IRS23157 Program Director - Genetic Resources Program

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CIMMYT is a cutting edge, non-profit, international organization dedicated to solving tomorrow’s problems today. It is entrusted with fostering improved quantity, quality, and dependability of production systems and basic cereals such as maize, wheat, triticale, sorghum, millets, and associated crops through applied agricultural science, particularly in the Global South, through building strong partnerships. This combination enhances the livelihood trajectories and resilience of millions of resource-poor farmers, while working towards a more productive, inclusive, and resilient agrifood system within planetary boundaries. CIMMYT is a core CGIAR Research Center, a global research partnership for a food-secure future, dedicated to reducing poverty, enhancing food and nutrition security, and improving natural resources.

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We are seeking a Program Director to lead CIMMYT’s Genetic Resources Program (GRP). The GRP is a core initiative dedicated to the conservation, enhancement, and sustainable utilization of plant genetic resources crucial for global food and agriculture. Playing a pivotal role in CIMMYT's mission, the program focuses on collecting and preserving a diverse range of genetic materials, serving as a vital resource for breeding programs worldwide. The Program Director will report directly to the Director General of CIMMYT and assume a key role within the organization's Management Committee.

The GRP employs a multidisciplinary approach, integrating conventional and molecular breeding, genetics, pathology, physiology, nutrition, and other relevant fields. The Program Director will provide strategic leadership to manage a dynamic research portfolio aligned with CIMMYT's and CGIAR's strategies. The primary goal is to develop sustainable, resilient, and high-yielding crop systems by harnessing the innovative potential of genetic resources. This leadership position involves coordinating international partnerships with National Agricultural Research Systems, research institutes, CGIAR locations, and private sector entities. The selected candidate will also drive fundraising efforts to secure resources vital for sustaining and expanding the program's impactful initiatives.

The successful candidate will guide the Genetic Resources Program in exploring new approaches and models to enhance genetic resource utilization, ensuring the delivery of cutting-edge science to benefit farmers and consumers globally. This opportunity presents a crucial role in advancing global food security and agricultural development, placing the GRP at the forefront of efforts to leverage plant genetic resources for sustainable agriculture and ensuring its continued success within the broader context of CIMMYT's strategic vision for 2030.

The position will be based at CIMMYT headquarters in Texcoco, near Mexico City.

Specific duties:

  • Technical Oversight:
    • Gives technical oversight to the Genetic Resources Program and specific aligned service units.
  • Leadership and Mentorship:
    • Initiates and sets goals for the program according to the strategic objectives of CIMMYT (Excellence in Science and Innovation Component of the 2030 Strategy).
    • Develops strategic plans and scientific priorities for the research program, in line with the organization's broader mission and objectives.
    • Ensures the scientific rigor and relevance of the research program.
    • Monitors the latest developments in the field and adjust program priorities as necessary.Fosters a culture of innovation and continuous improvement.
    • Leads, supervises, and coordinates the work of scientists with diverse cultural backgrounds, located in Mexico and regional offices in Asia and Africa.
    • Mentors program scientists in executing high-quality and relevant research, collaboration, and capacity development activities.
    • Coordinates with other programs within CIMMYT, as well as external partners, to facilitate successful research outcomes. This may involve collaborating with academic institutions, government agencies, or industry partners.
  • (External) Relationships:
    • Coordinates with other programs within CIMMYT, as well as external partners, to facilitate successful research outcomes. This may involve collaborating with academic institutions, government agencies, or industry partners.
    • Advocates and advance CIMMYT's research agenda and position it with key stakeholders and in international meetings and fora.
    • Contributes to the visibility of CIMMYT, its mission values, outputs, strategies, and impact.
    • Continually builds existing and new relationships with national programs and farmers' organizations.
    • Effectively collaborates with stakeholders to prioritize professional capacity development opportunities for the genetic resources scientific community.
    • Represents the program and CIMMYT in international consortia, meetings, and by maintaining an online presence and then utilizing these opportunities to strengthen both existing and new partnerships.
  • Resource Mobilization:
    • Together with senior management, represents the program to research investors to secure financial support and develop research proposals aligned with CIMMYT's research strategy and capacity.
    • Identifies, pursues, and secures funding opportunities to support the program. This includes writing grant proposals, liaising with potential donors, and maintaining relationships with existing sponsors.
  • Management:
    • Oversees the planning, execution, and completion of individual research projects within the program.
    • Realizes the agreed research budget (realization of the required burn-rate).
    • Ensures that projects are delivered on time, within budget, and in compliance with all relevant regulations and quality standards.
    • Effectively manages and enhances the program's human, financial, and capital resources and processes.
    • Contributes to the development of CIMMYT's direction, as a member of the CIMMYT Management Committee, and to its strategies and policies.
    • Develops and approves budgets.
    • Ensures program operations and activities adhere to legal guidelines and internal policies of CIMMYT.
    • Develops and implements policies and procedures related to program management and research conduct.
    • Conducts periodic performance and assessment interviews.


  • 10-15+ distinguished years in a senior management position in a nonprofit organization, foundation, private company, or government agency, with significant scientific leadership and executive management experience.
  • PhD in Plant Science and Genetics, Plant Physiology, Agronomy, or highly relevant field, with expertise in genetics and excellent knowledge of the characteristics, processes and indicators for a world class, science-based genetics program.
  • International and developing country experience is highly desired, with a mission/interest on improving livelihoods in third world countries and integrating plant breeding programs for food security.
  • A track record delivering superior results and commanding respect in previous organizations via a collaborative and inclusive working style.
  • Previous success in roles requiring execution of multiple tasks while responding to multiple priorities in a fast-track organization.
  • Demonstrated ability to build and maintain relationships with a wide array of people – junior and senior, from diverse backgrounds and cultures, and of many disciplines,
  • Outstanding communication skills (written, oral, presentation) and interpersonal skills.
  • A passion for driving organizational mission and impact.
  • Ability to exercise tact and diplomacy in the setting of an international organization.
  • Transparent communication style: direct, with substance and without hidden agendas.
  • A self-starter, with discipline, spark, imagination, and creativity.
  • The ability to remain focused in the face of pressure and high capability of delivering against timelines.
  • A willingness to travel internationally on a regular basis.
  • The selected candidate should exhibit the following competencies: Team Leadership, Critical Thinking, Problem Solving and Decision Making, Teamwork, and Communication.


The position is for an initial fixed term of three (3) years, after which further employment is subject to performance and the continued availability of funds. CIMMYT’s internationally competitive salary and benefits include housing allowance, car, comprehensive health and life insurance, assistance for children’s education, paid vacation, annual home travel airfare, contribution to a retirement plan, and generous assistance with relocation shipment.

Candidates must apply online for IRS23157_Program Director - Genetic Resources Program.

Screening and follow up of applications will begin on Wednesday January 3rd, 2024. Applications must include a CV and a cover letter. Incomplete applications will not be taken into consideration.

Please note that only short-listed candidates will be contacted.

This position will remain open until filled.

CIMMYT is an equal opportunity employer. It fosters a multicultural work environment that values gender equality, teamwork, and respect for diversity. Women are encouraged to apply.

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