MSF recruits a Head of the Operational Cell 2

MSF is hiring a Head of the Operational Cell 2

Médecins Sans Frontières is an international independent medical-humanitarian organization, which offers assistance to populations in distress, to victims of natural or man-made disasters and to victims of armed conflict, without discrimination and irrespective of race, religion, creed or political affiliation.

MSF is a civil society initiative that brings together individuals committed to the assistance of other human beings in crisis. As such MSF is by choice an association.

Each individual working with MSF does it out of conviction and is ready to uphold the values and principles of MSF.

The MSF movement is built around five operational directorates supported by MSF’s 21 sections, 24 associations and other offices together worldwide. MSF OCBA is one of those directorates. The operations are implemented by field teams and the mission coordination teams; together with the organizational units based in Barcelona, Athens and decentralised in Nairobi, Dakar and Amman. The field operations are guided and supported by 5 Operational Cells, the Emergency Unit and other departments supporting operations.

General objective and job enviroment

The Head of the Operational Cell is responsible for the development and definition of the operational vision and global strategies of the Missions under his/her responsibility (Niger, Mali, Guinea Bissau, Nigeria), oversees the different interventions in the missions in the field and ensures that quality standards are duly maintained and MSF’s humanitarian and deontological principles are articulated and respected in our humanitarian action in the interventions within his/her portfolio. The Head also ensures that the main lines of the Strategic Plan are reflected in a tangible manner in all of the interventions and our broader humanitarian action and presence. MSF OCBA works in operating environments characterised by violence and conflict, and has a very strong emergency mind-set.

S/he reports hierarchically to the Director of Operations.

The Operational Cell managed by the Head of Operational Cell 2 is composed of 5 other members each with advisory, support functions and all under the hierarchical line management of the Head of Cell, with a b exception of the Financial Advisor who comes under the Fin-Ops function. (Finance Department).

From June onwards the cell, currently based in Barcelona, will be transferred to Dakar. The Head of Cell will be based in Barcelona until this move in June.

Main responsabilities and tasks

Participate in the organisational strategy

  • Contribute to the reflection on positioning and the role of MSF OCBA regarding humanitarian crises and related dilemmas, protection issues and operational strategies within the portfolio and in a broader sense also.  A significant part of this role is the promotion of quality analysis; provide sparring to produce well-grounded reflections on humanitarian issues and others that affect crises.
  • Provide operational input to contribute to the definition of the strategies with the rest of the Departments, and take into account their contributions where pertinent when defining Operational  plans to strengthen transversal planning and boost integration.
  • Identify and communicate situations in which the implementation of OCBA policies and procedures is not viable or may hinder the achievement of operational objectives, propose adaptations and exceptions to these in the appropriate forum, and apply the exceptions when necessary as long as they are justified.
  • Adheres to the priorities articulated by the Direction of Operations and DG and ensures adequate adherence of these in the interventions and operational line he/she manages.
  • Hold himself/herself accountable for the quality of interventions in his/ her portfolio and is transparent regarding his/her responsibilities at an operational and managerial level.

Contributes to the definition of OCBA operational strategy

  • Contributes to the definition of the OCBA operational vision by articulating the operational realities in his/her portfolio.
  • Contributes to periodic reviews of   the operational objectives as well as those framed in  MSF OBCA’s Strategic Plan and operational annual orientations, based on evaluation of the implementation of the operational plan and the analysis of evolution of humanitarian challenges in the assigned portfolio.
  • Contributes to the definition of security policies and ensures compliance to them.

Defines the strategic vision of missions within portfolio

  • Leads the reflection on positioning and the role of MSF OCBA in relation to the OCBA Strategic Plan and the humanitarian crises in the missions within the portfolio.
  • Ensures regular critical review and analysis of contexts and humanitarian situations in the portfolio in order to guarantee that operational response is adapted to meet population’s needs.
  • Ensure that MSF role on humanitarian action and “témoignage” is effectively executed by identifying related medical-humanitarian dilemmas, defining lobbying, advocacy and communication strategies, and allocating extra resources accordingly, for missions within portfolio.
  • Ensure that the results of relevance/impact project evaluations feed overall analyses, in order to maintain the relevance of the projects at all times.
  • Ensure the analysis and evaluation of the implementation of lobbing, advocacy and communication strategies within portfolio.

