Deputy Executive Director (Programme) and Assistant Secretary-General, Office of the Executive Director, New York

Contract Type: Fixed Term Appointment
Closing date: 17 April 2020 - 5:00pm(Dublin time)
Duty station: New York, United States



The United Nations Populations Fund (UNFPA), has commissioned the services of SRI Executive Search to identify suitable candidates for this position. If you wish to be considered, please forward a copy of your CV and supporting letter in Microsoft Word format, along with any relevant documentation to Ms. Sidney Moss at by 5.00pm on 17th April 2020, 5pm GMT.


UNFPA, the United Nations sexual and reproductive health agency, works in partnership with governments, the UN system, communities, NGOs, philanthropy and the private sector to raise awareness and mobilize the support and resources needed to deliver a world where every pregnancy is wanted, every childbirth is safe and every young person’s potential is fulfilled. UNFPA is a field-based organization, operating in 155 countries and territories and employs 4,500 personnel globally. UNFPA mobilizes more than $1 billion a year for programmes that protect the health and rights of women and girls.

Our strategic plan focuses on three transformative results: end unmet need for family planning;  end preventable maternal deaths; and end gender-based violence and harmful practices. We produce high-quality population data, which is critical to help end the invisibility of those left furthest behind.

We are hiring

To lead our work in delivering on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, UNFPA is recruiting for the position of Deputy Executive Director (Programme) to drive the ambitious ICPD25 goals, while providing technical leadership and enabling the mobilization of programmatic and financial resources to support the implementation of the transformative results. 

  • Are you experienced and passionate? Can you lead in a dynamic, international, rights-based organization?
  • Can you advocate for young people and women‘s rights to make informed decisions about their sexual and reproductive health and represent and position UNFPA across various intergovernmental bodies and in the international sphere?
  • Are you skilled in mobilizing programmatic and financial resources and in building coalitions? 

If you answered ‘yes’, UNFPA invites you to apply for the position of:

Deputy Executive Director (Programme) at the Assistant Secretary-General (ASG) level

Organizational Context: 

The Deputy Executive Director (Programme) and the Deputy Executive Director (Management) are the most senior members of the UNFPA leadership team working under the leadership of and in close collaboration with the UNFPA Executive Director. In support of UNFPA’s mandate and programmes, the Deputy Executive Director (Programme) is responsible for technical and strategic leadership, management and communication of the UNFPA programme work. The position also has responsibilities for building and maintaining partnerships with the UN and bilateral agencies and others of specific programme themes.

The Deputy Executive Director (Programme) holds the rank of United Nations Assistant Secretary-General (ASG) and currently leads a team consisting of eight Directors at the D-2 level.  The Deputy Executive Director (Programme) proactively engages in UNFPA’s strategic direction to help implement Agenda 2030 and the achievement of all 17 Sustainable Development Goals.

The Position: 

The Deputy Executive Director (Programme) is responsible for:

  • Strategy: Directs the Policy and Strategy Division in promoting strategic engagement, implementation of the strategic plan, delivery of results, and knowledge sharing.
  • Execution: Directs UNFPA work to achieve enhanced impact in programming at both country and regional levels; directs Regional Directors’ visions to ensure effective oversight and quality assurance of programming; directs the Technical Division to ensure technical knowledge is harnessed, advocated and shared; directs the Policy and Strategy Division to ensure that it functions effectively to position UNFPA on strategic and programme issues and that the response to humanitarian crisis, transition and recovery is mainstreamed within the organization.
  • Team leadership: Works closely with the Deputy Executive Director (Management) on change management in support of programme aims; ensures clarity in roles and accountability; decision-making; empowers regional and country office heads to deliver at a high level, providing guidance as necessary; and, develops direct reports including potential successors.
  • Collaboration within the UN system and beyond: Represents UNFPA at the highest levels of policy dialogue with regard to programming matters, including with Executive Board Members, Member States, major international partners and civil society organizations, and represents UNFPA at relevant meetings of the UN Sustainable Development Group (UNSDG) and the High Level Committee on Programming (HLCP).

