Education Systems Solutions -Product Strategist



East Africa
Posted on Monday, February 12, 2024

Position Overview

Educate!, a high-growth and award-winning non-profit social enterprise, is looking for a Strategist-for its Skills-Based education programs. This role requires a versatile individual who is comfortable working with programs that are government-facing and with people who work with schools. You will be able to demonstrate a combination of expertise in learning and systems change to provide leadership on program integration into government systems for sustainability. You will also lead the execution and creation of new strategies to continuously innovate on student-facing programs that are at scale. You will provide high quality education expertise across our Education System Solutions work in the region to build repeatable and impactful models. You will work in collaboration with governments to solve the mismatch between secondary education and life after school, as we work towards our organizational vision of measurably impacting 1 million students across Africa each year.

As a Strategist you may work on early stage and mature programs looking to scale and will need to apply your skills and expertise to managing the different needs of each. You will work with the Group Strategists to lead initiatives that may be cross-cutting at a secondary school level, or have a subject specific focus that enable us to meet our student experience benchmark.

We have already partnered with governments in Rwanda and Kenya to support curriculum reforms through our education system solutions, and results from a rigorous impact evaluation have shown that our cost-effective solutions create a real impact on youth through national education systems. The Strategist will work closely with the Group Strategist Scale and Sustainability, our government advocacy experts, and our programs teams in our countries of operation continue developing program models that support long-term changes to education systems and meaningful, sustainable curriculum reforms.

The right person for this role will:

  • Have experience in adult learning theory, behavioural change and systems change theories to guide the design process
  • Have strong strategic communication and collaboration skills
  • Have a track record in driving behaviour change programs with strong data-driven decision making abilities and a strong focus on driving positive learning outcomes.
  • Experience running experiments, product development processes, or human-centered design processes is a plus.
  • Have a genuine passion for working within both government education systems and youth to create a broad and sustainable impact on youth.

About Educate!

Africa has the world’s youngest and fastest-growing population. By 2035, the continent is poised to contribute more people to the global workforce each year than the rest of the world combined.

At Educate! we're obsessed with impact. We leverage iterative learning to build highly scalable youth employment solutions aimed at unlocking the potential of the world’s youngest continent.

Educate! prepares youth in Africa learn, earn and thrive in today’s economy by:

1) introducing an employment-focused school subject into secondary, and

2) delivering livelihood bootcamps for out-of-school youth, with a focus on marginalized rural girls and young women.

To date, more than 390,000 youth have been meaningfully impacted across Uganda, Rwanda, and Kenya, and along the way, Educate! has become the largest youth employment and skills provider in East Africa.

Educate! is a team of over 250 largely African staff and 300 volunteer youth mentors. We prioritize building an engaging, fulfilling and growth oriented work environment. 50% of our top 30 leaders have been with us for over 5 years, 10+ alumni have started their own organizations and 6 current or former team members were Acumen Fund East Africa fellows.

We have been backed by top foundations such as Imaginable Futures, Big Bang Philanthropy, #startsmall, Generation Unlimited, CIFF and Echidna Giving. Educate! won a 2018 Klaus J. Jacobs Prize and a 2015 WISE Award, and has been highlighted by the World Bank’s S4YE's Impact Portfolio, an Al Jazeera documentary, BBC, The Brookings Institution as one of 14 case studies on scaling education, and the Gates Foundation as a Goalkeepers Accelerator. In 2022, we received a catalytic investment from philanthropist Mackenzie Scott to scale our systems change work.

Educate!'s long-term vision is to design solutions that measurably impact millions of youth across Africa each year. By 2025, we aim to scale our annual reach by 4x and measurably impact over 400,000 new youth.

Performance Objectives

Strategic product vision and roadmap development

  • Collaborate with the Group Strategist to define a clear product vision and roadmap.
  • Integrate cross-functional team insights into the product strategy.
  • Ensure the product vision addresses the users' most significant problems.
  • Connect the product work with broader organizational goals.

Effective communication and coordination

  • Communicate product vision, strategy, and updates clearly to stakeholders.
  • Facilitate alignment between product strategy and program/operations leads.
  • Conduct product retrospectives to evaluate strategy success and identify improvement areas.
  • Lead cross-functional teams in productive strategy retreats and development activities.

Learning design and user-centric approach

  • Apply adult learning and systems change theories in product design.
  • Keep user experience central in product, program, and operations strategies.
  • Establish feedback loops with end-users for continuous product improvement.
  • Collaborate with teams to emphasize user focus in all product aspects.

Evidence-driven design and research

  • Use internal evidence to create actionable insights for product development.
  • Design and implement experiments for testing innovative ideas.
  • Work with performance metrics and evaluation teams for evidence collection and learning question articulation.
  • Emphasize an iterative and evidence-driven approach in product development.

