Senior Project Manager

United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS)

Lusaka, Zambia 🇿🇲

Job categories: Project Management
Vacancy code: VA/2021/B5303/22447
Level: ICS-11
Department/office: AFR, KEMCO, Kenya MCO
Duty station: Lusaka, Zambia
Contract type: International ICA
Contract level: IICA-3
Duration: Open-ended, subject to organizational requirements, availability of funds and satisfactory performance.
Application period: 13-Sep-2021 to 30-Sep-2021

General Background

The United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS) is an operational arm of the United Nations, supporting the successful implementation of its partners’ peacebuilding, humanitarian and development projects around the world. Mandated as a central resource of the United Nations, UNOPS provides sustainable project management, procurement and infrastructure services to a wide range of governments, donors and United Nations organisations. With over 6,000 personnel spread across 80 countries, UNOPS offers its partners the logistical, technical and management knowledge they need, where they need it. By implementing around 1,000 projects for our partners at any given time, UNOPS makes significant contributions to results on the ground, often in the most challenging environments.

Senior Project Manager is responsible for the day-to-day operations of the project(s) and provides services to the different donors, partners and beneficiaries. Senior Project Manager acts on behalf of the Project Board to manage the project on an ongoing basis during the Implementation Stage. The main responsibility of a Senior Project Manager is to ensure that the project outputs are delivered within the specified project tolerances of time, cost, quality, scope, risk and benefits. He/she is expected to meet the organization’s performance and delivery goals.

Senior Project Manager has the authority to assign, as per the Project Plan, work packages to Team Managers and approve deliverables produced by them.

The Senior Project Manager is responsible for creating the Implementation Plan, using the Project Initiation Document (PID), Legal Agreement and having a thorough understanding of the terms, conditions, and the respective roles and responsibilities of the partners/stakeholders, to ensure the project(s) outputs are capable of meeting the business cases for both UNOPS and the partner(s). Success of the project(s) and hence of the Project Manager/Senior Project Manager will be based on the defined Success Criteria.

Project Information:

UNOPS has been engaged by the Ministry of Agriculture in the Government of the Republic of Zambia (GRZ) to assist in offering a turnkey solution to remediate 10 dams (Chibalashi, Chikowa, Kanyika, Katembula, Kawiko, Makaba, Nabowa, Nachibanga, Ndondi and Ngolongozya dams) in Zambia.

UNOPS will carry out activities in the execution of the restructured Irrigation Development Support Project (IDSP) phase 1. These dams formed part of a previous project under Water Resources Development Project (WRDP) and were unsatisfactorily completed. They now present risks to the local communities and the Government and the World Bank (WB) want to have these dams secured and retrofitted. The remediation works will be financed by the WB through an existing IDSP, which is part of the Ministry of Agriculture of the Republic of Zambia. UNOPS services include planning (emergency preparedness) and design for 10 Dams, updating of safeguards documentation to comply with WB social and environmental policies for 10 Dams and tendering of the works.

In Phase 2, UNOPS will be implementing the identified solutions and lead on the remedial and rehabilitation works on the 10 dams. This will include the management of progress and quality of works execution by contractors on site, ensuring the implementation measures of all environmental and social risk mitigation measures as laid out in the Environmental and Social Management Plans (ESMPs), which were prepared for each dam in Phase 1. Furthermore, UNOPS will ensure that the works are accompanied by strong stakeholder engagement and a solid Grievance Redress Mechanism (GRM) available for local communities to provide feedback and register their grievances in relation to the project.

Local Context:

The project is the only operational project in Zambia at this time and therefore the project team size is envisioned to contain approximately 30 team members of both Technical and Support backgrounds and functions. An office has already been established in Lusaka, however site offices will need to be established in the geographical locations that the overall scope has been clustered into.