Priorities: In support of UNFPA’s mandate and programmes, priorities include:

  • Strategy: 
    • Overseeing the deliverables of the Strategic Plan 2018-2021; ensuring results focus and programme accountability of the Integrated Budget; continue strengthening the regionalization strategy and clarify and strengthen accountabilities between regional, headquarters and country levels; guide the implementation of the strategic plan, ensuring an alignment to the SDGs; promote a culture where the needs of the country/regional office are prioritised; and, lead the team to operationalize, including to strengthening capabilities to deliver on the SDGs with particular relevance to UNFPA.
    • Overseeing the development of the next Strategic Plan 2022-2025, while embracing long term strategic thinking - thinking across cycles of strategic plans, through the SDG “Decade of Action” and leading up to 2030.
  • Financing for ICPD implementation to advance achievement of SDGs: Provide thought and strategic leadership for development of the global, regional and country level investment portfolio to drive transformative results; Lead technical, strategy and advocacy coalition building to drive mobilization of programmatic and financial resources in support of implementation of transformative investments; Build strong partnerships based on technical and operational advantages with the World Bank Group, regional development banks and bilateral donors; Lead a normative agenda in light of the future casting, emerging industry trends and based on evidence and data.
  • Execution: Improve the quality and control of country programmes; Focus on robustly strengthening systems, processes, and oversight structures; Oversee programmatic financial performance and related risk mitigation strategies; Support country teams with strategic decision-making and programme alignment with and focus on the organization’s core mission.
  • Innovation: Leverage innovative best practices and investments, including an ability to build new and non-traditional financial partnerships, to maximize SRHR investments, as well as to diversify and instill tools currently deployed by the organization into new areas such as social investment funds.
  • Leadership: Systematically strengthen the capabilities of the programme team; Strengthen relationships between the Technical and Policy and Strategy Divisions, Regional Offices and Country Offices; and, promote a culture of knowledge sharing and learning across the organization. 

In addition to the above, this role may require the incumbent to take on any other duties, including representation, as assigned by the Executive Director.

Candidate Profile:

This position offers a global leadership role in one of the world’s leading development organizations, and offers a truly unique and exciting opportunity for a senior technical and programme leader with extensive experience in public health from the public and/or international organization sectors. The incumbent will have extensive industry experience and be regarded as an authority in the technical areas of UNFPA’s mandate. He/she should have extensive international experience with significant international insight, and have demonstrated ability to bring together strategic partnerships and in positioning international organizations/NGOs in the intergovernmental and international spheres. He/she should have a demonstrated skill in intergovernmental representation and negotiation, including an ability to enhance resource mobilization, advocacy and communications activities and platforms and to leverage strategic partnerships and networks.

He/she should have extensive management experience and proven ability in managing a complex global portfolio of integrated public health and sustainable development programmes and programme set-up, metrics and programme evaluation in development settings and in settings falling under the humanitarian-development-peace nexus. He/she should have experience building and managing relationships with UN agencies, governments and international funding institutions and aid organizations. The position requires good knowledge of the international development system and/or experience working for large, service delivery-based aid agencies. He/she will have successfully developed and managed a significant budget, investment portfolio and operations plan, and have demonstrated experience in creating new and non-traditional financial partnerships. The position will require experience in managing a multi-disciplinary team of experts across a variety of job functions and demonstrated skills and expertise in communication, advocacy, outreach and resource mobilization. 

Given the representative role of the Deputy Executive Director (Programme) to external stakeholders, the position requires extensive experience and technical authority of UNFPA’s mandate areas. Experience in field and humanitarian settings and knowledge of/and experience in the UN system. 

Qualifications and Experience: 

  • An advanced University Degree in Public Health, Social Sciences or a related discipline, with additional qualifications in Business or Public Administration / Management highly regarded.
  • 15 years of relevant professional experience in increasingly responsible roles, of which at least 7 years were in senior leadership roles.
  • Excellent knowledge of English required; working knowledge of other UN official languages desirable.

Required Competencies: 

The incumbent will have the stature and authority to influence at all levels. They will demonstrate conceptual and analytical skills to understand the big picture, assimilate information from a variety of sources, and translate this into practical and prioritized action and planning. They will be strategically-minded and service- and results-driven with exceptional strength in team leadership and relationship building; development and implementation of policies, processes and systems; as well as building and maintaining support services, resources and infrastructure. They will combine process skills and discipline with flexibility and adaptability.

Strategic Orientation (Analytical & Strategic Thinking, Fostering Innovation & Empowerment):

  • Defines, in close collaboration with the Executive Director, the strategic direction of the organization.
  • Asks questions which open up new and innovative ways of seeing the organization and the way it works.
  • Promotes better understanding of UNFPA strategic agenda with global partners and builds consensus on major initiatives.

Results Orientation (Results Orientation / Commitment to Excellence, Appropriate & Transparent Decision-Making, Ensuring Operational Effectiveness & Accountability for Results):

  • Drives systematically and uncompromisingly for higher performance.
  • Creates innovative ways of working to enable higher levels of performance are possible, using analysis and benchmarking.
  • Works smarter, learns from experience throughout the organization, builds learning and knowledge sharing into the system.
  • Ensures accountability for results in a demanding Risk-based framework (RBF) framework.

