Issue Based Manager

  • 6 months ago
  • Number of vacancies 1 opening

Job Description

Palladium is a global leader in the design, development and delivery of Positive Impact – the intentional creation of enduring social and economic value. We work with foundations, investors, governments, corporations, communities and civil society to formulate strategies and implement solutions that generate lasting social, environmental and financial benefits. 


For the past 50 years, we have been making Positive Impact possible. With a team of more than 2,500 employees operating in 90 plus countries and a global network of more than 35,000 technical experts, Palladium has improved – and is committed to continuing to improve – economies, societies and most importantly, people’s lives. 


Palladium is a child-safe organisation, and screens applicants for suitability to work with children. We also provide equal employment to all participants and employees without regard to race, color, religion, gender, age, disability, sexual orientation, veteran or marital status.

Project Overview and Role:

Traction is a 5 year, DFID funded programme implemented by Palladium in Malawi. Traction tackles solvable elements of the complex problems that hold back growth and effective public service provision in Malawi. We seek out and bring together individuals and organisations with the motivation, influence/ credibility and experience to find solutions, then support them to deliver change. Our partners come from across society: citizen groups, private companies, entrepreneurs, traditional leaders, academics, civil servants and politicians.

We have three integrated teams:
1) Issue Based Projects: providing tailored, practical support to groups of partners, in order to develop, test and deliver innovative, workable solutions.
2) Political Economy Analysis Fund: understanding the realities of power and relationships in Malawi in order to build a solid knowledge base for key stakeholders and to select appropriate issues and achievable solutions.
3)Social Accountability: supporting Malawians to hold service providers to account by engaging citizens in public-spending tracking and gathering feedback data from a network of civil organisations.

Traction represents a new approach to development: risk-taking, adaptive and agile. It replaces grants for pre-defined policy agendas, with expertise, networking and coalition-building: supporting Malawi to deliver systemic change through tangible improvements to the operating environment. 


The Issue Based Manager (IB Manager) will oversee the programme management of the issue-based workstreams. The position will be based in Lilongwe with intermittent travel to project and partner locations.

The role of the IB Manager will be to provide day to day management including planning and reporting and staff performance and oversight of issue-based work including overseeing the work of short-term advisors and work plans.

Since Traction is a Governance programme knowledge of governance is important to this role, but above all it requires strong leadership and management skills to build and then manage an issue based team to deliver.

Primary Duties and Responsibilities: 

The primary responsibilities of the Issue Based Manager are as follows:

  • Developing and delivering the Traction issue-based approach including oversight of issue-identification, selection and taking overall responsibility for the portfolio of issues on which Traction is working.
  • Mentoring and coaching the issue-based facilitators to develop the entrepreneurial skills necessary to problem solve & strategise in an entrepreneurial way with the aim of building a strong, locally-led team capable of delivering a politically smart issue-based programme.
  • Providing oversight and liaison between issue based facilitators and the Traction team to analyse problems to get to the root causes, drawing on support from the core and wider Traction team, including the PEA team and private sector advisors.
  • Encouraging innovative thinking within the team, including in leading by example.
  • Applying a human centred lens to problems and coaching and mentoring the issue-based facilitators to do the same.
  • Applying an economic understanding & business experience to specific problems to help contribute towards Malawi’s economic development, part of Traction’s mandate.This will include drawing on private sector networks of the IB Manager and the Traction team.
  • Advising on the use of media and advocacy within the issue-based programmes.

Design of the issue-based approach:

  • Development of cross-cutting tools and mechanisms/processes for the diagnostic work, embedded PEA, relationship and network building and strategic communications and advocacy to guide issue-based activities and interventions to support achievement of programme objectives.
  • Lead on the development and refinement of the issue Selection Criteria and consultation with key stakeholders including DFID and private and public stakeholders.
  • Set up processes and mechanisms to deliver the issue-based approach to ensure a culture of adaptive management which responds to learning throughout the programme.

Implementation of the TRACTION issue-based approach:

  • Lead on the maintenance of a long list of issues from which short lists of issues for deeper exploration will periodically be produced. Manage appropriate analysis and consultation processes including deep dive PEA work.
  • Operational oversight of the issue-based work including management and coordination of the planning and reporting related to the issue-based scoping and projects activities and interventions.
  • Oversight and management of the diagnostic work and embedded PEA to support the issue-based team undertake issue-based work, including identifying and managing technical inputs.
  • Lead on the implementation of the Test, Learn, Adapt cycle of all issue-based projects including analysis of results and process with clear learning and recommendations
  • Lead ongoing revision of the technical approach based on learning from Issue Based Projects including the first pilot. 
  • Support the issue-based team to build effective networks and leverage relationships with a broad range of private and public sector institutions including media and advocacy organisations.
  • Contribute to and oversee the development of issue-based project strategies and action plans in collaboration with other TRACTION core team members.

Build the issue-based team:

  • Responsible for building a strong autonomous locally led issue-based team capable of thinking innovatively to deliver politically smart interventions.
  • Mentoring and coaching the issue-based facilitators to develop the entrepreneurial skills necessary to problem solve & strategize in an entrepreneurial way.

    Required Qualifications:

The successful applicant will demonstrate the following competencies:

  • Able to respond rapidly to emerging issues both verbally and in writing to produce short, very draft, initial thinking reports at short notice.  
  • Willing and capable to challenge people and engage debate on contentious issues.
  • Self-assurance to share initial thoughts on issues in order to generate productive debate. 
  • Willing to get directly involved with their team’s work in providing technical and quality oversight
  • Able to identify links between theory and concepts and translate these into practical action, without getting paralyzed by analysis, and effectively manage team inputs to ensure that this happens.
  • Inquisitive, questioning nature able to seek out information, review, synthesise and process it rapidly and use it to challenge evidence.
  • Able to win confidence and trust. 
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