Senior Advisor

/Senior Advisor
Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
October 1, 2019
Seattle, WA
Job Type


The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation will collaborate with Spencer Stuart in the search for a stellar candidate to take up this exciting and challenging appointment.  If you have questions about this position, or if you would like to nominate a candidate or submit your own CV for consideration, please reach out to

Applications received through the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Careers site will not be reviewed.

The goal of the foundation’s Agricultural Development program is to support country-led inclusive agricultural transformation across Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. The program focuses on four strategic goals that help
drive agricultural transformation and that ensure this transformation is inclusive: increasing agricultural productivity for smallholder farmers (SHF); increasing SHF household income; increasing equitable consumption
of safe, affordable, and nutritious diets year-round; and increasing women’s empowerment in agriculture. The foundation invests in this sector and in these ways because increasing productivity in agriculture has proven to
be more effective at lifting people out of poverty than growth in other sectors.

Agricultural transformation requires a supportive policy environment, sustained public investment in modernizing the rural sector, and engagement with the private sector, which together can enable a critical mass
of SHFs to transition from subsistence farming to commercial farming. The resulting growth in productivity generates marketable surpluses and increases farmers’ income, which in turn spurs growth in the rural economy
through expanded business opportunities in transporting, trading, processing, and retailing farm surpluses; increased demand for local goods and services from better-off farm households; and increased real income for
all consumers due to lower food prices. As the agricultural services industry grows, it provides employment opportunities off the farm, increases the availability of fresh and processed foods in rural towns and urban
centers, and increases demand for farm products. This potentially virtuous cycle is subject to volatility, however, especially due to shifting government policies and variable weather patterns. But when it’s successful, it is the
central process by which productivity growth lifts huge numbers of rural poor out of poverty.

About Agricultural Policy in the Agricultural Development Program
Agricultural Policy, and associated data investments, represent cross-cutting elements within the Agricultural Development strategy. Through this work, the foundation strives to boost the effectiveness of policy planning and
investment decisions aimed at advancing inclusive agricultural transformation using quality data and analytics. This work aims (i) to support more systematic policy prioritization and (ii) to address market failures, due to policy,
regulations, and imperfect information, that are impeding smallholder access to relevant products and services.

The foundation works to develop and improve information systems to enable better decision-making by public and private actors in the agricultural sector. The policy and data investments support the prioritization, design and
implementation of effective national policies and regulations, as well as strong institutional architecture with clear roles and responsibilities regarding data generation and use. This work strengthens the policy and data components
of the foundation’s other Agricultural Development portfolios, and supports the development of replicable tools, assets and methods to address systemic policy and market challenges. Key areas of focus include: testing replicable
approaches to national inclusive agricultural transformation policy prioritization and planning; strengthening data ecosystems and the use of new data collection, exchange and analytics technologies in service of improved market
transparency and public policies and programs; and strengthening donor coordination around initiatives for more modernized and cost-effective national agricultural statistics.

Core Priorities
The foundation’s approach to investment and implementation is divided into two closely interlinked bodies of work:
(i) improving national and state-level policies and resource allocation in both Africa and Asia, and (ii) shaping inclusive markets in both Africa and Asia – to support more systematic policy prioritization and address market failures, due to
policy, regulations, and imperfect information, that are impeding smallholder access to relevant products and services.

The Senior Advisor, Agricultural Policy, will be responsible for providing strategic vision, leadership, and high quality technical expertise in agricultural policy. The position will work across all Agricultural Development (‘AgDev’) teams to provide data-driven analysis that is coupled with practical knowledge of the political economy in South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa.


  • Sharpening the foundation’s approach and knowledge of how countries have transformed economically and what they do in the Ag space to catalyze inclusive agriculture practices
  • Deepening the understanding, across all AgDev teams, of the policy environment for agricultural development globally
  • Creating new ways of conceptualizing and innovating around agricultural policy issues, resulting in a state-of-the-art approach to agricultural policy that is embedded in all of the foundation’s policy and country investments
  • Ensuring the success of the AgDev policy program in order to support evidence-based policy
  • Developing a clearly defined vision for how the foundation’s policy work can influence inclusive agricultural transformation (IAT) and a sequenced theory of action for policy reform
  • Enhanced partnerships with global agricultural policy normative bodies and increased global technical leadership in the space

Significant global agricultural policy expertise
Broadly-gauged, big picture perspective on agricultural policy; a track record of peer-review publications is preferred

In-country experience
Senior-level government interactions resulting in substantial and impactful agricultural policy achievements

Senior stature in relevant networks
Existing relationships with agricultural policy practitioners and thinkers, including in academe and in think tanks, and senior-level stature within these networks in order to drive alignment on a shared agenda

International experience and perspective
An understanding of the economic, social, and political trends that impact the foundation’s strategy and operations, especially in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia

Advanced degree
Ph.D. in development economics or other relevant field

Strategic Thinking

  • Defines the evolving future of global agricultural policy and the potential roles the foundation may play in catalyzing inclusive agricultural transformation
  • Clearly defines a sequenced theory of action for policy reform across geographies and engages with country teams to analyze and assess appropriate paths forward
  • Challenges assumptions and conventional wisdom with specific, supported, reasoned proposals
  • Pragmatically applies academic theory in varied country contexts, and effectively communicates technical messages to a range of stakeholders

Cultural Agility

  • Builds relationships across varied geographic and/or political boundaries and exhibits a capacity for networking, partnering, facilitation, and alliance building among highly diverse groups of people
  • Accurately perceives organizational, political, and social dynamics; proactively navigates both the foundation and the stakeholder environment to achieve goals and remove barriers

Collaborating and Influencing

  • Creatively influences and persuades key stakeholders to take action to advance shared interests and goals; is comfortable influencing without final decision-making authority; s/he must be able to influence at the co-chair level
  • Leverages AgDev colleagues to facilitate increased collaboration across the organization and externally, and establishes a cross-team collaboration mechanism to promote common principles in the organization’s policy work
  • Communicates frequently internally and externally to facilitate increased dialogue and action

If you wish to submit application materials or nominate someone for the Senior Advisor, Agricultural Policy role at the Bill & Melinda Gates foundation, please email:

As part of our standard hiring process for new employees, employment with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation will be contingent upon successful completion of a background check.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is 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 the mission of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation 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

* Prior Protected Activity

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