Operations Director -East Africa and Great Lakes Region

Danish Refugee Council

The Danish Refugee Council (DRC) is an independent international non-governmental organization, working in 40+ countries throughout the world, and our primary mandate is to promote durable solutions for refugees and displaced populations. DRC East Africa & Great Lakes (EAGL) region provides urgent response at the onset of displacement and works with displacement-affected populations – both internally and across borders – to develop solutions to the challenges that they face. The DRC office in Nairobi is a Regional Office providing management support and strategic direction to DRC programs operating in East Africa & Great Lake region. The EAGL Regional Office covers the following country operations: Burundi, Djibouti, DR Congo, Ethiopia, Sudan, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda.

Overall purpose of the role

Reporting to the Executive Director and working closely with their Regional Senior Management Team counterparts, the Operations Director ensures sound management of country operations through day-to-day performance oversight and ensures clear, timely and effective support is provided to Country Directors of following countries: DR Congo, Kenya, Tanzania/Burundi and Uganda. In close dialogue with the Executive Director and in line with the strategic direction from other Regional Senior Management Team members, you will provide guidance, define and agree on objectives for each Country Operations and provide oversight in implementation to ensure success of country operations and achievement of their strategic objectives.


Ensure sound management of and support to COs

  • Lead, manage, coach and provide advice to Country Directors, and uphold and inspire DRC leadership based on the DRC leadership principle: Freedom of action with responsibility.
  • In dialogue with the Executive Director and other Regional Senior Management Team members, ensuring country operations are fit for purpose: strong leadership, well managed, properly resourced/ financially viable and aligned with DRC’s principles and interests.
  • Ensuring sound articulation of DRC business model into country operations and that countries, in turn, have a sound business plan to ensure impactful, effective and efficient DRC presence.
  • Ensure that Country Operations operate in line with global and regional priorities and in accordance with global policies, standards and procedures.
  • Support and advise Country Directors in establishing appropriate Senior Management Teams and structures and ensure CD conducts rightsizing of the country programs, ensure the DRC is fit for purpose in the Region.
  • Provide coordination and leadership on crisis and risk management in close cooperation with the Executive Director, Regional Senior Management Team members and relevant global units.
  • Coordinate closely with the counterpart EAGL ODR ensuring streamlined support to Country programmes.
  • Keep the wider organization abreast of operational trends, changes, capacity challenges and programmatic shifts both globally and within the region.

Support oversight on strategic and programmatic delivery

  • In close dialogue with the RHOP, ensure that systems are in place for strategic implementation, including that that country programs develop accountabilities/KPIs corresponding to the strategic documents and ensure that they deliver on the KPIs and provide support where the country programs need the support.
  • In close dialogue with the RHOP, coordinate support to country programmes to enable them to deliver the programs on time and with adequate quality, assist in troubleshooting and any issues by coordinating resources from the RHOP, RHOSS and other technical leads in the region and the HQ.

Financial oversight

  • Support the Regional Head of Support Services so that country programs undergo realistic annual budgeting prognosis and trimestral prognosis process and that CO report these to the RHoSS for review for ED approvals.
  • Monitor the execution of approved annual budgets and ensure country programs perform according to the prognosis and coordinate with the RHOP and RHOSS for support required to address any discrepancies.

Risk and compliance management

  • Ensure that Country Operations operate in line with global and regional priorities and in accordance with global policies, standards and procedures.
  • Be accountable for the risk and compliance management of the country programs. Oversee that compliance processes are established and maintained at country level. Coordinate closely with other Regional Senior Management Team members and HQ/Global units to ensure effective support is provided to country operations.
  • Be the custodian of the risk register, in close coordination with the HQ Operations department ensure countries identify the risks on a regular basis, review them and develop mitigation and address plans, plan and conduct risk meetings as per the global risk calendar.
  • Lead on managing the risks elevated to the Region and the HQ timely, ensuring technical support is available to the COs from the RO and the HQ, and that management decisions are made by relevant directors.
  • Is responsible for issue handling and supporting relevant issue handlers accordingly.

