Senior Policy Research Manager

Harvard Kennedy School
  • Location
    Cambridge, Massachusetts
  • Sector
  • Experience
    Mid Career
  • Posted
    Aug 30

Position description

Evidence for Policy Design (EPoD) at Harvard Kennedy School is a young, dynamic research initiative that brings analytical insights, typically from economics, to the design and implementation of public policies and programs around the world. EPoD directly engages with governments and local organizations to identify key questions, design innovative new policies or interventions, and test these using the tools of economics and data analysis, including large field-based experiments. Current research topics at EPoD include governance, education, entrepreneurship, health, agriculture, sustainable development, and access to finance.
EPoD is currently seeking a Cambridge-based Senior Policy Research Manager to oversee a growing portfolio of EPoD research, training and policy activities, primarily focused on Saudi Arabia. The Senior Policy Research Manager will contribute substantially to important research, policy, and training outputs, including policy briefs, op-eds, training content for senior government officials, and a major white paper outlining a strategic policy research agenda for a new collaboration with the Saudi Ministry of Education. In addition, working closely with the Senior Program Manager, the Senior Policy Research Manager will lead the management of all research and content-driven components of large-scale research engagements, liaising with key policy stakeholders including ministries in Saudi Arabia and world-class researchers from Harvard and other leading academic institutions. The candidate will gain first-hand content and partnership development experience on projects at the forefront of economic research and public policy. At the outset, the Senior Policy Manager will spend the majority of his/her time dedicated to EPoD’s policy research initiatives with two Saudi Ministries, the Ministry of Labor and Social Development and the Ministry of Education, working closely with policymakers and researchers to generate in-depth knowledge of current labor market and education policy constraints.  In particular, he/she will lead efforts to convey that knowledge to policymakers in impactful and innovative ways to help shape significant policy discussions and build policy makers’ capacity to effectively leverage research evidence. He/she will do this with the support of, and while providing guidance to, a team of talented staff and fellows. This position is based in the U.S. but also requires travel to field locations, particularly Saudi Arabia.

Portfolio Operations and Management

  • Lead management of all content-driven areas of a large portfolio of research, policy and training activities in coordination with faculty, Cambridge-based and field staff, and project stakeholders.
  • Drive forward assigned project and initiative objectives for successful completion, drawing in and synthesizing inputs from a range of team members, collaborators and partners, as needed.
  • Work closely with faculty researchers to develop research papers, Op-Eds, presentations and other publications and provide feedback/oversight to other staff involved in development of these outputs.
  • Manage the communication strategy for this portfolio including synthesizing research findings, overseeing development of data-driven content including policy briefs, policy insights, policy insight videos, and other communications pieces.
  • Provide direction and support on web site content and overall communications development to more effectively present research, policy, and training activities and priorities to an outside audience, including policy counterparts and current and potential funders.
  • Provide oversight to ensure systems for secure data management and ethical use of human subjects in large field-based research studies.
  • Oversee and manage the design and implementation of policy and training workshops in Cambridge, as well as in the field in close collaboration with field team.
  • Collaboratively develop research and policy proposals (e.g. develop, edit, and proofread presentations, reports, grant proposals, and supporting documents for EPoD research and initiatives).
  • Collaboratively identify opportunities to develop or expand research projects, training engagements and other collaborations.

Staff and Resources Management

  • Provide management oversight to assigned project staff, who support the research and content-driven activities of this portfolio.
  • Collaboratively manage recruitment, including recommendations for hiring and on-boarding processes for new project staff and research fellows.
  • Travel to the field as needed to ensure robust management of program activities, representing EPoD faculty interests.
  • Negotiate and problem solve with external vendors and collaborators.

Stakeholder Engagement and Relationship Development

  • In close coordination with the EPoD Co-Directors, lead the development of new large-scale research and training engagements in Saudi Arabia and the broader region and/or in related topic areas.
  • Manage and expand partnerships with policy and research stakeholders, build and maintain productive relationships with current and potential funders, and effectively represent EPoD and faculty researchers at relevant conferences and in meetings with senior policy partners.
  • Develop and maintain other internal and external constituent relationships.
  • Accomplish other related duties as required.

Will be required to travel to and spend extended time in Saudi Arabia and other field sites, estimated at about 25%.

This position is a fully benefits-eligible term appointment ending one year from date of hire with the strong possibility of renewal.

Harvard University requires pre-employment reference and background checks.

Harvard University is committed to supporting a healthy, sustainable learning and working environment.


Bachelor’s degree plus at least five years of relevant experience, including experience with field research and program management.

Additional Qualifications

Master’s degree in public policy, international development or related field with extensive coursework in empirical methods strongly preferred, including econometrics and economics, and strong data analysis skills (STATA). Strong interest in public policy and economic development. Outstanding English oral and written communication skills and ability to integrate research and policy into clear and compelling written materials geared towards technical and non-technical audiences.  Experience managing staff strongly preferred.  Experience working in Saudi Arabia or other Gulf countries preferred.
The candidate should be well organized, able to prioritize, have a strong attention to detail and manage multiple assignments simultaneously. The position requires strong interpersonal skills, the ability to interact well with faculty, staff, students, and research partners. Experience in private sector will be evaluated favorably. 

Application instructions

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