Senior Manager, Policy and Research

Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL), India

Skill Required:, Research and Analysis
Preferred Experience: 
1 to 3 Years
Closing Date for Applications: 
25th April, 2019

Job Description

J-PAL South Asia, based at the Institute for Financial Management and Research (IFMR) in India, conducts impact evaluations, disseminates research results and builds partnerships with policymakers to ensure that policy is driven by evidence, and that programs proven effective are scaled up. In November 2014, J-PAL South Asia signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Government of Tamil Nadu to institutionalize the use of evidence in policymaking by evaluating innovative programs, strengthening monitoring systems, and enhancing government officials’ capacity to generate and use data. Under this MoU, policy engagement, capacity building, and a number of pilot studies and randomized control trials are being undertaken by J-PAL. This is one of J-PAL South Asia’s largest and key strategic policy research engagement with governments.

The Role: J-PAL South Asia is looking to recruit a Senior Manager – Policy and Research for the Tamil Nadu engagement. In a nutshell, this role would require engagement on both research and policy aspects of managing the institutional government partnership in Tamil Nadu for J-PAL South Asia, such as providing oversight and support on all ongoing research projects under the partnership in line with the governing protocols; communicating with all key stakeholders on project planning and progress; and engaging in policy - research dialogues for developing new projects, or sharing evidence and policy insights from completed projects in Tamil Nadu and elsewhere.

Key Stakeholders:

  • Principal Investigators affiliated to the global J-PAL network,
  • The senior management team of J-PAL South Asia,
  • Individual project teams of research managers and associates,
  • External facing: partnering departments of the Government of Tamil Nadu (GoTN).

The ongoing and proposed policy-research projects vary across sectors of health, nutrition, education, sanitation, labour, urban issues among others.

Job Description: The Senior Manager – Policy and Research (SPRM) will facilitate cutting-edge development research and the use of evidence for policy decision-making. The SPRM will also be responsible and for strategic management of a growing portfolio of exciting randomized evaluations and important government stakeholder relationships. The SPRM responsibilities include but may not be limited to:

Overseeing research projects planning and execution: Working closely to guide Research Managers on effective and efficient execution of randomized evaluations:

  • Adhere to key research best practices around ethics, research compliance, data security and safety that meet scientific standards and are appropriate to the local context for all aspects of field and data management.
  • Develop and refine the research design and objectives in close coordination with Principal Investigators, and ensure alignment across all stakeholders.
  • Plan and track resource (human and financial) and time for smooth execution of the research design and goals.
  • Report along key indicators on project progress and financial health, identify threats and propose corrective action as needed, in case of deviations.
  • Foresee, highlight, and suggest changes to manage threats to RCT study design to Principal Investigators.

Managing Policy Outreach and Relations:

  • Maintain relationships with existing implementing (government) partners and establish new relationships with potential partners as equal stakeholders in the execution and uptake of research projects.
  • Act as the single point person on all related aspects related (research management to communicate) with the relevant stakeholders, donors, governmental and non-governmental partners; to build a clear understanding of J-PAL SA’s role in the partnership.
  • Strategically plan conversations with policymakers to introduce J-PAL ’s work, and specifically discuss their engagement for research or insights and recommendations of evidence that is relevant for policy in their context.
  • Plan ahead to manage and mitigate risk for projects through intentional approaches to develop and sustain commitment and interest from government, including anticipation of government transfers.

Mentoring and managing project teams:

  • Work closely with the project team and support functions to ensure that projects adhere to policies, procedure, finances and timelines. Develop and follow standardized project management systems for tracking and reporting of outputs and outcomes.
  • Lead People Management for the GoTN partnership projects – including, but not limited to, Recruitment (on current & new projects), Management and Mentorship (mentorship only for junior level staff) for professional development and skill upgradation as well as identifying & facilitating capacity building as per organizational & project needs. Also, champion & build a healthy & safe work environment for the people of the GoTN partnership projects.

Contribution to organizational goals:

  • Actively engage in organizational level discussions with all vertical heads on planning and reporting on all aspects related to research activities under the engagement.
  • Document and disseminate lessons and best practices followed.
  • Create outputs for internal reference and public distribution on the successes, challenges, outcomes, and results of the policy research engagement.
  • Represent J-PAL South Asia in meetings and conferences, present on progress and outcomes, and liaise with academics, officials, policymakers, donors and partner organizations.

Other general responsibilities:

  • Travel to project locations to work with the project teams and provide direct oversight.
  • Collaborate with partnering departments at J-PAL South Asia.
  • Understand the policy priorities of GoTN and map these to existing J-PAL SA evidence for new project development and research-policy dialogues.
  • Support J-PAL South Asia in creating and managing the knowledge produced as an institutional partner to GoTN. Support to streamline systems.
  • Actively participate in any other work as assigned by the Directors of J-PAL South Asia.

Expectations for Success:

  • Understanding randomized evaluations and technical skills: Demonstrating an advanced understanding of randomized evaluations and methodology. Knowledge of Stata is required, working knowledge of R is a bonus.
  • Experience: This position requires demonstrated research and management experience in a multi-faceted role, working with multiple stakeholders. Experience working with governments preferred. Prior experience and exposure to randomized evaluations, economics research, and international development policy is preferred.
  • Communication Expertise: As below.
  • Management: Proven ability to handle several different projects/tasks/teams, successfully and successfully meeting timelines meet timelines. Strong ability to manage high-level partnerships.
  • Travel: Travel to different parts of India and Tamil Nadu to meet with relevant stakeholders.
  • Time Management: Proven ability to prioritize effectively despite constant competing demands while ensuring attention-to-detail.
  • Interpersonal: Someone who enjoys challenges, thrives in ambiguity, and derives satisfaction from problem-solving while collaborating closely with their team.

Minimum Qualifications:

  • Education: Master’s degree or higher in economics, statistics, mathematics, public policy/ international development, related fields. Strong coursework in economics is highly preferable.
  • Communication: Attention to detail and advanced writing and presentation skills for communicating with multiple partners. This requires the ability to produce clear, precise, research outputs that speak to both technical and non-technical audiences.
  • Good in Quantitative Research and Policy interface.
  • We are looking for a minimum commitment period of two years for this position


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