Director of Technology at GiveDirectly
GiveDirectly (GD) aims to reshape international giving - and millions of lives - by allowing donors to provide capital grants directly to the world’s poorest. The Brookings Institution estimates that $70B of cash transfers would be required to eliminate the poverty gap; the aid sector currently spends $135B each year, much of which is spent on evidence-free interventions. GiveDirectly wants to change that, establishing a benchmark as Vanguard did for the financial industry (i.e., index fund), and in the process accelerate the end of extreme poverty.
GiveDirectly has raised over $250M in revenue and reached nearly 150,000 households, while being recognized as one of the most innovative non-profit companies by Fast Company. The New York Times Magazine writes, “The beautiful thing about GiveDirectly’s approach is that it lets people devise their own path out of poverty.” The growing movement toward cash transfers and GD’s role in that movement have also been featured in This American Life, Foreign Affairs, The Economist, and Business Insider.
We’re looking for exceptional talent to grow GiveDirectly and the broader cash movement. Our culture is direct, analytical, non-hierarchical, fast-paced, transparent, and hard working. We are open to candidates from any industry and typically recruit from top organizations - members of our team have come to us from private-sector companies (consultancies, law firms, investment banks, etc.), start-ups, and government. We value ability and willingness to learn over years of experience. We offer competitive salary and benefits and performance-based bonuses.
We believe technology will play a critical role in enabling the next generation of cash delivery operations: from recipient identification that doesn't need boots on the ground to a reformulation of best in class fraud detection. We are seeking a dynamic Director to scale data infrastructure, processes, tools and our team in the service of expanding GiveDirectly’s global impact. This is a field facing position.
In this role, you will work directly with a range of stakeholders (country directors, field officers, finance managers etc.) to understand their technology use cases and pain points. You will own everything from authoring and implementing data security policies, to designing improvements to our core data platforms, to creating interfaces and visualizations that showcase our operations. You will engage our full tech stack and spend your time prioritizing long term investments against a host of day-to-day field challenges, both technical and operational. If you are interested in owning technology holistically with an eye to scale; willing to be hands on with respect to design, and implementation; and feel passionately about coaching teams on exceptional project and stakeholder management, we want to hear from you.
- Lead engagement with operations, research, finance, and fundraising stakeholders across the org to assess their scope of needs, prioritize projects for release, and define new opportunities
- Mentor and manage a team that is competent across GD’s technical architecture and offers exceptional customer service to internal stakeholders
- Scale project launches and improve our data model and instrumentation to enable a rapidly growing operation (e.g. launching new countries, expanding field teams, and launching new projects from basic income to cash for refugees)
- Define and enforce security principles across the org that protect against fraud risk and ensure compliance
- Act as a technical backstop for software deployed across the organization
- Master the broader competitive landscape to inform product strategies that ensure GD remains a tech-forward leader in the aid industry
What we’re looking for:
- Proficiency with languages/technologies such as Java, Python or C#
- Experience with managing a technical product evaluation process
- Experience with team management and mentorship
- Familiarity with data modeling and design principles
- Some engineering background with preference for CS, software engineer, or equivalent practical experience; also open to strong product manager/data science backgrounds
- Exceptional ability to work with a range of technical and non-technical end users and deploy technology in a variety of contexts
- Passion for both building process and structure to enable scale & jumping into open-ended problems
- Strong alignment with GD values (outlined below)
We prioritize recipient preferences over those of donors or ourselves.
We do not impose our preferences, or judgments, on the beneficiaries; instead we respect and empower them to make their own choices, elevating their voices in the global aid debate. This value is core to GiveDirectly’s identity as the first organization exclusively devoted to putting the poor in control of how aid money is spent. It comes at a potential cost, as it means that neither we nor donors get to set priorities (and we may even lose some “efficiency” in providing this option).
We do what’s best for organizational - not individual - success.
This is a team sport, where we will succeed (or fail) together. The best players are not those with the best individual statistics, but those with biggest impact on our overall performance. We avoid territoriality, self-promotion, and I’m above this attitudes.
Be proactively candid.
We say what we believe, and are honest in sharing information.
Having confidence that other people are telling us what they truly believe, without gloss or omission, is critical to effective communication and to our ability to learn and grow from feedback. We owe it to each other - and our donors - to instill this confidence even though giving and receiving information candidly are unusual in both professional and social life, and can be very uncomfortable.
Create positive energy
We strive to be a source - not drain - of energy for our colleagues.
Our work is hard, practically and emotionally, and we cannot overemphasize the importance of maintaining a positive attitude, enjoying the company of our colleagues, and not taking ourselves too seriously. In doing so, we aspire to generate energy and excitement amongst our colleagues in pursuing our mission. This should not preclude candor, and we aspire to achieve both.
Think rigorously; act quickly.
We are intellectually rigorous with a drive towards action - not debate.
We reason from first principles, grounding our decisions in objective claims about the world, rather than hard-to-disprove assertions or hierarchy. We aim to brainstorm inclusively and respectfully, but critically self-vet ideas we put forward, so as to ensure productive and prudent decision making. Demanding this level of rigor forces us to think harder about decisions and our assumptions than we otherwise might. This is a real cost. It can be taken too far: it is possible to overthink decisions, and we avoid debate for the sake of debate. We are not here to philosophize or ensure consensus. We decide and act quickly, avoiding getting bogged down in debates.
Accept reality. Propose solutions.
We do not dwell on problems. We work actively to create solutions.
There will always be an endless list of things to improve. We focus on the things that can be changed; find the most important of those things, and propose actionable answers. We do not allow “problems” to weigh us down and be a source of negativity. We are forward looking, which we believe not only leads to better team outcomes, but also creates a more enjoyable, energizing environment for all.
Be productively ambitious.
We take the risks to pursue industry-changing success, not incremental progress.
We seek step-change improvements at all levels, and are willing to make big-bets; we do not accept complacency nor do we simply optimize existing processes. In doing so, we allow ourselves to dream big with a belief that perceived constraints are merely opportunities for creativity. Such ambition not only requires hard work (i.e., this is not a 9-5 job), but also a willingness to accept and learn from temporary setbacks and failures. In accepting these failures, we’re conscious to not point fingers, nor obsess over “mistakes” made.
Know yourself and grow.
We recognize and accept our imperfections with a focus on growth.
We are an organization of exceptional people and trust in each other’s abilities, yet we recognize that none of us is perfect. We strive to maintain an accurate understanding of our individual and institutional strengths and weaknesses, in order to position ourselves to maximize our chances of success. At the same time, we seek personal growth for ourselves and our teammates. Feedback is given with a spirit of helpfulness; and sought out with a desire to learn.