Crisis Management & Duty of Care

  • Lead respective regional Crisis Management Team structures as required, in collaboration with Regional Safety Advisor.
  • Support the Regional Safety Advisor in ensuring Safety and Duty of Care for Country Operations.

Donor Engagement & External Representation

  • Donor Engagement and External representation in a case-by-case basis as delegated by the Executive Director.

About you

In this position, you are expected to demonstrate DRC’s five core competencies:

  • Striving for excellence: You focus on reaching results while ensuring an efficient process.
  • Collaborating: You involve relevant parties and encourage feedback.
  • Taking the lead: You take ownership and initiative while aiming for innovation.
  • Communicating: You listen and speak effectively and honestly.
  • Demonstrating integrity: You act in line with our vision and values.

Experience and technical competencies:

  • At least 7 years’ experience as a senior manager (managing other managers) within the humanitarian sector.
  • Extensive leadership experience in complex organizational environments; leading change processes. building and leading strong teams and other leaders within humanitarian related technical expertise areas.
  • Significant knowledge and experience in localization within the Est Africa Great Lakes countries, and close collaboration with national civil society actors.
  • Good at setting and maintaining direction with a strategic mindset and demonstrated experience in planning, coordinating and leading processes that include multiple stakeholders.
  • Inclusive, inspiring and facilitating leadership style, always striving to empower, motivate, and develop your team while also seeking inspiration from others and consulting with colleagues.
  • Extensive experience with developing and implementing programme responses in displacement contexts and with programme innovation.
  • Ability to deal with programmatic and operational complexity and master the balancing act of finding the right approach and decisions relevant for DRC’s mandate.
  • Experience with translating technical requirements and programmatic complexity into programming that is efficient, delivers results and convenes locally driven and sustainable solutions.
  • Excellent advocate, firmly rooted in the rights-based approach, and ability to explain the business case to potential new partners.
  • Comprehensive humanitarian experience both operationally and from a policy perspective, and with a strong network within the sector. Understanding and experience working within the humanitarian coordination architecture.
  • Practical experience with several of DRC’s five core sectors and belief in the value of reaching results through multi sector integrated programming and via multi stakeholder engagement.
  • Strong in triple nexus programming, the Core Humanitarian Standard, and the normative and legal frameworks relevant for our displacement mandate.
  • Strong communicator capable of communicating technical complexity in an easy-to-understand way.


  • University bachelor’s and master’s Degree in relevant field of education.


  • English-professional Competency
  • Fluency in French is highly preferred.

What we offer

Contract: Two years. Salary and other conditions are offered in accordance with DRC’s Terms of Employment for Employment band C- Management.

Availability: January 2024

Duty station: Nairobi, Kenya.

Reporting Line: Executive Director

Providing equal opportunities We are committed to creating an inclusive and positive work environment based on mutual respect for all employees. All applicants are considered for employment without attention to race, age, ability, ethnicity, nationality, religion, gender identity, sexual orientation, marital status, or any other factor. At DRC we celebrate diversity and appreciate our employees for the people they are and their unique skills, backgrounds, and perspectives. We encourage all interested candidates to apply.

Promoting high standards : DRC’s capacity to ensure the protection of and assistance to refugees, IDP’s and other persons of concern depends on the ability of our staff to uphold and promote the highest standards of ethical and professional conduct in relation DRC’s values and Code of Conduct, including safeguarding against sexual exploitation, abuse and harassment. DRC conducts thorough and comprehensive background checks as part of the recruitment process

How to apply

Interested to apply? All applicants must upload a cover letter and an updated CV in English on this link: job.drc.ngo/jobs/job?id=169759. Applications sent by email will not be considered.

Closing date for applications: 6th Dec 2023

For further information about the Danish Refugee Council, please consult our website drc.ngo.

Closing date: 6 Dec 2023