Head of Programmes at Voluntary Service Overseas (VSO)

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Voluntary Service Overseas (VSO), is the world’s leading independent international development organisation that works through volunteers to fight poverty in developing countries. Our high impact approach brings people together to share skills, build capabilities, promote international understanding and action to change lives and make the world a fairer place.

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We are recruiting to fill the position below:

Job Title: Head of Programmes

Location: Abuja
Responsible to: Country Director
Responsible for: Youth Program Manager, Sr Programme Officers
Job Type: Full Time, 36 hours per week
Level: Member of senior management team

Job Purpose/Role Overview

  • VSO Nigeria is seeking a dynamic, experienced, and competent Head of Programmes to guide the overall Country Programme strategy and implementation of related activities within the country Programme.
  • To manage the development, implementation and successful delivery of VSO’s programmes within the agreed Country Strategy; manage programme teams and partnerships; and maximise VOS’s impact in reducing poverty.
  • To support the Country Director and Programme Managers in ensuring the development of highest standards of quality programmes for fundraising for new as well as ongoing programmes. This includes articulating strong projects designs, M&E frameworks and rationales for project and VSO’s unique
  • The role will report to the Country Director and will be located in Abuja, Nigeria (with frequent travel to project locations).
  • The post will have line management responsibility of programme teams.

Strategic Leadership as member of SMT:

  • Support the development of an organisational culture that reflects our values, promotes accountability and high performance, encourages a team culture of learning, creativity and innovation and empowers employees, volunteers, partners and communities maximize their potential in to achieve significant impact in the lives of youth in Nigeria.
  • As a member of Senior Management Team (SMT) contribute towards developing shared vision about our strategy and approach and a strong culture of value for money among all staff and volunteers.

Strategic Planning:

  • Ensure up-to-date, relevant programme strategies and operational plans are in place and are appropriately communicated. Ensure programme team are well networked and engaging in appropriate development and volunteering forums in country and with relevant government Ministries where possible;
  • Help establish, maintain, and improve active and regular working relationships with key stakeholders -government departments, donors, partner agencies including major institutional donors, and local and international NGOs.

Programme Development and Management:

  • Manage successful programme delivery to ensure programmes meet requirements to quality specified, time, within budget and scope, and that project management standards are met.
  • Programme Development and Delivery: Develop and design overall programme of delivery. Proactively monitor overall programme progress. Effective co-ordination of the programmes and their inter-dependencies, maintaining overall integrity and coherence of the overall programme.

Partnership Development and Management:

  • Ensure partner portfolio are aligned to the new country strategy and are of high quality in delivering lasting changes in the lives of the children, young men and women.

Monitoring and Evaluation:

  • Develop and oversee implementation of the overall programme
  • Monitoring & Evaluation Framework with stakeholders, lead measurement and benefits realisation delivered by the projects/programmes.
  • Ensure programmes and partnerships are monitored and evaluation regularly in line with VSO good practice guidance.

Programme Quality and Implementation;

  • Coordinate the design and delivery of appropriate monitoring and evaluation mechanisms and coordinate on the compliance of VSO’s requirements related to APRs, ACR and generation of human interest stories, in close coordination with the Regional M&E Manager and relevant Programme Managers.

Fund Raising Planning and Monitoring:
Programme Development:

  • Lead and the development of new partnerships prioritised by the VSO country strategy. Identify potential project ideas in line with the country strategy and donor opportunities and support proposal bid teams in developing relevant and high quality concept notes and/or proposals to increase revenue.
  • This includes researching needs and understanding overall landscape, articulating VSO’s value add, profiling volunteer skills and job placements needed, verifying volunteer supply to meet that demand and ensuring a strong M&E plan is included in the project design – all in conjunction with the rest of the global bid team.
  • Support the development and implementation of country funding plan (CFP).
  • Quarterly monitoring and review of progress against country funding plans (CFPS) and suggest appropriate changes to the plans based on on-going efforts.
  • Keep track of emerging funding opportunities and support in-country donor management led by CD.

Ongoing engagement with key institutional donors:

  • Engage and take forward various entry points identified with DFID, USAID, CIDA, EC ECHO and other institutional donors and embassies in line with established country funding plan (CFP).
  • This includes researching donor interests and funding patterns, attending forums and meetings for further networking and information sharing.
  • Support the CD in representing VSO in donor/INGO meetings.