Emergency Preparedness and Response

  • Ensure the effective emergency preparedness and response of the missions.
  • Impregnates the staff under his / her management with an emergency mind-set.
  • Ensures top notch alert detection and deep built scenario work to ensure readiness.
  • Critically reviews emergency responses for lessons learnt and ensures adequate dissemination of these lessons learnt in the rest of his/her portfolio.

Contributes to the planning and organisation of the Operations Department

  • Contribute to the planning of the Department of Operations and to the achievement of the Dept. transversal objectives.
  • Ensure coherence between OCBA annual planning, operational orientations and assigned portfolio’s annual plan.

Managerial Responsibilities

  • First and foremost, must ensure that the people running the interventions in his/ her portfolio are being supported adequately by the support functions in the capital, cell and rest of the house.
  • Ensure that missions comply with OCBA policies as agreed with the rest of Departments, or raise the issue when not possible.
  • Is responsible for working with departmental functions to flag issues or problems that are impeding a good quality intervention that meets population needs.
  • Is responsible for the overall satisfaction and well-being as well as retention of staff in his/ her portfolio, both national and international.
  • Review and define the annual planning and budget of missions within portfolio, and define strategic changes within the portfolio in coordination with the Ops direction.
  • Lead, support, and coach the cell team and the HoMs in their functioning and decision making process, to ensure that objectives be achieved.
  • Ensure all behaviour Issues and conflict resolution are followed up (mission and HQ).

Promotes effective knowledge management and ensure optimal internal communication flow

  • Ensure adequate information and work flow between cell and services, other cells, and field, for issues that affect assigned portfolio.
  • Is proactive and active in contributing to operational learning for up and coming staff, courses, inductions, briefings, debriefings, etc.

Represents MSF OCBA

  • Represents MSF OCBA towards external actors (international organisations, NGOs, institutions, donor agencies, diaspora, civil society) and the media, for the missions of the assigned portfolio, on humanitarian crises, inter-agency operational coordination, and for fundraising.
  • Represents MSF OCBA at MSF international level for the missions of the assigned portfolio (International desk platform).

Selection criteria

Training and experience

  • Degree from University or Higher Institute.
  • Medical or paramedical background is considered an asset.
  • Minimum of 3 years of operational experience with MSF in contexts similar to those in portfolio (violence, conflict and emergencies.
  • Knowledgeable of and interested in humanitarian action and its international dimensions.
  • Fluent in French and English.
  • Advanced knowledge of Windows setting as a user (mainly Word and Excel), and new IT.


  • Commitment to MSF’s Principles
  • Cross-cultural Awareness
  • Strategic Vision
  • Results and Quality Orientation
  • Capacity to Negotiate
  • Teamwork and Cooperation
  • Leadership
  • People Management and Development
  • Security Awareness and Management
  • Networking and Building Relationships


  • Availability to travel frequently and on short notice.
  • Flexibility with working hours.


  • Based in Dakar at the Médecins Sans Frontières OCBA Unit.
  • Full time job
  • Commitment: minimum 3 years which can be extended to a maximum of 6 years in line with MSF policy.
  • Annual gross salary: 55.762 € (6 – HQ Salary grid decentralized office Dakar).
  • Other secondary benefits (including housing allowance) based on MSF OCBA Reward Policy.
  • Starting date: April 2020

How to apply

  • To apply, please submit your CV and cover letter
  • Closing date: 8th March 2020, 23:59 CET (Central European Time)
  • Replies will only be sent to short-listed candidates

MSF OCBA is a people-focused humanitarian organization that offers a diverse, collaborative, and inclusive work environment. We believe this approach enhances our work and we are committed to equity in employment. We embrace diverse backgrounds of people working together to exhibit their passion in action for the social mission of MSF.

Médecins Sans Frontieres, as a responsible employer, under article 38 of “Ley de Integración Social del Minusválido de 1982 (LISMI)” invite those persons with a recognized disability and with an interest in the humanitarian area to apply for the above-mentioned position.

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