Chief Strategic Operations

United Nations Children's Fund

New York, United States of America

Under the guidance and direct supervision of the Director of the Programme Group, the Chief Strategic Operations (CSO) will be accountable for leading the strategic operations functions, facilitate change management, provide risk informed, solution-focused analysis, advice and services, and contribute to programme and management decisions for delivering results for children in Programme Group. The Program Group has a total workforce of 394 Staff and 180 Consultants as of September 2023.

The Chief Strategic Operations (CSO) position is supported by a team of general services and professional staff members and consultants under the Programme Operations Hub (POH) which carries out the implementation of non-transactional work-related Operations policy, guidance, budgeting, administration, and finance of the Programme Group.

For every child, fair chance……
  • This position advises the Senior Management of the division it serves on all aspects of Operations (Finance/Budget, Contracting, Partnerships, Administration, Systems).
  • The CSO is responsible for strategic financial management, efficient contracting of services, effective facilitation of implementing partnerships, achieving consistency with UN/UNICEF rules and regulations.
  • The CSO ensures consistent quality services delivery to the division it serves. The incumbent recommends internal guidance, sets internal processes and methods to maximize the Division’s performance in operations.
  • The CSO leads and guides the POH Team and fosters collaboration with PG Human Resources Business Partner (HRBP) and the planning and budget focal points in Programme Group to ensure consistency in application of policies with a client-oriented approach.
  • The CSO maintains a solid and efficient network with DFAM, DHR, SD, ITSS, ADM Services to optimize the use of organizational resources and effectively organizes them complying with agreed business continuity standards/SLAs.
  • The Chief Strategic Operations will be entrusted with the following five pillars, the core focus of all operations functions: Valuing People, Valuing Money, Valuing Risk Management, Valuing Systems and Structures, Valuing Partners.
Strategic Operations:
  • Managing services in the functional areas of operations support: budget, financial management and reporting, contracting, implementing partnership management, facilities management, administration, supply and logistics management, information and communications technology, human resources (in collaboration with HRBP), and safety and security and convening the other functions to arrive at a unified vision;
  • Acting as member of the Programme Group Leadership Team and Senior Management Teams, representing the organizational risk management, governance systems and policies perspective in management discussions, and promoting results-based management;
  • Performing financial reporting and analysis around key operational areas for risk-informed decision making and supporting Programme Group sections and teams in seeking efficient solutions for delivery of results.
  • Providing key contribution to OMP, AMP and support to Results Based Management and implementation using Value for Money criteria;
  • Supporting the Programme Group during external and internal audit reviews and responding to audit observations and monitoring implementation of recommendations;
  • Leveraging governance, systems, and tools to provide regular feedback on risks and achievements of operations functions in the Programme Group;
  • Participates in effective management process by providing technical advice and support to corporate committees (including PBR, Partnerships Review Committee, Management Teams, JCC, CRC, etc.).
Advisory and Management Center of Excellence:
  • Keep abreast of industry standards in management and finance. Institutionalize and share best practices and knowledge learned with global/regional colleagues to contribute to organizational development initiatives to strengthen management and operations.
  • Promote and support Excellence in Operations by refining the evolving profession in UNICEF derived from the five strategic pillars.
  • Participate in global strategic planning and policy changes, including formulation on operational matters; provides authoritative advice from technical, operational and administrative perspectives to contribute to the improvement and establishment of operational guidelines, including those that strengthen gender policy in programming and staff gender parity. 
  • Understanding business needs for the Programme Group to anticipate challenges, propose viable solutions, provide creative and innovative ideas aimed at a solution- focused approach to include value for money strategies, all underpinned by quality assurance measures;
Resources: Champion strategic resources to achieve organizational goals and ensure Value for Money (VfM):
  • Optimize identification and use of resources in various concrete Value for Money (VfM) areas, including eco-efficiency and inclusivity, common premises, costing, results-based budgeting financial monitoring etc.
  • Educate Business Units on their role in generating and reporting on VfM with the goal of strategically expanding its use to major UNICEF functions.
