Portfolio Officer (Water Sanitation & Hygiene)

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Seattle, WA, US

Application Deadline: Friday, May 8, 2020

4.5 billion people worldwide lack access to safely managed sanitation, and millions of these people live in dwellings whose sanitary facilities, if any, are connected to poorly managed septic tanks, cesspools or latrines. Health impacts of poorly managed sanitation are severe, resulting in the preventable deaths of approximately 500,000 young children, and lifelong stunting and cognitive impairment of many more children.

Traditional sewer networks have historically been the preferred sanitation solution among urban planners and governments. However, this large and centralized infrastructure is often not the most sustainable, nor financially or technically feasible solution in developing countries, and often does not reach informal settlement populations and other vulnerable groups for a range of reasons including sewers not extending beyond central business districts, challenging topography, lack of legal recognition by government, or project cost estimates that don’t include the costs to connect poor households to sewers. These factors make non-sewered sanitation solutions (NSS), also known as onsite sanitation systems, more context-appropriate and adaptable in many urban contexts. The Water, Sanitation & Hygiene (WSH) team focuses their efforts and resources towards advocating and developing an end to end ecosystem promoting NSS.

Leadership & Culture

Our culture shapes our choices about what we do and how we do it. We believe that energized people, working well together, fueled by great leadership in an inclusive environment can do extraordinary things. We expect foundation employees to intentionally and consistently embody our four agreements; show respect, offer trust, be transparent, and create energy.

Position Summary

The Portfolio Officer provides support for all strategic and operational aspects of the WSH team.  This includes annual planning and budgeting, strategy development and refinement, pipeline and portfolio management and process efficiency.   You will also be responsible for leading the team’s gender mainstreaming function and other related activities as a member of the WSH Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment in Sanitation working group.  This role requires building strong relationships with all team members and associated business partners, and, acting as a key functionary in fostering team culture and morale.

Core Responsibilities

  • Develop and coordinate all investment and financial processes including annual planning, budget management, forecasting, and investment workflow.
  • Collaborate with WSH Deputy Director Strategy, Planning & Management (DDSPM) and team to design and execute the overall process for strategy development, iteration and refinement.
  • Lead the team in improving it definition of bodies of work, goal & outcomes development and measurement plans in order to strengthen strategic decision making and resource tradeoffs
  • Monitor grant and contract pipeline to produce accurate revised forecasts vs. budget reporting and performance against key achievements and outcomes to facilitate management decision-making.
  • Support the processes to define success metrics for strategy, portfolio and individual grants including design of tools to track progress and learning in strategy execution.
  • Promote efficiency and productivity by providing leadership and support in process development and improvement, implementation and improvement of tools, analysis, reporting and change management.
  • Coordinate with team members to ensure that investments are strategically aligned, and outcomes are defined that will lead to impact on key strategy goals.
  • Lead efforts to integrate gender into the team’s strategies and grantmaking; engage on other internal gender focused workstreams as a member of the cross-cutting WSH gender equality and women’s empowerment in sanitation team.
  • Design and support efforts to maintain and enhance a thriving culture of inclusivity, transparency and camaraderie on the team.
  • Design and facilitate team retreats; support collaboration within the team and more broadly across the division; promote partnerships with business teams and across the organization
  • May develop, execute, and manage a small set of external partnerships and contracts as needed.

Position reports to: Deputy Director, Strategy, Planning & Management, WSH

Core Knowledge & Skills

You are a creative, thoughtful and curious professional who has an excellent track record of achievement in roles of increasing responsibility. You should be prepared to work across a diverse set of disciplines, bridging a wide range of expertise, with a demonstrated ability to work with agility, efficiency and diplomacy in a dynamic environment. Additionally, we seek:

  • A self-starter, with the ability to act independently to determine methods and procedures on assignments.
  • Ability to build frameworks and plans to increase clarity and transparency of decisions, trade-offs and impact on financial and organizational resources.
  • Strategic thinking and analysis skills; ability to support development and improvement of strategic plans within and across initiative towards increased impact. 
  • Demonstrated complex project management skills and a successful track record of leading or managing multiple projects simultaneously.
  • Program management of complex strategy development, execution planning and business process redesign projects.
  • A preference for rigor, purpose driven measurement and effective stewardship of the foundation’s resources.
  • Ability to effectively alternate between thinking strategically and executing at high quality.
  • Employ strategic tools to develop and assess options, ensure logical reasoning, and challenge assumptions.
  • Bring creative solutions to handle group dynamics (e.g. managing disagreement and driving alignment).
  • Financial acuity plus budget development, financial analysis and operational management skills.
  • Excellent facilitation, oral, and written communication skills.


  • Comfortable in a wide range of cultural, geographic and operational situations, demonstrating culturally sensitive behavior with a diverse range of people.
  • 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

Education & Experience

  • Bachelor’s or other advanced degree with 5+ years of experience, or equivalent experience.  MBA preferred.





IHE Delft Institute for Water Education - MSc in Water and Sustainable Development