Head of Project Management Office

UNOPS, Geneva, Switzerland

Skill Required:, Project/ Programme Management
Preferred Experience: 
7 to 10 Year
Closing Date for Applications: 
9th November, 2020

Job Description

Background Information - Job-specific

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.

Based in Geneva, Switzerland, the Europe and Central Asia Regional Office (ECR) supports UNOPS offices in the region, providing management and financial/programmatic oversight of Global and Country specific Portfolios, Clusters and Operations Centers including hosting services, fund management, management advisory services, implementing projects, procuring goods and services and managing human resources.

The primary role of Project Management Officer (PMO) is to provide UNOPS Geneva office with the structures, tools and techniques needed to ensure that it has the right programmes and projects in place, that operational and change priorities are balanced, the governance and decision making is facilitated and it has the resources and capability to deliver them consistently well. 

The functions and services of the PMO include:

Strategic Planning/Portfolio Support: Ensuring UNOPS is focused on doing the right projects by supporting management decision-making.

Delivery Support: Ensuring UNOPS is doing projects the right way, through the effective delivery of the programme and projects.

Best Practices: Applying UNOPS standards in project management, encouraging consistent working practices and ensuring appropriate application.

The PMO shall ensure that project management policies, processes and methods are followed and practiced according to the organization standards, while acting as the overall Project Assurance capacity within the business unit on behalf of the Director and Representative and Head of Programme. Reporting to the UNOPS GVA Deputy Director, the PMO strongly contributes to moving the UNOPS Geneva toward achieving its mission-focused goals and objectives.

Functional Responsibilities

Summary of functions:

  • Development and planning
  • Set-up and closure
  • Monitoring and reporting
  • Stakeholder engagement
  • Quality assurance
  • Knowledge management

Development and planning

  • The PMO provides appropriate levels of programmatic management support to the UNOPS Geneva Deputy Director regarding all ongoing project activities, while maintaining and implementing appropriate standards and best practices in line with UNOPS policies and procedures.
  • Provide advice and support to potential and current engagement of high value and/or risk, supporting Engagement Authorities in strengthening project governance structures and processes to enable achievement of high standards and consistency in line with UNOPS success criteria.
  • Directly contribute to strategic oversight, advice and direction on programme and project management activities in line with service agreements and project documents. Ensure programmes and projects contribute to strategic objectives and targets.
  • Develops and establishes resource tracking systems for use within the Geneva office, complementary to UNOPS' online tools, to ensure effective planning, forecasting and tracking of delivery across the UNOPS Geneva Office.
  • Identifies, and anticipates in a timely manner, potential risks and issues and advises mitigating measures to the Deputy Director and GVA management team.

Set-up and closure

  • Facilitate the development of high-level programme/project plans, including the collation of lower-level plans into programme/project-level milestones.
  • Develop, track and maintain dependencies and provide advice to management to ensure quality of delivery throughout the project lifecycle.
  • Liaise closely, supporting the Head of Support Services and the Head of Finance on project operational issues, including project assets, finances, and other as required.
  • For project closure purposes, acts as (or nominates and supervises) a focal point between the UNOPS Geneva Office, working in close collaboration with Portfolio Managers, Head of Support Services and Head of Finance, and donors throughout the process.
  • Oversee and coordinate all project closure activities, working in close collaboration with Portfolio Managers, Head of Support Services and Head of Finance ensuring appropriate disposal of project assets, timely and effective final (operational) reporting, updating of information on the UNOPS ERP, and effective handover of closed projects to UNOPS HQ for financial closure processes.

Monitoring and reporting

  • Support the UNOPS Geneva Deputy Director in regular review of project status, evaluating performance criteria (scope, cost, schedule and quality).
  • Maintain progress reports as required by UNOPS standard procedures.
  • Identifies and anticipates in a timely manner, potential risks and issues specific to delivery forecasts, and advises mitigating measures to the UNOPS Geneva Deputy Director.
  • Perform routine maintenance and implementation of effective monitoring and evaluation systems of programme and project activities, in line with donor and UNOPS internal requirements, and provide advice and support to portfolio managers and teams to facilitate quality delivery.
  • Within the context of monitoring and evaluation, ensure all projects submit and regularly update specific milestones and targets for the duration of projects' life-cycles, and track progress, or otherwise, against such information as per UNOPS and donor requirements.
  • Provide editorial support to programmes and projects, ensuring effective and timely dissemination of reports, in line with project documentation and clients' expectations.
  • Coordinate and oversee the implementation of requests or initiatives relevant to project management from the Regional Office, IPAS, and HQ Teams, as required.

