Job Opportunity: Project Manager Sierra Leone Urban Research Centre

Deadline: 6 September 2015 - 12:00am


Conveners: The Bartlett Development Planning Unit, University College London

This is a unique opportunity for an exceptional individual to take on the challenge of establishing and overseeing the running of a pioneering new centre in Freetown, bringing together academic researchers, civil society, communities, development practitioners and local and central government to find innovative solutions to urban challenges. The centre will build on an existing network of NGOs implementing already-funded projects in slums and be run by a small team of staff. While the focus of the centre will be learning and research, the person should be a strong project manager with exceptional communication skills and willingness to build capacity and transfer skills. The person will work side by side with leading global urban experts from a range of African and global institutions. Self-motivation, a strategic vision and the capacity to navigate complex relationships will make you the ideal person for the job.

Department: The Bartlett Development Planning Unit, University College London
Reports to: Project Management Committee
Salary: in the region of 30,000 GBP per year gross (plus benefits)
Starting date: Oct 2015 (or nearest possible date)
Contract: 3-years full-time fixed sub-contract
Duty station: Freetown, Sierra Leone (with some travelling to London and other African countries)

The Bartlett Development Planning Unit
The Bartlett Development Planning Unit (DPU) – University College London (UCL) embodies a long-term commitment to fostering equitable urban policy and planning, strengthening local government, and supporting community engagement in urban development in the global south. The DPU vision is “a just world in which men and women are equally able to choose, plan and manage their own lives and communities, and to influence local, national and global development in ways that are economically, socially and environmentally sustainable”. The DPU mission “is to strengthen the professional and institutional capacity of governments and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to design and implement innovative, sustainable and inclusive strategies”, giving emphasis to social justice, poverty reduction and participatory local governance. Accordingly, DPU has conducted world-leading research and postgraduate teaching that helps to build the capacity of national governments, local authorities, CBOs and NGOs, aid agencies and businesses working towards socially just and sustainable development in the global south. As the vision implies, a key focus of those activities is supporting community-led processes at scale, either directly through work with CBOs and NGOs, or through strengthening the capacities of local government to interact with communities in an inclusive and transparent manner. (See Programmes, Research and Partnerships at

The Project
The DPU has been awarded a 3-years grant by Comic Relief and DFID to establish the Sierra Leone Urban Research Centre (SLURC) in partnership with Njala University. The centre will be based in Freetown and will be a globally connected urban research centre capable of:
1. building the research and analysis capacity of urban stakeholders
2. making knowledge available to those who need it, prioritising slums dwellers and their organisations
3. delivering world leading research in order to influence the country’s urban policy and practice
The SLURC will benefit from exchanges and partnerships with other African institutions as well as with leading global institutions including the Development Planning Unit (DPU). The new Centre will respond to local needs, building upon best practices in Africa and globally. The research Centre will be guided by an advisory board composed of prominent African scholars and a management committee involving the DPU, Njala University staff and the project manager, which will make the strategic decisions related to the management of the Centre.

The post
The Project Manager will play a strategic role in coordinating the implementation of the project, linking DPU/UCL with Njala University and following the daily activities of the project. This is an exciting opportunity to work at the crossroads of capacity building, project management, and research. The Project Manager will directly contribute to achieve the following projects outcomes:
1. The establishment of an independent and sustainable Urban Research Centre
2. Increased urban research capacity in Sierra Leone
3. Significantly improved quality and quantity of available knowledge on informal settlements in Freetown and Sierra Leone
4. Increased stakeholders’ access to, and understanding and use of quality research and data
5. Improved policies towards informal settlements

