Accion International

Senior Specialist, Special Projects & Operations, CFI

Posted Date 1 month ago(7/14/2020 4:13 PM)
Job ID
Washington, DC


The Center for Financial Inclusion is an independent think tank housed at Accion that works to better serve, protect and empower clients.  The organization was founded in 2009 and has had many numerous signature programs including hosting the Smart Campaign, the Africa Board Fellows program (now Board Leadership for Impact), the Financial Inclusion Equity Council (FIEC), and the PRFI, among others.


Founded by an early microfinance pioneer, the organization has recently hired a new Managing Director who is seeking to revitalize CFI’s positioning, building on its strengths in serving clients, but honing its influence model and expanding its influence well beyond the microfinance industry.


About the Position


As a think tank, CFI relies on knowledge products, convenings, strategic partnerships and social media communications as its main tools to influence. As such, communications is a central component of its impact and influence model.


CFI is seeking a Senior Specialist, Special Projects and Operations who can work closely with the Managing Director on events planning, presentations, social media, research, fundraising and internal knowledge management.  The candidate will also work closely with the CFI Leadership Team to coordinate external events, internal knowledge management, travel and other business-related meetings. 


CFI is seeking a candidate who has a good understanding of the inclusive finance field as well as the broader development landscape.  The candidate must be exceptionally organized and able to interact with partners with limited guidance, share knowledge and expertise within the team, and develop and evaluate organizational systems for tracking and reporting on CFI’s activities, and contribute new ideas.  The individual must have strong communication skills, excellent writing skills, and have a desire to learn and improve their research skills.  The candidate must be a strategic thinker, understand the inclusive finance ecosystem and have some experience developing knowledge products—in particular presentations at industry convenings.  Since the individual will be working on sensitive matters closely with the Managing Director, her leadership team, and high-level stakeholders, he/she should have a superior political acumen, a strong sense of discretion, and good judgment.  He/she must be highly motivated, with a strong work ethic and the ability to juggle competing priorities.  As a small organization, the candidate is expected to be a team player and contribute to evolving agendas. 


The Senior Specialist, Special Projects and Operations will work with and report to the CFI Managing Director (MD). He/she will participate in departmental meetings, be involved in planning, and coordinate closely with all teams across CFI and Accion.  Responsibilities include the following:


Thought leadership

  • Work with the MD on literature reviews and other discreet research projects to support presentations, concept notes and other market intelligence required for staying abreast of industry trends and developments.
  • Support the MD in drafting and finalizing blogs and other knowledge products.
  • Liaise with the CFI communications team on social media channels, including supporting the Managing Director on LinkedIn and other channels of importance for CFI.
  • Cultivate and manage a calendar of internal learning across CFI (external speakers, internal speakers and updates, etc.)

Program design, development, and management

  • Coordinate the design and development of proposals, provide insights as needed.
  • Work with the MD and Resource Development on the drafting of technical proposals to donors. Work with finance on budgets that accompany proposals.
  • Participate in donor meetings with the MD, take notes, and support in follow-up activities such as updating the Accion Resource Development team and the CFI leadership team.
  • Prepare presentations or other synthesis products to present to donors and other key stakeholders.
  • Oversee, in collaboration with the MD, the internal facilitation and development of CFI’s theory of change and relevant metrics to measure impact.
  • Establish internal M&E system to track and capture relevant CFI impact metrics.
  • Facilitate discussion on CFI’s impact and support processes that ensure CFI is using adaptive learning in project design.

Operations Management

  • Actively participate in external and internal meetings representing the MD as needed.
  • Liaise with Accion stakeholders (such as Finance, Resource Development and HR) to address issues, coordinate Accion-wide planning processes and initiatives (i.e., budgeting, participation in organization-wide compliance activities etc.) at the CFI level, and follow-up on Accion-related work delegated by MD.
  • Plan for and coordinate the completion of reports to the Advisory Council, Accion board, and other governance related reporting.
  • Monitor donor reporting by Resource Development and programmatic teams and ensure consistency on key CFI messages is maintained.
  • Monitor budgets review monthly budget versus actual reports and prepare budget reports to donors, Accion board, and other stakeholders as needed. Liaise with the finance department as needed. Provide support to the MD on travel planning and expense reporting.
  • Provide support to the MD on back to office reports, thank you notes, and other follow-up required from mission travel.

Events Management

  • Develop and implement system to manage both external and internal events including a process to determine priorities for different programs at CFI. Ensure that there is a coordinated event planning system across all programs at CFI.
  • Monitor external events and flag relevant events for CFI. Support the MD in communicating and planning for event participation and session preparation.
  • Coordinate with the Accion communications team on relevant events where both CFI and Accion will be present.
  • Support in the organization and planning of CFI retreats, quarterly leadership team meetings, regular leadership team meetings, staff meetings and other important internal events.

Organizational culture (includes mindsets and behaviors)

  • Actively participates in a culture in which all staff: 1) reach their full potential as learners, unorthodox researchers, and thought leaders 2) work effectively with each other by sharing ideas, brainstorming, and co-developing knowledge products 3) feel accountable for results and impact and 4) strive and achieve excellence. 


CFI is seeking a candidate with the following profile:

  • Strong academic and professional credentials. Bachelor’s degree (Communications, International Relations/Public Affairs, Economics, or other related field) and generally 6-7 years of relevant work experience or equivalent combination of education and experience.
  • Prior research experience. Experience in conducting literature reviews and quick data scans. Ability to read and synthesize academic publications. Ability to analyze a large set of materials and to pull out relevant key messages.
  • Strong cross-team collaboration skills: Demonstrated ability to work across departments and to communicate effectively with multiple teams at all levels of staff. Ability to work across departments and teams and to facilitate collaboration using soft-skills.
  • Setting goals and achieving results: Experience setting the goals, overseeing results and ensuring goals are met. Ability to define metrics and monitor progress on achieving results. 
  • Strong organizational skills: Highly organized individual with prior experience developing or maintaining operational systems for meetings, events, and reporting.
  • Ability to craft messaging and manage sensitive communications issues. Ability to develop and tailor complex content/information into clear messages in an accessible way to different audiences. Ability to effectively manage sensitive internal communications.
  • Strong writing and representation skills. Ability to communicate effectively, including strong writing skills, and experience publicly representing organizations, whether in speaking engagements or meeting with senior representatives.
  • Strategic thinker able to prioritize effectively. Proven ability to think strategically and rapidly analyze diverse information from varied sources and an ability to learn, adapt, and to be innovative as new communications challenges arise. Ability to manage multiple demands effectively and to prioritize strategically.
  • Superior political acumen and ability to maintain discretion: Track record of getting things done in political multi-stakeholder environments while simultaneously strengthening stakeholder relationships and garnering their respect and trust.



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