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ActionAid International (AAI)

Senior Head Organisational Development

About the Role

This leadership role drives and works with Regional Directors (Institutional Development) to drive AAI’s organisation change agenda and organisational development approach as articulated by the recently developed Organisational Development vision and the Organisational Priorities in the International Strategy, setting strategic direction for change management in the Federation as well as oversight of key areas that are critical to organisational development and effectiveness namely:

  • human resources and operations
  • strategy development, planning and reporting
  • learning and capacity development
  • communications and knowledge management

This is a critical role for building integrated, multi-functional and multi level organisational approaches and processes for the federation and within the IS and with countries, working as part of the senior team with Regional Directors and the Institutional Development Director. Together they will support new federation structures, processes and culture that enable and strengthen country capacity and capabilities to exercise strategic leadership of the federation, including ability to assume global level responsibilities and roles;

There is a strong relationship with the Head of Governance, Accountability and Leadership and Regional Directors in relation to designing systems, processes and tools to strengthen leadership and accountability at governance and country leadership level. The role would also provide support to CE Directorate with the Change Advisor on organisational change initiatives in the federation;

The role is also responsible for monitoring and leading the women development initiatives across the federation, working in collaboration with the Feminist Leadership Task Group and Programmes Women Rights Team.

Key Activities 


  • Member of the Directorate Senior Management Team with joint responsibility for the delivery of the Directorate’s mandate and deliverables;
  • Change Driver and facilitator of new ways of working and an organisational development approach across the federation;
  • Supports and develops women leaders and feminist leadership working closely with the Leadership Advisor and support by the CEO;
  • Continuously improves IS organisational processes and systems that promote and align with the organisational vision (including connection to wider IT development);
  • Ensures and facilitates change projects: Making matrix management work, cross functional working/collaboration, culture change, integrated systems, embedding values/appropriate attitudes and behaviour/code of conduct, competencies etc.;
  • Proactively promotes synergy between IS teams and a strong people centred performance management system and culture;
  • Drives high performance guided by agreed organisational and sector standards in the management of people, processes and systems;
  • Provides leadership in matrix management, multi stakeholder management and the development of project management skills and approaches across the federation;
  • Supports and advises senior leadership and governance on the organisational and systems requirements for the federation to have strong members in line with the Membership Development Process;
  • Participates and provides advice on Federation governance and senior leadership meetings as required.

OD Leadership, Accountability and Coordination

  • Provides guidance and expertise in organisational development and change to key technical areas of systems, planning, human resource management, capacity building and communication;
  • Working closely with the Regional Directors and the Governance Advisor, reviews and ensures the Membership/Organisational Development Process adheres to an OD approach and is supported by appropriate tools and methods;
  • Advises on and proactively champions appropriate cross-functional participation to successfully implement key organisational projects and processes and ensure effective project management is in place;
  • Monitoring and leads the women development initiatives across the federation, working in collaboration with the Feminist Leadership Task Group and Programmes Women Rights Team;
  • Ensures team is able to provide effective tools, methodologies and approaches required for enabling and facilitating key federation meetings and processes;
  • Strategic guidance to learning and capacity development to strengthen the capacity of members;
  • Ensures institutional development and growth through staff development and talent management including wider collaboration in this area within the sector;
  • Drives Planning and reporting across the federation and oversight of high quality reports to governance whilst ensuring organisational learning from these are injected into organisation;
  • Ensures implementation of agreed sector standards of people management (People in Aid);
  • Promotes, practice and contributes to the continuous improvement of transparency and accountability in the federation in line with the AAI Accountability Charter;
  • Proactively leverage on cross-functional learning, participate (where applicable) in international platforms and cross functional project initiatives within AAI.

People Management

  • Leads and manages the heads of HR, Planning and Learning and capacity development, Organisational Change Advisor and the DID Team Administrator;
  • Drives a high performing culture and high standards of performance in management of OD Team;
  • Encourages women in the team and within the IS to take up leadership roles at all levels and ensures adequate support is in place for them to succeed;
  • Fosters an enabling and can-do approach and attitude in the team in line with AAI values;
  • Drives pro-active staff development and talent management within the OD team;
  • Convenes monthly meetings of direct reports, fortnightly one-to-one sessions and manages interim and end of year performance reviews of all direct reports;
  • Models people focused leadership and management.

Team Operations 

  • Works with the Director and Senior Management Team at Directorate and Unit level to prepare and manage budgets, including Trimester reporting and monthly review and reporting on variances;
  • Responsible for the management of the OD budget. 


  • May be called upon and delegated responsibility to act/represent the Director of Institutional Development when required;
  • The role holder will from time to time be required to carry out any other duties that are within the scope of the job;
  • Value Practice – A strong commitment to develop, promote and practice AAI’s vision, mission, values and strategy;
  • Women’s Leadership and Gender – Committed to Gender issues with a strong focus on women’s leadership;
  • Collaboration – Proactively leverage on cross functional learning, participate (where applicable) in international platforms and cross functional project initiatives within AAI;
  • Accountability – Promoting, practicing and contributing to the continuous improvement of transparency and accountability in the federation in line with the AAI Accountability Charter.

Person Specification

Education, Language & Qualifications

  • Postgraduate degree level with formal qualification in Human Resources, Social Sciences, Business Management or related subjects;
  • Fluency in written and spoken English and in at least one other language.

Essential Knowledge, Skills and Experience

  • At least 7 years experience at senior leadership level in an international organisation and solid understanding of NGOs;
  • Experienced OD leader, practitioner and change manager;
  • Strong technical expertise in at least one of Units functions (HR, planning or learning and capacity building);
  • Good systems thinker and strong strategic and organisational planning skills;
  • Good understanding of rights based development approaches;
  • Experience in multi stakeholder management in a complex and diverse international environment;
  • Proven commitment to gender and to developing women leaders;
  • Strong facilitation skills.

Desirable Knowledge, Skills and Experience

  • Experience of working in the INGO sector;
  • Good knowledge of grassroots development, preferably with practical experience.

Competency Profile

  • Strategic Perspective – Demonstrate 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;
  • Decisiveness – Prefers quick and appropriate actions in many management situations;
  • 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.

Reporting Line

  • Reporting to: Deputy CEO/Director of Institutional Development, AAI
  • Direct Reports:
    • Head of Human Resources and Operations
    • Head of Strategy Planning and Reporting
    • Head of Learning and Capacity Development
    • Organisational Change Advisor
    • Team Administrator (DID)