Our searches

Our clients have exclusively retained Mission Talent to undertake these searches on their behalf.
WWF International

Executive Director, Global Conservation Impact

In this influential role, the Executive Director for Global Conservation Impact will oversee the delivery of WWF’s global conservation programme. Working in close collaboration with the Director General and the Network Executive Team, you will support expert Practice Leaders around the world in the implementation of the practice strategies and initiatives and ensure strategic integration and collaboration across the WWF Network. You are a seasoned executive and savvy convener who can spot opportunities for synergy, and lead the sharing of learning and innovation across a complex organization.

About WWF International

To drive even greater impact in an increasingly complex and interconnected world, the WWF network has committed to help accomplish the goals toward which the nations of the world have committed – including the Sustainable Development Goals, the Paris Agreement, the Convention on Biological Diversity and more.

The strength of the WWF network lies in the talent of the country programmes and the partnerships. To facilitate coordination, WWF has launched global practice areas to bring together country programmes to: 1) increase our learning and dissemination of innovations and initiatives that arise in the context of specialized practitioners located across individual countries all over the world, and 2) bring together the network around a number of big ideas and priority initiatives been defined as focus areas for step change impact.

The six practice areas within the global conservation portfolio include: Wildlife, Forests, Oceans, Freshwater, Food and Energy & Climate.  Three cross-cutting drivers are: Markets, Finance, and Governance.

WWF is a global network organisation. The Network Executive Team (NET) is chaired by the WWF International Director General and consists of representatives of WWF offices. It sets the strategic directions proposed by practice leaders and supervise their performance. The WWF International Secretariat and practice core teams facilitate, support and drive the network in the implementation of the strategies and initiatives.

About the Role

Managed by the WWF International Director General, but acting largely on behalf of the whole Network Executive Team, the Global Conservation Director will focus her/his efforts on supporting the practices and the priority initiatives which form the core of the global conservation programme. This includes:

  • To oversee WWF’s Global Conservation Programme and support practice leaders in the effective implementation of the practice strategies and initiatives under the guidance of the NET and throughout the WWF network.
  • Ensure strategic integration and coordination across WWF’s global practices and with key enabling functions both within the conservation division (e.g. partnerships, policy) as well as in other divisions working with the respective directors (eg. science, fundraising, communications, operations).
  • Ensure consistent strong impact measurement, reflection and learning from results to improve performance continuously.
  • On behalf of the NET, guide, mentor and support practice leaders on effectively integrating their work with the distributed leadership of the network and with external partners to deliver results that make a difference to our goals.
  • Convene stakeholders, both internally within WWF International and the WWF network, and externally with partners, to build and nurture transformative partnerships.
  • Serve as the primary staff liaison between Practice Leaders, Director General/NET and the WWF International Senior Management Team, of which the Executive Director is a member.

Duties and Responsibilities

Drive breakthrough impact for priority initiatives

Acute focus is required to drive effective delivery of identified global priority initiatives:

  • Working with the practice leaders and country offices involved, to ensure that initiatives are clearly defined following the guidance provided by NET with sufficient level of breakthrough ambition.
  • Integrate the collective WWF network’s science, policy and program knowledge and experience.
  • Ensure that initiatives are designed and implemented with the collaboration of external partners with a clear vision for the role of WWF and value-add.
  • Build on internal network and external innovations.
  • Help ensure that initiatives are effectively resourced (funding, talent) to enable success.
  • Guide the structuring of initiatives in collaboration with resource mobilization and initiative leads, to ensure the delivery of measurable break-through results.
  • Monitor and assess progress, provide support and guidance as well as challenging where necessary.

