Senior Program Officer, Digital Agronomy

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation   Seattle, WA   Full-time     Management
Posted on June 23, 2022
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Group Summary

The Agricultural Development (AgDev) Program within Global Growth and Opportunity aims to support farmers and governments in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia that are seeking a sustainable, inclusive agricultural transformation-one that creates economic opportunity, respects limits on natural resources, and gives everyone equal access to affordable, nutritious food. We invest in tools and technologies that target the specific needs of farmers in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. We support public- and private-sector efforts to develop more effective systems for delivering products and services to smallholder farmers. We help develop and scale up innovative support structures for smallholder food producers that provide new options for sustainably earning a reliable income from their hard work.

Our Country Systems Transformation team seeks a versatile, impact-oriented Senior Program Officer in support of its Digital Farmer Services (DFS) portfolio. The DFS portfolio has built a foundation of investments that address various aspects of farmer services needs through soil health and agronomy research, Ag advisory, and financial services. However, as the risk to Small Scale Producers (SSPs) increases due to climate change, greater focus is needed on integration and the nexus of science, technology, and service provision. Our goal is to ensure that over the next 10 years, at least half of the smallholder farmers in our focus geographies have access to and are benefiting from digitally enabled services. Our investments can play a role in advancing cost-effective business models and supporting national and state-level platforms that serve the interests of the public sector, private sector, and smallholder farming communities.

Leadership and Culture

We believe that energized people, working well together, fueled by great leadership in an inclusive environment in which they thrive, will do phenomenal things.

Position Summary

We're seeking a Senior Program Officer, Digital Agronomy (SPO) to support the DFS portfolio team. This is an exciting new role which was created to support the expansion of the foundation into this area of need. This team accelerates innovation in soil health and predictive agronomy towards climate change adaptation (and mitigation) targeting the nexus of impact-oriented research and farmer-facing services. The SPO will work with AgDev staff, consultants, external thought partners, and grantees to evaluate, learn, strategize, and help structure investments (grants).

Core Responsibilities

  • Support program implementation through learning, strategy development, partnership building, and grant making and management.

  • Provide managerial and technical support for a grant portfolio aimed at achieving vital gains in productivity, income, and resilience, while increasing the emphasis on predictive agronomy towards climate change adaptation and innovative scaling partnerships for implementation.

  • Provide strategic and analytic insights to decision making for the development of 'transferable assets' and PPP partnerships. We define transferable assets as public or private goods which address system-level constraints which demonstrate impact and have high potential to scale across a wide range of environments and countries.

  • Represent the DFS Portfolio team in relevant working group(s) and provide leadership in innovation and partnership development with implementors and (co-)investors.

  • Provide scientific inputs and programmatic insights to accelerate development and roll out of rapid, cost-effective, and scalable tools for strengthening digital platform development and integration and to enhance scientific understanding of predictive agronomy in the context of climate change.

  • In coordination with key partners, identify research priorities and innovative technologies that could improve service provision to farmers and enhance their ability to better handle risks and build resilience. Work closely with other colleagues in AgDev to formulate research ideas and provide technical and managerial guidance to build grant relationships for rapid implementation.

  • Provide analytic, modeling, and technical writing support to AgDev Team members and leadership for priority issues, such as risk assessment, planning and evaluation, as and when necessary.

  • Develop new national or regional partnerships with 'proximal partners' beyond the established to create additional impact opportunities. Proximal partners are defined as national or local public, private or NGO partners in our target geographies (verses Western-based organizations).

  • This position will require the ability to travel up to 25% internationally.

This Senior Program Officer reports to the Deputy Director of Country System Transformation.

Knowledge, Skills and Abilities

The ideal candidate has working experience leading technology product development and/or digital services; substantial content knowledge on agronomy and soil health to assess the depth of impact of interventions; and a high level of comfort engaging with global leading scientists, technologists, African and Asian national and regional partners, and innovation leaders to achieve desired outcomes. Individuals who excel in this position have a passion for working collaboratively on complex problems seeking solutions that have the potential to achieve transformative change in digital farmer services through systems approaches and integration. Additionally, we're seeking someone with a consistent track record of focusing on inclusion, collaboration, flexibility and empathy as a team player.

Education and Experience

  • Seven to 10+ plus years of experience ideally with career progression in soil or agronomy research, advisory, or technology programs related to integrated approaches in agriculture

  • Advanced degree in science (agriculture, agronomy, soil health) or technology

  • Working experience in technology product development and/or digital farmer-facing services

  • Experience in evaluation of program impacts

  • Private sector or social enterprise experience is preferred

  • Working experience with small scale producers in Sub-Saharan Africa or Asia is preferred


Hiring Requirements

As part of our standard hiring process for new employees, employment will be contingent upon successful completion of a background check.

Depending upon your work location, we may require proof of full vaccination against COVID-19 and any recommended booster doses. All employees based in the United States are to provide proof of full vaccination upon hire and any recommended boosters, subject to applicable laws.


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Inclusion Statement

We are dedicated to the belief that all lives have equal value. We're committed to creating a workplace where employees thrive both personally and professionally. We also believe our employees should reflect the rich diversity of the global populations we aim to serve-in race, gender, age, cultures and beliefs-and we support this diversity through all of our employment practices.

All applicants and employees who are drawn to serve our mission will enjoy equality of opportunity and fair treatment without regard to race, color, age, religion, pregnancy, sex, sexual orientation, disability, gender identity, gender expression, national origin, genetic information, veteran status, marital status, and prior protected activity.