Who we are: MSA is a socially driven global consulting firm. We provide innovative solutions for the private sector, government, and civil society to improve, measure, and communicate the economic and social impacts of their investments. We believe market dynamics have a strong impact on how people live their lives. Our vision is to improve economic systems in order to reduce poverty. We recognize complexity and as such, use a systems approach to design solutions that work within dynamic environments. We work collaboratively with our clients, serving as brokers of creativity to help catalyze systemic change. We take a bespoke approach to every engagement, developing tailored services for clients around action research, monitoring, strategic advisory, evaluation and thought leadership across five topic areas: market systems development, jobs and trade, economic empowerment, financial inclusion, and impact investing. Since 2009 we have worked with a wide variety of clients and partners in dozens of countries across six continents.
Our work: At MSA, our team builds results measurement systems for businesses, development programs, and impact investors; research power dynamics and their influence on market behaviors; train client teams to think more systemically about the problems they seek to address; pitch MSA’s services to new potential clients; write thought pieces; and brainstorm new approaches to old problems. Regardless of task, our focus on disrupting the status quo demands critical engagement.
Who we want: MSA seeks a driven professional with strong economic development, private sector development, or market systems experience to join the team in the position of Advisory Practice Lead, in either Denver, Colorado; Nairobi, Kenya; London, England; specific locations in Canada; Washington DC; or remote location for the right person. We are looking for someone who wants a balanced portfolio between direct technical work with clients, and supporting a team of qualified professionals to champion their own work. The position will report to Erin Markel, Principal and Co-Founder at MSA. MSA is growing – this opportunity offers significant potential for the successful candidate to grow with us, assuming progressively greater responsibility with MSA.
We are looking for someone who finds fulfillment in:
- Serving and championing your team. This position will lead a team of highly motivated and smart people. We believe in self-managed teams, with team leaders supporting and building the capacity of teammates, while everyone learns how to solve and make critical decisions on their own. This means a management style that seeks to enhance quality and increase productivity by offering support, resources and coaching, while also giving ownership to each individual by encouraging openness and applying a strength-based approach to your management style.
- Supporting economic development and market systems differently. There are some known good practices in how to promote effective market systems. We like these. But we also believe that the best work is born of creative thinking. We want someone who is comfortable challenging themselves to find unique and context-specific solutions to old problems. We want our team to think outside the box, pushing the boundaries of what seems possible.
- Devising strategy and planning. This person will work with the Principals of the firm to drive strategy decisions for the Advisory practice area. This means working with Principals to design a set of strategic options and action plans for the practice area. This person needs wider knowledge of the industry, its outlook and ideas for pushing the field forward.
- Time and budget management. We believe in what we do. And we know our clients rely on us to use our time wisely. This role will manage projects, meaning guiding a team of people including MSA team members and subcontractors to complete high quality work. Being organized and understanding project management practices like tracking level of effort and budgets is key to success in this role. It is also important that you feel comfortable supporting the Advisory team in managing their projects and budgets.
- Understanding market actors’ incentives and behavior. We take a behavior-centered approach. We use consumer data and analytics to co-create solutions that meet our target populations needs. We are looking for someone who has the experience and enjoys designing business models and policies that are informed by evidence and reliable data.
- Thought diversity. We are mission-driven and love applying systems-thinking to our work. Yet, we are not dogmatic, and we tailor our approaches to solutions that work best for our clients and draw from various development fields and perspectives. A great fit for the team is someone who can apply creative solutions from a diversity of approaches such as from market systems, private sector development, resilience, economic growth, social inclusion, etc.
- A focus on learning and practical application. We want someone who not only likes to learn themselves and think outside the box but who has ways to help our clients to continuously learn and utilize their data. We need people who enjoy distilling complex approaches into simple and practical activities to match on-the-ground realities. This means you see good data as a means to an end, to influence interventions, to influence policy, to change practice and a means to create more meaningful social impact for all.
