Operations Officer

World Bank, Pretoria, South Africa

Skill Required:, Project/ Programme Management
Preferred Experience: 
5 years
Closing Date for Applications: 
7th June, 2021

Job Description

Do you want to build a career that is truly worthwhile? Working at the World Bank Group provides a unique opportunity for you to help our clients solve their greatest development challenges. The World Bank Group is one of the largest sources of funding and knowledge for developing countries; a unique global partnership of five institutions dedicated to ending extreme poverty, increasing shared prosperity, and promoting sustainable development. With 189 member countries and more than 120 offices worldwide, we work with public and private sector partners, investing in groundbreaking projects and using data, research, and technology to develop solutions to the most urgent global challenges. For more information, visit www.worldbank.org.

Country Context

  • South Africa has made considerable strides toward improving the wellbeing of its citizens since its transition to democracy in the mid-1990s, but progress is slowing. Based on the international poverty line of $1.90 per day, (2011 Purchasing Power Parity, exchange rates), 18.8% of South Africans were poor in 2015, following a decline from 33.8% in 1996. Factors driving this progress include, among others, real income growth, expansion of social safety nets, access to basic services including subsidized housing credit. Yet progress towards poverty reduction has slowed in recent years, with the $1.90 per day poverty rate increasing from 16.8% to 18.8% between 2011 and 2015. This is partly due to structural challenges and weak growth since the global financial crisis of 2008, but increasingly too by labor market developments that demand skills that the country’s poor currently lack. The global COVID-19 health and economic shock has exacerbated South Africa’s long-term structural challenges and made the reforms more urgent.
  • The South Africa, Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, and ESwatini Country Management Unit (CMU) of the World Bank provides a wide range of financial, knowledge and convening services to help address the countries’ complex development challenges. The CMU comprises of the Country Director, based in Pretoria, South Africa, Resident Representatives for Botswana, Lesotho, and Eswatini, Operations Manager (co-located with the CD in Pretoria), Program Leaders, and a Senior Operations Officer based in HQ, and two Operations Officers based in Lesotho and Botswana. This position is for the Operations Officer for South Africa, to be based in Pretoria, South Africa.
  • The South Africa portfolio has 5 active projects valued at US$3.8bn, comprising two IBRD financed projects (US$3.5 bn and three Trust Funded projects (US$300m) with a cumulative disbursement of US$3.2bn. The current lending pipeline comprises three projects amounting to $774.0 million. The advisory service and analytics (ASA) portfolio consists of 28 activities in FY21.

Duties and accountabilities

The Operations Officer (OO) position is based in Pretoria, South Africa with primary responsibility for supporting the Country Director and the Operations Manager with respect to the management of the existing portfolio, including a substantial advisory portfolio, and ensuring its strategic alignment with the CPF objectives.

The OO supports the CD, Operations Manager, CPC and the Program Leaders to conduct country-specific portfolio monitoring and reporting on the existing lending, RAS and TF portfolio, and to identify and resolve country-specific implementation issues. The OO maintains up-to-date information on portfolio performance for South Africa in close collaboration with the Operations Manager. The OO is a member of the CMU Management Team that includes senior staff, which meets frequently to share information and resolve all relevant operational and administrative issues in the country office.
The OO’s specific duties include the following:

  •  Coordinate and lead the quality control of the preparation of a monthly portfolio report, the Monthly Watchlist. The report monitors lending, non-lending activities, Reimbursable Advisory Services, Trust Funds, and other key portfolio performance indicators such as disbursement rate. The report is shared with the Country Team.
  •  Take the lead on portfolio management, monitoring, and analysis. In particular, monitor and facilitate timely delivery on various milestones during the project cycle, including with respect to project closing and reporting.
  •  Provide problem solving advice to project teams and interact with government counterparts to facilitate action needed to address challenges facing operations. This will include managing the periodic working sessions with • Government technical teams and project coordination units, regular analysis of operational performance, quality and trends, and carrying out country portfolio performance reviews (CPPRs). To the extent possible, participate in operational missions and meetings and assist teams in resolution of difficult issues.
  •  Support the implementation Support Team (comprising of Financial Management, Procurement, Legal and Safeguards Specialists) by organizing its regular meetings with project TTLs and program leaders to discuss and find solutions to the ongoing issues and to anticipate potential future problems/bottlenecks. Follow-up with government on recommendations in close consultation with the CD, Operations Manager, and Program Leaders. 
  •  Follow up on the Portfolio Action Plan as formulated in the Country Portfolio Performance Reviews (CPPR), with special focus on portfolio-wide actions in the areas of FM, procurement, safeguards, and M&E. Prepare the periodic meetings with TTLs, PL and PM as needed.
  •  Review, and draft comments on operational documents such as Project Concept Notes (PCNs), Project Appraisal Documents (PADs), and Implementation Status Reports (ISRs) for the Operations Manager and Country Director.
  •  Provide inputs to or prepare diverse operational products/outputs (e.g. briefs for Spring and Annual Meetings, Senior Management country visits, ad hoc briefs requested by the Front Office, background reports, case studies, portfolio performance reviews, etc.).
  •  Work closely with, and mentor junior/ACS staff on issues of portfolio management and monitoring, including mission planning, mission oversight and mission documentation (Management letters, aide-memoires, etc.).
  •  Provide support to the management team in conducting portfolio reviews Review, comment on, and clear all out-going correspondence; manage in-coming correspondence.
  •  Support the CD and the Operations Manager in preparation and implementation of the Country Partnership Framework and provide assistance in preparing the CPF’s Performance and Learning Review (PLR) and the
  •  Completion Learning Review (CLR), particularly regarding portfolio implementation and results monitoring.

