Project Director and Head of Secretariat — Finance Against Slavery and Trafficking (FAST) Project

Applications procedure
Related Files
    Personnel Service Agreement (PSA)
    New York, USA
    UTC -5

    About United Nations University (UNU)

    For the past four decades, United Nations University (UNU) has been a go-to think tank for impartial research on the pressing global problems of human survival, conflict prevention, development and welfare. With more than 400 researchers in 13 countries, UNU’s work spans the full breadth of the 17 SDGs, 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 Centre for Policy Research (UNU-CPR)

    UNU-CPR in New York is an independent think tank within the United Nations system. The Centre combines research excellence with deep knowledge of the multilateral system to generate innovative solutions to current and future global public policy challenges.

    The Centre comprises social and data scientists and UN practitioners. It has a successful track record of international multi-stakeholder partnerships, and has launched pioneering work that has advanced the fight against modern slavery and human trafficking. For more information on UNU-CPR and its work, please visit

    The Fast Initiative

    The FAST initiative was launched in mid-2018 as a public-private partnership in response to calls from the G7, the G20 and the United Nations General Assembly to mobilise the private sector in the fight against modern slavery and human trafficking. In under two years, the initiative has already had substantial impact, having trained thousands of financial sector professionals in more than 130 countries, mobilised institutional investors with more than USD 8 trillion assets under management to tackle modern slavery and human trafficking, developed risk analysis tools for the sector, and provided input into a range of multilateral and regulatory policy processes. It has also organised a coalition of banks and survivor support organisations to provide survivors with improved access to financial services.

    Owing to the generous support of FAST donors, the project has been extended by a further three years and is successfully poised for growth.

    The position

    The UNU Centre for Policy Research is looking for a visionary and dynamic project director to oversee the project’s next phase of growth.

    Over the next three years (2021-2023), the FAST Project Director will work closely with the FAST Steering Group and UNU-CPR’s Executive Director to design and implement a programme of work that aligns with donor expectations and ambitions. The Project Director will have significant autonomy in shaping the project team, as well as the scope of collaborations to meet the overarching project objective: mobilising the financial sector to reduce the risks of modern slavery and human trafficking.

    About you

    You will be a seasoned leader with deep understanding of the finance sector and/or government regulation and practice as it relates to the identification and management of modern slavery risks — including human trafficking and forced labour — in the global economy. You will be familiar with and have experience of sustainable finance initiatives and environmental, social and governance (ESG) criteria in banking, lending and investment practices, as well as compliance and regulatory regimes, financial technology, and international cooperation in the areas of business and human rights. You value and are also familiar with research related to these themes and are keen to build a team that is able to leverage the transformative potential of this policy agenda.

    You are proactive and entrepreneurial, motivated by the prospect of using the unique convening power of the United Nations University and the rich constellation of public and private partnerships developed by the UNU Centre for Policy Research to launch a bold and impactful programme of work that will extend the capacity of financial institutions, governments and other key stakeholders to reduce the prevalence of modern slavery. You will also have experience managing large (multi-million) research projects, policy initiatives or international campaigns, and bring a network of collaborators that will support you in quickly scaling the FAST initiative.

    You are politically astute, comfortable working with C-suite clients and senior government representatives, charismatic and empathetic, and have a proven track-record working as a coalition-builder. You thrive in innovative and purpose-oriented settings and are committed to diversity, equality, and building a workplace that values excellence, empathy, and individual growth equally.

    Responsibility and deliverables

    The Project Director and Head of Secretariat will report to the UNU-CPR Executive Director and will be expected to:

    • implement, scale, and evolve the FAST programme of work, building on existing grant commitments with key donors, ensuring future growth aligns with the UNU-CPR strategic priorities
    • recruit, train, supervise, and support the FAST project team, including managers responsible for project workstreams relating to investment, banking, government and multilateral institutions, and vulnerable populations research
    • serve as the FAST spokesperson at local and international events/meetings to broaden knowledge of the initiative and its impact as well as related issues
    • engage with current donors and cultivate new donors to secure complementary project funding and ensure full project delivery
    • broaden the initiatives institutional partnerships, regions of work, and ensure the overall growth of beneficiary groups
    • initiate and participate in meetings and conferences that support FAST outreach, coalition-building, and the dissemination of findings, including an annual implementation review conference
    • develop and deliver authoritative evidenced-based policy reports, recommendations, editorials, and other publications that advance FAST objectives
    • lead policy uptake within the UN system
    • innovate partnership design and modalities for project delivery
    • convene and support the FAST Steering Group as required
    • commission, curate and provide quality control on external communications content
    • commission annual evaluations of the work programme, and be responsible for budget oversight and donor reporting

    Required qualifications and experience

    Required qualifications and experience include:

    • advanced university degree in a relevant field, including but not limited to, business administration, finance, political science, international relations, human rights, and public policy
    • minimum of ten years (15 preferable) of relevant work experience, including at least five years of relevant senior leadership experience
    • demonstrable experience leading large multi-partner projects/initiatives/campaigns
    • expert knowledge of issues in the areas of sustainable finance, business and human rights, modern slavery, human trafficking, child labour, and forced labour
    • past experience working in or collaborating with networks in the field of finance
    • evidence of grant management and fundraising experience
    • superior analytical and conceptual thinking skills
    • demonstrated ability to lead and manage teams, as well as a commitment to diversity in the workplace
    • exceptional interpersonal and problem-solving skills demonstrated by the ability to work in a multicultural environment with sensitivity and respect for diversity and gender parity
    • superior English-language oral and written communication skills; knowledge of another official UN language(s) is desirable
    • familiarity with statistics, data analysis, and research methodologies is advantageous

    UNU is committed to diversity and inclusion within its workforce, and encourages all candidates, irrespective of gender, nationality, religious and ethnic backgrounds, including persons living with disabilities to apply and become part of the organisation.

    UNU has a zero-tolerance policy on conduct that is incompatible with the aims and objectives of the United Nations and UNU, including sexual exploitation and abuse, sexual harassment, abuse of authority and discrimination.

    Remuneration and entitlements

    Remuneration will be between USD 110,000 – USD 140,000, based on the candidate’s qualifications and experience.

    Annual leave entitlement of 2.5 days/month (30 days/year) and some limited benefits, including health care, are included.

    Duration of contract

    The successful candidate shall work under an initial 1-year Personnel Service Agreement (PSA) contract, with the possibility of renewal subject to satisfactory performance.

    The successful candidate will not hold international civil servant status nor be a “staff member” as defined in the United Nations Staff Rules and Regulations.


    New York-based, with the possibility of starting remotely.

    Starting date

    1 April 2021 or sooner.





  • Interested applicants should submit their application and all required documents listed below online through Impactpool, by Sunday, 31 January 2021:

    • a cover letter setting out how your qualifications and experience match the requirements of the position
    • a curriculum vitae
    • full contact information of three (3) references
    • an indication of the reference number of the vacancy announcement (2020/UNU/CPR/PSA/PDHS/93)