Ensure strategic coherence and integration in the implementation of the practice strategies and initiatives

  • Ensure that global practice strategies operate within a coherent global as well as specific theories of change.
  • Chair the Global Practice Leaders Forum and lead to ensure joint strategizing, planning, optimization of opportunities for collective action and help achieve coherence and common directions.
  • Coordinate the global community of Conservation Directors and facilitate the interaction with the Practice Leaders through a process of regular meetings and a global conservation conference. Encourage and ensure integration between the practices and science, policy, communications, organizational development, performance management and other relevant functions as appropriate.
  • Support Global Practice Leaders in developing a common understanding of major external trends that are likely to influence our work;
  • Drive shared learning and knowledge management among Practice Leadership Teams and their communities;
  • Ensure policy coherence between practices and efficient and coherent relationship management with global institutions and partners;
  • In cooperation with the WWF International COO, support the operations of the practice initiatives as centers of excellence in efficiency and high-impact delivery;
  • Resolve conflict amongst Practice Leaders and Offices via mediation, and effectively manage escalation and resolution by NET where necessary.

Resourcing practice strategies and initiatives

  • Working closely with the WWF International Director of Fundraising and the network fundraising community in country offices, support Practice Leaders to ensure that the practice priorities of funding needs are identified, and effective resourcing plans are developed and successfully implemented utilizing the dedicated ‘funding platform’.

Monitoring and impact evaluation

  • Drive engagement with the performance unit in monitoring the impact of the practice strategies and initiatives and ensure that this is transparently and effectively communicated to WWF’s Board, NET, the entire network and external partners.
  • Liaise closely with the Global Science Lead to monitor scientific advances and trends in support of practice priorities.
  • Drive deep reflection on successes and failures and ensure that practice leadership and core teams are able to learn from this and refine their strategies and implementation as required.

Support Global Practice Leaders

  • Provide administrative line management to Practice Leaders and facilitate reporting to NET as well as channelling communication between the Practice Leaders’ Forum and the NET.
  • Represent the primary senior staff liaison between Practice Leaders and the NET, the Director General of WWF International and its Senior Management Team.
  • Ensure that practices benefit from shared platforms as required (e.g. knowledge management, innovation, monitoring and evaluation, etc.) and engage with relevant teams.


  • Ensure WWF’s policy advocacy and commitments are aligned with the practice strategies and impactful in the lead up to 2020 and beyond.


  • Provide visionary leadership on WWF’s global partnerships work in public sector and corporate partnerships.
  • Working closely with partners around the network, ensure these global partnerships drive deep and transformative change and are deeply embedded in the work and ambition of the practices and the priority initiatives.

Other Duties and Responsibilities

  • Oversee the global conservation division teams employed to give effect to the functions described above.
  • Play an active role in strengthening and maintaining the management and governance culture and practices that reflect the organization’s core values
  • Build and maintain relationships with major current and prospective partners and with potential donors as appropriate, including individuals, foundations, corporations, and government agencies – developing and closing on major grants in coordination with relevant staff in WWF International and network.
  • Undertakes other tasks as requested and agreed with the Director General.

Skills and Experience

Required Qualifications

  • Track record of delivering results in a large complex institution
  • Graduate degree, preferably in environmental and sustainability sciences
  • Post-graduate degree in business management or equivalent qualification
  • Proven track record of managing internal and external multi-cultural stakeholders to influence and drive impact
  • Clear evidence of driving strategic thinking and target delivery at executive level
  • Evidence of championing integration and innovation
  • Proven international senior leadership
  • Experience and understanding of working in a complex and international matrix organization
  • Fluent in English. Other languages are an asset.

Required Skills and Competencies

  • Passion for environmental conservation and sustainable development
  • Critical and strategic thinking with a strong results focus
  • Experience in bringing together senior teams and working in geographically distributed and non-hierarchical structures
  • Strong management and people development skills in direct line reporting and matrix relationship
  • Ability to develop a team-based environment to motivate and inspire staff to work collaboratively towards a shared vision and goal
  • Excellent diplomatic and communication skills with an ability to communicate with impact, and exert influence across a broad spectrum of audiences.
  • Clearly demonstrates behaviors that align with the culture of WWF (Strive for impact, Listen deeply, Collaborate openly and Innovate fearlessly).