J-PAL is a global research center working to reduce poverty and fight climate change by ensuring that policy is informed by scientific evidence. Anchored by a network of more than 500 top researchers at universities around the world, J-PAL conducts innovative research and builds powerful partnerships to solve the world’s greatest challenges. J-PAL was launched at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2003 and its faculty directors are Nobel laureates and MIT professors Abhijit Banerjee and Esther Duflo, and Ben Olken. It has over 500 research, policy, training, and operations staff across Africa, Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean, Middle East, North America, South Asia, and Southeast Asia. For more information visit povertyactionlab.org. J-PAL values diversity, equity, and inclusivity in our work and the broader perspectives our staff bring. We encourage people of color, and other underrepresented groups to apply to this role. For more information on J-PAL Global's commitment to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion visit this webpage.

Specific Responsibilities

A. J-PAL Global at MIT focused responsibilities: (70% of total time)

1. Strategic and Financial Leadership 

In collaboration with the Global Executive Director, the other Vertical Directors at Global (who are in charge of Policy-Communications, Evidence-to-Scale and Research-Education-Training), Regional Executive Directors and Regional CFOs, and Faculty Directors, provide strategic and financial leadership, with a focus on financial planning and budgeting, grants management, and office-wide operations: 

  • Lead and set the financial strategy of J-PAL that supports the long-term mission, and near-term strategy and goals of the organization.
  • Ensure the long-term financial sustainability of the organization 
  • Develop proactive risk management plans in order to provide overall staff guidance and ensure stability during MIT and global emergencies, turbulent financial markets, high turnover, etc.  
  • Establish Global policies and practices with regards to finance and operations with other Global vertical directors and provide advice and guidance on financial and grant management to other regional offices. 
  • Provide oversight of all program and administrative activities and oversee 25+ active grants and 130 active accounts.
  • Collaborate with our Initiative managers and faculty as appropriate to develop and implement standard, fair, and transparent procedures for awarding competitive project grants under various J-PAL Initiatives which fund $8M to $12M for research projects annually.
  • Organize bi-annual worldwide senior management meetings (SMT) and the annual Board of Directors meeting, including managing the agenda for the SMT meetings and oversee the staff who provide administrative and logistical support for these meeting.
  • Work closely and collaboratively with a host of MIT offices including the Economics Department, the Dean’s Office, Research Administration Services (RAS), Office of General Counsel, International Activities Committee, International Coordinating Committee; serve on MIT internal committees as requested (e.g., Advisory Committee on Research Administration). 

2. Financial Management 

  • Further develop a budgeting process at Global with the other Vertical directors for Research, Education & Training, Policy and Communications, and Evidence to Scale.
  • Advise the Global Executive Director and Vertical Directors on the trade-offs from budgeting decisions, in particular staffing decisions, and hold overall responsibility for the sustainable stewardship of Core funds.
  • Develop multi-year budgets for J-PAL at MIT and track results.
  • Prepare and present annual budgets for the past, current and future years annually to the Global Executive Director and the Faculty Directors.
  • Develop funding plans that will allow significant growth if implemented fully; work with Global Executive Director and MIT Resource Development to implement those plans, including accessing funding from new sources while maintaining current grant relationships.
  • Report to major J-PAL donors on financial operations, J-PAL growth prospects (and contingencies); and risks and opportunities. Brief funders on J-PAL financial strategies as needed.
  • Implement a system of regular financial reporting for all J-PAL offices that fits within the financial requirements of their local host institutions and yet allows consistent reporting across J-PAL.

