Director Program Development and Quality (PDQ)

  • Full Time
  • Lusaka, Zambia
  • Applications have closed

Save the Children International

JOB TITLE: Director Program Development and Quality (PDQ)

TEAM/PROGRAMME: Senior Management Team, Zambia

LOCATION: Lusaka, with regular travel to field sites


CONTRACT LENGTH: 2 Years renewable


Level 3:  the role holder will have contact with children and/or young people either frequently (e.g., once a week or more) or intensively (e.g., four days in one month or more or overnight) because they work in country programs; or are visiting country programs; or because they are responsible for implementing the police checking/vetting process staff.


As a member of the Senior Management Team (SMT) in Zambia, the Director of Program Development and Quality (PDQ) is responsible for driving cross-functional engagement in the development and delivery of the Country Strategic Plan (CSP), developing annual plans and reporting on results. S/he is responsible for ensuring development and delivery of high quality, evidence-based, innovative programs for children, in all contexts, that contribute to Save the Children’s global Breakthroughs: Learn, Survive, Be Protected. The Director of PDQ ensures that a robust monitoring, evaluation, accountability and learning (MEAL) system is in place, that the country office engages in the collection and use of evidence and that is shared across the global organization, and that reliable data is used for decision-making.  One key aspect of the role is ensuring capability building, mentoring and coaching of technical specialists in order to support program quality in line with global standards and key performance indicators. As a senior leader in the country office s/he plays a representational and strong advocacy role with the government, donors, partners, peer agencies, SC Members and others.  The Director of PDQ supports strategic positioning with donors and partners and leads on project design to ensure that the country office strategy is delivered in line with child rights programming principles.


Reports to: Country Director

Staff directly reporting to this post: MEAL Manager, Advocacy Communications & Campaigns Coordinator, Program Development Manager and Technical Specialists (may include education, health and nutrition, child protection, child rights governance, Public Investment in Children and other cross-cutting areas such as gender equality, advocacy, climate change)

Role Dimensions: As one of the senior staff in the Country Office, the Director of Program Development and Quality (PDQ) must demonstrate the qualities of agile leadership.  S/he plays a key role in defining and pursuing the strategic direction for Save the Children’s programs in Zambia, ensuring the relevance, coherence, safety and impact of our programs for children in all contexts. This is a challenging role requiring an individual who can work with complexity and multiple tasks at one time. It is essential that she/ he builds and maintains strong relationships across functions within the CO, including with team members from Operations, Award Management, Humanitarian, and Finance, and s/he should lead by example in demonstrating this cross-functional collaboration. This role demands dedication to demonstrating outcomes for children, experience in integrated child rights programming and a highly motivated leader. S/he has specific oversight for ensuring that programs demonstrate thematic excellence in contributing to Save the Children’s three Breakthroughs for children, especially for the most deprived and marginalized: no child dies from preventable causes before their fifth birthday; all children learn from a quality basic education; and violence against children is no longer tolerated.


Strategy, Planning and Reporting (15%)

  • Lead the development/updating of the Child Rights Situation Analysis, including analysis of country context and taking into account child rights principles and gender issues, ensuring participation and buy-in from all relevant staff, partners and other stakeholders as necessary.
  • Develop/update and drive forward the Country Strategy Plan (CSP) with senior management and the country office team, ensuring alignment with the global strategy, Ambition 2030, with child rights at the core of all programming and advocacy work; and support the delivery of the CSP strategic pivots.
  • Provide leadership on monitoring of progress against the CSP, and completion of accurate, on-time Country Annual Report of outcomes and impact for children, aligned with the Global Results Framework.
  • Facilitate the development and pursuit of thematic and cross-cutting strategic priorities in line with the CSP, including gender equality, to guide current and future SC programming and advocacy work, including Humanitarian Strategies.
  • Support ownership and commitment to the CSP by all staff and departments through clear communication, regular feedback on progress and engagement of all functions in updates.
  • Participate in global discussions and working groups to represent the Zambia country office, and the voice of children, in strategy design and policy development.
  • Support change processes and roll-out new ways of working to improve achievement of the CSP.