Duties typical of the role
1. Assist the Co-Directors and the DPU SLURC management team with all the start up activities and the overall management and development of the SLURC, including
1.1. Identification of the relevant legal organisational structure most suited for the Centre
1.2. Ensuring the Centre is operational
1.3. Recruiting SLURC core staff
1.4. Managing the project budget in coordination with the DPU
1.5. Reporting to the Advisory Board and the Management Committee
2. Support the Co-Directors to develop, nurture and sustain new partnerships and relationships with relevant local stakeholders, including local government, national networks and other agencies working in Sierra Leone
3. Coordinate the implementation of all project activities, including workshops, international exchanges, service provision to urban actors, organization of trainings, research projects, production of publications, etc.
4. Set up systems for monitoring and evaluating the progress of the project throughout its life
5. Oversee and coordinate the financial management of the project from start to finish, in particular:
5.1. Setting up financial systems which will track expenditure through the project
5.2. Close oversight of workplans and budgets taking corrective action well in advance where needed
5.3. Lead on preparation of funding applications and reports for external funders
6. Prepare periodic reports for the DPU, Njala University and donors.
7. Build the capacity of the SLURC staff and transfer skills and capacity

Other duties
1. Contributing to the overall activities of the SLURC as required
2. Carrying out any other duties that are within the scope, spirit and purpose of the job as requested by the DPU Management Team
3. At all times following DPU and Njala University policies including Equal Opportunities, Race Equality, Fire, Security and Health and Safety etc as well as all the laws in Sierra Leone.
Note: this job description reflects the present requirements of the post. As duties and responsibilities change and develop the job description will be reviewed and be subject to amendment in consultation with the postholder.

Person specifications
Demonstrate substantial knowledge and experience of managing complex development projects, involving a wide range of stakeholders and significant budget responsibility.
• Demonstrate good interpersonal skills and capacity to negotiate complex relationships with senior academic management, government officials, urban professionals, local and international NGOs, communities and development donors
• Demonstrate ability to work as part of a team and to form effective and collaborative working relationships across the whole organisation and wider networks
• Capacity to create an environment where employees, stakeholders and partners work to improve the way things are done
• Demonstrate the awareness and experience necessary to work in a multi-cultural setting involving sensitive group dynamics
• Motivation and skills to build capacity and transfer skills to SLURC staff and other actors as appropriate to ensure long-term sustainability at the end of Comic Relief grant
• Skills to monitor progress, evaluate and revise deadlines as necessary
• Demonstrated capacity to influence and manage changes that may be difficult, but which improve the organisation capacity to achieve its objectives
• Demonstrate awareness of quality standards and take steps to improve service delivery to achieving high quality outcomes, including value for money, and to contribute to the development and maintenance of high standards of service to others
Understanding of knowledge production and training in the global South with demonstrated experience of working with local government and/or communities and/or civil society.
Excellent administrative and organisational skills
• Have the ability to work effectively to deadlines as part of a team and individually, have an eye for detail
• Working with budgets and spreadsheets
Excellent communication skills
• Demonstrate good listening skills
• Proactive and clear communication with key contacts
• Excellent written and spoken English
Demonstrate an understanding of the importance of confidentiality, freedom of information, data protection and equal opportunities
Good knowledge of MS Office, MS excel

Experience of working in Sierra Leone or West Africa
• Experience of institutions building
• Be educated to Master’s level in a subject related to urban development or project management.
• Grant writing experience

Contractual details
The appointment will be made from October 2015 (or nearest possible date).

Applications procedure
Please submit a CV, a covering letter (max 2 pages) explaining your motivation to apply for the post and how your experience and skills fulfil the person specifications, and contact details for two referees (we will not contact them without your permission).
Applications need to be submitted by email to: [email protected] with subject line: Project Manager Freetown, by 6 September 2015.
The candidate will need to be available for interviews in Freetown, London or via Skype (with a good internet connection) in the week starting on Monday 21st of September 2015.
Informal enquiries about the post can be made to Dr Andrea Rigon [email protected]
Enquiries about the application process and the Development Planning Unit may be addressed to Ms Nkenji Okpara, Departmental Manager ([email protected] or tel: 020 7679 1117).

Please also consult the DPU website for further details on the DPU.

Photo Credit: DPU



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