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The International Rescue Committee (IRC) responds to the world’s worst humanitarian crises, helping to restore health, safety, education, economic wellbeing, and power to people devastated by conflict and disaster. Founded in 1933 at the call of Albert Einstein, the IRC is one of the world’s largest international humanitarian non-governmental organizations (INGO), at work in more than 40 countries and more than 25 U.S. cities helping people to survive, reclaim control of their future and strengthen their communities. A force for humanity, IRC employees delivers lasting impact by restoring safety, dignity and hope to millions. If you’re a solutions-driven, passionate change-maker, come join us in positively impacting the lives of millions of people world-wide for a better future.

The International Rescue Committee (IRC) have been working in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) for more than forty years. Today, the IRC has more than 2,200 staff working across the region, including in Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Syria, and Yemen to support those affected by some of the world’s most complex and protracted humanitarian crises.

An estimated 70 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance in the MENA. This includes people caught up in protracted conflict, those displaced by crisis, and those affected by global shocks, changing climates, and natural disasters, such as last year’s devastating earthquakes that struck southern Türkiye and Syria. Across the region, vulnerable groups, such as women, children, and people on the move, continue to be disproportionately affected, all while rising economic instability and often weak national governance exacerbate levels of extreme poverty and disrupt the provision of basic services.

The IRC responds to people’s acute and longer-term needs with integrated programs that improve health and safety, prioritize children’s education, foster economic wellbeing, and empower communities to regain control over their lives. Our work gives rise to some of the most pressing issues facing contemporary humanitarian action, including questions of access, conflict sensitivity, coordination, and impact.

Contextual background

Iraq is emerging from over six years of fighting against the Islamic State and remains one of the most complex operating environments in the world. The devastating human consequences to huge numbers of people will endure for decades and the destruction of communities, livelihoods, homes and infrastructure will take years to repair.

Over 5 million Iraqis have returned in the past years, but 1.1 million remain displaced. Over 230,000 Syrians continue to seek refuge in the Kurdish region. The new government is struggling to build trust and restore basic services.

Since 2003, the IRC has been at the forefront of providing humanitarian aid and assistance in Iraq. Over the past five years, post the conflict with the so-called ISIS group, our focus has evolved towards offering integrated services across the humanitarian-peacebuilding-development nexus. Operating in seven governorates, we extend our support to internally displaced persons (IDPs), returnees, and host communities, aiming to facilitate recovery and build resilience across the country. Over the past 8 years, 2.5 million Iraqis have benefitted from IRC services directly and indirectly.

Our strategic positioning allows us to scale our efforts across the nexus, with a keen emphasis on durable solutions, development and system strengthening, localization and partnerships, evidence-based policy and advocacy approach. Building on our successful localization efforts, we are committed to addressing the medium to long-term needs of communities, irrespective of their displacement status.

Job Overview/Summary

The IRC Country Director sets the vision and strategic direction for the response and operations in Iraq and oversees all programs implemented within Iraq. The Country Director will maintain continuity of programming support in current operational areas in the country, while exploring the possibility of expanding the geographic scope as conditions allow and in collaboration with the regional office. The Country Director is responsible for overall leadership and supervisory management of IRC staff, programming, and operations within Iraq, including program quality and accountability, stewardship of resources, staff safety and security, performance management and external representation. The Country Director is IRC’s principal representative on behalf of the Iraq country program to government officials, non-governmental actors, Iraqi civil society, donors, international organizations and the media. The Country Director is expected to manage responsive and effective programs implemented both directly and with Iraqi partner organizations.

Success in this position requires an individual with exemplary, demonstrated leadership abilities who deploys strong communications and interpersonal skills effectively, both internally and externally. The successful candidate will enjoy contextual analytical skills with an ability to translate the impact of geopolitical events to our day to day operation. S/he will build a network of partnerships and diversify program resources. S/he will be directly responsible for the overall coordination and strategic direction of the country program; providing oversight and coaching for directly supervised senior managers; leading country program teams to identify, design and deliver responsive, high-quality programs; ensuring efficient management of public grants and private funds for results, compliance, and focused, timely reporting; and oversight of financial management and compliance systems.

Major Responsibilities

Leadership and Representation

  • Develop a vision and carry out strategies that result in contextualized and high quality programs that meet the identified needs of clients.
  • Lead the country program by maintaining open and professional relations with colleagues, promoting a strong team spirit and providing guidance, oversight and resources to enable staff to perform successfully.
  • Initiate and sustain strong, mutually beneficial and authentic partnerships with local organizations.
  • Ensure that IRC remains a partner of choice for major international (institutional and non-institutional) donors.
  • Seek out and pursue opportunities to raise the profile of the work of IRC and its partners, as well as the lives and the needs of the people IRC seeks to serve.
  • Play a leadership role in efforts to improve humanitarian coordination in Iraq.

Strategic Direction, Program Quality and Growth

  • Ensure the strategic vision and direction of the country program is aligned with IRC’s Strategy 100.
  • Ensure the strategy action plan is of quality, implemented and guides decision making.
  • Ensure high program quality is consistent throughout the country program.
  • Actively seek out and pursue opportunities to expand humanitarian, early recovery and resilience, and development programming in Iraq, in terms of populations and areas served.

Safety and Security Management

  • Take primary responsibility for overall management of safety and security for the country program, including appropriate response to emergency situations as they arise.
  • Maintain a culture of safety and security throughout the country program.
  • Keep security, evacuation and contingency plans current and accessible to country program staff.
  • Maintain close coordination and communication with the Regional Safety and Security Director on safety and security concerns and evolving issues that could adversely affect IRC staff or operations.