Program Design & Development (20%)

  • In coordination with the New Business Development and Awards Management Team, oversee the development of a country funding strategy and donor engagement plans based on funding landscape and strategic portfolio analysis, and to mobilize the resources required to deliver strategic plans and ensure our funding portfolio supports the resilience and sustainability of the country Office.
  • In consultation with County Director and Member focal points, working with New Business Development to diversify the country office’s funding streams, including to identify and pursue alternative sources of funding such as private sector, philanthropists, venture capitalists etc.
  • In consultation with the Country Director and Members, ensure technical engagement with donors for scoping/intel gathering, capture planning and to pre-position and prepare for opportunities, and engage in strategic positioning work directly as appropriate.
  • Play a leading role in designing compelling and competitive concept notes and proposals, including:
    Alignment with our strategy and SC’s Theory of Change – innovating, building on and generating evidence, identifying strategic ways of partnering; supporting broader change in policy and practice.
    Engaging with technical experts as needed to ensure high quality, evidence-based designs that draw on needs assessments, learning from past programs and SCI’s child rights programming, program quality and child safeguarding principles.
  • Ensuring partners are identified, facilitate partnership brokering, and are appropriately engaged in program design and proposal development as well as promote a system strengthening approach as the overarching framework, that supports working in collaboration and partnership with governments and local partners and working towards impact, scale and sustainability.
  • Ensuring proposal designs and their budgets include robust MEAL plans that are aligned with the Global Results Framework (and therefore advance towards our Breakthroughs), incorporate Common Approaches as relevant, and build in critical learning questions.
  • Ensuring the project budget will enable the project to be delivered as designed.
  • Incorporating child and community participation into design, as relevant.

Program Quality and Program Technical Excellence (20%)

  • Ensure the country program delivers high quality, multi-sectoral programming and advocacy in both development and humanitarian contexts (as appropriate).
  • Monitor and advance technical and operational quality of programmes, including conducting regular field visits to provide feedback on quality benchmarks, soliciting inputs for design of new programs and collecting ideas for innovation.
  • Monitor program Key Performance Indicators and, in partnership with other functions, take steps to improve the quality programming platform to meet agreed upon standards.
  • Work closely with the Country Director to ensure Quality Framework standards are met and procedures are followed throughout the project cycle and across the portfolio.
  • Ensure technical experts proactively and regularly communicate planned requirements for program design, learning and implementation to relevant CO departments/functions.
  • Build and lead a team of program technical experts needed to successfully deliver against the CSP. Ensure effective working relationships with SC global, Member and regional technical advisors, procuring technical support as needed to support program and advocacy efforts, including during Emergencies.
  • Ensure that program technical experts engage in larger communities of practice within and external to Save the Children, to link with the most relevant and evidence-based approaches and conduct timely and useful review of project reports to support quality reporting for Members and donors.
  • Ensure that the different technical sectors of the Country Office are coordinated, integrated and support each other to optimize programs and projects.
  • Ensure that child safeguarding and safe programming is embedded in program design and considered throughout implementation to ensure that we do all we can to ensure children in our programs are safe, in line with our child safeguarding policy.

Monitoring, Evaluation, Accountability, Learning (MEAL) and Knowledge Management (20%)

  • Oversee a monitoring system that provides timely and accurate project results by embedding MEAL across program implementation. This requires ensuring effective collaboration across MEAL staff, Technical Specialists, Technical Advisors and program implementation teams to develop log frames, indicators, implementation plans, quality benchmarks, monitoring and evaluation frameworks and related tools.
  • Lead programme quality improvements by monitoring and improving Programme KPI performance, including resourcing and conducting high-quality evaluations to demonstrate outcomes and impact and ensuring that accountability mechanisms are in place for all projects so that identified actions are resolved, with critical issues escalated to the senior leadership team.
  • Identify concrete systems and mechanisms to cultivate a culture of learning, reflection and continuous improvement and provide leadership to ensure their uptake and roll out. Define and pursue Country Program and project-specific learning agendas. Ensure the research and evaluations of the Country Office contribute to the generation of evidence and learning to inform sound decision making, project design, adaptive project management, and policy influencing internally and externally.

