International Fund For Agricultural Development – Lead Portfolio Advisor.

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Organizational Setting

The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) is an international financial institution and a specialized United Nations agency dedicated to eradicating rural poverty and hunger. It does so by investing in rural people. IFAD finances programmes and projects that increase agricultural productivity and raise rural incomes, and advocates at the local, national and international level for policies that contribute to rural transformation. 

The Programme Management Department (PMD), under the leadership of an Associate Vice-President, is responsible for the overall programme of loans and grants of the Fund and is composed of five (5) regional divisions and the Operational Policy and Results Division.  

The Lead Portfolio Advisor works under the direct supervision of the Regional Director, and therefore under the overall strategic, policy, and management guidance of both the Regional Director and the Associate Vice-President, PMD.

The position is located in East and Southern Africa division (ESA).

Job Role

The Lead Portfolio Advisor provides authoritative expertise and technical leadership on programmes at the global, regional and national levels through spear heading relevant corporate processes to enhance the efficiency of IFAD-funded operations.

Key Functions and Results

1.OPERATIONAL POLICY ADVICE AND DEVELOPMENT: The Lead Portfolio Advisor spearheads relevant corporate processes to enhance the Fund’s business model, with a particular focus on efficiency of IFAD-funded operations. Activities may include but are not necessarily limited to: (a) as part of the Portfolio Advisors’ Group, supporting OPR in the development and/or the revision of relevant operational policies and procedures aimed at enhancing the performance of IFAD-funded interventions (e.g. the SIS policy, and guidelines); (b) promoting the use and compliance with new and revised operational policies and procedures by country teams within the division; (c) taking the lead on ensuring full divisional compliance with IFAD Supervision and Implementation support (SIS) Policy and guidelines and establishing relevant divisional quality assurance systems to ascertain quality and cross-country consistency of key SIS missions’ deliverables and those related to project completion reports; (d) taking the lead on the divisional self-assessment work which culminates in the yearly Portfolio Stock take exercise; (e) providing authoritative advice to country teams pertaining to project results-based management; (f) and providing authoritative advice to the Regional Director and Heads of Multi-Country Offices (MCOs) planning exercise. 

2.COUNTRY PROGRAMME ADVICE AND DEVELOPMENT: The Lead Portfolio Advisor provides authoritative advice on operational matters related to the divisional portfolio, keeping abreast of all relevant corporate changes and reforms having a bearing on portfolio management. Activities may include, but are not necessarily limited to: (a) providing demand-based authoritative advice to the Divisional Director, MCO Directors and Country Directors on operational requests (e.g. extensions, suspensions, cancellations, additional financing, restructuring), (b) closely monitoring portfolio performance and working closely with Country Directors to develop and implement project performance improvement plans for projects-at-risk, (c)  leading quality review of supervision mission and project completion reports (PCRs), including clearing the reports in ORMS and monitoring timely disclosure, as well as clearing all Management Letters and country briefs for Regional Director’s signature; (d) drafting and implementing a regional plan to manage disbursement caps; (e) playing a role in identifying and mitigating risks in operations, having the oversight of emerging risks from the portfolio, as well as aggregating and reporting on these risks to the Regional Director and relevant committees (f) working closely with the Lead Regional Economist ensuring, as required, that experiences and lessons learned from the ongoing portfolio are fed into COSOPs and project designs, (g) providing field support on demand during supervision and implementation support missions, as well as design missions as required; (h); working closely with FMD and FCD to expedite withdrawal application processing and other loan administration tasks (e.g. addressing ineligible expenditures and disbursement caps); (i) overseeing, monitoring and supervising IFAD’s expanding private sector and equity investment portfolio; and (j) providing authoritative advice on investment solutions covering PBAS and BRAM windows, and supplementary funds-financed portfolios. 

3.KNOWLEDGE MANAGEMENT AND CAPACITY BUILDING: The Lead Portfolio Advisor engages in a wide range of peer-to-peer internal and external interactions, while systematically managing and sharing both formal and informal knowledge pertaining to relevant qualitative and quantitative information and best practices for the benefit of all country programmes. Activities may include but are not necessarily limited to: (a) making use of all corporate media and delivery mechanisms, including divisional publications with particular responsibility for documenting and analyzing implementation-related issues common across country programmes; (b) taking the lead on designing and delivering needs-based training modules and improving results-based management performance; (c) leading the organization of annual regional workshops and other events of corporate relevance involving external partners, as appropriate. 

