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Executive Director

Sphere is a worldwide community that brings together INGO, UN agencies, donors, private sector, practitioners, and many others to improve the quality and accountability of humanitarian assistance around the world. Their flagship publication, the Sphere Handbook, is one of the most widely known sets of common principles to be applied in humanitarian response. As their Executive Director, you will lead the global strategic direction of this vibrant and committed global network to improve the quality and accountability of the humanitarian sector.

About Sphere

The Sphere movement was started in 1997 by a group of humanitarian professionals aiming to improve the quality of humanitarian work during disaster response. With this goal in mind, they framed a Humanitarian Charter and identified a set of humanitarian standards to be applied in humanitarian response.

Initially developed by non-governmental organisations, along with the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, the Sphere standards have become a primary reference tool for national and international NGOs, volunteers, UN agencies, governments, donors, the private sector, and many others. Today, Sphere is a worldwide community which brings together and empowers practitioners to improve the quality and accountability of humanitarian assistance.

Sphere’s flagship publication, the Sphere Handbook, is one of the most widely known and internationally recognised sets of common principles and universal minimum standards in humanitarian response.

About the Role

The Executive Director’s primary role is to lead and serve a vibrant global network of humanitarian practitioners committed to improving principled quality and accountability in humanitarian action, advocating for the uptake and use of humanitarian standards.  The ED manages the performance of the Sphere Secretariat of 6 staff members, ensuring strategic direction and financial stability in line with the organisation’s vision.

Purpose of the Role

The Executive Director (ED) reports to the Executive Committee and has a direct reporting line to the President of the Executive Committee.

Duties and Responsibilities

  • Lead and serve the Sphere secretariat team by inspiring and motivating colleagues, engaging with Sphere users, and building a broad sense of shared ownership and purpose.
  • Work closely with the Executive Committee, Sphere members, staff and stakeholders to develop the Sphere strategy from 2020.
  • Lead on delivering the vision, strategy and annual planning of Sphere (in line with Sphere 2015-2020 and subsequent strategic plan).
  • Ensure effective management of all aspects of Sphere’s work, including high-quality support to membership; strong budget, finance, and grants management; and collaboration within a highly functioning team.
  • Work closely with the Executive Committee and associated bodies to ensure the effective functioning of the organization’s governance, management and administration.
  • Strengthen Sphere’s role as a convening and collaborative platform for humanitarian standards, quality and accountability.  This includes support to the Humanitarian Standards Partnership as well as other new and emerging standards initiatives.
  • Fully engage with partners as one of the copyright holders of the Core Humanitarian Standard, including through its management group and steering committee.
  • Seek and secure resources for Sphere’s work, diversifying its funding portfolio and ensuring appropriate financial controls.
  • Represent Sphere at the highest levels, identifying and building strategic values-based alliances as well as actively contributing to system-wide policy debates.  

Skills and Experience


  • Master’s degree in a relevant discipline or equivalent experience of operating at this level or beyond
  • Significant humanitarian or related experience.
  • Previous senior leadership experience in the international humanitarian sector.
  • Significant field experience in humanitarian response, including use of relevant standards supporting this work.
  • Proven expertise and knowledge of humanitarian principles, action and advocacy.
  • Proven experience in financial management
  • Significant experience in fundraising with a proven track record of securing and managing a portfolio of grants.
  • Demonstrable experience in developing global level strategic thinking
  • Highly developed networking and external representation skills
  • Ability to prioritise with strong coordination and organisation skills
  • Experience in creating/fostering a culture of learning to help enhance and grow the skills and abilities of employees
  • Highest level skills in persuasive and compelling communications, both written and oral.
  • Fluent in English.  
  • Ability to work effectively in a multicultural team and international environment.
  • Culturally sensitive and possesses a high degree of integrity.


  • Experience of working with membership organisations and executive committees.
  • Additional language skills such as French or Spanish