Stakeholder engagement

  • Develop stakeholder profiles and facilitate the formulation of stakeholder engagement strategies.
  • Enable the formulation of UNOPS Geneva communication plans.
  • Coordinate stakeholder engagement and communication, ensuring effective timing and interdependency management of communications across programmes and projects.
  • Coordinate internal programme/project communications.
  • Monitor the effectiveness of programme/project communications.

Quality assurance

  • Support the UNOPS Geneva Deputy Director so that the monitoring of projects is carried out regularly in order to ensure accomplishment of set targets and results for projects/portfolios, delivery of services as per the agreed terms and conditions and in a timely manner.
  • Support the UNOPS Geneva Deputy Director to ensure there is adequate risk-based internal control system and mechanisms in place which are exercised on regular basis as per the appropriate guidelines and tools of UNOPS Geneva and of UNOPS corporate policies and procedures
  • Adequate quality management procedures are applied across projects/portfolios of UNOPS Geneva programme.
  • Assurance procedures are embedded into the programme management of UNOPS Geneva and are applied consistently across all projects/portfolios as per UNOPS corporate guidelines, procedures and policies.
  • Identify threats and opportunities, and evaluate implications of at the organizational level.
  • Provides scrutiny, challenge and support for the programme and projects boards.
  • Forecast and track benefits (outcomes) to be realized.
  • Ensure compliance with UNOPS defined standards for programme/project management.
  • Coordinate quality reviews of programme/project documents and deliverables.
  • Provide quality control for management products (project documents, reports, etc.).
  • Represent the UNOPS Geneva Deputy Director in supporting key stakeholders to continuously identify and improve operational processes relevant to project implementation.

Knowledge management

  • Act as a focal point for the UNOPS Geneva maturity enhancement initiatives.
  • Make recommendations on policy and tools and contribute to the development of guidance material and tools that advance GVA offices strategic project management goals
  • Disseminate corporate policies, guidance and best practices that impact GVA offices portfolio, programme and project management practitioners;
  • Participate in, and advocate PMs' participation in, relevant Communities of Practice.
  • Actively interact with PMs and the wider PM community to share case studies, lessons learned and best practices in the Knowledge System.
  • Provides feedback to Practice Leads on policy and supporting guidance working to achieve continuous improvement of UNOPS policies.
  • Contributes to the oversight of lessons learned procedures, ensuring that lessons learnt are shared in a timely and appropriate manner.

Training and capacity building

  • Provide advice and support to project management practitioners on how to embed best practices of project and programme governance, risk management, project and programme management
  • Support and provide training and internal consulting in project and programme management and provide project and programme development advice and assistance to GVA office and hosted entity personnel, as required, in support of IPMG initiatives and roll-outs
  • Strengthen the knowledge, skills and career development of project management practitioners
  • People and skills – identify skills and competence shortages to deliver the portfolio of changes and recommend suitable development.
  • Extend project management advice and support to hosted entities and other relevant partners to promote high quality project delivery


  • A Master’s Degree in Project Management, Business Administration or related field (e.g. International Relations) is required.
  • A combination of Bachelor’s degree with an additional 2 years of relevant work experience may be accepted in lieu of the education requirements outlined above.


  • PRINCE2 Practitioner Certification is highly desirable.
  • MSP certification (Foundation and/or Practitioner) is an advantage.


  • A minimum of 7 (seven) years of relevant and progressive professional experience, specifically in the field of Project Management with experience of successful implementation and/or oversight of programmes and projects.
  • Previous experience of working within a PMO environment is an advantage.
  • Knowledge of UNOPS’ project management tools, UNOPS financial and procurement rules and regulations, and financial management tools, is essential,
  • Strong experience with data analysis, management reporting and project management tools and information management systems.


  • Full working knowledge of English is required.
  • Fluency in French is an advantage.


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