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  • Posted: Jun 2, 2021
    Deadline: Not specified
  • Globally, South Africa spends one of the highest percentages of Gross Domestic Product (6 percent) on education. Despite significant government spending and charitable investments to reform South Africa’s public school system since the end of apartheid, overall student performance has declined. The traditional South African education system offers li...
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    Program Officer

    About the job
    Michael & Susan Dell Foundation

    • The Michael & Susan Dell Foundation ( is dedicated to improving the lives of children living in urban poverty around the world. With offices in Austin, TX, New Delhi, India, and Cape Town, South Africa, the Dell family foundation funds programs that foster high-quality public education and childhood health and improve the economic stability of families living in poverty. To date, the foundation has committed more than $1.8 billion to global children’s issues and community initiatives to accelerate human opportunity for low-income families. Since opening the South Africa office in 2009, the foundation has deployed over ZAR1 billion in service of our mission in the country.
    • Our mission demands that we seek out and embrace many different voices because bringing together a diversity of ideas and experiences is the most powerful way we know to ensure the people we serve have opportunities to succeed. To achieve this vision, we must create a diverse team and inclusive culture, listen to the people we serve, and build authentic and trusting partnerships. We work to overcome both the causes and the consequences of major inequities and systemic racism by ensuring that resources and opportunities are fairly distributed. 

    About the foundation’s work in South Africa

    • In South Africa, we work to expand access to high-quality schooling for low-income communities, and also help improve the overall outcomes of the basic education system by enhancing the availability, quality, and timeliness of education data and technology. We support first-generation university students from disadvantaged backgrounds so they can succeed in their studies and launch meaningful careers. We increase access to employment opportunities for South African youth to go in to, retain, and progress from entry-level jobs. The foundation also builds family economic stability by ensuring disadvantaged families gain access to income earning opportunities. 

    Current Opportunity: Program Officer – Cape Town, South Africa

    • The Michael & Susan Dell Foundation currently has a new position open for a Program Officer on the team based in Cape Town, South Africa. We are seeking an individual who can see opportunity and work collaboratively with social entrepreneurs, non-profit and private agencies, government, and implementation and technology partners to design and sustain projects and programs that achieve results for disadvantaged children, youth and families.
    • Our commitment is to driving measurable outcomes for our target communities through innovation, collaboration, and partnership, all of which are key to enabling our mission. The Program Officer should be purposefully driven and passionate about tangibly accelerating opportunities for disadvantaged people in South Africa. This position requires a natural leader with a wide range of skills from strategy formulation, operations consulting, and investment management. This role is cross-functional in nature and requires a highly collaborative candidate with a “get things done” attitude. Equally, this person must be able to engage with our partners and stakeholders in a mature and professional manner, driving the interests of the people we aim to help first and foremost.

    What will you do?

    • Program Development: Proactively work with existing and new grantees, as well as mission-aligned entities and related stakeholders to continue to ensure the success of MSDF grants and investments. Make recommendations to the relevant Portfolio Leads and Country Director for South Africa about the design, development, and scale of new models and practices that deepen impact and create opportunities to ensure more effective allocation of public and private resources.
    • Actively Manage Programs and Program Outcomes: Lead project management activities that deliver measurable (and sustainable) positive impact on children, youth and families through various interventions, work closely with investees and grantees to unlock value and support the growth of these organizations in key operational areas, and facilitate the overall program implementation with a fanatical eye for detail.


    • Strategic Partnership Management: The work will also require close collaboration with partners to develop new innovations that further the Foundation’s portfolio strategies. This will require working closely with stakeholders and partners to develop a foundation for strong, insightful measurement that illustrates both progress and impact of programs.
    • Portfolio Assessment and Knowledge Management: Conduct clear-eyed, rigorous appraisals of foundation-supported projects, driving active projects for maximum success and making hard choices to move away from ineffective initiatives, as appropriate. Make active use of external evaluation data to drive internal decision-making. Synthesize key findings and drive adoption of lessons learned within the foundation and beyond.

    Education / Experience you will need to be successful in this role:

    • A mission aligned individual with a professional qualification from a leading university with a minimum of 8 years of experience leading/managing complex, integrated projects with clear, demonstrated outcomes.
    • Experience in management consulting, investment management, operations or project management is desirable. An ideal candidate will bring a track record of delivering measurable outcomes in ambiguous and challenging contexts.
    • The ability to think strategically and conceptually using strong analytical skills to identify and implement solutions to address complex business or societal problems, and then to effectively influence a wide cross-section of people. A willingness to do whatever it takes to get the job done and be impact focused. Highly developed organizational and prioritization skills will underline the ability to work in a fast-paced environment. 
    • Sector Understanding: Prior knowledge of the education or youth employment sectors in South Africa is desirable, but not essential. A burning curiosity to learn about all aspects of education, skilling, training and employer needs in South Africa is however, essential.

    The successful candidate will possess the following skills and traits:

    • A true curiosity and commitment to finding more effective ways to meet the needs of low-income children and families; a willingness and desire to engage fully in the challenges of this work and to communicate its lessons, successes, and conclusions.
    • Analytical, fact-based problem solving and implementation.
    • Learn quickly and connect learning to ongoing program and portfolio conversations.
    • An interest and comfort in using data and technology applications to improve outcomes for youth.
    • Strong commercial acumen, with demonstrated understanding of complex project budgeting, business planning, commercial valuation, and equity investment.
    • Ability to project manage external vendors as well as foster internal and external stakeholder relationships.
    • An ability to dive into the details of a project when needed yet synthesize learnings to shape the overall strategy of our work.
    • A demonstrated ability to influence from the outside and achieve results regardless of whether you are the direct leader of the work.
    • Excellent oral and written communication skills with an emphasis on netting out complex problems to meet the understanding of a wide range of stakeholders.
    • Embody the highest levels of stewardship and ethical leadership in administering the foundation’s resources.
    • Agile and thoughtful while adapting to shifting priorities potentially at a rapid pace – comfortable dealing with the ambiguity inherent in the work.
    • Travel requirements: 30% domestic travel; potential international travel every other year

    Method of Application

    Interested and qualified? Go to Michael & Susan Dell Foundation on to apply

    Note: Never pay for any training, certificate, assessment, or testing to the recruiter.

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