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Rockefeller Foundation in Washington, DC
Date Posted 04/12/2021
Executive-President and Chancellor
Employment Type Fulltime
Application Deadline Open until filled

Through its pioneering work over the last decade, The Rockefeller Foundation has seen first-hand the transformation that energy brings. As hundreds of millions of people fall back into poverty because of COVID-19, now is the moment for the Foundation to take even bolder collective action. An expanded commitment to ending energy poverty now will create a powerful movement that allows countries to leapfrog into a more digitally enabled, gender-equitable, and climate-smart economic future.

To do this, the Foundation will scale a variety of highly effective distributed renewable electricity (DRE) solutions that have widespread applicability and can enable countries to transition more quickly to clean energy, addressing climate change while unlocking inclusive economic growth. Many emerging and developing economies simply do not have the capacity to build out national grids through traditional public sector-led grid extension models. DRE technologies can address the urgent energy needs of the 2.3B underserved people more quickly, more cheaply, and with greater impact.

The CEO of SPX will be a leader of vision, intellectual breadth, practical entrepreneurial and partnership building experience to build the initiative along with the Board and create immediate impact and a legacy for the future. This person will create a world-class organization with a powerful voice and champion its mission to end energy poverty.

The Role

Eventually reporting to, and working closely with the Board of Directors, the CEO will be responsible for the strategic, programmatic, financial, and operational leadership of the organization. They will ensure that the organization’s governance, programs, and engagement are ethical, transparent, aligned and supportive of The Rockefeller Foundation’s values and core commitments.

The CEO will be an inclusive leader who will work closely with the Board, partners, senior leadership team, and staff to frame the strategy and agenda of the organization, build its brand, establish new partnerships, and enhance its relevance, influence, and practical contribution.

Specifically, the CEO will:

  • Setup and operationalize SPX to be a world-class institution, providing strategic vision and oversight to achieve core impact outcomes and enable sustainability over the longer term:
    • Recruit, hire, and manage a high performing team of 40+ based in the US, India, and Kenya.
    • Institute (along with the COO) key systems and processes to effectively and efficiently deliver results from day one.
  • Identify, develop, and manage strategic partnerships with traditional as well as unconventional actors in the energy sector, securing core / founding partners and cultivating new ones:
    • Manage core partners, ensuring strategic alignment and adaptation to processes and arrangements as needed.
    • Establish new partnerships including with key gov’ts and political / advocacy entities, major co-investment and leverage opportunities, as well as support for SPX operating expenses.
  • Ensure SPX’s long-term value and additionality in the evolving DRE space through 2030 including maintaining SPX’s financial health and ability to operate and grow:
    • Develop and deliver on a 10+ year sustainability plan, including possible innovative revenue generating approaches.
  • Engage effectively with SPX’s Board, Advisory Network, and RF leadership where necessary.
  • Serve as highly visible champion and leader within the DRE sector, promoting and demonstrating SPX’s unique value proposition and ability to achieve results:
    • Elevate DRE as a disruptive solution to poverty alleviation through strategic influence campaigns in collaboration with partners.
    • Represent SPX at high-level public and political engagements.
    • Build a network of committed actors that will create and maintain a thriving DRE market.

Skills and Experience

The successful candidate will bring:

  • An excellent record of accomplishment as a senior international executive with a minimum of 15 years of progressively responsible experience. This should include at least five years working at a foundation, and/or a global civil society organization, and/or global business corporation as the chief executive or at a senior management level.
  • International work experience preferably with several years spent working with partners in the Global South.
  • A deep understanding of the DRE space.
  • Experience leading and operating within complex organizational environments and leading multi-stakeholder initiatives.
  • Ability to create, manage, and strengthen a variety of strategic partnerships - externally and internally.
  • Strong business networks across key strategic geographies, including Africa and Asia.

Key Competencies

Additional performance and personal competencies required for the position include the following:

Strategic Capability

  • An entrepreneurial mindset and approach to organizational development and field-building with the ability to execute and build while designing for the future.
  • A strong analytical mind and the ability to lead SPX’s overall efforts.
  • Ability to capture and synthesize emerging trends and ideas and incorporate them into propositions for action in a changing environment and world.
  • The capacity to work collaboratively with a large philanthropy in the development arena and articulation of its vision and in the translation of that vision into tangible results and longer term impact.
    • A clear focus on organizational goals amid multiple competing risks and demands and a capacity to prioritize effectively in order to deliver results.

