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Senior Program Officer, AI

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Software Engineering, Operations, Data Science
Nairobi, Kenya
Posted on Friday, June 28, 2024

The Foundation

We are the largest nonprofit fighting poverty, disease, and inequity around the world. Founded on a simple premise: people everywhere, regardless of identity or circumstances, should have the chance to live healthy, productive lives. We believe our employees should reflect the rich diversity of the global populations we aim to serve. We provide an exceptional benefits package to employees and their families which include comprehensive medical, dental, and vision coverage with no premiums, generous paid time off, paid family leave, foundation-paid retirement contribution, regional holidays, and opportunities to engage in several employee communities. As a workplace, we’re committed to creating an environment for you to thrive both personally and professionally.

The Team

The Global Health team harnesses technological advancements to tackle health challenges in low- and middle-income countries. We aim to address significant issues that lack adequate attention and resources. Our approach involves enhancing existing tool delivery and investing in innovative solutions like Artificial intelligence (AI) technologies, digital health strategies, and advanced data analytics.

The Africa Team works to enable the foundation’s ambitious goals of scaling evidence-based interventions that target a range of diseases and socio-economic conditions which are endemic across Sub-Saharan Africa. Specifically, the focus of the Africa Team is to enable collective impact for the foundation in Africa by influencing policy and finance towards key development priorities, strengthening capacity, and enabling systems for delivery, and innovating and using cross-cutting enablers for impact at scale. The team performs its responsibility through direct country engagement to deploy interventions and delivery models, and by building the partner architecture to replicate successful interventions and models across multiple countries.

Your Role

We seek an experienced and driven Senior Program Officer, AI to play a pivotal role within the AI Task Force. This position primarily focuses on the full portfolio of AI endeavors within Africa, including AI innovation, scaling and network development. To this effect, this role collaborates on cross-cutting programs in areas of health, education, gender equality, agriculture, and essential ecosystem components like evidence creation, regulation, datasets, and compute capacity.

The postholder will be based in Nairobi, Kenya, and report to the Director, Health, Africa, with a dotted line to the Deputy Director, Global Health.

What You'll Do

The selected candidate will be responsible for the following tasks:

1. Successfully launch and manage the AI Scaling Platform in Africa - an effort to responsibly scale projects that use AI to address inequalities on the continent with potential locations in Kenya, Rwanda, Nigeria, and Senegal.

  • Coordinate the relevant internal work streams related to this, including partner identification, country prioritization and hub development, evaluation of products for scale up, regulatory engagement and pathway development.

  • Develop an implementation plan with key internal and external stakeholders.

  • Manage the interaction with the Donor Exec management group.

  • Develop an investment mechanism for innovation, translation and scale up related to the platform.

2. Identify ecosystem constraints and partnerships for impact

  • Identify the barriers to innovation and uptake in Africa - where the foundation can intervene or leverage the resources/expertise/relationship of other partners and donors.

  • Identify approaches to unblocking key ecosystem constraints like bias, compute, language that will compromise our ability to drive impact using AI.

  • Identify clear projects/aspects of the AI ecosystem in Africa that are suitable and synergistic for co-investment and collaboration and execute them with the AI team and in partnership with other foundation teams.

  • Aim to bolster the foundation's AI proficiencies specific to African requirements.

3. Learning from and for Africa

  • Strategize the communication and dissemination of pivotal AI developments and insights gathered from the African landscape.

  • Offer consultative support to teams at the onset of their AI journey, assisting in shaping AI-focused investments and strategies.

  • Collaborate with the Strategy Officer on the 2024/25 AI strategy and resource mobilization.

4. Grants Management and Team Engagement

  • Oversee investments in collaboration with team members and partners to optimize AI implementation outcomes in Africa.

  • Draft documents, briefs, and presentations for internal stakeholders and partners specific to the African context.

  • Attend relevant meetings, sharing insights and representing the foundation in committees pertinent to areas of expertise within Africa.

Your Experience

  • An advanced degree in computer science, data science, public health, or a related field, with 10+ years of experience, or an equivalent combination of education and experience.

  • Deep experience in African countries, focusing on AI or digital health projects implementation and scale up.

  • Collaborative track record with African governments, Ministries of Health, NGOs, academic institutions, and global sponsors, including playing a technical advisory role.

  • A recognized leader in AI and digital in the region, including deep familiarity with the AI landscape and digital health in Africa.

  • Demonstrated program or project management expertise: from workplan concept development through Implementation, with strong organizational and prioritization skills. Attention to detail including ability to scrutinize budgets against workplans and deliverables.

  • Familiarity with steering and navigating decision making processes and tradeoffs in matrix teams and organizations, with a track record of thoughtful balance between efficient, timely action and ensuring partner voice and inclusion. Ability to influence without direct authority.

  • A track record of building partnerships and working collaboratively with others to meet shared/joint objectives, both internally and externally. Ability to orchestrate effective decisions across a broad range of issues and partners, assess progress, analyze gaps, and make required changes.

  • Demonstrated ability to work with flexibility, efficiency, and diplomacy in a complex, fast-paced environment both in Africa and at headquarters in Seattle.

  • Ability to handle ambiguity and convert unclear situations into structured plans.

  • Exceptional verbal and written communication abilities in English, ability to effectively synthesize data and information to reach diverse audiences, build consensus and be the voice/represent the foundation, including in internal and external meetings.

Other Attributes

  • Comfortable in a wide range of cultural, geographic and operational situations, demonstrating culturally sensitive behaviour with a diverse range of people and a deep commitment to development issues and high standards of personal integrity.

  • Ability to travel up to 50% domestically and internationally.

Application deadline: 14 July 2024

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Hiring Requirements

As part of our standard hiring process for new employees, employment will be contingent upon successful completion of a background check.

Candidate Accommodations

If you require assistance due to a disability in the application or recruitment process, please submit a request here.

Inclusion Statement

We are dedicated to the belief that all lives have equal value. We strive for a global and cultural workplace that supports ever greater diversity, equity, and inclusion — of voices, ideas, and approaches — and we support this diversity through all our employment practices.

All applicants and employees who are drawn to serve our mission 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, and prior protected activity.