Selection Criteria


  •  Masters in a relevant field (Economics, Business Studies, Political Science, Finance, International Relations, or similar filed relevant to the Bank's mission.)
  •  At least 5 years of relevant professional experience
  •  Knowledge of, and experience with Bank operational policies, procedures, and business practices, including project preparation, identification of problem projects, project restructurings such as additional financing, reimbursable advisory services and trust fund management
  •  Proven ability to think strategically, and to apply this to the design and implementation of country assistance programs. Demonstrated initiative, leadership skills and drive for results, including ability to undertake diverse tasks within a rapidly changing and demanding environment on short deadlines.
  •  Political sensitivity and mature judgment; and ability to focus on the big picture, while not losing sight of details.
  •  Outstanding inter-personal skills and ability to deal sensitively in multi-cultural environments, multi-disciplinary teams within a matrix environment, and build effective working relations with Bank colleagues, clients, and development partners.
  •  Effective verbal and written communications skills, including the ability to draft concise briefs, reports, and correspondence.
  •  Recognized by peers and/or managers for ability to identify and pro-actively solve operational issues and problems.
  •  Demonstrates knowledge and understanding of the CMU's annual reporting, budgeting, and business planning.
  •  Ability to ensure efficient and effective implementation of procedures for routine workflow in the County office.
  •  Identifies the needed resources to accomplish results involving multiple stakeholders and proposes solutions to addressing challenges affecting timely deliverables.
  •  Shares best practice, trends, knowledge, and lessons learned across units and with clients and partners, articulating ideas verbally and in writing in a clear and compelling way across audiences of varied levels.

Behavioral Core Competencies:

  •  Client Orientation: Builds linkages across boundaries for optimal performance
  •  Drive for Results: Facilitates and impacts results across units
  •  Teamwork (Collaboration) and Inclusion: Leverages capabilities of others within and across boundaries
  •  Knowledge, Learning and Communication: Produces and disseminates knowledge products to create added value
  •  Business Judgment and Analytical Decision Making: Provides leadership in analytical decision making across boundaries

Required Competencies

  •  Integrative Skills. Integrating divergent viewpoints of multiple external and internal stakeholders into a coherent project/program/strategy.
  •  Internal and External Stakeholder Engagement. An ability to independently coordinate and engage with stakeholders from various parts of WBG, including IFC and MIGA. Providing substantial inputs into and participating in the dialogue with external clients and stakeholders, including governments, NGOs and CSOs, and development partners.
  •  Strategy formulation and policy and program design. Proficiency in playing a leading role and making substantive contributions to the strategy formulation process and related strategic products.
  •  Project Design, Implementation, and Management. Proven skills to design and provide implementation support on projects.
  •  Portfolio Management and Results Monitoring and Evaluation. An ability to independently monitor portfolio and pipeline and provide signals to management when the program goes off track. Preparing and leading country/GP portfolio reviews. An ability to design and implement results frameworks; and to provide key inputs in business planning/Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) exercises.
  •  Team Leadership. Solid experience of being a team leader or core task team member on one or more strategic or operational tasks. Demonstrated talent in forming, leading and making changes to team composition and delivering tasks on budget and high quality.
  •  Knowledge of Bank instruments, policies, and procedures, and ability to proactively apply them is desirable.
  •  Knowledge of the country portfolio will be beneficial.


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