Corporate Partnerships and Employee Volunteering:

  • Engage with and develop relationships with private sector companies mapped and identified within CFPs with the view to increasing revenue and to promoting employee volunteering
  • Further research and map additional corporates that could partner with VSO and support engagement accordingly, in close coordination with the Corporate Partnerships Manager.

Grants Management and Compliance:

  • Work closely with programme and finance teams to ensure timely submission of quality narrative and financial reports as per the standards of the specific donors and in line with the contract.

Visibility & Branding:

  • Lead on the efforts to raise the programme profile by coordinating the collection of human interest stories and visuals, production and dissemination of materials highlighting VSO’s unique contribution towards a range of development issues in country.

Financial Management:
Budgeting and Forecasting:

  • Develop and manage overall programme budget, providing accurate and timely information on expenditure, monitoring expenditures and costs against benefits realised as programmes progress.
  • Support and participate in annual country budget preparation and Quarterly Business Review process.

People Management:

  • Effectively lead and develop a high performing team of programme officers/project managers within the performance management framework, coaching people managers accordingly; act as a mentor and contribute to development of shared vision among key stakeholders.

Other Duties:

  • Deputise for the Country Director or other colleagues as required.
  • Assist or take leadership in emergencies as required, working closely with the Country Director and other SMT members.
  • Fulfill other appropriate level responsibilities as defined by the Country Director from time to time

Key Performance Indicator

  • Programme strategies and operational plans in place and employees able to articulate them to external and internal audiences
  • Programme team members engaging in appropriate forums and networks.
  • Understanding of overall, strategic and coherent programmes which use a range of development interventions and actively seek to engage marginalized groups and plays to VSO’s core competencies of skill and knowledge transfer and capacity building.
  • Empowerment of volunteers and staff in their work, to work effectively with local partners and donors.
  • Understanding of VSO’s global structure and internal processes – including proposal development, volunteer recruitment, Annual Country Reviews, etc.
  • Well-evidenced written concept notes and proposals reflecting VSO’s work in core programmatic areas, suitable for external sharing (estimated 10 significant applications per year submitted to donors).
  • Planning and review systems are effectively implemented and joined up overall to ensure a process of continuous learning and improvement and to demonstrate the outcomes of programming work.
  • Efficient development of donor reports.
  • Programmes meet needs and expectations of the organisation.
  • Planned programming activities and volunteer delivery targets are met.
  • Programmes delivered on time, to budget, scope and quality standards specified with expected benefits realised.
  • Programme development is informed by consultation with partners, volunteers, internal stakeholders and beneficiaries.
  • Partners are provided with growing and widening range of support based on VSO’s core competencies.
  • High quality placements are developed and documented based on thorough assessment of partner needs.
  • Lead & oversee the Monitoring & Evaluation framework effectiveness and efficiency includes Partnership Reviews Baseline Surveys and additional Monitoring & Evaluation initiatives undertaken during this financial year.
  • Targets for annual partnership reviews, baseline surveys and other global Monitoring & Evaluation requirements are met.Beneficiaries, partners and volunteers are integral to review of VSO programmes
  • Evidence of lessons learnt from evaluation being used to adapt ongoing programmes and inform future programme development. Information on good practice,
  • learning and knowledge is sought and shared within country, region and wider organisation.
  • Fund raising strategy met includes joint programming with INGO or/and relevant ministry , project design for target proposal writing and proactive relationship building with donors to engage in VSO programme
  • Programme team members are performing well as individuals and working effectively together and with others to meet programme objectives.
  • Individual performance and satisfaction are maximized through efficient support structures and procedures within the legal framework of the country and within VSO policies and guidelines.
  • Each team member has a professional development plan, designed to maximize professional development outcomes and continuous learning, with progress reviewed each quarter.
  • Regular team and individual review meetings in place across whole team.
  • Programme expenditure & quality is reviewed and monitored regularly.
  • Programme is delivered within budget.
  • Successful and mutually meaningful partnerships with corporate entities.
  • Consistent and highest levels of satisfaction by donors and funding partners on the timely and good quality reports submitted by VSO.
  • High quality materials developed that can be used both internally and with external audience to enhanced visibility and credibility of VSO which not only helps in further strengthening existing partnerships but also helps develop new ones.


