Senior Program Officer, Sanitation Industry Development Specialist

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Seattle, United States
Apoorva Tyagi
Role managed by
Apoorva Tyagi Researcher

About Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation was established in 2000 by Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates and his wife Melinda.  It is the largest private foundation in the world with an endowment of US $50.7 billion as of 31st December 2017.  The foundation aims to improve the quality of life for billions of people worldwide, providing research and working with other organisations to tackle global problems and drive change. 

The Global Growth & Opportunity (GGO) division works to catalyse sustainable transformative change in the face of inequities and market failures, to realize the potential of untapped markets, and to see the economic and social benefits of including everyone. We focus on the areas of Agricultural Development; Financial Services for the Poor; Water, Sanitation and Hygiene; and Gender Equality. We seek solutions that are sustainable, transformative, and inclusive with an eye toward applying technology innovations as well as data and evidence to drive change in the world’s developing countries.

Based in Seattle, the foundation has a worldwide staff of 1,500 people and is led by CEO Sue Desmond-Hellmann and co-chair William H. Gates Sr., under the direction of Bill and Melinda Gates and Warren Buffett. The foundation has offices in the United States, Europe, India, China and Africa.

Vision and Mission

Guided by the belief that all lives have equal value; the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation pride themselves on being ‘impatient optimists’ whose purpose is to work to reduce inequity. Their vision is to ensure a world where every person has the opportunity to live a healthy, productive life.  They have four missions to:

  • Ensure more children and young people survive and thrive;
  • Empower the poorest, especially women and girls, to transform their lives;
  • Combat infectious diseases that particularly affect the poorest; and
  • Inspire people to take action to change the world.

Role Profile

As the Senior Program Officer, Sanitation Industry Development Specialist, you will lead the WSH program’s efforts to launch a brand-new Reinvented Toilet industry in targeted geographies; including China, South Asia, and Sub-Saharan Africa. The position will be based at the Foundation’s Headquarters in Seattle.

Your focus will be to identify and understand the needs of early adopters and potential customers (users, service providers and other buyers) of Reinvented Toilets and orchestrate the market architecture required to deploy these technologies in launch markets. You will be partnering and collaborating directly with commercial partners (i.e. those manufacturing & distributing the Reinvented Toilets), financiers, government regulators & policy makers, development partners and foundation colleagues to build market structures that will accelerate the growth of a brand-new sanitation industry. 

This role reports to Deputy Director and Lead of the Transformative Technology Commercialization initiative.

Duties and Responsibilities:

The selected candidate will be responsible for the following tasks:

  • Work with commercial partners to design and execute go-to-market structures and strategies that enable the development of a new sanitation industry in launch markets. 
  • Identify funding opportunities and collaborate with partners to deliver on goals set by the WSH program.
  • Provide strategic analysis and insight on the market landscape, dynamics & segmentation (including market sizing, trends, and likelihood of early adopters) to commercial and business partners and foundation leadership. 
  • Coordinate with business partners and government on approaches and processes to understand and influence policies, standards and regulations, procurement trends, taxes and other financial drivers to promote adoption and successful commercialization of sanitation innovation.
  • Lead market and pricing studies, and value proposition analysis.
  • Lead insightful research to bring the voice of the customers to commercial partners and technology developers.
  • Partner with commercial, industry partners and government for product roll-outs in launch markets.
  • Identify and document incentives and disincentives specific to each market, and any other barriers to market development and customer adoption. Propose strategies and mechanisms to accelerate adoption and commercialization of innovative sanitation solutions
  • Drive strategy, program planning and execution in coordination with cross-functional partners and stakeholders. 
  • As appropriate, hire and manage a multi-national team of consultants to lead industry development activities in respective markets.
  • Coordinate country execution plans with other WSH colleagues.

Leadership & Culture

We believe that energized people, working well together, fuelled by great leadership in an inclusive environment in which they thrive, will do phenomenal things. This includes contributing positively to team culture through collaboration and transparency, empowering others, developing and practicing leadership skills, trusting good intention of others, effective communication, and participating in team building activities. 

Core Qualifications, Knowledge & Skills

We are looking for people who enjoy the opportunity of working on complex problems and collectively creating solutions that have the potential for transformative change in the lives of people around the world. You must be prepared to work across a diverse set of disciplines, bridging a wide range of expertise all the while being a team player, with a demonstrated ability to work with flexibility, efficiency and diplomacy in an exciting, challenging environment. The responsibilities of this role require that you should have experience in successfully launching and growing a new product category and/or significant innovation in developing and/or emerging economies; strong preference for experience in at least one or more of our target launch markets (China, India, South Africa). Additionally, we seek:

Required Industry-Related Experience & Education:

  • A minimum of 10+ years’ experience in go-to-market strategy and/or product marketing role(s).
  • A strong project management disciple.
  • Excellent communications, presentation and analytic skills; with the ability to passionately articulate a vision and inspire partnership.
  • Oriented toward team collaboration, with the ability to be flexible and adjust to changing circumstances.
  • Data driven, customer focused, and naturally curious with a willingness to span from strategy development to detailed execution.
  • Creative problem solver with a tenacious focus on business goals.
  • Confident and comfortable working with senior business executives, government officials and cross functional partners to drive alignment and execution.
  • Comfortable with ambiguity, working in a fast-paced environment, and navigating large global organizations.
  • Strong organizational skills, ability to collaborate cross-functionally, and willingness to span from strategy to detailed execution.
  • Comfortable in a wide range of cultural, geographic and operational situations, demonstrating culturally sensitive behaviour with a diverse range of people.

Additional skills and/or experience: 

  • Ability to communicate effectively in both Mandarin and English. Fluency in Mandarin a plus. 
  • Experience selling products to operators in a regulated market and/or selling to governments.
  • Experience in broadening a market to reach those considered at the base of the pyramid.
  • Experience managing a distributed team.
  • Subject matter expert on competitive landscapes, global trends, and how to apply both to help our commercial partners be successful.
  • Strong relationship management skills including experience working with a range and level of clients, colleagues, consultants, and other partners with experience managing and developing strong commercial partnerships and convincing commercial partners to enter a new market/business.
  • Ability to travel up to 25-35% of time as needs dictate.
  • Commitment to the foundation’s core values, mission and programs with an approach that is consistent with the foundation’s guiding principles while holding oneself to the highest ethical standards.

Terms of Appointment

This is a full-time position. As part of the standard hiring process for new employees, employment with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation will be contingent upon successful completion of a background check.

Key Steps in the Selection Process

If you wish to be considered for this position, please forward a copy of your CV in Microsoft Word format, along with any relevant documentation to Ms. Apoorva Tyagi at [email protected] by Friday, November 30th 2018. All information will be in the strictest confidence as we pride ourselves on our professional service. We will revert to you as soon as feasible when we have reviewed your application.



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