Request for Proposals: Improving the System Management Office (“SMO”) working environment

Who we are:

CGIAR is a global research partnership for a food-secure future. CGIAR science is dedicated to reducing poverty, enhancing food and nutrition security, and improving natural resources and ecosystem services. Its research is carried out by 15 CGIAR Centers in close collaboration with hundreds of partners, including national and regional research institutes, civil society organizations, academia, development organizations, and the private sector. These 15 Centers have close to 10,000 staff based in over 50 countries.

The CGIAR System Organization, which is an international organization headquartered in Montpellier, France, provides governance to the CGIAR System in collaboration with the System Council and has about 40 staff. The Organization is committed to cultivating a work environment that reflects teamwork, gender equality, and respect for diversity. We endeavor to foster a multi-cultural environment that is free of any form of harassment and discrimination; and that embraces and values individuals regardless of age, ethnicity, race, gender, national or social origin, marital status or any other form of personal identity. The System Organization provides governance to the System in collaboration with the CGIAR System Council and is comprised of two constituent parts:

  • The System Management Board is the governing body of the System Organization, and its composition, function and operational procedure are outlined in the Charter of the CGIAR System Organization.
  • The System Management Office is responsible for the day-to-day operations of the System Organization, providing support to the System Management Board and the System Council, and facilitating collaboration across the System to support the fulfillment of CGIAR’s mission and goals. Please find more information about CGIAR at

Background and Context:

After a period of profound change both in the office and our operating environment, it is important to focus more intensively on how the SMO can be better equipped to meet the challenges set out in our 3-year workplan.

A key ingredient is to improve the working environment in the office.

Staff surveys and feedback suggest a need to build staff morale and engagement. Since 2016, feedback collected from staff surveys and other channels has focused on strengthening internal communication, improving staff well-being, and improving the working environment in general.

For the past two years (2016 – 2018), the System Management Office (SMO) has managed a high level of change in a number of areas:

  • Governance – SMO was created out of a new governance arrangement agreed in 2016;
  • Workload – the success of the new governance arrangements and the quality of the SMO’s work has led to rapid increased demands on the office;
  • Leadership – the current management team has also gone through significant change during this two-year period with the arrival of a new Executive Director and the appointment of three new unit Directors of the five units;
  • Structural organization – a new unit structure was put in place in 2017 with some modifications since then; and
  • Staffing – almost half of the staff in the previous Consortium office as of early 2016 have since departed, with about three-quarters of current staff having joined since then. The development of a 3-year CGIAR System Business Plan and SMO workplan opens an opportunity to initiate a coordinated effort to strengthen the effectiveness of our office to ensure effective delivery. This coincides with, by February 2019, a relatively new management team being in place. Hence Year 1 of our 3-year workplan will include a big effort to address the working environment in the office, as set out below. With a clear link between staff motivation and productivity, the aim is to make this effort a win-win for staff and our impact.

What we are seeking:
We are currently seeking a highly experienced Human Resources/Organizational Development expert to support the work of the SMO to address the issues and challenges described above, and in that way delivering on the people management elements of the CGIAR System Business Plan and SMO workplan. Informed by the results of the staff surveys and other relevant background information, the expert will work in collaboration with the System Organization’s Management Team, Staff Committee and Human Resources Team to steward, enhance coordinate the efforts noted above.

Deliverables and Timeline:

The successful bidder will present an approach that takes into consideration the present working environment within the SMO and presents a clear way forward to achieve specific SMART1 goals related to improving the working environment within the SMO. The approach will be consultative, flexible, and responsive to the changing needs of the office and staff.

General tasks include:

  • Deepening understanding of the current working environment in SMO in terms of productivity and staff wellbeing – including through consultation with stakeholders to gather contextual information and reviewing existing personnel documents to inform the overall scope of the engagement;
  • Facilitating a process within the office to identify a desirable and achievable future state, and an improvement plan to get there; and
  • Supporting the Office in implementing the improvement plan.

Please consult the following Request for Proposal for a complete list of specific tasks, estimated timeline and other details:

Detailed Request for Proposal available here

Knowledge, skills and abilities:

A successful bidder or team will have:

  • A minimum of eight years senior consultant experience specializing in change management, corporate culture, and/or the Human Resources domain;
  • Experience leading organizational change transformations and/or leadership projects;
  • Strong listening skills including fully understanding information provided by stakeholders;
  • Experience working in an international and multi-cultural environment;
  • Demonstrable expertise in change management methods and their application;
  • Integrity and experience building strong relationships at multiple levels of an organization;
  • Experience conducting change impact assessments and working with stakeholders to drive action plans; and
  • Excellent communication skills both orally and in writing including the ability to explain complex ideas and concepts in a simplified manner. As a requirement for this job, applicants must be able to speak and write fluently in English.Applicants may not have all skills available in house and are therefore encouraged to identify other resources in their bidding package that will be used to provide the required services

Evaluation Criteria:
The System is seeking the best value for money offering. As such, the technical proposals will be evaluated separately from the financial proposals with the bidder providing the most advantageous combination of cost and quality.

How to submit a proposal: 

  • Please submit a narrative proposal and a budget proposal as two separate documents to:
  • Both documents can be attached to the same email.
  • Narrative proposal must consist of no more than 10 pages using Microsoft Word or similar format, font size 11pt., margins no smaller than one-inch.
  • Budget proposal must be presented using Microsoft Excel or similar format and consist of, at a minimum, the following line items: consultant time, resources, travel, and cost for proposed activities such as coaching, workshops, etc. The budget will be presented in US dollars.
  • All proposals must be received no later than 12:00 Paris time, 22 February 2019. Only electronically submitted proposals will be considered. Late proposals will not be considered. Shortlisted bidders will be contacted no later than 1 March 2019.