- Embracing complexity and adaptation. We work on a lot of projects that measure changes at the systems level. We love this. In order to actively do this work, you not only enjoy seeing the bigger picture, thrive in complex environments, but also have the ability to quickly distill complexity into useful tools and systems in order to get things done. You also enjoy helping those around you to digest complexity and help them navigate how they can practically play their part in achieving project goals.
- Workshopping and co-creation. We do not do research for research’s sake. We like action research that leads to better decision-making, project performance and eventual social impacts. All MSA technical team members enjoy working with our partners and clients to get better results. This means we need to be good listeners, get our partners’ buy-in and always think about how to engage with them in a process of co-creation.
- Being a research and data nerd. We want someone to join the team who loves qualitative and/or quantitative research. This person loves designing strong and practical research methods, designing surveys, good interview and focus group discussion guides and collecting data in-country. Knowing how to do all of this from a market systems perspective is a major bonus.
- Driving forward client relationships. This person enjoys working with the internal team, but will spend significant time engaging and collaborating with clients. Being communicative, diplomatic and having the ability to navigate people-dynamics is critical to succeed in this role. Previous experience having led on an assignment including leading the client relationship aspect would be preferable.
- Working in a rapidly expanding company. Our company is small, but we are growing rapidly. If you enjoy fast-paced working environments and engaging in strategic discussions, we are a good fit. If you are looking for a place to work with the same daily checklist and regular work, this is not the position for you.
- Bachelor’s degree in economics, finance, international development, or related field.
- At least ten years of significant experience in market systems, private sector development, trade, economic growth and/or inclusive business programming in emerging economies.
- Experience providing technical support to international development projects – preferably with USAID, UK FCDO, or a multi-lateral organization.
- Experience leading a team of people to manage complex client projects including experience mentoring and coaching.
- Experience supporting project management functions, such as managing budgets, managing local consultants, and following donor rules and regulations.
- Excellent written and oral communication skills, including experience drafting reports.
- Strong interpersonal skills, including the ability to work and build relationships with team members and clients from diverse backgrounds.
- Strong primary and secondary research experience including research design and implementation.
Other desired characteristics: ▪ Graduate degree in economics, finance, or another relevant social science. ▪ Experience with leading private foundations, FCDO, or USAID specifically in market systems development, economic development and/or private sector development projects. ▪ Experience working for a consulting firm and managing consulting projects. ▪ Experience designing and leading trainings and providing coaching and advisory services to clients. ▪ Proficiency in another language, preferably written and oral Arabic, French, Spanish, and/or Portuguese. ▪ Experience working and living in developing countries.
Other information: This is a salaried, full-time position that will report to a Practice Lead. This position will be based in Denver, Colorado; Nairobi, Kenya; London, England; specific locations in Canada; Washington DC; or remote for the right person. Outside of COVID times, the position requires approximately 25-35% travel. The salary range for this position is: $85,000 – 125,000 USD based on a candidate located in Denver. Where a candidate falls within this rage is based on previous years of experience and versatility i.e., number of required and desired characteristics as well as expected capability and cost of living by location.
How to apply:
Deadline to apply is October 10th. Applications will be considered on a rolling basis. To apply, please send your current CV to email@example.com, indicating the position title “Advisory Practice Lead” in the subject line. If you have not heard back within 2 weeks after the application deadline, please send a follow up email to firstname.lastname@example.org and copy email@example.com. We want to make sure no emails get lost in cyberspace!
Please include your salary expectations in a separate PDF file.
Please also include a cover letter (maximum one page) explaining your interest in this role and answering the following questions:
- What do you see as the most important innovation in market systems development?
- List the three things, in order of impact, that you would bring to MSA to take us to the next level.
- Which of our values most resonates with you, and why?
- What professional achievement are you most proud of?
- Are you legally authorized to work in the United States? If not, where are you authorized to work?
- What is your location preference?
- Where did you learn about this role?