3. Grants Management 

  • Direct finance team’s work with research staff to develop proposals, providing input on substantive areas of project/program operations (particularly for initiatives) and financial issues of staffing, budgeting, and subawards.
  • Oversee an efficient and effective grant making system for J-PAL Initiatives, combining human and IT resources to manage proposal reviews, subaward operations with MIT, reporting and closeout.
  • Manage the timely assembly and submission of proposals that meet MIT’s standards and requirements for submission, working with the department of economics, School of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences, and MIT’s Office of Sponsored Programs, and others.
  • Work with MIT’s Research Administration Services (RAS), Technology Licensing Office, and MIT’s legal staff, as needed, to negotiate grant agreements that allow appropriate J-PAL research to be implemented while protecting researcher, subject, and MIT’s rights in the academic research sphere.
  • Ensure that staff time and effort is appropriately allocated to grants and that funds from grants are used in accordance with grant terms.
  • Supervise management of grant funds, including multi-million dollar initiatives, at J-PAL in accordance with MIT and donor requirements.
  • Develop systems for reporting regularly to Principal Investigators on grant financials, including working with researchers and donors to reallocate funds as needed, to plug funding holes, and to negotiate with subawardees. 
  • Lead J-PAL’s response to audit requests, which may be from the Federal Government, MIT internal auditors, and donors.

4. Personnel Management 

  • Oversee a 15-person F&O Finance and Operations team based at Global at MIT; including Finance, Operations, IT, and Administration. With J-PAL’s mission in mind, establish key operational and organizational projects for the team to focus on annually to achieve J-PAL’s overall strategic goals.
  • Set the cultural and collegial work-tone for the Global F&O team.
  • Provides high-level strategic vision to the team and develops the team to work toward these goals independently.
  • Lead the F&O team through recruitment of top talent, retention through mentoring, team building, coaching, and professional development.
  • Coach, advocate for and provide professional development guidance to an Associate Director of Finance and Operations and one or more Senior Finance and Operations Managers who together are responsible for grants management, grant making, office operations, budget tracking, financial operations, and IT projects including development of new initiatives in technology particular to J-PAL; and to the HR Lead (who along with her team is part of F&O vertical but reports directly to the Global ED).

5. Resource Development Assistance 

  • Work with J-PAL Global ED and Vertical Directors, researchers , and MIT development staff to:     
  • Ensure that funding proposals and budgets are in line with MIT policies, including for costing and regarding types of activities MIT will accept.
  • Participate in meetings with and presentations to potential donors; provide credible assurance to donors that their funds will be used responsibly; describe J-PAL and MIT financial management and control systems to outside audiences as needed.
  • Participate in monthly funding meetings involving J-PAL senior staff, development staff from the Dean’s office, and development staff from MIT central administration.

B. J-PAL Regional Office-support responsibilities (30%)     

  • Lead work with Regional Office Executive Directors and regional CFOs at offices around the world on financial planning and budgeting and growth plans, focusing on long-term financial sustainability given the J-PAL mission worldwide. J-PAL offices have individual annual budgets that run between $2M and $8M; total spending across the seven offices is approximately $30M with over 400 staff total.
  • Provide technical expertise and guidance on senior-level hiring in the finance vertical, new grant agreements, partner agreements, proposals, budgeting, and other administrative or financial issues.
  • Oversee work with MIT’s Legal Counsel office to develop Memoranda of Understanding between MIT and local host universities of J-PAL offices, covering operational aspects of local J-PAL offices, trademarks, use of the Abdul Latif Jameel and J-PAL names, and other aspects as appropriate.
  • Foster sharing of information among offices by leading monthly calls among worldwide senior finance staff and by holding at least monthly calls with select offices.
  • Provide direct assistance and guidance on set-up of new offices or offices experiencing financial stress.
  • Lead administrative aspects of establishing new offices with new partner universities as needed, including budgeting, fundraising, and university agreements. Recent example is J-PAL Middle East and North Africa at American University of Cairo.
  • Evaluate effectiveness and provide technical expertise and guidance to J-PAL regional offices to improve project budgeting, operational budgeting, and cost recovery.
  • Work with the regional offices on various financial and grant management issues, travel to the offices as needed to represent J-PAL Global to the local host institution as needed.

