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Chief Partnerships, Movement & Ecosystem Officers



Marketing & Communications · Full-time
Johannesburg, South Africa · Remote
Posted on Wednesday, June 5, 2024


The new role of Chief Partnerships, Movement & Ecosystem Officer (CECO) will lead SmartStart’s efforts to build an ecosystem for early learning at population-scale — realising our vision of providing quality early learning to 1 million children by 2030. The role will focus on society, social investors, and collective action on nutrition, venues, and the economic value of early learning. The CECO will co-lead the SmartStart hub and network of partners in collaboration with four other chiefs; and manage the partnerships, fundraising, and societal communications functions, responsible for realising the synergies between these.

We are looking for a curious, creative, strategic, driven individual with extensive communications, partnership building and leadership experience; and a successful track record of managing teams in complexity.

Key Responsibilities

· Establish early learning as a priority in policy, provisioning, and popular practices by persuading more people exponentially that what they do matters in realising early learning for all — and making the benefits and progress of early learning widely visible

· Catalyse and reinforce the SmartStart network’s power to drive a movement for early learning for all as a societal cause by using social influence to transform social norms

· Guide mass communications to the network of practitioners, parents, and frontline staff

· Realise strategic operating government partnerships with municipalities, provincial departments of education and state employment initiatives

· Catalyse and connect partnerships and deepen collaboration between diverse actors to yield exponential growth in key early learning enablers: programme venues; nutrition for children; and key micro-(social-)enterprise support

· Develop and strengthen social investor relationships to grow the SmartStart network’s investment and fundraising, yielding R250m in funding and doubling state funding by the end of 2025-26

· Oversee organisational and internal communications

· Lead and develop a team of three heads of department and an organisational comms manager

· Strategically explore opportunities and partnerships across a few (southern) African countries


Qualifications and Experience

· Master’s degree (or equivalent) in a related discipline

· At least 10 years relevant and diverse experience in complex organisation-systemic contexts, ideally incl. early childhood development, education, or public health

· At least five years in senior roles(s) successfully leading organisations and managing teams

· Successful track record of building large-scale, national partner networks involving both government and non-state actors/NGOs

· Previous experience in leading effective behaviour-change campaigns

· Fundraising or oversight of fundraising advantageous

Knowledge and Skills

· Strong understanding of public policy and practice, especially in local and provincial government

· Excellent communicator who can “convert” others to the SmartStart cause

· Systems doing-and-thinking orientation mindset & practice

· Demonstrated curiosityand appetite for feedback

· Ability to see the big picture

· Demonstrated commitment to social justice

· Ability to deal with complex problems

· Coaching managerial skills

· Excellent at building quality, trusting relationships

· Familiar with design thinking and iterative designing

· Fluency in one or more African languages advantageous

Child Safeguarding Policy

Applicants must adhere to the SmartStart Child Safeguarding Policy, which has been developed in accordance with the International Standards for Child Safeguarding, which provides a benchmark for organisations working with children.

Under this Policy, SmartStart will not employ anyone whose name is on the National Child Protection Register or who has been convicted of a criminal offence involving a child.

Closing date: 24 June 2024

Location: Hybrid

SmartStart is an equal opportunity employer.