4.RESULTS MONITORING AND REPORTING: The Lead Portfolio Advisor leads the monitoring and reporting processes on the regional portfolio (loans and grants) management, performance and results for Divisional, Departmental and Corporate levels. This entails, as part of the regional team, organizing and overseeing portfolio data analysis, periodic portfolio performance reports/updates, portfolio reviews and stock takes, production and dissemination of knowledge products, briefs, case studies as required and delivering of presentations. The Lead Portfolio Advisor leads the divisional quality assurance processes for SIS, MTR, PCR, data/results reporting and the timely submission and disclosure of reports as well as updating of the various systems (GRIPS and ORMS). Upon request, the Lead portfolio advisor provides input to new COSOPs and the design of new loans and/or grants based on lessons learned from the country portfolio performance. S/he coordinates divisional contributions to the corporate Results Measurement Framework (RMF) and provides support to MCO Heads and Country Teams towards compliance with IFAD rules, regulations and policies, implementation of corporate operational strategies, establishment of targets and monitoring of results achievement. The Lead Portfolio Advisor also provides authoritative advice to MCO Heads, Country Directors and Country teams on implementation matters, notably but not limited to Monitoring & Evaluation and results reporting; s/he directly contributes to implementation support as required for enhanced portfolio performance. The Lead Portfolio Advisor collaborates closely with OPR on departmental and corporate initiatives and takes an active role in the Departmental Portfolio Advisory group to review and develop adapted strategies, policies, procedures and guidelines. Finally, the LPA acts as regional focal point for updating the corporate partnership strategy.

5. MANAGERIAL FUNCTIONS: The Lead Portfolio Advisor plays a significant role in assisting, as required, the Regional Director in relation to all tasks assigned to him/her and is expected to act with honesty, fairness, impartiality and sensitivity in exercising authority and interacting with colleagues and external parties. S/he may act as Officer-in-charge in the absence of the Regional Director as requested/needed, contributes to the definition of the regional strategy, vision and objectives, manages complex processes and provides expert advice on a wide range of issues related to the functions and responsibilities of the division, ensuring accuracy and timeliness of the substantive outputs. This includes but is not limited to direct review and preparation of relevant documents and reports; identification of priorities, strategic opportunities, problems and issues to be addressed through pragmatic corrective actions; liaising with relevant parties, taking on focal responsibility for corporate activities and initiating follow-up actions. In particular, the Lead Portfolio Advisor will act as focal point for Administrative Services Division (ADM), Communications Division (COM), Financial Controller’s Division (FCD), Environment, Climate, Gender and Social Inclusion Division (ECG), Global Engagement, Partnership and Resource Mobilization Division (GPR), Information and Communication Technology Division (ICT), Office of the General Counsel (LEG), Sustainable Production, Markets and Institutions Division (PMI), TRE-related matters, and responds to recommendations from AUO and IEO, while s/he also leads in the development, implementation and evaluation of assignments, coordinating any divisional and/or corporate initiatives as requested by the Division Director. The Lead Portfolio Advisor further coordinates replenishment-related matters at divisional level, leads on the management of supplementary funds arrangements secured by the division with external donors. S/he leads and coordinates the preparation and implementation of divisional high-level events with a particular focus on substantive engagement ensuring appropriate protocol, representational opportunities, and visibility for IFAD as a whole. As a change agent, the Lead Portfolio Advisor understands and applies the principles of change management and proactively serves as a role model for transformation, promoting innovative solutions to overcome challenges. S/he represents the regional division at internal, and IFAD at external, meetings as required, acting as regional focal point for the UN Rome-based agencies. The Lead Portfolio Advisor is accountable for integrity, transparency, and equity in the management of IFAD resources. This includes People Management, through support to shortlisting and recruitment of candidates and supervision/mentorship of staff and non-staff specialists, as well as technical leadership/capacity development; Resource Management by providing strategic advice into programme and divisional budget development, and Knowledge Management by ensuring knowledge content within specialty/thematic areas is continuously updated and available. S/he further leads regional team staff and consultants, ensuring that the regional team is perceived as the go-to body to support country teams in the discharge of their duties. In addition, the Lead Portfolio Advisor supports the Regional Director in the implementation of decentralization-related matters.

Key Performance Indicators

The Lead Portfolio Advisor’s provision of authoritative professional expertise and technical leadership has a direct impact on programmes at the global, regional and national levels through spear heading relevant corporate processes to enhance the Fund’s business model, with a particular focus of enhancing institutional efficiency and efficiency of IFAD-funded operations. The Lead Advisor represents the position of IFAD in national, regional as well as global fora and conferences. Innovation is required in the adaptation and development of approaches and methods to evolving portfolio contexts.Work at this level is considered as substantially complex and of critical concern to the Fund. In particular, portfolio advisory work requires in depth identification and consideration of a full range of factors relevant to the examination and discussion of programme problems and policies in the solution of methodological problems or in the formulation of policy proposals and project recommendations.

