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Country Director Laos

Location:  This position is based in Vientiane 

Reports To:  Regional Director 

5 year contract 

The salary range for this role will be US$60–80,000 per annum depending on experience.  This is an accompanied position and full expat benefits will be available.


Working in 50 developing countries across Africa, Asia and the Americas, Plan aims to reach as many children as possible, particularly those who are excluded or marginalised with high quality programs that deliver long lasting benefits  by increasing its income, working in partnership with others and operating effectively.


Each Country Program is led by a Country Director (CD) who must develop strategies at country level that align with Plan’s global vision and purpose within the prevailing context of that country as it impacts on children.  The CD is the sole representative and leader of Plan in this country and carries the responsibility for Plan’s reputation there as a legally compliant, effective and responsible organization, unafraid to challenge injustice and discrimination against the poorest and most vulnerable children

Plan Laos’s Country Strategic Plan has five key focus areas:

  • Early Childhood Education and Development
  • Basic Education and Child Protection
  • Water Sanitation and Hygiene
  • Maternal, Neonatal, Child Health and Nutrition
  • Disaster Risk Management and Climate Change Adaptation

The key challenges for the Laos Country Office are to develop and run a cost-effective and high impact development programmes in a highly sensitive political context and strictly controlled governmental machinery and in the absence of established Civil Society Organizations and Groups.

Dimensions of Role:

  • Managing the Country Office Budget: Presently about 70% of total budget spent comes from grants, with an increase in Sponsorship as well as grants funding projected over the next 5 years. Currently the annual budget is approximately 2.7 million USD but it is expected to increase to over 5 million USD per year over the next five years.
  • Managing Plan’s programmes: Ensuring that the new Country Strategic Plan (CSPII) is prepared and the objectives are met. Over the next five years, Plan intends to concentrate its interventions in 2 provinces covering 7 districts with a total population of 206,000 people, including up to 10,000 sponsored children and their families.
  • Overseeing Plan’s Sponsorship:  Plan started its operations in Laos in 2006 and currently works with a population which includes 5,000 sponsored children across 2 districts in Bokeo province. It is projected that in next five years Plan will reach out to a 1 million population including 10,000 sponsored children.
  • Expansion of Plan programmes in poorer regions of the country and undertaking advocacy work for the rights of Loas children.
  • Managing the grant portfolio and relationships with the key donors. Currently being made available from/through various National Offices which includes GNO, ANO, FLNO, BNO, JNO, with grants from AusAID and EU. 
  • Sourcing, leadership, management and development of Laos national staff comprising of over 60 and expected to increase significantly. Staff reporting directly to the CD are the members of the country management team (8)
  • The post is responsible for all work that takes place for Plan in Laos including responsibility for the delivery of work and its representation to government. Key Government offices that oversee Plan’s work in Laos include Ministry of Education and Sports, Ministry of Health and Ministry of Foreign Affairs. In addition, Plan has strong working relationship with Mass Organizations (Lao Women’s Union, Lao Youth Union) and several UN Agencies. The Country Director is also responsible for managing relationships with the donors and beneficiaries.
  • As a member of the Regional Leadership Team, the Country Director of Laos is expected to contribute to the overall learning and strategic direction within the Asia region. This includes sharing experience of working in a politically sensitive and bureaucracy/state controlled   environment.

Typical Responsibilities - Key End Results of Position:

Plan’s work will be relevant to the needs of the most vulnerable children in Laos

  • Country Strategic Planning analysis is ongoing and very well informed using locally and internationally available sources of information.
  • Emergency preparedness analysis ensures Plan is ready to respond to predictable emergency conditions.
  • The location of programme work is regularly reviewed to ensure new communities are reached when appropriate.
  • The programme is registered with the relevant authorities and compliant with local law and MoUs exist with concerned ministries giving due recognition to Plan and its work in Laos.
  • Country leadership and staff are well aware of the country security situation and programmes are developed and implemented giving due consideration to security sensitivities.

Plan’s work in Laos will be delivered by a cost-effective and efficient team, skilled in their area of expertise and compliant with the expectation Plan has of all staff

  • Creation and management of high performance teams delivering excellent technical work, using child-centred and gender-sensitive approaches in line with Global and Country Strategic Plans.
  • Management of individuals across the team to ensure full development of potential through induction, performance management and compliance in all core policy areas.
  • Staff numbers and structures will be designed and kept at a level that is cost effective.
  • Work environments will be managed to reduce risk from health and safety and security hazards.
  • Creation of budgets and disbursement of all resources will be efficient and compliant.

Plan’s work will be well funded and growing

  • Identification and exploitation of funding opportunities in partnership with NOs and in line with agreed strategy.
  • Delivery of grant and sponsorship work on time with clear measurable impact on children and in full compliance with donor requirements.

Plan’s work in Laos will be recognised locally and internationally as effective and relevant to the needs of highly vulnerable children
Representation of the work to all key stakeholders (advisory group, local leaders, workshops, cluster groups, INGOs locally and internationally etc) regularly promotes the issues being addressed and the work addressing them.

