Chief Operating Officer

Development Initiatives
Bristol, United Kingdom
Full time Staff

About Development Initiatives

Development Initiative’s (DI) mission is to work closely with partners to ensure data-driven evidence and analysis are used effectively in policy and practice to end poverty, reduce inequality, and increase resilience.

While data alone cannot bring about a better world, it is vital to achieving it. Data has the power to unlock insight, shine a light on progress and empower people to increase accountability.

DI’s work at global, national, and local levels, through a global hub connected to a growing network of regional hubs and partners. In the last five years alone DI’s work has covered 78 countries and DI currently have staff based in Kenya, Uganda, the US, and the UK.

The Role

The Chief Operating Officer is a new role that has been created to take Development Initiatives (DI) forward as an organisation under its newly launched strategy. Reporting to the Chief Executive Officer and part of the Executive Team, the role holds substantial responsibility and accountability that is critical to the organisation’s future success.

DI are seeking a passionate and experienced individual who is confident with numbers, financial accounting, and financial management, as well as skilled at managing and motivating people across multiple departments and locations in and outside of the UK. This position will be responsible for finance, project management, income generation and impact along with the respective heads of those functions.



  • Contribute to the overall leadership and strategic direction of DI through the Executive Team, and in collaboration with the CEO. Work closely with the Executive overseeing organisational, structural and behaviour changes to deliver the new strategy and motivating and inspiring staff to meet and exceed DI’s goals. Develop frameworks, templates, and guidance documents for annual and three-year planning, and coordinate the annual business plan for the CEO
  • Collaborate with the CEO and the Chair of the Finance and People Committee to support the committee on documentation and enable it to deliver on its responsibilities
  • Working with the Director of People, encourage and promote a culture of ambition, excellence and learning and ensure staff align with DI’s foundational principles.
  • Role model behaviours that promote DI’s values and build DI’s culture, share information and learning, and strategise to develop and lead the organisation into the future
  • Deputise for the CEO as required, represent the organisation

Financial Oversight

Provide strategic financial leadership:

  • Develop and steer the company’s financial strategy to guide financial decision making and alignment of resources to ambition. Ensure and manage robust financial systems, controls, policies, and accounting procedures.
  • Exploit opportunities for organisational growth and increased external funding, manage costs structures and ensure DI remain efficient and viable for the future
  • Support the income generation function to align revenue generation to the financial strategy and ensure the integration of reporting for the finance and income generation division. Ensure the financial systems support the provision of reports to funders and that the reports are produced in an accurate and timely manner
  • Develop and lead a dynamic global finance function that supports DI’s regional hubs around the globe. Support all programmes and projects to maintain good fiscal management of finances, ensuring the correct allocation of costs, cost recovery and annual programme budgets and providing templates and guidance as required, and oversee a smooth annual audit of all companies and regional hubs.


Risk and legal compliance:

  • Oversee the organisation’s approach to risk management, ensuring that robust risk management systems, controls and policies are in place to safeguard the organisation and its assets.
  • Participate in and/or provide advice on all aspects of commercial risk and contracting, ensuring that contract management processes are being adhered to, providing advice, and checking all contracts for compliance. Oversee legal compliance within our group of companies.
  • Oversee the establishment of regional hubs assessing risk and compliance requirements for all locations and make recommendations to the CEO and the Board
  • Develop and steer the approach for undertaking due diligence of all DI’s partners, ensuring national compliance with legal requirements and that consultants are remunerated correctly.

Operations and organisational performance

  • Develop and oversee the process for the development, delivery, and monitoring of the strategy, supporting the Executive Team in the development of an annual business planning process.
  • Develop and coordinate a quarterly business review process. Evaluate and monitor performance by creating suitable dashboards, determining appropriate indicators analysing and interpreting data and metrics
  • Design and implement business strategies, plans and procedures, and oversee both the three-year planning and the annual planning and budgeting process to deliver on the strategy. Oversee the organisation’s ongoing operations and procedures on a day-to-day basis and co-ordinate regular reporting at project, function, and regional hub level
  • Oversee the Monitoring, Evaluation, Impact and Learning (MEIL) and the implementation of the strategic impact framework through programmes and projects, ensuring that learning reviews are happening regularly, and that DI remains a learning organisation
  • Develop DI’s ‘Excellence Framework’ to maintain quality of content and process with leadership from other members of the Executive Team and ensure compliance across the organisation.

Programme and project management

  • Ensure the programme and management systems implemented are appropriate for DI’s needs and allow for agility, while ensuring we are delivering to cost and quality and within the timeframes agreed
  • Ensure all teams working on projects and programmes are trained on the systems and understand what is required of them
  • Regularly review all systems and ensure they are fully integrated with DI’s financial and reporting systems. Ensure programmes support income generation to achieve their goals.


Management and functional development:

  • Lead, manage, motivate and develop direct reports who hold responsibility for their functions
  • Ensure appropriate training and development plans are in place for these teams, and that all managers are undertaking their responsibilities of line management and supporting the development of staff.

Person Specification



  • Proven experience as a leader in global operations, with a minimum of 15 years in senior management
  • Strong business acumen and financial management leadership
  • Demonstrable competency in strategic planning and business development
  • Knowledge of data analysis and performance operation metrics
  • Experience of transforming financial systems and functions
  • Experience of establishing operations outside of the UK and managing compliance for global entities
  • Experience of managing a financial and operations division
  • Strong people management skills, and excellent at motivating and inspiring people
  • Experience of setting up and running organisational performance management systems against objectives
  • Experience of regular reporting to the board
  • Previous experience as a Director of Finance and/or Operations.


  • Experience of overseeing monitoring and evaluation within an organisation
  • Experience of leading or working within an internal audit function
  • Experience of managing at least five senior staff members, enabling, and guiding them, supporting their development, and getting the best out of them
  • Experience of the international development sector
  • Experience of managing grant and contract funding and the different reporting requirements.



  • Strong oral communication skills, with fluency in English
  • Organisational leadership skills – experience of being part of an organisation’s leadership team and a track record of driving the growth and development of an organisation or institution
  • Demonstrable ability to play a leadership role in an organisation and represent it externally as required
  • Proven ability to lead a large division within an organisation
  • Excellent management skills, and experience of working and managing across locations
  • Ability to work as a member of a team and train, develop and mentor staff to increase their skills and inspire them to exceed their own expectations
  • Strong analytical and data-driven mindset that translates into leadership skills
  • Strong decision-making and problem-solving skills.


  • Fluency in other languages would be an advantage, specifically French, Portuguese and/or Spanish.



  • Qualified accountant (CIMA/ACA/ACCA) and/or MBA.


  • Master’s in Public Administration.

Personal attributes


  • Rigorous and conscientious – able to ensure high quality and attention to detail
  • A strong commitment to quality, able to ensure all content produced adheres to DI’s quality assurance framework and meets the needs of our partners
  • Culturally sensitive, with demonstrable ability to work successfully and independently with diverse groups
  • Ability to work under pressure and deliver on time
  • Ability to manage multiple projects simultaneously to different timeframes
  • Excellent facilitation and presentation skills, with ability to represent the organisation at all levels
  • A leader who is dynamic, visionary, good with people and able to motivate and inspire staff and lead by example
  • Positive outlook and energetic – looks for solutions and help staff explore new ways of doing things
  • Considerate and supportive, a self-starter able to work collaboratively within and across teams and to organise time accordingly
  • Flexibility and willingness/ability to travel (including abroad)
  • Willingness to work beyond the working day and be contacted out-of-office hours as may be required.
Closing date: 
18th June 2021