Cowater International Inc.

Consortium Executive Director - SPARC

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Last update: Jun 6, 2023 Last update: Jun 6, 2023


Deadline: Jun 20, 2023 Deadline for applications has passed
Location: UK UK
Job type:Contract, 12 months +
Work experience: Min 15 years
Date posted:Jun 5, 2023


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Job Title: Consortium Executive Director - SPARC 

Sector: Agriculture, Climate Change, Food Security, International Development  

Position Type (full/part time): Full time, long term  

Duration/Level of Effort (long/short term):  July 2023 – December 2025, with possibility of an extension  

Position Location (e.g. city, country, remote) Hybrid – London, UK/ Remote


Supporting Pastoralism and Agriculture in Recurrent and Protracted Crises (SPARC) is a six-year (2020- 2025) £17.6 million research initiative funded by the UK’s Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) focused on supporting livelihoods in the world’s most vulnerable and conflict affected countries. It aims to develop, broker and manage knowledge, in order to enhance the ability of the FCDO, Her Majesty’s Government (HMG) and the broader development community to assist pastoralists, agro-pastoralists and farmers living in the context of climate change, protracted crises and ongoing conflicts. SPARC’s ultimate objective is to help communities in the drylands of East, North and West Africa and the Middle East to increase their resilience to recurring shocks and protracted crises. SPARC does this by supporting more effective interventions and a better understanding of the challenges in these communities. By partnering with local researchers and organisations and drawing on our own research and field programme experience, SPARC’s activities include the following: 

 1) Research activities designed to strengthen the evidence base on how to effectively deliver programmes and adapt policies.  

2) Innovation and technology which supports the development and scale up of innovative approaches across a range of contexts in fragile and conflict-affected countries.  

3) Targeted technical support to FCDO country offices and programmes, which will inform the design, delivery and review of existing programmes and policies. 

4) Knowledge management lessons that will inform both the development of future policies and programmes, and technical support, ensuring that the research remains operationally relevant.  

5) Research uptake and dissemination to ensure that findings, lessons-learned and other outputs are widely disseminated and targeted to relevant policy and programme decision-makers to ensure impact

A full overview of the SPARC Programme can be found at


Cowater International is pleased to announce an exciting position to be the next Executive Director of the Supporting Pastoralism and Agriculture in Recurrent and Protracted Crises Programme (SPARC). This FCDO funded research programme (2020-2026) requires a dynamic and experienced leader who has a track record of leading research programmes, preferably in consortia, with a strong focus on research use and application. SPARC is led by Cowater International in partnership with ODI, MercyCorps and the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI).  

This role reports to a Vice President at Cowater and is a long-term position with an expected end date of December 2025 with the possibility of extension.  

The Executive Director’s primary duties shall involve research consortium and team leadership for the SPARC project. Responsibilities include demonstrating the management skills, research expertise and capacity to deliver an impactful research programme, and meeting all requirements specified by the FCDO in the Invitation to Tender.


The responsibilities of the Executive Director include:  

  • Team and research consortium leadership of SPARC, including: responsibility to FCDO and consortium partners; leading an effective approach to research uptake; engagement with research networks and stakeholders; strategic direction and oversight; and overall risk management. 

  • Build and maintain consensus and provide strategic direction and oversight to the delivery of high-quality research to achieve SPARC objectives. 

  • Will act as the main project level point of contact with FCDO and will be responsible for the technical leadership and project delivery of SPARC. 

  • Support the generation and uptake of high quality, cross country, and cross sectoral action-oriented research. 

  • Synthesize and communicate research to a wide range of stakeholders and audiences with a view of applying research outcomes to inform evidence-based  policy and decision making. 

  • Management of international teams, notably in the UK, Nairobi alongside field research across the Sahel region 

  • Support the deployment of complex research in the Global South, in partnership with SPARCs consortium partners ODI, MercyCorps and ILRI.   

  • Monitor and evaluate research programs. 

  • Facilitation of stakeholder consultations. 

  • Important managerial skills are required for this role, including:  

  • The ability to collaborate effectively with – and manage relationships with a wide range of personality types across many different organisations  

  • A balanced approach to leadership ensuring consistency, 

  • Experience and availability to consistently work across multiple time zones (e.g. Ottawa, London, Nairobi, Dakar) 

  • A background in alliance building, negotiation, and related business development 


Education and Experience:  

  • Advanced university degree in development studies, preferably with some technical focus on agriculture and/or pastoralism 

  • Senior intellectual leadership and management skills with a minimum of fifteen (15) years professional experience in the field of research and international development. 

  • A demonstrable experience working on large complex research programmes similar to SPARC including leading research strategy, strategic direction and coordination of research themes, governance and management, leading research methodologies and research synthesis and uptake. 

  • Prior experience in programme delivery with DFID/FCDO (and/or other international development agencies) 

  • In-depth and in-country experience in the Sahelian region of Africa

Essential Skills: 

  • Ability to handle complex assignments with a strategic approach for the achievement of results. 

  • A strong foundation in the political economy of Sub-Saharan Africa, including key issues around governance, conflict/security, politics, and economic development. 

  • Confidence in public speaking – both to large groups in person and for purely online engagements 

  • Flexibility and adaptability are critical skills for this role,  

  • Strong research and analytical skills, communication, facilitation, and management skills.

Language Proficiency: English essential, French language fluency is highly desirable but not essential. 

Cowater's project work is almost entirely located in developing countries and overseas. Consequently, frequent travel to these countries is required both for management purposes and for carrying out specific project assignments. 


Candidates are encouraged to apply by June 19th, 2023 /as soon as possible.  

For your application to be considered, please upload the following documents as follows: Candidate Last Name, First Name, date, Title of the Position. 

  1. CV indicating all experience from similar projects, as well as the contact details (email and telephone number) of the Candidate and at least three (3) professional references. 

  1. Brief statement as to why the individual considers him/herself as the most suitable for the assignment. 

Qualified women are encouraged to apply. 

Cowater International is an equal opportunity employer, basing employment on merit and qualifications as they relate to professional experience and position expectations. Cowater does not discriminate against any employee or applicant on the basis of race, religion, sex, gender identity, disability, age, or any other basis protected by law. 

We thank all applicants, however only those shortlisted will be contacted.


Cowater International is a leading global development consulting company founded in 1985. Headquartered in Ottawa, Canada and with corporate hubs in Montreal, Canada, Brussels, Belgium, and London UK. Cowater International has successfully delivered a portfolio of over 2500 projects and assignments in more than 95 countries. We work with governments, private sector actors and communities implementing projects that support socio-economic development, institutional strengthening, environmental improvements and advance equal opportunities for all. We are a diverse and experienced team committed to building a better tomorrow for the people we serve. Our adaptive approach to management has led to our yearly award-winning work and recognition as one of Canada’s Best Managed Companies since 2017. 

We thank you for your interest in building a better tomorrow with Cowater International.