  • Timely communications work keeps Plan at the forefront of the issues affecting children in Laos.
  • Contributions to journals debating key elements of Plan’s work.
  • Sharing Plan Laos’s experience with other countries of the region regarding programming in politically volatile environments and operating under governmental restrictions.

Dealing with Problems

  • Complexity of Plan – organisational structures and decision-making.
  • Dealing with security/emergency conditions – the Country Director has to be actively involved in having security information and providing clear guidance for the safety and security of staff, assets and programmes.
  • Flexibility to support other Country Offices.
  • In addition to the existing Programme Unit, Plan Laos has projections to open a new Programme Unit which is implemented through the Country Director’s guidance.
  • Sponsorship requests – this includes finding out new ways of managing sponsorship, retention of sponsors and children.

Communications and Working Relationships


  • Other Country Directors, especially in RLT
  • Programme Department in International Headquarters
  • National Office programme depts. Presently there are two active framework agreements and active engagement with several NOs (ANO, FLNO, GNO, BNO, and JNO. In addition we develop proposals for major donors (AusAID, EU, ECHO) that require engagement of the NO programme teams.


  • Other INGO leaders and networks, currently Plan is an executive committee member of INGO Forum/Network which is a network of 67 INGOs operating in the country.
  • Cluster/Network group members – Plan is currently a principal contributor to the Protection, WASH and Education clusters in Laos.
  • Government, UN and donor representatives
  • Plan Laos is working with 2 national NGOs and collaborated with several international NGOs. In addition, Plan Laos has strong partnership with districts government and line departments. 

Knowledge, Skills, and Behaviours Required to Achieve Role’s Objectives


  • Demonstrable knowledge as a result of study, training or practical experience on the key debates in development and emergency response methods and effectiveness
  • Knowledge of Laos; the geopolitical factors affecting child-poverty in the country and the political, social and environmental opportunities for change is an advantage
  • Knowledge of the requirements of donor compliance and financial management
  • Knowledge of programming in volatile environments with good understanding and appreciation of the historical, security context, political environment, economic, social/religious, ethnic and humanitarian context in Laos or a comparable environment.


  • Proven skills in the development and management of effective and motivated teams, including distance management
  • Effective working with and through partners
  • Communications, comfortable with the media, presenting and arguing a case
  • Proven analytical skills in isolating priorities and tackling them
  • Excellent written skills in English for the development of proposals and the review of reports. A Lao (or Thai) language skill is an advantage.


Striving for high performance

  • Strongly drives performance forward in area of the business for which they are responsible
  • Involves others in setting and achieving goals
  • Creates strong sense of purpose within own part of the business and with stakeholders
  • Holds self and others to account to deliver on agreed goals and standards of behaviour

Strategic thinking and innovation

  • Sets strong strategy in own part of organisation
  • Makes a strong contribution to wider strategy
  • Sees contribution of own part of the organisation in wider Plan and external context
  • Balances future vision with practical delivery
  • Interrogates work effectiveness and searches for finds better ways of working

Decision making and risk management

  • Alert to risks inside and outside the organisation ready to make judgements to manage risk and take responsibility for judgements

Influence and communication

  • Effective communicator using clear messages drawn from Plan’s work
  • Cross-culturally adept
  • Ready to work to influence leaders in governments, international bodies, partners and communities
  • Can reach out and influence large groups of people
  • Can communicate with children and young people

Building effective teams and partnerships

  • Collegiate, acting as a team player in the country and across the region even if this results in adjustment of own priorities
  • Develops mutual trusting relationships with complex partnerships that have excellent business outcomes

 Developing people

  • Supports learning and a sense of mutual purpose in diverse teams
  • Sets a strong learning culture in their part of the organisation
  • Uses opportunities across Plan to develop others

Self awareness and resilience

  • Remains calm and positive under pressure and in difficult situations
  • Plans own learning and development
  • Aware of impact on others and adjusting own behaviour accordingly
  • Has a positive impact on those around them
  • Leads major change while keeping staff and partners on board

Qualifications and Experience

  • A post graduate degree in relevant field
  • Proven senior management experience in leading the development of and ensuring successful delivery of programme strategy within a humanitarian and/or development context
  • Demonstrate experience in areas outlined in KSB above

Physical Environment

Based in the country office located in Vientiane, with extensive local and some international travel

  • Ability to live and work in a hardship country
  • Ability to travel to extremely remote areas, often in mountainous terrain with bumpy roads or in boats or hiking.

Please submit a full CV and a comprehensive cover letter setting out your reasons for applying for the post and outlining the qualifications experience knowledge and skills that you feel you can bring to the role to:- directors@plan-international.org

The closing date for applications is  Tuesday 3rd January 2012

Please quote reference number AR031

Reference and background checks will be carried out in conformity with Plans Child Protection Policy. Plan operates an equal opportunities policy and actively encourages diversity, welcoming applications from all areas of the international community.