Staff Management, Learning and Development

  • Ensure the SMT delivers the leadership, management structures, staffing skills and approaches, and operational systems required to ensure a coherent ‘one IRC’ approach to achieve country, regional and global objectives.
  • Supervise and mentor direct-report staff, including communicating clear expectations, setting performance objectives, providing regular and timely performance feedback, and leading documented semi-annual performance reviews.
  • Oversee the management, coaching and development of national and international staff to build a team of skilled, committed and motivated staff.
  • As part of succession plan, identify, train and develop capability and capacity of national staff to successfully transition role and responsibilities, by end of assignment.
  • Promote and monitor staff care and well-being. Model healthy work-life balance practices.

Stewardship and Operational Management

  • Drive operational excellence to achieve optimal efficiency and cost-effectiveness in all functions and operations of the country program.
  • Oversee the development, deployment and utilization of financial and operational policies, procedures, and systems to deliver compliance with IRC and donor requirements.
  • Ensure responsiveness and appropriate levels of in-person and remote support to all offices, especially in the areas of HR, finance and supply chain.
  • Provide timely and effective oversight of the Iraq country program’s financial position.
  • Maintain effective and coordinated budget monitoring processes for grant funds and discretionary funds.

Communications

  • Model and encourage active practice of the principles of the “IRC Way – Global Standards for Professional Conduct” throughout the Iraq country program.
  • Maintain a healthy and empowering office environment that encourages open, honest and productive communication among IRC staff and with partner organizations.
  • Maintain open communication with regional management staff and technical advisors, and HQ departmental staff.

Key Working Relationships

Position Reports to: Regional Vice-President – MENA

Position directly Supervises: A senior management team responsible for programs, operations, finance, HR, compliance, security, and policy & advocacy.

Key Internal Contacts

 Country Program: All staff

 Region: Middle East Regional Team

 HQ: Crisis Response and Recovery Department (CRRD), Ethics & Compliance, Operations and Strategy, Finance, Global Philanthropy & Partnerships, Technical Excellence and General Counsel

Key External Contacts

 Partner organizations

 Host country government officials

 Public and private donor agencies

 International and national NGOs

 UN agencies

 Foreign governments.

Job Requirements

Education and Work Experience:

  • A university degree in a relevant field and/or 12 years of progressively responsible international work experience, including leadership at the Country Director level of multi-site, multi-sectoral operations in a complex operating environment.
  • Experience working in conflict/post-conflict or disaster response situations.

Demonstrated Technical Skills

  • Superior communications skills, verbal and written, in English, Arabic is preferred.
  • Experience of managing security in a complex and rapidly changing security context.
  • Proven ability to negotiate and work with partner organizations.
  • Strong budget and fiscal oversight capacities.
  • Extensive representation and fundraising success, including prior experience with European, US and other international donors.
  • Established capacity to handle stressful situations in a healthy, constructive manner.
  • Ability to respond to multiple priorities in a timely manner, producing high-quality outcomes.
  • Prior work experience and keen understanding of political complexities in and the Middle East region is preferred.

Demonstrated Managerial/Leadership Competencies

  • Demonstrated successful leadership and management experience with a multi-disciplinary teams in cross-cultural settings, including active mentoring and coaching.
  • Effective in developing high-potential staff to achieve career growth and maximum contribution.
  • Proven experience in managing high quality programming that meet the needs of clients.
  • Proven experience delivering appropriate levels of oversight of a portfolio consisting of a variety of complex, high-value donor-funded projects.
  • Experience building personal networks at a senior level, resulting in securing new opportunities for the organization.
  • Opportunity-awareness. A successful innovative approach to unpredictable programming, operational, and funding contexts.
  • Ability to dispassionately represent program context, constraints, and successes to media, government, and other senior audiences.

Languages Required/Preferred

  • Professional fluency in written and spoken English.
  • Arabic language skills is a definite advantage.

Computer/Other Tech Requirements

  • Proficiency with the Microsoft Office Suite, especially Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Outlook.
  • Working knowledge of file sharing protocols such as Dropbox, SharePoint, etc., an advantage.

Ability to Travel: approximately 25% within and outside the region for workshops, representation and conferences

Returning National Candidates: We strongly encourage national or returning national candidates to apply for this position. If you are a citizen of the Country in which this position is based and are currently located outside of your home country and possess over two years of international work experience, the Middle East Region has introduced an attractive remuneration package. The package includes competitive compensation, return flight to post, shipping allowance, temporary housing and a relocation allowance. Certain restrictions may apply. IRC strives to attract, motivate and retain qualified national staff in our programs.

Diversity and Inclusion: at IRC MENA, we are passionate about creating an inclusive workplace that promotes and values diversity. Organizations that are diverse in age, gender identity, race, sexual orientation, physical or mental ability, ethnicity, nationality, and perspective are validated to be better organizations. More importantly, creating a safe workspace environment where everyone, from any background, can do their best is the right thing to do. So, bring your whole self to work.

Standard of Professional Conduct:The IRC and the IRC workers must adhere to the values and principles outlined in the IRC Way – our Code of Conduct. These are Integrity, Service, Accountability, and Equality.

Commitment to Gender, Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion: The IRC is committed to creating a diverse, inclusive, respectful, and safe work environment where all persons are treated fairly, with dignity and respect. The IRC expressly prohibits and will not tolerate discrimination, harassment, retaliation, or bullying of the IRC persons in any work setting. We aim to increase the representation of women, people that are from country and communities we serve, and people who identify as races and ethnicities that are under-represented in global power structures.

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