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ActionAid International

Deputy Chief Executive (DCE) / Institutional Development Director (IDD)

About the Role

The purposes of this position are: to further strengthen the internationalisation of ActionAid International (AAI) with a strong focus on building strong, self-governed members and a vibrant, democratic federation; to strengthen the federation planning, reporting, human resources and systems & procedures; to strengthen the secretariat.

The Deputy Chief Executive (DCE) / Institutional Development Director (IDD) will add additional focus and capacity to the CEO’s leadership under the overall guidance and leadership of the international board. They will work closely with International Leadership Team (ILT) and Federation Leadership Team (FLT) to strengthen the federation as well as member development and growth, with a particular focus on national and international governance.

The incumbent will focus on risk management processes; delegation of federation tasks to members; and ensuring that “dual citizenship” (country and federation interdependence) is exercised at all levels.

The Institutional Development Director (IDD) is responsible for enhancing organisational performance through country development and coordination to deliver quality programmes in line with AAI’s international strategy through an organisational development approach.

Direct Reports

  • Regional Director – Africa – I
  • Regional Director  – Africa – II
  • Regional Director  – Europe and Americas
  • Regional Director – Asia
  • Senior Head of Organisational Development
  • International Security Advisor
  • Executive Coordinator – IDD

Key Activities

Strategic Leadership

  • Serve as Deputy for the CEO as required;
  • As a member of the international leadership team, join in setting the strategic direction of the organisation and high-level decision-making by the organisation’s international management team;
  • Member of the Federation Leadership Team (FLT);
  • Responsible for cascading and aligning the organisation’s mission, vision and values and direction through the use of clear and articulate communications both within the departmental structure and with the members and country programmes.

Member Development and Federation Strengthening

  • Leads the member development processes, including the association and affiliation processes, as well as the federation expansion to ensure strong members, mutual accountability and long-term sustainability;
  • Provides oversight and support for governance at national level and works closely with the CEO in support of the international board and assembly;
  • Coordinates the delegation/monitoring/withdrawal of international responsibilities to members fostering interdependence and mutual accountability;
  • Ensures agreed organisational policies on compliance and sanctions are followed and implemented. 

People Leadership and Management

  • As a member of the ILT, act as a key change agent; reinforce AAI’s mission, vision and values and make informed decisions;
  • Lead and manage the Institutional Development Unit within a clear performance management framework, promoting a culture of high performance: continuous improvement; positive communication and teamwork;
  • Ensure good management is practised at all levels within the Institutional Development Unit;
  • Interpret and apply all AAI’s HR policies consistently and effectively, and ensure that all institutional development staff are aware of and comply with these policies;
  • Foster good relations, consultation and communication within the wider AAI community including staff of member organisations. 

Country Coordination

  • Lead and manage the country coordination regional heads and teams;
  • Ensure that country coordination staff play a strong coordination and enabling role with other International Secretariat directorates and with members in support of strategic planning; programme quality; resources allocation and achieving high management standards;
  • Provide leadership for focused support and organisational development support to members through the cluster heads;
  •  Ensure that organisational agreements on cost, carbon efficiency and effectiveness are implemented across the federation. 

Human Resources & Organisational Development

  • To provide leadership in ensuring AAI as a value practising, empowering and high performing organisation;
  • Oversee and advise on organisational development approaches to enhance and augment new and existing organisational systems and processes;
  • Oversee talent management and succession planning;
  • Oversee the organisational performance and accountability frameworks (including the Accountability, Leading and Planning System – AALPS);
  • Ensure performance through incentivising the necessary behaviours as outlined in the AAI competency framework;
  • Oversee the strategic direction for change management within AAI;
  • Support AAI’s change agenda as articulated by the organisational priorities in the international strategy;
  • Oversee country level capacity building and International Secretariat on Human Resource Organisational Development (HROD) through ensuring that appropriate systems, processes and skills exists across the organisation to improve women’s leadership, performance management and strategic human resources;
  • As ILT sponsor, champion the implementation of high quality HR policies and global HR standards in relation to employee life cycle within the international secretariat;
  • Oversee and steer on AAI’s capacity development strategy for staff, integrating Learning & Development, succession and career planning elements.