Operational Leadership Skills

  • Demonstrated leadership skills in the stewardship of people, finances, and systems, with a proven capacity to motivate and lead a multi-disciplinary, diverse, management team to achieve organizational goals.
  • Team-building ability and the capacity to instill a culture that values knowledge, optimism, determination, diversity, and engagement.
  • Proven track record translating strategy into concrete operational plans and executing successfully. Ability to proactively adapt keeping a perspective on short- medium- and long-term perspectives.
  • Excellent interpersonal skills, an ‘open-door’ style vis-à-vis ability to communicate effectively and inspire all staff within SPX, including strong relationships with Board members.
  • An ability to make difficult decisions when required on organizational development, balanced by experience in constructive engagement with staff on change management processes and their value to the organization as a whole.

Building Relationships and Using Influence

  • Existing relationships / credibility and ability to influence and raise capital from a range of stakeholders (including public and private sector) in the DRE space.
  • A skilled communicator with the ability to diplomatically bring ideas and concepts together.
  • Ability to exert influence internally and externally, in a diplomatic, inclusive, and informed fashion.
  • Diplomacy, flexibility, warmth and sensitivity, drive, passion, and determination.
  • Cultural sensitivity and commitment to diversity.

Personal Attributes

  • A powerful intellect; strong analytical and conceptual skills; can identify and understand the impact and implications of new information and events; quickly grasps the essentials in complex situations; a thinker and a doer.
  • Has a confident and entrepreneurial spirit.
  • A convener and bridge-builder; able to bring different parties together in a constructive conversation; implicit commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion.
  • Empathetic; attentive and responsive listener demonstrating genuine interest for the views and values of different constituencies in a debate.
  • Has excellent judgment; makes decisions that fairly balance a variety of factors and points of view; navigates confidently in ambiguous situations.
  • Strong interpersonal skills and high emotional intelligence.
  • Confidence, maturity; has a strong, healthy ego and the humility to admit failures and identify learnings gained from them; is resilient in the face of setbacks.
  • Familiarity and ease with a variety of cultures, ideally gained living and working internationally across the developed and developing world.
  • Energetic and motivated with a high capacity for work; maintains strategic focus in the face of multiple priorities.
  • Accessible, engaging, visible, and connective; generous and gracious; likely has a healthy sense of humor.
  • Sound judgment and confidence combined with humility and a focus on personal development and continued learning.

Further Information

The role will be based at The Rockefeller Foundation’s office in New York or Washington, DC.

The Rockefeller Foundation intends at present to form, establish and launch a global initiative for ending energy poverty (“SPX”). This position will begin at the Foundation and may be transferred or assigned to SPX. Such transfer or assignment, if at all, would in all aspects be subject to the Foundation’s sole discretion.

How to Apply

The Rockefeller Foundation has retained Russell Reynolds Associates to advise on this appointment. To apply for this role please send a copy of your CV and a Statement of Suitability to responses@russellreynolds.com, including the role title and reference 2103-009L in the email subject line.

As an organization, we focus on six values to advance our culture and to continue our success. We are dedicated to being Transparent, Optimistic, Accountable, Collaborative, Trusted and Equitable. We operate from a strong commitment to equity, diversity, and inclusion in everything that we do. It’s not only the right thing to do – we couldn’t make an impact without the diverse perspectives and experiences of our team members. We expect all employees at the Foundation to contribute by developing their unique perspective and talent, and to challenge conventional wisdom through evidence and reason, and by amplifying marginalized voices.

The Rockefeller Foundation is committed to the principles of equal employment opportunity and to compliance with all federal, state, and local laws concerning employment discrimination, including the Americans with Disabilities Act. To this end, the Foundation ensures equal opportunity to all employees and applicants regardless of race, color, age, gender, sexual orientation, religion, marital status, national origin or ancestry, citizenship, lawful alien status, physical, mental, and medical disability, veteran status, or liability for service in the United States Armed Forces.

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