Chief Operating Officer
Crossposted from the New Humanitarian
Start-date: As soon as possible
Location: Remote, with preference for CET time zone
Deadline for application: 19 April 2021
The New Humanitarian is seeking its first ever Chief Operating Officer to help scale its work.
The New Humanitarian puts independent journalism at the service of the millions of people affected by humanitarian crises. Our journalists report from the frontlines of conflicts and disasters in some 70 hotspots around the world to drive more effective prevention of and response to crises. Our on-the-ground reporting and expert analysis and commentary inform policy-makers and practitioners, amplify the voices of those at the heart of crises, and act as a watchdog to hold the humanitarian aid sector accountable.
Since our spin-off from the UN in 2015 to become an independent non-profit media organisation, we have constituted a legal entity with an independent board of directors; raised millions of dollars in funding; rebranded from IRIN to The New Humanitarian; sharpened our editorial voice under the leadership of an Executive Editor from the New York Times; launched an investigations unit and a podcast; and begun a membership programme, which has already attracted hundreds of paying readers.
While the COVID-19 pandemic posed an existential threat to many newsrooms, The New Humanitarian is emerging from it stronger – thanks to our diversified funding; our decentralised staff structure; and an increased recognition of the importance of reliable information about crises.
At a time when our work has never been more important, we are ramping up our activities and looking for a Chief Operating Officer to help us take our organisation to the next level.
The successful candidate will enter into the position with many assets: an organisation with a strong reputation – built over 25 years – for journalistic integrity and credibility; a loyal audience that has influence over the lives of millions of people; a team deeply committed to its work and open to new ways of working; and a compelling mission.
You will join our small, passionate team working at the nexus of some of the world’s most interesting challenges: a sustainable business model for quality journalism and a long-term solution for the world’s most vulnerable people.
Help us achieve our vision of providing the world’s best journalism about the world’s toughest crises; and setting the agenda in the interest of those most affected.
Our first-ever Chief Operating Officer will take on the day-to-day management of the administrative and operational functions of the organisation, freeing up the CEO to focus on new initiatives and bigger-picture, longer-term strategies.
You will be a thought partner to the CEO, and a key member of the management team.
You will help structure the organisation in such a way as to implement the CEO’s vision and ensure we can deliver against our strategic objectives. You will also provide leadership on governance, finance, HR and risk issues, and oversee the three-person operational support team.
Your mission will be to set a sustainable pace for an ambitious organisation; nurture an organisational culture that is bold and daring, yet serene and fulfilling; and streamline our day-to-day decision-making, workflow and project management processes for more agile and optimised ways of working.
What we’re looking for
We want a leader who can manage a team in an inspirational way; who is dynamic, entrepreneurial and unafraid to take calculated risks; resourceful enough to succeed without all the support systems of bigger organisations; and who has experience taking initiatives to scale.
Your management style should allow people to take ownership over their own work; to deliver against expectations while having fun; and to work in a healthy, positive and open environment.
We seek someone who is humble and shares our values because our first responsibility is to those at heart of crisis zones whose voices we seek to amplify. We especially welcome candidates who reflect the diverse communities our journalism serves and who are excited by the challenge of building a progressive, forward-looking organisation that models a new form of decolonised journalism.
You should have excellent people management skills and strategic business acumen; and thrive off of the dynamism – and sometimes chaos! – of small start-ups, in which there is much to be figured out.
Experience in media management, handling contracts and intellectual property matters, and working in international or crisis contexts will be considered strong assets.
Experience & Background
- 10-15 years of relevant professional experience, including at least 5 years of experience in a senior management role, running a non-profit organisation, company, newsroom or large department/team
- Experience taking an organisation or initiative to scale and successfully managing change within teams
- Strong understanding of business functions such as budgeting, financial management, HR, and compliance
- Working knowledge of data analysis and performance/operation metrics
- Experience working internationally
- Experience in the news industry
- Training, education or experience in finance and accounting
- Training, education or experience in intellectual property, media law and data privacy
- Familiarity of best practice in non-profit finance and HR
- Familiarity with the humanitarian aid sector
- Exposure to different cultures
- Experience in start-ups
- Alignment with TNH’s organisational values: Commitment, Humility, Candour & Transparency, Constructiveness and Diversity.
- Building open relationships of trust: A shared vision and trusted relationship with the CEO will be key to success in this role.
- Enlightened and inspirational management: Your management style allows team members ownership over their work while remaining present and supportive. You thrive on bringing out the best in colleagues; building support for a vision; and inspiring and motivating others. You like to coach and nurture the people around you. Your ego is in check: you lead while serving.
- Building capacity for change: You are able to move an organisation towards new ways of working; maintain stability during times of rapid growth; re-assure and bring teams along amid change. You can build consensus around tough issues.
- Designing processes: You give structure to ideas and can design processes that lead to tangible ways forward.