Functional Responsibilities

Summary of functions:

  1. Project Delivery and Performance
  2. Procedures
  3. Monitoring and reporting
  4. Stakeholder engagement
  5. Quality assurance
  6. Knowledge management and innovation
  7. Personnel management

Project Delivery and Performance
Develop, complete and update implementation plan(s)
Implement the approved plan (including the establishment of milestones) within tolerances set by the Project Board.
Embed sustainability dimensions including social and gender inclusion, environmental and economic aspects into project life span.
Manage the production of the required outputs, taking responsibility for overall progress and use of resources and initiating corrective action where necessary.
Ensure that quality of work packages and deliverables complies with the quality requirements defined in the Implementation Plan.
Liaise with any external suppliers or account managers
Manage acceptance and delivery of work packages
Monitor project progress ensuring that work packages are being executed properly
Control project and work packages changes
Accept goods, services or works delivered by suppliers.
Lead contract management duties including supplier performance evaluation.
Act as the Employer’s Representative within the FIDIC works contracts.
Identify, and anticipate in a timely manner, potential risks and issues and advises mitigating measures to senior management/ Project Board so that maximum benefit to partner(s) and other stakeholders is achieved
Identify and report to the supervisor potential business opportunities for UNOPS

Comply with all organizational policy and specifically the Project Management Manual
Prepare/adapt all relevant plans for approval by the Project Board.
Manage the reporting obligations defined in the Legal Agreement(s) and in the Implementation Plan
Draft the requirements definitions for procurement processes. Approving requisitions and requests for non-purchase order payments; Evaluating submissions received, if appointed to the evaluation team.
Ensure maintenance of the project files and lessons learned are recorded
Ensure the development and implementation of project financial management guidelines and control mechanisms, in conformity with UNOPS rules and regulations.
Manage budgets, cash flow and obligations to ensure that deliverables are met and payments to contractors and personnel are received on time.
Understand and manage UNOPS overheads, allocable charges, and related corporate charges as they apply to the project
Understand the unique structures of the UN and budget appropriately for personnel
Manage expenditures against the budget (based on accurate financial reports)
Where the Project Manager has no delegation as a committing officer, s/he retains these responsibilities and will monitor and instruct/request others to carry out the relevant commitments and disbursements.
For project closure purposes, provide a formal handover of the project to the closure manager
Support project audit activities, including planning, preparation and coordination during the audits and follow up on audit observations/recommendations

Monitoring and reporting 

  • Prepare and issue regular project and/or financial reports in accordance with Partner and UNOPS requirements for reporting. 
  • Regularly review project status, evaluating performance criteria (scope, cost, schedule and quality). 
  • Maintain diaries and progress reports as required by the organization’s standard procedures. 
  • Provide routine oversight and analysis of delivery data within the dashboard system. 
  • Ensure all project team members track and regularly update milestones and targets for the duration of projects’ life span

Stakeholder engagement 

  • Develop stakeholder profiles and facilitate the formulation of stakeholder engagement strategies 
  • Establish solid working relationships with the Project Board (Executive, Senior Users and Senior Suppliers), client and key stakeholders 
  • Enable the formulation of project communications plans. Coordinate internal project communications. Monitor the effectiveness of project communications 
  • Coordinate stakeholder engagement and communication, ensuring effective timing and interdependency management of communications. Ensure stakeholders are aware of project activities, progress, exceptions and are in a position to accept handover outputs 

Quality assurance 

  • Work with internal stakeholders to ensure projects comply with audit requirements 
  • Work with procurement/purchasing staff to ensure effective interface with suppliers’ quality systems 
  • Coordinate quality reviews of project documents and deliverables 
  • Provide quality control for management outputs (project documents, reports, etc.)

 Knowledge management and innovation 

  • Encourage routine and effective capacity building activities are conducted in order to build the long-term and sustainable capacity of staff. 
  • Actively interact with other Project Managers and the wider PM community to share case studies, lessons learned and best practices 
  • Contribute to the oversight of lessons learned procedures, ensuring that lessons learnt are shared in a timely and appropriate manner. Participate in the relevant Communities of Practice 
  • Research and logging of lessons learned throughout the project life span. 
  • Provide feedback to Practice Groups on policy, supporting guidance with an aim towards continuous improvement of UNOPS policies

Personnel Management 

  • Lead and motivate the project management team 
  • Ensure that behavioural expectations of team members are established 
  • Ensure that performance reviews are conducted fairly, accurately and timely 
  • Select, recruit and train the team as required and take into account gender parity and diversity objectives. 
  • Ensure safety and security for all project personnel and comply with UNDSS standards 
  • Create, foster and role model a culture of respect and zero tolerance for discrimination, abuse of authority, harrasement, sexual harrasement and sexual exploitation and abuse. Ensure accountability for actions and perform duties in accordance with protection mechanisms and action plans, as expected by UNOPS policies, standards and commitments.