Working Relationships

The work relationships of Lead Portfolio Advisors involve the provision of authoritative advice and the negotiation and resolution of problems that arise in mission planning, monitoring and evaluation or the preparation of studies and reports. S/he exercises wide professional latitude in contacts in her/his field(s), providing technical leadership and capacity building to internal and external partners.

Job Profile Requirements

Organizational Competencies – Level 2 

  • Strategic thinking and organizational development: Strategic leadership
  • Demonstrating Leadership: Leads by example; initiates and supports change
  • Learning, sharing knowledge and innovating: Challenges, innovates and contributes to a learning culture
  • Focusing on clients: Contributes to a client-focused culture
  • Problem solving and decision making: Solves complex problems and makes decisions that have wider corporate impact
  • Managing time, resources and information: Coordinates wider use of time, information and/or resources
  • Team Work: Fosters a cohesive team environment
  • Communicating and negotiating: Acquires and uses a wide range of communication styles and skills
  • Building relationships and partnerships: Builds and maintains strategic partnerships internally and externally
  • Managing performance and developing staff: Manages staff and teams effectively 


Level – Advanced university degree 
Areas – Rural Development, Finance, Economics, Public Policy or related studies.

Degree must be an accredited institution listed on

Work experience: 

  • At least ten (10) years of progressively responsible professional experience.
  • Four (4) years in a multi-cultural organization, rural development/financial institutions or government services, in the area of implementation and supervision of rural development programmes.
  • Position-specific experience: Solid expereince in east and southern African region. 

•    Required English (4 – Excellent) 
•    Desirable: French, Spanish, or Arabic 
•    Position-specific requirement:  Working knowledge of French is an advantage. 

Job role specific – Level 4 

  • Programme Management for Agricultural Development: Expertise specific to position, e.g., in agricultural and rural development, policy-oriented, programme based pro-poor approaches, results-based agriculture rural development projects, country-specific knowledge, migration, etc.;
  • Political acumen: Ability to conduct sound political analysis and understand complex environments, providing options and advice; 
  • Policy Dialogue: Know-how in the representation of IFAD as a trusted and strategic partner, advocating and promoting IFAD’s mandate and vision; effective consultations with IFAD counterparts — line ministries and governmental bodies at all administrative levels, donors, civil society;
  • Advocacy: Know-how in advocacy, to maintain and promote constructive dialogue around IFAD’s vision to external actors;
  • Performance management: Know-how in managing performance,  learning management, establishing learning plans and ensuring staff supervised meet their development needs while meeting the needs of IFAD;
  • Project coordination: Identification of key-priorities, ability to work with others, coordinate and structure work to meet deadlines and adjustment of workplan/resource allocation when needed, identification and management of project;
  • Programme/Project development, management: Know-how in Programme/Project development, implementation, management  
  • Synthesis, Outstanding ability to synthesize and simplify complex technical information for a variety of (non-technical) audiences;
  • Interpersonal skills: Ability to deal patiently and tactfully with others (e.g. visitors, clients, callers, etc.), including senior individuals (e.g. high-level meeting participants);
  • Analytical skills: Outstanding ability to analyse and synthesize qualitative and/or quantitative information from a variety of sources and filter out key insights and recommendations; 
  • Risk management (e.g. reputational): Identification and assessment of potential liabilities and risks in IFAD’s activities, particularly vis-à-vis third parties; ability to handle risks via contingency and mitigation strategies;  (e.g. reputational)

Position specific 

  • Strategy implementation: Ability to lead and manage the development and implementation of medium to longer-term strategies for IFAD / for respective divisions.

Other Information

In the interest of providing opportunities for career development to internal staff and staff due for reassignment, due priority and consideration will be given to internal colleagues during the first 10 days of the posting.

Applicants should note that IFAD staff members are international civil servants subject to the authority of the President of IFAD. In accordance with IFAD’s Human Resources Policy, staff members are subject to the authority of the President who can decide to assign them to any of the activities of the Fund. All International Professional staff members are required to be geographically mobile and positions in the professional category are subject to changes in location at any time in line with strategic priorities and reform initiatives in IFAD. 
In the interest of making most cost effective use of funds and resources, we are only able to respond to applicants who are short-listed for interview. Candidates who do not receive any feedback within three months should consider their application unsuccessful. 


Close Date

Candidates may be required to take a written test and to deliver a presentation as well as participate in interviews.




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