Head of Operations (P-4), Helsinki, Finland

United Nations University

About UN University (UNU)

The United Nations University (UNU) is an international community of scholars engaged in policy-oriented research, capacity development and dissemination of knowledge, furthering the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations. UNU’s mission is to contribute, through research and capacity building, to efforts to resolve the pressing global problems that are the concern of the United Nations and its Member States.

For the past four decades, United Nations University (UNU) has been a go-to think tank for impartial research on human survival, conflict prevention, sustainable development and welfare. With more than 400 researchers in 12 countries, UNU’s work spans the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, generating policy-relevant knowledge to effect positive global change. UNU maintains more than 200 collaborations with UN agencies and leading universities and research institutions across the globe.

United Nations University World Institute for Development Economics Research (UNU-WIDER)

UNU-WIDER is one of 14 research and training Institutes that comprise the think tanks in the UNU system.

UNU-WIDER is a leading international development economics think tank. The Institute provides economic analysis and policy advice with the aim of promoting sustainable and equitable development for all. The Institute began operations in 1985 in Helsinki, Finland, as the first research centre of the United Nations University. Today, it is a unique blend of think tank, research institute, and UN agency — providing a range of services from policy advice to governments, as well as freely available original research. More information on UNU-WIDER and its current work programme are available at www.wider.unu.edu.


Under the supervision of the Director of UNU-WIDER, and thematic guidance by the UNU management, the Head of Operations (HOO) contributes substantively to the leadership, management, and development of UNU-WIDER. The HOO is responsible to provide senior level leadership and management across UNU-WIDER’s Operational Support Unit (OSU) consisting of Administration, Procurement, Travel, Finance & Budget, ICT, and Human Resources & External Contracts Teams. The HOO is as member of the UNU-WIDER Management Team (WMT), UN Security Management Team, chairs several committees, and represents the Institute in other UN and UNU bodies.

Key Responsibilities 1. Collective Leadership

  • Serve as a key advisor and counsel to the Director of UNU-WIDER and other members of the WIDER Management Team on operational and administrative matters, especially related to administrative services management, including Procurement, Travel, Finance & Budget, ICT, and Human Resources & External Contracts
  • Advise overall strategic directions of UNU-WIDER, with an emphasis on operations and administration, and collaborate with the Director of UNU-WIDER in setting and driving organizational vision and operational strategies, thus contributing to the development of the Institute’s mission, vision, and strategies
  • Lead on the implementation of UNU-WIDER’s Host Country Agreement with Finland, including management of respective relations with the Finnish Ministry for Foreign Affairs and other relevant authorities
  • Represent UNU-WIDER and UNU in a range of working groups, steering groups, and advisory group meetings

2. Management

  • Lead in further development and strengthening of Operational Support Unit (OSU) in coordination and dialogue with the direct reports (middle-management team lead positions within OSU) by motivating, encouraging, and supervising personnel, lead and participate in the recruitment and selection of new personnel for the unit, identify skills and opportunities for development, provide advice and guidance on OSU personnel as needed
  • In coordination and dialogue with the direct reports establish and maintain operations and administrative workflows and service standards, team goals and targets, trouble shooting and further systems development
  • Ensure that the skills of OSU personnel are optimally utilized and further developed in the interest and to the benefit of UNU-WIDER as well as the personnel
  • Manage, guide, develop and train personnel under their supervision and keep abreast with latest developments in administrative policies and procedures of UNU and UN
  • Takes an active role in the UN Security Management System in Finland and acts as UNU-WIDER’s Enterprise Risk Manager

3. Budget and Financial Management

  • Ensure effective and accurate financial resources management and supervision of the finance personnel
  • Provide overall supervision and strategic guidance to the direct report who leads on and is accountable for financial operations at UNU-WIDER
  • Provide strategic direction in the preparation of the budget and oversee the establishment and implementation of UNU-WIDER’s General Operating Expense and Human Resource budget to ensure compatibility with work priorities and objectives, taking into account the most effective use of resources
  • Oversee the establishment and maintenance of a set of sound policies, procedures, standards, and tools which are consistent with UN and UNU policies and practice in order to ensure proper accounting, financial management and control
  • Supervise and/or provide guidance on financial administration and management information issues and practices to colleagues
  • Act as UNU-WIDER’s focal point for the Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system in use at UNU and liaise with UNU HQ on the development of related workflows and standard operating procedures
  • Perform the role as UNU-WIDER focal point for external audits and other verification exercises, provide responses to audit queries and ensure follow up with audit recommendations