Translating strategy to execution and advocacy

  • Set clear design parameters for scalability and sustainability.
  • Review and align micro-designs with strategic objectives.
  • Offer feedback for improvement in micro-designs to maintain strategic alignment.
  • Coordinate product strategy check-ins for effective development.
  • Develop products aligning with government interests and policies.
  • Guide advocacy efforts to enhance organizational goals and interests.

Characteristics and traits

  • Strategic Thinking: Ability to envision the big picture, plan long-term strategies, and anticipate future challenges and opportunities.
  • Leadership Skills: Strong leadership qualities are crucial, including the ability to inspire, motivate, and guide cross-functional teams towards a common vision.
  • Communication Skills: Excellent verbal and written communication skills are necessary for articulating the product vision, strategy, and goals clearly to stakeholders at all levels.
  • Problem-Solving Ability: Adept at identifying problems, analyzing complex situations, and devising effective solutions, particularly in addressing user needs and aligning product goals with organizational objectives.
  • Collaborative Nature: Must excel in working collaboratively with diverse teams, fostering an environment of cooperation and mutual respect, and effectively managing stakeholder relationships.
  • Adaptability and Resilience: Capable of adapting to changing circumstances, resilient in the face of setbacks, and flexible in approach to meet evolving project demands and market conditions.

Qualifications and Profile

  • Bachelor's degree in a relevant field (e.g., education).
  • Proven experience in product leadership, strategy development, and user-centered design preferred
  • Strong understanding of organizational goals and the ability to connect them to product strategies.
  • Excellent communication and collaboration skills to facilitate dialogue and ensure alignment across teams.
  • Experience coordinating product development stages and conducting retrospectives.
  • Knowledge of user research methodologies and the ability to apply them effectively.
  • Strong analytical and problem-solving abilities.
  • Proficient in documenting processes and utilizing organizational tools for systematic organization.
  • Passion for Educate!’s mission is a must. We value diverse perspectives and encourage applications from people with a variety of backgrounds.
  • Fits our Five Cultural Tenets (see What is Educate! About? below); Learn more by looking at Educate!’s culture deck here

What Is Educate! About?

We’re ambitious. Are you? Educate! is growing fast, so new opportunities are opening up and expanding all the time. We’re inspired by people with drive, and we love to help them reach their full potential. We expect everyone at Educate! to contribute above and beyond their job description, grow their skills, and advance their careers, and we are committed to supporting our staff members on that journey.

  1. We put Youth First, Impact-Obsessed - We never forget that Educate! exists to impact youth. We are purpose-driven. We obsess over impact daily and if it doesn’t lead to impact, we want nothing to do with it. We prioritize interacting with and listening to youth. We design and manage the organization to ensure every dollar creates transformative experiences that youth value.
  2. We Exceed Expectations - We take pride in going above and beyond to achieve the best results. When we know what needs to be done, we do it. We don’t wait to be asked and we don’t stop at what is asked of us. We look for solutions as much as we identify problems.
  3. We Are Always Learning - We are committed to seeking and applying new knowledge and ideas. We stay open-minded. We know there is always another way and we are excited to learn about it. We continuously look for resources of all kinds from multiple disciplines. We try new things, experiment, grow, and improve. We invest in learning for ourselves and our teams.
  4. We are One Team, Many Views - We say what we think while treating each other well. We believe that all people have the same inherent value and that diverse ideas and open dialogue fuel excellence. We constantly strive to create an environment where everyone can and does express themselves freely. We support and respect each other as people and colleagues. We act as one team: We prioritize the organization's mission and goals over team or individual goals.
  5. We have the Startup Mindset - We will always keep innovating to grow our impact. We aspire to be game-changing. We never think “we have arrived” or “we’re done.” We question the status quo in our industry. We move fast and embrace change to move towards our long-term vision. We’re not afraid of failure. We interrogate anything that slows us down.

Every person at Educate! — from interns to the executive director — is evaluated by how they live up to these five cultural tenets. They are at the core of how we achieve our mission and why we work as well as we do.

Educate is committed to providing an inclusive and welcoming environment for all who interact in our community. In creating this environment, we encourage people from a variety of cultures, backgrounds and life experiences to join our diverse team.

Child Safeguarding: Educate! is committed to child-safe/youth-safe recruitment, selection and screening. Our recruitment and selection procedures reflect our commitment to the safety and protection of children in our programs. The successful candidate will be required to provide a satisfactory

Certificate of Good Conduct as a condition of employment. We reserve the right to decline to offer employment to an individual or terminate an employment contract with an employee that may pose a risk to children and youth.