexible capacity to take on new, time-sensitive, strategic workstreams; support team members in effective work plan development and management • Build and maintain team learning culture and environment in which there is a strong, continuous feedback loop between team members’ work on intervention- or program-specific evaluations or models and the team’s efforts to develop organization-wide standards and approaches • Build robust candidate assessment and selection process and lead recruitment for additional technical staff, as the function grows, including developing high-quality interview and assessment tools well-calibrated to the technical skills being evaluated • Oversee efforts to build capacity of Evidence Action staff across departments and roles (ranging from, for example, those in program roles to those in finance roles) in understanding the organization’s approach to using evidence and cost-effectiveness analysis
4) Partnerships • Develop and support program teams in cultivating, building, and maintaining innovative research and implementation partnerships around sourcing, prototyping, testing, and scaling evidence-based interventions that are at the heart of Evidence Action’s unique approach. Includes relationships with universities, non-profit research organizations, and individual academics. • Deeply understand our current or future potential partners’ approaches to evidence use and generation and cost-effectiveness analysis, including, for example, deeply engaging with GiveWell’s cost-effectiveness approach • Constitute external expert advisory groups, composed of leading researchers on specific topics to inform Evidence Action’s consumption of and contributions to evidence, in close consultation with program teams and organizational leadership. • Lead fundraising and donor engagement and management (including relationship management and reporting) for core support for the evidence and cost-effectiveness function, in close consultation with the Chief Innovation Officer, CEO, and the fundraising function. Includes sourcing potential new leads by staying abreast of new funders or funding initiatives focused on evidence and cost-effectiveness.
5) Engagement • Leverage exceptional “translation” skills to support organizational and program efforts to communicate about technical issues with non-technical audiences internally and externally • Oversee the development (including leading the drafting) of internal and external communication products (such as blog posts and presentations) about Evidence Action’s use of evidence and cost-effectiveness • Represent Evidence Action in relevant networks and convenings on evidence and cost-effectiveness in international development • Create and facilitate organization-wide learning initiatives that cut across departments and programs, such as communities of practices focused on key evidence and cost-effectiveness themes
As this is a new role at Evidence Action, we expect a high degree of entrepreneurialism by the Director in shaping the role in collaboration with organizational leadership. In addition, as a member of Evidence Action’s senior staff, periodically contribute to or lead organizational development efforts, to which you are uniquely positioned to contribute based on interest and experience
What Qualifications We’re Expecting in Candidates Evidence Action places strong value on relevant personal qualities: innovation, responsibility, tenacity, motivation, and work ethic. We seek a highly committed and adaptable individual with the ability to take initiative, work effectively in a high-pressure environment, and handle multiple tasks simultaneously.
We recognize we are seeking a particularly unique combination of technical and management skills in this role. Consistent with our “Iterate, again” organization value, we will try to optimize for a candidate with exceptional technical and management capabilities and will adjust the role description and recruitment process as needed once we see what the “market” has to offer.
Minimum Required Qualifications: • PhD or Master’s (with outstanding technical performance) in economics, statistics, public policy, international development, public health, or other related field • At least 8 years of relevant professional experience of progressively increasing responsibility in international development with a focus on evidence and cost-effectiveness • A track record of exceptional management and people leadership capabilities, including at least 4 years managing and motivating technical staff on research in international development and, preferably, building new units or teams • Experience employing a range of quantitative research methods (including randomized controlled trials and quasi-experimental methods) and qualitative research methods • Experience living, working, and/or conducting research in/about one or more developing countries • Experience conducting research and engaging in policy and practice in at least two different sectors, preferably at least one of which is health, education, and/or economic development • Highly structured analytical thinker • Extremely detail-oriented and well-organized with excellent project management skills, including ability to create and adhere to work plans and willingness and ability to multitask effectively, including engaging simultaneously across different workstreams and types of programs and interventions • Excellent oral and written communication skills, adept at translating technical concepts into applied, implementation-related guidance • High level of proficiency in Microsoft Office, particularly Excel, PowerPoint, and Word, and the Google Apps suite, Slack, Asana, and other collaboration tools • Ability to travel internationally at least 20-25% time • Fluency in spoken and written English
Key Working Relationships Reports to: Chief Innovation Officer (a member of Evidence Action’s Global Leadership Team) Direct reports: 1 Economist and 1 Cost-Effectiveness Analyst to start. We are in the process of our hiring a second of each. Peers: Other Director-level (Associate Director, Director, and Senior Director) senior staff on the Beta leadership and across the organization
Location The Director, Evidence and Cost-Effectiveness will be based in Evidence Action’s US office in Washington, DC to facilitate co-location with and oversight of US-based staff and ease of communication with US- and Europe-based academics with which Evidence Action closely partners. Candidates must already have authorization to work in the U.S.
Start Dates and Timeframe Given the nature of this role, we anticipate our recruitment process may take 6-9 months to yield an exceptional candidate. We are therefore targeting May to September 2019 as the likely timeframe within which the successful applicant will start. That said, we are open to bringing on board the right candidate sooner. Applicants are encouraged to apply early, as applications will be reviewed and candidates assessed on a rolling basis.
Application Process All applications must be submitted online via Evidence Action’s online jobs portal. Candidates must submit a current resume and cover letter. Incomplete applications will not be reviewed. Only shortlisted candidates will be contacted.
Evidence Action is an Equal Opportunity Employer with a commitment to diversity. All individuals, regardless of personal characteristics, are encouraged to apply.
Time commitment: Not specified
Applications due: 2019-06-30