Collaboration & Influencing (Commitment to the Organization and its mandate, Working in Teams, Communicating information & ideas, Self-Management/Emotional Intelligence, Global Leadership & Advocacy for ICPD Goals, Organizational Leadership & Direction):

  • Facilitates collaboration among and between staff and stakeholders, bringing people together across all levels of the organization to achieve results and share best practices; remains accessible to various stakeholders and shows a willingness to become directly and personally involved; creates consensus and communicates coherently the vision and strategic direction to internal and external audiences, showing them how objectives align.
  • Internally: Promotes alignment between the values of the UN/UNFPA and staff behavior. Influences the UNFPA Executive Committee to adopt change strategies, and gains cooperation through sensitivity to the political and organizational culture.
  • Externally: Leads partnerships with implementing partners, NGOs, other UN agencies, private sector entities and philanthropic foundations; applies systemic thinking, balances conflicting demands (UN system, partners, governments, civil society and UNFPA); maintains internal and external networks (partners, colleagues, interest groups). Outreach on innovation to the private sector and other actors.

Leadership & Organizational Development (Performance Management, Developing People / Coaching & Mentoring, Knowledge Sharing & Continuous Learning):

  • Empowers teams to perform, to identify and solve problems while providing the necessary support; holds teams accountable for meeting collective goals; and resolves conflicts constructively.
  • Systematically works to build team capabilities; sets specific goals for individuals in order to build capability of the organization; seeks to understand systematic retention challenges and addresses them.
  • Upholds and communicates the vision and values of UNFPA; and creates a supportive and enabling environment in which the vision and strategic direction can be achieved.

Change Leadership:

  • Articulates a vision for change and champions the transformation process.
  • Advocates change or different ways of working; engaging others by explaining their role in the change process; and ideally mobilizes others within the organization to facilitate change processes.

Customer & Service Focus (Client Orientation):

  • Continually takes action to add value to “internal customers‟, continually improving delivery, sharing ideas and information, identifying best practices and implementing them.
  • Commits to the provision of quality service to clients and assesses effectiveness.
  • Leverages a network of senior level contacts and decision-makers to pursue and implement innovative approaches to meeting clients’ needs.

Integrity & Values (Integrity, Cultural Sensitivity / Valuing Diversity):

  • Creates organizational precedents and acts as a role model, setting an example for the highest standards of integrity for all staff through his/her personal behavior.
  • Ensures an organizational environment that respects diversity, gender equality and cultural sensitivity and fosters openness to diverse perspectives. This position advocates within, and on behalf of, UNFPA for an absolute zero tolerance for sexual exploitation and abuse and sexual harassment.

UNFPA Work Environment:

UNFPA is committed to diversity and inclusion within its workforce, and encourages all candidates,  irrespective of gender, nationality, religious and ethnic backgrounds, including persons living with disabilities, to apply to become a part of the organization. UNFPA works to facilitate a civil workplace and has a zero tolerance policy on sexual exploitation and abuse, sexual harassment and abuse of authority. 

UNFPA Considerations:

Human rights screening

UNFPA seeks to employ staff members that uphold the highest standards of efficiency, competence, and integrity. Candidates will not be considered for employment with UNFPA if they have committed violations of international human rights law, violations of international humanitarian law, sexual exploitation, sexual abuse, or sexual harassment, or if there are reasonable grounds to believe that they have been involved in the commission of any of these acts. Individuals who are either nominated by Member States or who seek to serve with the United Nations in any individual capacity will be required, if short-listed, to complete a self attestation stating that they have not committed, been convicted of, nor prosecuted for, any criminal offence and have not been involved, by act or omission, in the commission of any violation of international human rights law or international humanitarian law. 

Conflicts of interest

UNFPA seeks to employ staff members that will uphold the organization’s ethical standards. Senior leaders in particular, have the responsibility to serve as role models in upholding these standards.  Individuals who are either nominated by Member States or who seek to serve with the United Nations in any individual capacity will be required, if short-listed, to complete the pre-appointment declaration of interests for senior positions to identify possible conflicts of interest that may arise and to proactively prevent and manage, as much as possible and in a timely manner, situations in which personal interests may conflict or appear to conflict with the interests of the United Nations, should the individual be appointed to this position.



We are no longer accepting applications for this position.

UNFPA Headquarters New York