Senior Director, Finance & Operations
Sustainable Energy for All (SEforALL) is an international organization working with leaders in government, the private sector and civil society to drive further, faster action toward achievement of Sustainable Development Goal 7 (SDG7), which calls for universal access to sustainable energy by 2030, and the Paris Agreement, which calls for reducing greenhouse gas emissions to limit climate warming to below 2° Celsius.
Achieving these goals will require a radical rethink of the way we produce, distribute and consume energy. SEforALL is at the heart of this foundational shift to ensure no one is left behind. Drawing on data and evidence, we identify a critical path to success in achieving SDG7.
Former UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon launched the Sustainable Energy for All initiative in 2011. Now an independent organization, we maintain close links with the UN, including through a relationship agreement, partnerships with UN agencies and with SEforALL’s CEO acting as the UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Sustainable Energy for All and Co-Chair of UN-Energy. These roles include advising the UN Secretary General and his staff on issues relating to sustainable energy and the implementation of SDG7 and supporting the coordination of sustainable energy issues in the United Nations system.
The ambitions of SDG7 are extraordinary. Aiming to achieve them in the context of the Paris Agreement on climate change involves transformation at a scale never undertaken before. Swift action must be taken by leaders in governments, private sector companies, institutions, financiers, development banks, unions, communities, entrepreneurs and civil society. As we enter the final decade to achieve SDG7, SEforALL has strategically chosen to strengthen global agenda-setting while expanding its activities to an engagement model that prioritizes data-driven decision-making, partnerships with high-impact countries and implementation on the ground. The new SEforALL threeyear business plan outlines “results offers” that scope out our planned interventions and demonstrate to our funding partners the impact of their support.
Results Based Financing Background
Sovereign, philanthropic and other donors are increasingly using Results-Based Financing (RBF) to support energy access programmes. Providing financial support at the required speed and scale to achieve Sustainable Development Goal 7 (SDG7) - and to reach the last-mile communities that are the most vulnerable - will require a paradigm shift towards RBF, which would allow governments and donors to:
- shift an appropriate level of risk of delivery to the private sector;
- provide greater certainty to industry about the level of financial support required; and
- aggregate financing and scale support across multiple countries.
SEforALL launched and operationalized the Universal Energy Facility (UEF) in October 2020 as a multi-donor RBF facility designed to significantly speed up and scale-up the delivery of energy connections in Sub-Saharan Africa. The UEF provides incentive payments to eligible organizations that deploy energy solutions and provide verified end-user energy connections.
SEforALL’s activities to date include designing the end-to-end UEF framework and processes to launch Wave 1 of the UEF for mini-grid projects in Africa, including qualification criteria, technical specifications and KPIs; conducting analysis of base case assumptions and financial modelling to ensure a sound subsidy amount; setting up an initial UEF Governance Structure; carrying out in-country due diligence and stakeholder engagement; and managing the full process from pre-qualification and site-specific applications to grant disbursements..
The UEF was launched in October 2020 with the application process opening for mini-grid projects in Sierra Leone and Madagascar. The UEF expanded to Benin for mini-grid projects in early 2021. Over the coming year, SEforALL expects to significantly grow the UEF to be a USD 100 million facility operating in multiple countries in Africa, expanding the mini-grid windows to new countries and launching a new window for stand-alone solar for productive use. We will be working closely with a major new donor coalition under development, led by the Rockefeller and IKEA Foundations. The aspiration over a 2-3 year time horizon is to grow the fund to USD 500 million in total. Sustainable Energy for All will continue to act as programme manager and fund manager during this period, requiring significant scale up of the UEF team, including a dedicated fund management team, more operational support from the broader SEforALL organization, in particular the finance team, and more formalized governance of the UEF by a new Governing Board and an administrative arrangement with SEforALL’s existing governance structure.
Purpose/Objective of the role
Reporting to the CEO/SRSG of Sustainable Energy for All, and participating in the organization’s Leadership Team, the main objectives of the role include to:
- Ensure effective and efficient financial, procurement and operations functions of SEforALL.
