Operations Director

Semilla Nueva

Semilla Nueva

Guatemala · United States
Posted on Thursday, August 24, 2023

By 2025, Semilla Nueva aims to improve the lives of nearly 10 million people in Central America and Eastern Africa.   The Operations Director is part of the Semilla Nueva leadership team and will be asked to participate and play a key role in strategy creation, process improvements, and guaranteeing operational excellence for our regional expansion.  This role will report directly to the COO.  Semilla Nueva is a quickly growing and maturing social impact start-up; we seek candidates who are comfortable and eager to communicate with candor, persevere with determination, and problem solve through complexity.

Summary of the Organization

Malnutrition is one of the greatest barriers to the world’s poorest people escaping poverty. The 900 million people in Africa and Central America who eat corn daily are some of the most affected, with nearly half of Guatemala’s children suffering from stunted growth. Semilla Nueva launched the world’s first social enterprise dedicated to the development, production, and sale of more nutritious, biofortified corn seed directly to small farming families. Farmers buying our seed increase their yields and incomes, while improving the diets of hundreds of thousands— and someday millions—of the world’s poorest consumers. Semilla Nueva is currently expanding our model to work with other seed companies, the Guatemalan and Salvadoran governments, and partnerships in other countries. In 2022, our fifth year of sales, our seed reached over 20,500 families.

Semilla Nueva capitalizes on the scientific achievement of the world’s leading scientists at organizations such as CIMMYT, HarvestPlus, INCAP, and universities like Purdue, Iowa State, Tufts, and Harvard. Our donors include some of the most prestigious in impact philanthropy, including Cartier Philanthropy, Mulago and the U.S. Government. Our seeds are based on conventional breeding (non-GMO), although we are not opposed to well-tested biotechnology. Our work has led to rapid growth and international recognition, including an Ashoka fellowship, Mulago fellowship, and Forbes 30 under 30 for our founder. 


  • Lead and supervise departmental efforts in systemizing commercial and technical relationship with external seed companies
    • Lead the creation of technical guidelines and standard operating procedures for external seed company production 
    • Lead the creation, execution, and measurement of quality control protocols for seed production, processing, packaging, distribution, and in trade handling
    • Lead the operational transition from a Semilla Nueva direct sales model to an external seed company led sales model
    • Design and lead effective seed promotion strategy for external seed companies including external sales force development programs and trainings
    • Lead the creation of execution guidelines and protocols to be used by external seed companies for key activities such as farmer visits, agrodealers visits, field days, demo parcels, and monitoring and evaluation data collection
    • Manage, monitor and lead our seed subsidy program for external seed companies
  • Lead high level relationship management and decision making with external seed companies in countries of operation
    • Lead and supervise messaging and attraction strategy for external seed companies to produce and commercialize biofortified maize seed
    • Lead volume, price, and distribution channel plans and agreements
    • Lead and manage contract term agreements and compliance
    • Lead and co-participate in creating joint business plans with external seed companies 
  • Lead high level relationship management and strategy design and implementation for NARS (National Agriculture Research Systems: CENTA, DICTA, ICTA) relationships
    • Lead high level meetings with ministers, directors, and support staff to create policies that will lead to high adoption rates of biofortified maize
    • Supervise and manage field activities such as demonstration parcels, coincidence trials, and farm trials needed to validate and register our biofortified seeds in countries of operation
  • Lead and assure seed production strategy and execution that meet Semilla Nueva´s growth and impact goals 
    • Create the strategy, contracts, incentives, and quality control mechanisms for third party seed growers that assure the seed production to meet Fortaleza growth projections
    • Create the production support system for external seed companies to sell biofortified seed under their own brands, this includes seed companies producing their own basic seed
  • Lead and supervise department financial management
    • Manage and control department budget 
    • Manage and assure individual donor and bilateral project budget monitoring and execution (includes leading and organizing donor field visits)
    • Contribute towards donor report writing 
  • Lead and develop operations department
    • Manage and provide the development plans for department Central America operations manager, production manager, and marketing coordinator
    • Ensure and have systems that allow operational plans, workflows and quality control between M&E and CA ops manager
    • Ensure ongoing and effective collaboration with Research & Development and Organizational Development departments



There are innumerable ways to learn, grow, and excel professionally. We respect this when we review applications and take a broad look at the experience of each applicant. We want to get to know you and the unique strengths you will bring to the work. This said, we are most likely to be interested in your candidacy if you can demonstrate the majority of the qualifications and experiences listed below.

  • Minimum 12 years professional experience in leadership roles related to agriculture, agribusiness, or international development
  • Experience working in Guatemala, Honduras, and/or El Salvador
  • Proven project management skills (desired project management certification)
  • Proven quality control skills and ability to create systems that measure KPIs that allow continuous process improvement
  • Proven success in being able to plan and think strategically about potential problems ahead of time
  • Fluent English, both written and spoken
  • Ability to work independently, proactively, and prioritize/coordinate a variety of activities
  • Desire to creatively problem-solve in challenging work environments
  • Genuine connection to Semilla Nueva’s mission through professional, volunteer, or lived experience with anti-poverty, nutrition, or public policy work
  • Have working relationships with NGOs and bilaterals working in the region (desired)
  • Marketing experience developing campaigns and leading market research initiatives (desired)
  • Experience working in seed companies (desired)


Compensation & Benefits

This is a full-time, on-site position based in Guatemala City, Guatemala. Travel throughout Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador is expected.  Salary and benefits package will be according to experience and market conditions.

Making the Decision to Apply

Interested candidates are encouraged to promptly submittheir CV to trabajo@semillanueva.org with the subject line “Operations Director – your name”. All applicants will receive a response to their application. Our application process includes an initial phone screen with our partner Reinventarte, a series of virtual interviews with Semilla Nueva leadership based on pre-established activities designed to measure desired competencies and qualifications.  Anticipated start date for this role is September 2022.

A valid US visa is required given this position might require international travel for donor visits, professional development, and/or business development. 

Semilla Nueva is an Equal Opportunity Employer committed to sustaining a diverse community with a work environment that is welcoming, respectful, and encouraging to all. We foster a culture of inclusion that celebrates and cultivates diversity along multiple dimensions, including race, ethnicity, sex, gender identity, gender expression, sexual orientation, out of home care, age, national origin, socioeconomic status, religion, ability, culture, and experience.