Advocacy, Campaigns, Communications and Media (10%)

  • Ensure development of an advocacy strategy and annual plans linked to the CSP, with clear Campaign deliverables, for the Country Office.
  • Represent Save the Children as part of advocacy and networking with government authorities, donors, partners, civil society actors, children and other stakeholders to build relationships to facilitate achievement of CSP strategic goals and success of our projects for children, and to position SC as the leading organization for children’s issues in all contexts with child rights at the core of all programming and advocacy work.
  • Oversee the development of communications and media strategies to support Save the Children’s visibility and achievement of the CSP and Campaign objectives.

Partnership (5%)

  • Play a leading role in identifying nurturing and strengthening strategic partnerships with local and international civil society organizations, NGOs, governments etc., in advancing the country and global strategy to inspire our three breakthroughs for the most deprived and marginalized children.
  • As appropriate to the country context, provide technical support and capability building to implementing and strategic partners.

Staff Management, Mentorship, and Development (10%)

  • Support the development of an organizational culture that reflects SC’s full spectrum mandate and values, promotes accountability and high performance, encourages a cross-team culture of learning, creativity and innovation in a productive work environment, and frees up people to deliver outstanding results for children.
  • Ensure appropriate staffing of Program Development and Quality team, and engagement of additional technical support when needed to deliver quality project design and delivery.
  • Ensure that all PDQ staff understand and are able to perform their role in delivering first-class, quality programs for children in both development and emergency contexts through effective onboarding and clear workplans.
    Manage individual and team performance using principles of leadership agility, and Save the Children’s performance management system, including annual goal setting, conduct quarterly performance reviews, provide leadership and support as needed.
  • Ensure that staff proactively build and maintain technical, managerial and leadership skills, including competencies in child rights programming, child safeguarding and Common Approaches, providing coaching opportunities when needed, and ensure availability of and support appropriate professional development opportunities.
  • Participate in country office leadership through the senior leadership team and make collective decisions on programme and advocacy priorities.
  • Establish and maintain a culture of teamwork, participation, and accountability, including regular team and individual meetings, mechanisms for cross department coordination and collaboration, and norms and practices that are results driven.

Additional job responsibilities

The duties and responsibilities as set out above are not exhaustive and the role holder may be required to carry out additional duties within reasonableness of their level of skills and experience.


  • Master’s degree or bachelor’s Degree (master’s preferred), and experience in relevant social science (especially in Child Development or Community Development), human rights, development studies, NGO management or equivalent fields.
  • A minimum of seven years of progressive senior management and/ or development experience, including experience designing and implementing programs for children.
  • Experience in one or more of Save the Children’s thematic sectors: education, child protection, child rights governance, health and nutrition, child poverty, emergencies.
  • Understanding of advocacy, policy, and government systems in the host country, and particular experience with child rights programming, including UNCRC.
  • Strong skills and proven experience in leading strategic planning, change management and program management processes; also, from the knowledge and learning perspective.
  • Strong skills and proven experience in new program development, project design and proposal writing with corporate, foundations and/or institutional donors.
  • Credibility to lobby, influence and represent Save the Children at all levels.
    Experience in developing and managing monitoring, evaluation, accountability and learning systems.
  • Excellent listening, inter-personal, communication and networking skills; proven experience and effectiveness working across functional teams and in a matrixed structure; and an ability to work with diverse populations.
  • Skills in training, capability building, coaching, mentorship, problem solving, and project cycle management.
  • High level of self-awareness and willingness to take feedback for growth and self-development.
  • Proven experience as a team player and leader in an international organization.
  • Ability to speak, read and write clearly in English.



The closing date for receipt of applications is Friday 17th March 2023. Only shortlisted candidates will be contacted.

Save the Children reserves the right to re advertise if suitable applicants are not found.

Save the Children is an equal opportunity employer and qualified female applicants are encouraged to apply.

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