  • Lead the financial oversight management, monitoring and reporting of all the programme groups budget - and where applicable private sector fundraising budgets; make analysis and recommendations for Director’s to take risk informed decisions.
  • Advise and lead in the valuing of resources through programme financing modalities such as budgeting and pre-financing modalities for supplies, cash-based transfer etc. along with key government counterparts
  • Oversee Supply outcome results related to Supply and Logistics Management and stay abreast of and promote the global strategies and their implementation.
Risk Management: Enhance Risk Management to increase organizational performance and strengthen internal control:
  • Ensure the office is equipped with the right skills and tools and up-to-date information to make operational and programmatic risk informed decisions and improve performance, with the support of the enterprise Governance, Risk and Compliance (eGRC) platform.
  • Maintain UNICEF organizational resilience and enhance staff safety and security by ensuring operational disaster risks address threats through well-formulated and tested business continuity plans, and Emergency Preparedness and Response to humanitarian situations.
  • Review internal controls and policies/guidance included in the Regulatory Framework, provide oversight of appropriate implementation of policies and procedures and provide feedback on policy and internal controls as appropriate.
  • Identify and implement mandatory anti-fraud systems, processes and actions, and share anti-fraud achievements within the Programme Group.
  • Facilitate mitigation of risks of engagement with external partners via appropriate, risk-informed due diligence.
Systems and Structures: Ensure further operational centralization and optimization for maximized efficiency gains:
  • Review key Operations processes to minimize cost, simplify and reduce duplication of work and maximize efficiencies while creating an environment of smarter risk-based controls to render the organization agile, resilient and ready to respond to programme needs.
  • Provide key contribution to OMP/MTR and review operational structures in collaboration with other groups in HQs as and when needed and the Strategic Business Support unit in DFAM.
  • Coordinate and collaborate with the Central Services Centre (CSC), established to centralize the locally-based operational transactions in HQ.
  • Provide leading support to Senior Management team in implementing the Headquarters Efficiency Initiative (HQEI), working closely with the HRBP team to ensure principles in the core pillar of Valuing People are respected.
  • Partnerships: Strengthening internal and external-facing partnerships and leveraging UNICEF’s oversight and understanding of financial management across all areas of the office.
  • Contribute with technical expertise and recommendations on HACT implementation in offices, including, advice approach to undertaking programmatic visits, spot checks, follow-up actions required on result of financial assurance activities; the use and collaboration with the Supreme Audit Institution; and use of micro-assessment results including the appropriate level of capacity building in financial management.
  • Partner with all Innovation teams and different sections by providing advice and recommendations on programme budgeting through involvement in programme document and support the financial impact analysis and determination of refund and amounts.
  • Support UNICEF Office resource mobilization partners from donor negotiation and formulation of partnership agreements and contracts through written financial reporting, resolve discrepancies and ensure donor accountability and transparency.
  • Participate in Working Groups that fosters a positive and enabling operations environment that supports private sector fundraising and solution-focused engagement in offices (where applicable).
To qualify as an advocate for every child you will have…
  • An Advanced University Degree (Master’s and above) in one of the following areas in Business management; Financial management; Accounting; Public Finance; and related operations function (Supply Chain, Human Resources, Information Technology, International Business, Project management, etc.) is required or a full professional accounting designation (CA, ACA, ACCA, CPA, CIMA, CPFA, Expert Comptable) from an internationally recognized institute/body of accountancy with valid membership in good standing is an asset.
  • A minimum of ten years of professional experience, at both the national and international levels, in areas such as advocating and implementing strategic organizational initiatives, financial and operations management, risk management, internal controls and audits required.
  • In addition, experience in reporting; facilities management; administration; supply and logistics management are desired.
  • Experience in a UN system agency, large private or public company, or experience working in a developing country and/or humanitarian/ emergency context is an asset.
  • Experience in managing successful client-oriented work units is an asset.
  • Experience in co-creating policy is desirable.
  • Prior experience working with diverse stakeholder groups or multi-stakeholder partnership is highly desirable.
  • Fluency in English (written and verbal) is required. Knowledge of another official UN language (Arabic, Chinese, Russian, French or Spanish) is an asset.