- As a member of SEforALL’s senior management, provide strategic decisionmaking and contribute to the organization’s growth strategy and business planning.
- Lead, develop and supervise the finance, procurement and operations teams.
- Oversee SEforALL’s financial position and collaborate with the CEO and leadership team to ensure sustainability and financial management best practices
- Ensure the UEF fund management function is considered best in class and in fiduciary compliance.
Main duties and tasks of the role
The main duties and tasks of the role include, but are not limited to:
- Lead the Finance and Operations function, implementing appropriate operational policies, management processes, and regulatory frameworks, for efficient and effective delivery of SEforALL’s business plan and work programmes / projects.
- Develop and implement the Finance and Operations strategy and provide effective management of financial management, procurement, travel, buildings management, IT and information security and other operational and administrative support for SEforALL.
- Manage SEforALL’s internal and external financial resources and maintains financial controls efficiently, economically, and effectively, including developing annual budgets, managing cash flow, providing monthly forecasts and proactively recommending adjustments.
- Oversee SEforALL’s financial position and coordinate with the CEO and Leadership Team to ensure early resolution of issues.
- Lead SEforALL’s procurement function to ensure value for money, quality, compliance with donor requirements and delivery targets are met, including as appropriate adherence to UNOPS required procurement processes.
- Lead the organization’s IT and information security function, including management and development of its main IT platforms and other operational systems (including Salesforce, Microsoft Sharepoint, Sage).
- Commission SEforALL’s annual audit and follow up to address audit findings.
- Oversee project / programme financial management practices across SEforALL, including budgeting, forecasting, financial reporting, audits, project liquidity management, disbursements and fiduciary compliance.
- In close collaboration with the UEF Senior Director, support the effective setup and provide oversight to the fund management function of the UEF (the results-based financing facility managed by SEforALL) to ensure best practice and fiduciary compliance, including management, tracking and reporting of donor contributions; drafting, review and completion of grant agreements; verification and processing of grant disbursements; monitoring grantee compliance with grant agreements; and monitoring accumulated grants to applicants.
- Manage relationships with UNOPS and UN Foundation as fiscal sponsors for SEforALL.
- In close collaboration with the Resource Mobilization team, maintain up-to-date knowledge of funders’ financial terms and conditions, and monitor compliance with funders’ fiduciary requirements, assessing projects’ financial progress and reporting to funders.
- Ensures SEforALL is in compliance with rules and regulations governing the operations of the organization in Austria, including ensuring timely submission of statutory filings.
Functional technical competencies specific to the role
- Advanced degree and professional qualification and 17 to 20 years’ experience in financial management.
- International financial management experience gained in roles in organizations working in energy access, energy transition, economics, energy economics, energy infrastructure or in another relevant discipline.
- Demonstrated experience in managing organizational budgets in the USD 50M+ range, and with experience of leading finance and operations for organizations in ‘growth mode’.
- Strong preference for candidates with energy project finance, investment banking, development finance, and/or results-based financing experience.
- Proven leadership and international management experience gained in financial management, procurement, and general organizational operations.
- Financial management experience and knowledge of non-profit accounting principles and standards, including experience with sovereign, philanthropic and other donors and programmatic reporting requirements.
- Strong quantitative and analytical skills; advanced proficiency in MS Excel.
- Practical experience of engaging with energy sector stakeholders in international and/or developing country contexts.
- Sound diplomatic judgment for managing different relationships with different types of partners (Boards, governments, funders, MDBs, NGOs, UN agencies, etc.)
- Ability to negotiate complex partnership arrangements that need to balance competing interests.
- Proven leadership and teamworking skills in motivating teams, in harnessing collective creativity and initiative order to create processes and opportunities that are cutting-edge or have not been attempted before.
- Strong leadership and people management skills.
- Strong monitoring, evaluation and learning, and reporting skills.
- Ability to thrive in a fast-paced environment that requires high flexibility and a commitment to results.
- Experience in operating across multiple time zones and with distributed teams.
- Fluency in English required; proficiency in French preferred