- Judgment: You make smart decisions in ambiguous and unclear situations. You are a strategic thinker. You can absorb a lot of information and make sense of it to craft a way forward. You can set priorities amid competing demands.
- Agility: You don’t need a high degree of certainty to feel comfortable. You are flexible enough to adapt to evolving demands of the job and try different approaches before deciding what works best. You are proactive in seeking solutions to challenges.
We have described the qualities we are seeking in this position, but we recognise that there will be strong candidates who do not meet all the requirements listed here but have other important qualities. Thus, we encourage all interested candidates to apply.
Operational execution and implementation of strategy:
- Translate the CEO’s vision into implementation by building the capability of the organisation to deliver on its promise: create an enabling environment, identify operational gaps, obstacles and bottlenecks to execution, and support other members of the Management Team to optimise and streamline operations across the organisation
- Identify and launch organisational methods that connect the vision with the needs of the people executing it
- Coordinate activities across teams and ensure they are aligned to the strategic direction
- Work with the CEO and Management Team to develop the annual workplan for the organisation
- Run weekly management meetings and quarterly management reviews; capture decisions taken, document them in policies and ensure follow-up
Monitoring of performance:
- Track organisational performance against long-term strategy, against key indicators in the metrics dashboard, and against annual objectives by analysing and interpreting data and metrics
- Identify ways to improve measurement, monitoring, and analysis of performance\
- Take measures as necessary to improve performance and hold the team collectively accountable for deliverables
- Together with the Board Secretary and the Management Team, produce reports to the Board of Director on performance.
- Build and maintain a reporting and knowledge management system that centralises and feeds information to relevant parties
Organisational culture, structure and development:
- Build organisational agility to respond to needs and opportunities in an entrepreneurial manner
- Assess the organisational capacity to implement new initiatives; measure ambitions against the risk of burnout and overload, striking a balance that allows staff to find pleasure and sustainability in their work; make recommendations to the CEO accordingly
- Set principles and define strategies to ensure coherent internal management of the organisation, including clear and devolved decision-making, efficient workflow and clarity of goals
- Communicate policies to staff, together with Head of People and Culture
- Work closely with Head of Finance, Admin and Compliance to manage and adapt organisational spending; monitor cash flow and budget compliance; anticipate and mitigate financial risk; and ensure sound financial management
- In consultation with the CEO and Management Team, determine spending priorities and allocations
Governance & Risk:
- Lead the quarterly review of the organisational risk matrix, identifying risks that threaten the organisation and ways to mitigate them
- Enforce organisational policies, working with the Head of Admin, Finance and Compliance to ensure the organisation abides by rules and regulations, as set by its legal jurisdiction, donors, its own standard operating procedures and general ethics; and with the Head of People and Culture to establish policies that promote company culture and vision
- Review contracts signed in the organisation’s name
- Oversee decisions on staff salaries and non-budgeted expenditure
About The New Humanitarian
We were founded in 1995 by the United Nations as “IRIN News”, as a result of the humanitarian information gap exposed by the Rwandan genocide. After 19 years as part of the United Nations, we spun off in 2015 to become an independent non-profit media organisation, now headquartered in Switzerland.
Some 300,000 government officials, UN and NGO representatives, journalists, academics and wider audiences interested in understanding crises visit our website every month; 58,000 subscribe to our email newsletter; thousands have downloaded our new podcast, and millions more access our work through social media and syndication by mainstream media, from the BBC, the Associated Press and the New York Times to regional media in Asia, Africa and the Middle East. Our journalism has prompted investigations into misconduct, changes in UN policy, and new aid programmes; it has inspired public petitions, donations, and charity telethons; and it has been used as evidence before the International Criminal Court and the UK Parliament’s International Development Committee.
Amid an unprecedented number of simultaneous crises around the world and a media industry in financial crisis, our informed and independent lens is more needed than ever. Our reporting tackles many of the key issues of our time, from migration to climate change, from the war in Syria to COVID-19, from a multi-billion-dollar aid industry in the midst of soul-searching to emerging forms of solidarity.
Our value proposition has become even stronger now that Europe has experienced an influx of refugees; climate change is resonated in the public’s consciousness; and the new coronavirus has spread around the world. We believe readers will increasingly seek out the kind of content we produce. This is a unique opportunity to work for one of the few non-profit media covering international affairs who have thrived at a time when most media are struggling.
Our $2.5 million USD budget is mostly funded by a mix of governments and foundations, though we are beginning to explore how to generate our own revenue.
We are registered in the canton of Geneva as a non-profit association under Swiss law.
Find our latest annual report here.
How to apply
Send your CV to [email protected] subject line: COO along with a cover letter (citing PCDN as the source of the posting) outlining your interest in working with TNH; why your past experience is relevant for this role in a small entrepreneurial non-profit; and the 1-3 things you think will make or break your ability to succeed in this role.
Please note: Due to the high number of applications, applicants who are not selected for interviews will not be notified.