Research Engagement Director (Labs)
The Busara Center for Behavioral Economics is an advisory and research organization focused on advancing and applying behavioral science in emerging markets. Busara applies rigorous research methods and evaluation tools to enable partners to improve program design, assess existing interventions, and optimize internal processes. Busara operates from its permanent offices in Kenya, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Uganda and Tanzania, and has worked on projects with partners across the continent. We currently have 69 active projects, 112 completed projects, 36 academic affiliations, 3 operational decision labs, and 145 full time staff.
Busara is a non-profit organization founded in 2012 by Professor Johannes Haushofer (Princeton University) and operating under the leadership of Dr. Jeremy Shapiro. We have worked on projects related to agriculture, financial inclusion, savings, inequality, entrepreneurship, civic engagement, and other questions central to development economics.
The Research Engagement Director is the primary leader in the Labs division at Busara, responsible for leading the planning, strategy, and trajectory of Busara research projects. This division supports pure academic work as well as designing and implementing rigorous research for other projects at Busara. The Engagement Director has two primary responsibilities at Busara -- structuring and supervising an active portfolio of projects (primarily composed of designing and implementing lab and field experiments in collaboration with academics), and developing partnerships to design and develop new research projects for their portfolio.
The Research Engagement Director will primarily supervise a team of talented Labs Managers, Research Specialists, and Labs Coordinators to design and implement lab and field experiments in collaboration with external partners such as academics at universities, researchers at policy units and think tanks, or clients. The Research Engagement Director is expected to quickly gain an expert understanding of a particular problem or research question and use all tools at their disposal, both within and outside Busara, to design, structure, and supervise a research project to the highest standards. The Research Engagement Director is expected to have strong management skills and be comfortable driving all aspects of potential Busara research projects.
Additionally, the Research Engagement Director takes a larger role in supporting the growth and sustainability of Busara’s global operations. As they grow their expertise in implementing and conducting research at Busara, they will build relationships that generate scientific opportunities. The Research Engagement Director has a great deal of autonomy in the partnerships they build, and as such plays a crucial role in shaping the strategy for the organization as a whole.
Lastly, the Research Engagement Director plays a crucial role in the organization as a member of the senior management team. They will be both critical to developing and overseeing implementation of organizational strategy, defining expansion and growth priorities, and playing a key role in internal processes such as hiring, recruiting, and coaching.
The Research Engagement Director will assemble a team of Busara advisors and researchers to structure successful projects that deliver data, value and knowledge to the client / PI. Core delivery responsibilities include, but are not limited to:
- Manage and coordinate a portfolio of projects across multiple client bases (primarily academic researchers, but also private sector, government etc.).
- Structure, design, and deliver external and internal engagements to client’s / PI’s satisfaction
- Manage, motivate, and coach staff in the Labs Division (Research Specialists, Labs Managers, Labs Coordinators, Lab Officers, and Labs Assistants) to execute projects in their portfolio.
- Strategically assemble teams on projects that maximize the probability of success, but also develop new skills and competencies among Busara’s talent pool and supporting divisions.
- Stay current on the latest research in qualitative and quantitative methods, behavioral science, psychology, economics, development and any other relevant field to provide creative direction for engagements.
- Ensure the overall operational quality of the Labs division, including that research and data systems are maintained and processes adhered to with the strictest standards. Also ensure adherence to our ethical and open science standards.
- Ensure quality on all work products produced and drafted for research projects by giving regular feedback to Labs teams, but also occasionally contributing to content.
- Regularly coordinate across divisions to ensure research and data systems are up-to-date and state of the art.
- Serve as the primary relationship manager for clients, partners, and PIs. Understand and preempt needs of stakeholders through proactive communication and troubleshooting.
- Structure successful project onboarding and offboarding exercises to support knowledge management between projects.
- Design proposals, concept notes, and pitch decks for new partnership opportunities and knowledge sharing. Present at conferences, networking events, or client meetings.
- Contribute to the design, execution, and dissemination of Busara internal research projects.
PORTFOLIO GROWTH RESPONSIBILITIES:
In addition to project responsibilities, the Engagement Director also has the following growth responsibilities to ensure the growth and sustainability of the organization:
- Develop a portfolio of projects that contributes to quarterly and annual business development targets for the organization
- Proactively design internal research, thought pieces, and demos to help facilitate new research offerings and service lines
- Support Busara’s strategic planning by identifying markets of interest, future service lines, high priority partnerships and priority investments.
- Develop lasting relationship with researchers and others to build long-term partnerships and promote behavioral science as an embedded tool within their organizations.
- Serve as primary points of contact on large, multi-year projects and support VPs to develop effective engagement strategies for those projects.
Lastly, Engagement Directors have the following organizational responsibilities to ensure a healthy and functioning workplace:
- Drive the strategy of the Labs Division by setting annual targets, managing any team building events, and ensuring cross-division harmony on priorities for the organization.
- Serve as a core member of the senior management team, responsible for setting organizational strategy, holding other team members accountable, and making senior hiring decisions.
- Manage communications to ensure clear internal knowledge management and harmonization across the Labs Division
- Serve as Direct Managers to a team of Research Specialists and Labs Managers
- Serve on internal committees when necessary.
- A Bachelor’s degree in Economics, Social Sciences, Public Policy, or related fields.
- Expertise in experimental approaches, particularly social science experiments.
- Previous experience designing and running randomized controlled trials or lab experiments
- Experience managing or mentoring senior staff and young professionals (3+ years)
- Strong previous experience in a client-delivery role, particularly in the research implementation space (e.g. IPA, JPAL, IFMR, Experimental Lab Manager)
- Proven interest in behavioral science
- 5-7 years previous work experience
- Demonstrated ability to develop relationships with partner organizations
- Excellent management and organizational skills
- Flexible, self-motivating, able to manage multiple tasks efficiently, and a team player
- Interest and experience working in a fast-paced working environment
- Fluency and excellent communication and writing skills with a mastery of English
- Ability to execute projects while sustaining a global focus and vision for institutional planning and decision-making
- A Master’s degree or PhD in Economics, Social Sciences, Public Policy, or related fields.
- Strong previous experience managing teams of researchers or consultants in East Africa
- Experience sitting on senior management teams and developing organizational strategy