4. Procurement, Travel, and General Administration

  • Provide overall supervision and strategic guidance to the direct report who leads on and is accountable for procurement, travel, asset management, and general administrative services at UNU-WIDER
  • Provide strategic leadership and advice to the procurement, travel, and administrative team and colleagues on issues and practices regarding procurement, administrative, and general services
  • Streamline UNU-WIDER’s internal procedures and workflows to ensure prompt and effective administrative service delivery in line with the Institute’s strategies and work plans

5. Human Resources and External Contract Management

  • Ensure strategic human resources management and supervision of HR personnel
  • In close collaboration with the Chief of Human Resources at UNU Centre, provide overall supervision and strategic guidance to the direct report who oversees and leads on human resources management and related administrative issues at UNU-WIDER
  • Oversee the establishment and maintenance of a set of sound procedures, standards, and tools which are consistent with UN and UNU staff and personnel policies and guidelines and promote the development and maintenance of a positive employee experience at UNU-WIDER

6. ICT

  • In close collaboration with the Chief of Information Technology at UNU Centre, provide overall supervision and strategic guidance to the direct report who oversees and leads on ICT strategies and operations at UNU-WIDER
  • Oversee the establishment and maintenance of a set of sound procedures, standards, systems, and tools which are consistent with UN and UNU ICT policies, guidelines, and practices to support the implementation of UNU-WIDER’s strategies and work plans

Other Responsibilities

  • Perform other duties as assigned by the supervisor

Key performance indicators

  • Timely and quality performance of operations and administration at UNU-WIDER
  • Timely and quality follow-up and reporting to internal and external stakeholders/partners on operational matters
  • Quality and level of engagement with internal and external stakeholders/partners
  • Timely and quality implementation of operations projects in line with annual workplans
  • Performance and professional development of personnel in UNU-WIDER’s Operations Support Unit (OSU)

Required Qualifications and Experience:

  • Advanced university degree (Master’s degree or equivalent) in business or public administration, finance, accounting, law, or related area.
  • A first-level university degree in combination with qualifying experience may be accepted in lieu of the advanced university degree.
  • A minimum of seven (7) years (with master’s degree or equivalent) and nine (9) years (with first-level university degree) of progressively responsible experience in administration, budget, finance, human resources management or related field.
  • At least 5 years of work experience in the United Nations system is required.
  • Knowledge of United Nations Finance, Procurement and HR rules and regulations is required.
  • Demonstrated experience in managing diverse teams, coaching, and mentoring personnel is required
  • Experience with ERP systems is required.
  • Strong understanding of project management and results-based management.
  • Excellent analytical skills, including analysis of systematic problems and recommending plans of action.
  • Ability to take initiative and translate knowledge, ideas and strategies into concrete action and results.
  • Experience in drafting reports, communications, and presentations is required.
  • Demonstrated negotiating, cultural sensitivity and diplomatic skills.
  • Strong interpersonal, communication and presentation skills.
  • Ability to handle confidential information.

Language Requirements:

  • Fluency in English.
  • Knowledge of another UN official working language and/or Finnish is an asset.


UNU offers an attractive, tax exempt compensation package including an annual net salary and post adjustment, which reflects the cost of living in a particular duty station and exchange rates (subject to mandatory deductions for pension contributions and health insurance). Other benefits include: 30 days annual leave, dependency benefits, pension plan and health insurance scheme. Benefits for internationally recruited staff may include home leave, travel and removal expenses on appointment and separation, education grant for dependent children, assignment grant and rental subsidy. For more information please see: https://careers.un.org/lbw/home.aspx?viewtype=SAL

Duration of contract

This is a full-time, fixed-term appointment. The initial appointment will be for one (1) year with the possibility of renewal on a fixed-term appointment basis, subject to satisfactory work performance.

For academic positions, the combined duration of fixed-term appointments with UNU may not exceed six (6) years. The mandatory age of retirement for United Nations staff is 65 years.

Expected start date: As soon as possible

How to apply

To apply to UNU, you will not need an account. Instead, we ask that you:

  • Apply via the apply link UNU Careers;
  • fill out the HP-Personal-History-Form-FINAL.docx" rel="noreferrer noopener" target="_blank">UNU P11 form (please avoid using similar forms provided by other United Nations organisations);
  • provide a motivation statement (in the P11 form); and
  • answer a few questions that are tailored to the position.

You may wish to refer to the UN Values and Behaviours Framework for more information.