Strategy, Planning & Reporting

  • Oversee and ensure progress against strategy and plans (including the annual report and strategic implementation plan) working with other directorates;
  • Ensure that necessary changes are implemented across the organisation in planning and reporting, so as to deliver continuous improvement;
  • Build a “knowledge & networked” organisation.

Staff Security & Safety

  •  Provide overall oversight on organisational security risks through the international security advisor, and ensure that systems; policies; procedures and capacity exists across the organisation to improve and guarantee staff security;
  • Oversee plans for staff security across the federation and ensure AAI’s duty of care related to travel safety and security-related crisis management;  

Financial Management  

  • Manage delegated budget responsibility for resources within approved limits; Delegation to other team members can be done but overall responsibility remains with budget holder;
  • Responsible for preparing activity-based budgets and monitoring actual monthly spend against these budgets, including providing relevant accruals and explanations for variances;
  • Responsible for approving all transactions to their budget;
  • Act within the parameters set by the international secretariat financial policies and procedures.


  • Value Practice: Demonstrate a strong commitment to develop, promote and practise AAI’s vision, mission, values and strategy;
  • Women’s Leadership and Gender:  Act upon a commitment to gender issues with a strong focus on women’s leadership;
  • Collaboration:  Promote and use cross-functional learning; participate (where applicable) in international platforms and cross-functional project initiatives within AAI;
  • Accountability: Promote, practise and contribute to the continuous improvement of transparency and accountability in the federation in line with the ActionAid Accountability Charter. 

Personal Specifications

Education, Language & Qualifications

  • Graduate or Bachelor’s degree in humanities, social, economic development and/or political sciences;
  • Fluency in English and ability to speak other languages spoken in the federation is highly desirable.

 Essential Knowledge, skills and Experience

  • Minimum seven years in senior management position as part of an executive directorate team with board accountability;
  • Minimum seven years experience working in the Global South with deep understanding of development and human rights challenges;
  • Experience and understanding of governance, especially the role of national and international boards;
  • Excellent analytic and strategic planning skills;
  • Proven experience in multi-stakeholder management in a multi-cultural context;
  • Significant practical experience of managing complex projects and programmes in developing countries, including those with multiple funding streams and dispersed human resources;
  • A record of success in achieving and demonstrating impact in working with disadvantaged communities;
  • Ability to clearly analyse and articulate the depth of understanding about the causes of poverty and injustice, potential solutions and the key actors globally;
  • Ability to influence cross functionally both peers and multiple teams in a decentralised environment;
  • Appreciation and ability for working in a multicultural context;
  • Excellent written and oral communication skills;
  • Ability to travel up to 18 weeks annually, sometimes at short notice;
  • Commitment to ActionAid’s vision, mission and values.

Desirable Knowledge, Skills and Experience

  • Listening, learning, empowering and result-oriented leadership and management style;
  • A commitment to collective leadership;
  • Demonstrated commitment to human and women’s rights;
  • Sensitivity towards gender, ethnic and cultural identities and related dynamics, and a commitment to transform power to the South;
  • Physical and emotional stamina to work under pressure.

Competency Profile

  • Strategic Perspective: Demonstrates understanding of the organisation’s priorities and goals and effectively analyses complex problems;
  • Change Management: Uses effective strategies to facilitate organisation change initiatives and overcome resistance to change by involving others, listening and building commitment;
  • Leading Employees: Attracts, motivates, and develops employees;
  • Building Collaborative Relationships: Builds productive working relationships with co-workers and external parties, whilst valuing people of different backgrounds, cultures and demographics;
  • Communication: Expresses ideas clearly and concisely; disseminates information about decisions and plans;
  • Leading with Purpose: Has personal direction and is not easily sidetracked by details or workload;
  • Credibility: Acts in accordance with stated values; follows through on promises; uses ethical considerations to guide decisions and actions;
  • Taking Initiative:  Takes charge and capitalizes on opportunities.