Impact of Results
Senior Project Manager directly impacts on achievement of project results by adhering to project management methods and strategies, reducing risks, cutting costs and improving success rates. This consequently reinforces the visibility and image of UNOPS as an effective service provider in project services and management and strengthens its competitive position as a partner of choice in sustainable development and project services.


  • An advanced University Degree in Civil Engineering, Water Engineering, Irrigation Engineering or other relevant discipline  is required. 
  • A   Bachelor’s Degree in Civil Engineering, Water Engineering, Irrigation Engineering or other relevant discipline with an additional 2 years of relevant work experience may be accepted in lieu of an Advanced University Degree.
  • Professional certification from an accredited institution (PEng., CEng. , etc) is an asset


  • Certification in Project Management (PRINCE2 Foundation, PMP, PMI, etc.) is an asset
  • Completion of the UNOPS PMM, UNOPS PMM Infra Perspective and oneUNOPS Projects training within (3) months after signing this TOR is required.


  • A minimum of seven (7) years of experience in managing civil works / civil engineering projects involving construction management is required.
  • At least two (2) years of experience managing multi-disciplinary teams is required.
  • Experience with the construction of Dams or large scale irrigation infrastructure is a distinct advantage.
  • At least one (1) year of knowledge and experience in implementing international standards in Health and Safety in construction projects is required.
  • Experience working in developing countries including in Africa is desirable.
  • Vast experience in risk management for infrastructure development projects is highly desirable. 
  • Strong experience in contract management, especially FIDIC contracts is highly desirable. 
  • Knowledge of the UN system and familiarity with UNOPS procedures is an advantage.
  • Experience working with Government Ministries, Departments, Agencies on donor-funded projects is an asset.
  • Experience in planning for infrastructure projects with proficiency in MS Project and Schedule Analysis is desirable.


  • Fluency in English is required
  • Knowledge of another official UNOPS language is an asset

Additional Considerations

  • Please note that the closing date is midnight Copenhagen time
  • Applications received after the closing date will not be considered.
  • Only those candidates that are short-listed for interviews will be notified.
  • Qualified female candidates are strongly encouraged to apply.
  • UNOPS seeks to reasonably accommodate candidates with special needs, upon request.
  • Work life harmonization – UNOPS values its people and recognizes the importance of balancing professional and personal demands. We have a progressive policy on work-life harmonization and offer several flexible working options. This policy applies to UNOPS personnel on all contract types
  • For staff positions only, UNOPS reserves the right to appoint a candidate at a lower level than the advertised level of the post
  • For retainer contracts, you must complete a few Mandatory Courses (around 4 hours) in your own time, before providing services to UNOPS.
  • The incumbent is responsible to abide by security policies, administrative instructions, plans and procedures of the UN Security Management System and that of UNOPS.  

It is the policy of UNOPS to conduct background checks on all potential recruits/interns.
Recruitment/internship in UNOPS is contingent on the results of such checks.

This position is based in a family duty station

Contract type, level and duration

Contract type: ICAContract level: I-ICA3

Contract duration: â€˜Open-ended, subject to organizational requirements, availability of funds and satisfactory performance.’

For more details about the ICA contractual modality, please follow this link:

Background Information – UNOPS

UNOPS is an operational arm of the United Nations, supporting the successful implementation of its partners’ peacebuilding, humanitarian and development projects around the world. Our mission is to help people build better lives and countries achieve sustainable development.

UNOPS areas of expertise cover infrastructure, procurement, project management, financial management and human resources.

Working with us

UNOPS offers short- and long-term work opportunities in diverse and challenging environments across the globe. We are looking for creative, results-focused professionals with skills in a range of disciplines.


With over 4,000 UNOPS personnel and approximately 7,000 personnel recruited on behalf of UNOPS partners spread across 80 countries, our workforce represents a wide range of nationalities and cultures. We promote a balanced, diverse workforce — a strength that helps us better understand and address our partners’ needs, and continually strive to improve our gender balance through initiatives and policies that encourage recruitment of qualified female candidates.

Work life harmonization

UNOPS values its people and recognizes the importance of balancing professional and personal demands.