  • Working together – Strength – Successfully leads teams and develops others’ team-working skills.
  • Communication & influencing – Expert – Inspires others by: advocating plans and ideas within and outside VSO; maintaining a wide, influential network; coaching
  • Managing Knowledge – Strength – Leads initiatives that improve knowledge management across VSO; develops others’ knowledge management skills.
  • Striving for Excellence – Expert – Builds and sustains an organisational culture of continuous performance improvement that helps to set VSO apart as a brand.
  • Managing Resources – Strength – Leads others to pursue significant or innovative funding opportunities; finds creative ways to allocate funds and people on complex projects effectively.
  • Managing People – Strength – Builds a high performing team that meets challenging objectives linked to corporate objectives; ensures own team works efficiently with other teams..
  • Developing People – Strength – Is a role model for coaching, mentoring and developing others, and for effective use of VSO’s employee development processes and opportunities
  • Leading for the Future – Strength – builds confidence and excitement in VSO’s work and vision, both internally and externally; leads innovative projects.
  • Thinking Strategically – Expert Drives forward VSO’s corporate strategy; helps to set the future direction in response to anticipated changes in the external environment.
  • Delivering Results – Expert – Drives commitment across and beyond VSO to equipping, engaging and empowering people to solve problems, make decisions and deliver the best possible results.

Skills, Qualifications and Experience Required

  • Expert in programming and fundraising
  • Good experience in leading on programme design and management as well as resource mobilization.
  • Good experience in ensuring donor reporting requirements, including financial reports, are met.
  • A holder of Degree in Development Studies, Social Sciences or related fields. A Minimum of 7 years relevant experience
  • Good understanding of development challenges and working norms in Nigeria

Experience, Skills and Behaviours Required
1.) Essential:
Programme Management:

  • Experience of planning, designing and managing development programmes with many stakeholders; delivering in challenging contexts to deadline.
  • Good knowledge of techniques for planning, monitoring, evaluation and controlling programmes, including risk management.
  • Strong and extensive knowledge and experience in project management and result based management approaches.
  • Experience and knowledge of major development issues in Africa.
  • Practical experience of working on development issues at a project or country programme level in a developing country context.


  • Strong leadership and people management skills, managing within large complex global teams in a matrix management environment.

Change Management:

  • Experience of leading change programmes in a global environment, engaging and supporting employees.

Fund Raising:

  • Analytical thinking, strategic programme development including experience with concept; and project proposal development. strategic representation of VSO programme to institutional donors & government and influencing for funding commitment.


  • Excellent oral and written communication skills with ability to vary communication content and style to suit audience to inform, motivate and inspire.
  • Excellent networking, facilitation and interpersonal skills

Relationship Building:

  • Ability to build strong working relationships across the organisation at all levels, inspiring confidence and credibility with employees.
  • Strong influencer of others, particularly at a senior level.
  • Ability to work effectively with globally dispersed teams.

Organisation and Planning:

  • Excellent coordination / planning skills to tight deadline.
  • Time management skills.


  • Experience of successfully building and managing large and complex programme budgets.
  • Resource allocation experience.

Analysis and Creative Problem-Solving:

  • Ability to analyse, grasp fundamentals of an issue, finding innovative ways to solve or pre-empt problems.


  • Ability to manage a large and complex project in a climate of change, recognising and being open to ambiguity and opportunities.
  • Able to travel frequently
  • Ability to work in fast-paced and diverse work environments with a multi-cultural team.

2.) Desirable:

  • Practical experience within a volunteering/Non Government Organisation context.
  • Commitment to VSO’s work and values
  • Excellent understanding of project cycle management tools to ensure effective planning, resourcing, implementation and review of Programs
  • Donor and contract management experience
  • Practical experience gained within a volunteering/NGO context.
  • Experience and knowledge of the country and region preferred, including ability to communicate in local languages

Very Competitive Package.

Application Closing Date
3rd October, 2017.

Interview/Assessment date(s)
2nd week of October, 2017.

Start Date
As soon as possible.

How to Apply
Interested and qualified candidates should:
Click here to apply online

Click here to Download the Job Description (pdf)

Note: VSO reserves the right to close this job early if we receive a sufficient number of applications.

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