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Aga Khan Foundation

Head of Partnerships, Syria


The Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) has been active in Syria since 1999, implementing multi-sector, integrated, human and social development programmes – from culture and economic development to rural livelihoods and community health – across the governorates of Hama, Tartous, Lattakia, Aleppo and Damascus. Since 2011, the Aga Khan Foundation Syria (AKF Syr) has encapsulated the AKDN programme, refocusing on providing humanitarian assistance, resilience building, and early recovery programmes. The programme is embarking on a new three-year strategy that seeks to: 1) buttress coping capacity and provide life-saving assistance, 2) implement strategic interventions to improve the quality of life of crisis-stricken communities, and 3) expand the scale and scope of its interventions. AKF (Syr) and AKDN agencies operate throughout the country with direct implementation in Hama, Homs, Aleppo, Damascus, Rural Damascus, Tartous, Lattakia, Daraa, Sweida, and Hassakeh.


The main goal of this position is to proactively grow and secure a portfolio of new partnerships and ensure programmatic operations are in adherence with compliance obligations. The Head of Partnerships will improve partnerships and grant management processes within AKF and across AKDN agencies and build the capacity of local partnerships teams to perform at the highest levels. The Head of Partnerships is a member of AKF (Syria)’s Senior Management Team (SMT) and reports directly to the Chief Executive Officer. The Head of Partnerships is formally based in Damascus and is required to travel regularly to all field locations within Syria. The role also involves frequent travel within the region.

Duties and Responsibilities

Resource mobilisation (50%)

  • Leads the organisation’s resource mobilisation strategy, identifying resource needs and goals across sectors in line with AKF/AKDN country and global priorities, donor requirements, and UNOCHA Syria Humanitarian Response Plan;
  • Cultivates and manages a pipeline of up to $50 million, including maintaining an up-to-date pipeline matrix and leading monthly Syria Cluster pipeline calls; 
  • Leads or oversees the timely development of high-quality concept notes and proposals for AKF/AKDN agencies in collaboration with programmes, data management, gender, finance, operations, human resources, and environmental sustainability focal points in liaison with global partnerships and programme teams;
  • Improves processes within AKF and across AKDN agencies to ensure concept notes, proposals, and grant agreements are developed, reviewed, and negotiated in line with internal and AKF global requirements, including go-no-go decisions, sanctions clearance, and due diligence assessments. 

Grants Management (30%)

  • Develops and supervises grant teams to maintain oversight of all grants based on internal and donor compliance requirements, including high-quality reports, and provides guidance on grant revisions, grant extensions, budget realignments, and other modifications as required;
  • Oversees and strengthens grant performance tracking and reporting tools (e.g. grants matrix, dashboards, or other tools) and provides updates to the SMT on a monthly basis, flagging issues that require timely mitigation; 
  • Strengthens and standardises grant management processes and tools, and develops internal documentation systems guidance for AKF and across AKDN agencies in line with global procedures and compliance requirements;

External relations (10%)

  • In partnership with the CEO and AKDN office, deepens and broadens relations with donors, diplomats, and other relevant external actors through informed policy dialogue and exploration of key themes and issues, articulation of achievements, impacts, and lessons learned;
  • Leads or facilitates AKF and AKDN’s strategic engagement in relevant international, regional, national, and sub-national platforms (UN Clusters, DINGO, Cash Working Group, etc.);
  • Provides overall guidance in communicating AKF’s objectives, achievements, ethics, principles, and experience in humanitarian and early recovery programming.

Leadership and People Management (10%)

  • Plays a leadership role in the unit by setting the example of consistently high standards;
  • Coaches members of the P&G teams, ensuring their professional development and capacity building as needed;
  • Promotes positive and productive teamwork in the work environment.
  • Establishes close synergies with AKF’s Donor Units, AKF’s Head Office, relevant AKDN agencies, and AKDN representatives.

Skills and Experience


  • Ability to set and lead vision in alignment with AKDN/AKF values and strategic plan;
  • An entrepreneurial, proactive self-starter with maturity, emotional intelligence, creativity, critical thinking, and project management skills
  • Ability to problem-solve, work independently, and multi-task in a fast-paced environment with numerous and competing deadlines;
  • Ability to handle complex relationships with colleagues, governance, and external stakeholders in a professional manner;
  • Excellent writing, speaking, and other communications skills, with thoroughness and attention to detail;


  • Experience working with humanitarian or international development organisations or donor agencies, including field-level implementation or management, and at least a total of 6 years of professional experience;
  • Experience in resource mobilisation and developing relationships, including direct experience with ECHO, EC, KfW, USAID/BHA, GAC, UNICEF, OCHA, and WFP;
  • Experience in developing and writing proposals and arguments, business plans/cases, concept papers, briefs, and executive summaries, as well as coordinating multiple inputs from a variety of sources while simultaneously managing a variety of relationships;
  • Proven success in managing grants in complex organisations with numerous stakeholders.


  • Demonstrates equity, transparency and accountability and is respectful of others’ differences, challenges and backgrounds;
  • Communicates clearly and concisely while adapting communication styles to meet individual and audience needs; encourages dialogue and effective communication by others;
  • Builds, maintains, and deepens constructive and effective relationships with stakeholders with a specific focus on AKF’s mission;
  • Is a supportive team player, collaborates in creating a culture of knowledge sharing and team learning to strengthen high business performance;
  • Acknowledges creativity and has the desire to expand capacity for innovations (including technology) and adapts established methods for new uses to support the development of communities of practice;

Leadership Behaviors and Attributes

  • Has a strong sense of accountability, responsibility, meritocracy, and professionalism, thorough with a clear focus on governance and excellence;
  • Forges strong collaborative organisational and multi-agency partnerships to motivate self and teams to work effectively to deliver programmatic results;
  • Inspires self and others to greater performance and results while presenting new challenges and opportunities to enable self-reliance and achievement of full potential; 
  • Leads change and encourages learning while giving and receiving timely and balanced feedback.