Job opportunity: Academic Partnerships Specialist, New York
Job opportunity: Project Assistant (Innovation) GS-5, Fixed Term in the Innovation Unit, Copenhagen

Title: Technical Project Manager: Research, Engineering, and Data Science
Location of Assignment: New York
Travel: None
Duration of contract: 11.5 months

Background & Rationale

The UNICEF Innovation Unit functions like a collection of startups in early-stage. Promising new technologies (e.g. data science, SMS technologies, UAVs, blockchain) are identified that have potential to impact UNICEF core operations (e.g. education, health, disaster response). Through our network of technology companies, UNICEF country offices and academic institutions, we construct pilots to quickly determine if projects should be continued or discontinued. Innovation Unit New York provides support to UNICEF’s 190 country offices and consists of a flat team of technologists, designers, programmers, researchers and communication specialists. Requests for collaboration, advice and support are fielded from UNICEF programmes, other parts of the UN system and the humanitarian technology ecosystem.

We also have a small venture fund – the UNICEF Innovation Fund – which provides resources to quickly assess, fund and scale companies, teams, and ideas that have been developed in new and emerging markets. The Innovation Fund supports the generation of open source, public goods that address the most pressing challenges facing children.

UNICEF Innovation Unit seeks to hire a project manager with a focus on supporting the research, engineering and data science (REDS) team as one of the front-facing members of the data science team, and also help prioritize, budget, and manage resources so that data scientists, engineers, and hardware experts can do their work better, faster, and with fewer distractions and interruptions.

In many ways this is a support role for the data science, research, and engineering team, and is not a traditional “product manager” role (“week six you have this, week seven you have that, and if you don’t have that by week 10 you’re fired”) but is more agile and (wince) scrummy.

Help the data science team come up with the evaluation and judging criteria for projects – how do we know what works well, and what doesn’t.  What provides the best return on time. Where can we leverage other open-source resources / teams to accelerate our work.

This role would involve talking to different UNICEF business units, managing discussions with major corporate partners (Google, Facebook, etc.) at the points where they intersect with the UNICEF Innovation Unit, and framing many different possibilities into a few specific pieces of work.

You have to have a deep knowledge of technology.  This means a total understanding of how the internet works.  How code works.  How hardware works.  You don’t need to be able to build any of these things, but you need to be able to describe, evaluate, and manage options within their spheres.  Engage with the local tech community and stay current with evolving software technology.

You also need to eat and breathe open-source philosophy and approach.  You git github.  You can fight an engineer about their commit history.  You wouldn’t need to check for unit tests in code, but you know that they should be there…and if stuff starts going wrong because they’re not you know what to do.


  • To work with UNICEF Innovation’s Research, Data, and Engineering leads and support/guide on getting projects from very early concept to articulated prototype.
  • To help evaluate a myriad of different possible options for new projects, field new requests from other parts of the team, manage those, and making sure to carefully prioritize those requests to maximize impact and organizational relationships.
  • Manage human / computing resources for projects.
  • Assist research scientists in communicating to other business areas about projects in prototype phase and ensuring timely follow-up of these leads.
  • With technical team members, ensure a methodical approach to pipelines for piloting of projects, from scoping to completion.
  • Use of appropriate productivity tools; standing meetings, scrum, Git, Google Docs, Trello etc.

Expected results: (measurable results)

  • Weekly updates to Innovation Unit co-lead on status of project roster
  • Daily communications (written, remote and in person) with REDS team, UNICEF colleagues and external stakeholders to manage project pipeline as directed by lead research scientist and Innovation Unit co-lead
  • Monthly iteration of guidelines for selection and prioritisation of project suitability
  • Ongoing development of relationships with academic and industry partners
  • Ad-hoc response to requests for information and support from potential collaborators and communication of

Deliverables & TIMEFRAME

  • Onboarding: initial assessment of projects and landscape, projects and team roles documented. (Google docs/spreadsheets)
    Deadline: Month 1
  • Evaluation of all current projects in pipeline. Specific guidance to project teams.
    Deadline: Month 2
  • Presentation of projects to management teams. Ordered integration plans for later stage projects.
    Deadline: Month 3
  • Summary report on high priority technologies areas and commercial partners.
    Deadline: Month 4
  • Capture of what works and doesn’t. Display failures and methodology for learning.
    Deadline: Month 5
  • Further development of project plan and lifecycle. (i.e. “where are we know)
    Deadline: Month 6
  • Analysis of future work with private sector technology partners
    Deadline: Month 7
  • Support to communications team on team update and report for General Assembly
    Deadline: Month 8
  • Presentation of UNICEF Innovation technology work and key conferences and side-events around UN General Assembly
    Deadline: Month 9
  • Develop criteria for determining termination or scale up of pilots and organisation and technological modalities for scaling up
    Deadline: Month 10
  • Profile of projects for innovation fund 2nd round based on year’s lessons learned
    Deadline: Month 11
  • Preparation for 2017, workplan support
    Deadline: Ongoing

How to Apply

Applicants are requested to send their submissions to with subject line:

Technical Project Manager: Research, Engineering, and Data Science” by 19th February 2016, 5:00pm EST.

Applications must include:

  • Cover letter,
  • CV, and
  • P-11 form[1]
  • Two writing samples presenting relevant desk- or delivery interview based research findings and recommendations (max 10 pages each)
  • Indicate where you heard about this advertisement

Please indicate your ability, availability and daily/monthly rate (in US$) to undertake the terms of reference above.  Applications submitted without a daily/monthly rate will not be considered. Payment will be made monthly.

NOTE: Files should not exceed 5.0MB limit

UNICEF is committed to achieving workforce diversity in terms of gender, nationality and culture. Individuals from minority groups, indigenous groups and persons with disabilities are equally encouraged to apply. All applications will be treated with the strictest confidence.

[1] P 11 form  can be downloaded from our website at

Job opportunity: Academic Partnerships Specialist, New York
Job opportunity: Project Assistant (Innovation) GS-5, Fixed Term in the Innovation Unit, Copenhagen