Qualifications & Skills

  • Education: Bachelor’s degree in relevant field such as finance, business administration or related field required. A relevant master’s degree is strongly preferred.     
  • Experience: At least 15 years’ experience in finance, operations, and administrative management; previous experience working in an academic setting and in working either outside the U.S. or in an organization that has international work is a strong plus.
  • Technical Skills: Deep knowledge of finance; familiarity with enterprise systems such as Salesforce, Foundation Connect, SAP is strongly preferred. 
  • Analytical: Exceptional attention to detail and accuracy related to preparation of all analysis, spreadsheets and presentations. Ability to analyze, synthesize and present information effectively. 
  • Communications: Strong writing skills and the ability to communicate effectively with a variety of internal and external stakeholders including senior leadership in-person and virtually. Work collaboratively with MIT to ensure MIT’s policies allow J-PAL to reach out fullest potential.  
  • Leadership: Provides high-level strategic vision to the Global F&O team and mentor them to work toward these goals independently. Ability to effectively lead a vertical through recruitment of top talent, retention through mentoring, team building, coaching, and professional development.
  • Project Management: Ability to anticipate, plan, prioritize and meet deadlines, manage multiple tasks and small teams, respond to numerous requests from various parties, and effectively handle a high volume of work. 
  • Responsibility and Trust: Capable of dealing with high-profile organizations and officials with diplomacy and integrity. Tact and good judgment in handling confidential information.
  • Attitude: Self-motivated, ability to take initiative to implement or improve established processes. 
  • Collaborations: Exceptional collaboration and relationship building skills with a large number of internal and external stakeholders through a very collegial, helpful, respectful and problem-solving work style. 

Professional Development

J-PAL invests in your professional development. As a senior team member, you will learn, engage, travel, and grow.

  • Learn: J-PAL supports a culture of learning, with opportunities to attend weekly MIT–Harvard Development Seminars and take classes for credit at MIT or elsewhere with our generous tuition assistance program. All J-PAL staff are also eligible to take the innovative online MITx MicroMasters credential in Data, Economics, and Development Policy (DEDP) free of charge. 
  • Engage: You will be a part of the leadership team across our offices worldwide, as well as interact with J-PAL’s external partners, including policy-makers, donors (foundations, HNIs) and implementing organizations.
  • Travel: You will have numerous opportunities to travel to J-PAL’s regional offices as needed.
  • Grow: You can expect to join a peer group eager to build institutional knowledge and pass on lessons learned. You will receive one-on-one mentorship from the Executive Director of J-PAL. 


You will be based at J-PAL Global, our head office at MIT in Cambridge, near Boston, MA. As a member of the MIT community, you benefit from more than just your salary. J-PAL hires highly qualified staff and rewards them accordingly. Total compensation packages are competitive for the non-profit and international development field with excellent MIT benefits, including comprehensive health insurance, a 401(k) match and pension-based retirement plan, tuition assistance, commuter benefits, MIT community discounts, a generous vacation policy, and a highly flexible work policy that includes the ability within certain broad parameters to choose your weekly work days and work hours. A more comprehensive benefits list below can be found below. 

How to Apply 

Ready to join a team of supportive, engaging, and fun colleagues? Apply now. The deadline to apply is August 31st, 2022. 

All candidates must apply through the MIT human resources system (details below). MIT does not sponsor visas for this position. Candidates must be legally authorized to work in the United States for a minimum of five years. To apply, please submit a short application via MIT’s human resources system. Visit http://jobs.mit.edu/externalsearch for job ID 21585 -Global Director of Finance and Operations and complete an application. Please upload a single PDF document of the following components into the “Resume” field on the MIT portal. 

  • Cover letter (outlining why you are interested in J-PAL and this role, and why you are a good fit for this role)
  • Resume/CV

Note: Incomplete applications will not be considered; please be sure to include all three components (cover letter, resume, transcripts) in a single PDF in the “Resume” field on MIT’s human resources system. 

MIT is an equal employment opportunity employer. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment and will not be discriminated against on the basis of race, color, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion, disability, age, genetic information, veteran status, ancestry, or national or ethnic origin.

Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab
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