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Post-doctoral Researcher and Consultant in Systemic Approaches to Poverty Reduction


Academia can be slow and frustrating. By the time you get your research out there, there’s a good chance it won’t be relevant or actionable. Even where it is, it might be hidden behind a paywall where no one sees it. The politics of publication. The bureaucracy of grant applications, teaching administration, and compliance can all detract from what you consider your real interests, skillset and added value.

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Who are you?

There’s no archetype that makes you good at this type of work. The only mandatory skill is excellent written English. While most job adverts might say that, we really mean it. Besides this you must be:

  • Confident.

  • Entrepreneurial.

  • Ambitious.

  • Intellectually rigorous.

  • Have excellent presentational skills.

  • Have excellent skills writing in English to a native standard in a concise and convincing way.

  • Skills in research design/analysis (quantitative or qualitative)

  • Critical thinker: Do you naturally question the things you hear, the things you read, and the received wisdom that shapes people’s decisions? Many education systems don’t encourage this but it’s essential that you’re intellectually curious and challenge yourself and others with an evidence-based approach.

  • A PhD in social sciences with an international focus is desirable for a number of reasons including both knowledge of harder research skills and also acts as evidence of critical thinking.

  • Likeable: there’s no point being right if you can’t get people to agree with you. You need to be able to bring people with you, whether they’re policymakers, business people, colleagues on development programmes or the disadvantaged people who our work hopes to benefit.

  • Multitasker: The nature of the work, with no project being a full time engagement, means that we might be working on several projects at once. You need to be on top of all of them and able to switch between them at short notice.

  • An appetite for travel: While we use technology to the best of our ability, infrastructure in some of our workplaces and the nature of learning mean that, often, in person engagement is more effective. If you’re not the type of person who enjoys travelling to new places then this probably isn’t the job for you.

  • Entrepreneurial and ambitious: this doesn’t mean it’s all about money. It’s an attitude. You should be the type of person that seeks out opportunity and wants to make something of it. That could be a new project, a new concept, a new method, or something else, but we need the type of person who thrive on innovation.

  • Experience: Having lived, worked, or conducted research in developing countries is important to give you some understanding of the work we do. There is an aspect of the business that’s based on a CV, so experience that looks good to a client is useful. But if you’re not the right fit in terms of the rest of the requirements, our conversation won’t get that far. Conversely, if you don’t have any experience in market systems development or even development in general, that won’t preclude us taking the discussion further. Further summarised desirable criteria include:

  • Quantitative and applied qualitative research methods

  • Excellent communication and presentation skills

  • Experience in a non-academic environment – perhaps you’ve conducted consultancies during your academic work or worked in the private sector in a previous life

  • A rich and diverse personal profile

  • Experience managing people and projects

Who are we?

Agora Global is social enterprise which has grown rapidly to become a leading voice in taking a systems approach to development. We provide consulting, training, and research services to development funders, implementers, and private companies with the universal aim to make development impact more inclusive, more sustainable, and impact on more people.

We believe development should be transformative. All of our work is trying to improve the systems that help poor and disadvantaged people to get the goods, services, jobs, and incomes that they need to improve their lives without the need for development assistance. This is the essence of sustainable development impact which unites everything we do. In practice that means analysing the way systems comprised of private, public, and civil society organisations work and developing innovations led by these local actors in products, services, and relationships which ultimately benefit poor people.

We design programmes, provide long term implementation support, help programmes to design and operate monitoring systems, and conduct complex evaluations. We run training programmes aimed at giving those involved in different roles within development the skills to do their jobs better. We’re also fiercely independent. We work with a wide variety of clients and partners meaning we’re able to continue to conduct research and advocacy work with objectivity in pursuit of better development.

Sectorally and thematically, we work across a broad spectrum focusing particularly on areas at the innovation frontier where programmes have the most to gain from a systemic approach. We work in agriculture and finance, but we’ve also been leading much of the innovation in urban development, education, health, informal sectors and labour markets, as well as the humanitarian-development nexus with substantial work in taking a market systems approach to engagement in refugee contexts.

We want you to take a role in all parts of the business but you may want to specialise your areas of interest or experience.

The Work:

As a consultant, you will work with development programmes, government, NGOs, and philanthropic foundations to help them contribute to the objective of sustainable development. This will involve travelling and spending time in developing countries – about 100 days per year but this varies a lot. You will spend much of your time analysing markets and systems: how they work and what the constraints are to achieving better outcomes for poor people. But more than this, you will seek to affect change within these systems. This will involve coaching and mentoring project teams, catering to different abilities and levels of understanding to change their behaviour.

As a researcher, you will work on a broad range of research outputs. At one end, you will produce working papers and journal articles to formalise concepts and empirical research conducted and developed as part of consulting tasks. At the other end, you’ll contribute to our blog posts, voicing often controversial views on development. We are also involved in more formal research through project evaluations and longitudinal impact assessments. Here, you’ll be expected to use your knowledge of research methods to introduce innovation to the way we measure change within systems.

As a trainer, having developed your knowledge and experience through research and consulting, you’ll contribute to our internationally-recognised training programmes. You’ll guide participants from development projects and funders through key concepts and frameworks. You’ll help develop, refine and deliver new materials which emerge from your experience and thinking across your work with Agora.

The Terms:

We aim to be a company fit for the 21st Century. A job is perhaps not the right term as what we’re seeking are bespoke partnerships with talented people to meet their personal and professional needs as well as those of Agora. That is to say we’re interested in building Agora and want you to want to be part of it. That sounds like marketing speak, but it is genuinely how we want to build the business. If we share principals and objectives and you have the right skills, then we’re open as to how we make it work on a case by case basis. This might include:

  • Full-time salaried employment

    • A starting salary for a full time role would be £35,000-50,000 pa but you can expect salary growth for effective performance of 10-15% for each of the first 5 years. The starting point within that range would depend on how quickly we can begin to put you onto our projects according to your CV.

  • An equity holder:

    • As an employee-owned business, we offer equity partnerships to the right people.

  • An associate:

    • After an initial period in which we develop your skillset and align with our way of working, we would offer you work and you would decide on a case by case basis if you want to do it, getting paid for the work that you do.

  • Exclusive part-time positions where you commit a given number of days per year and the rest of the time is your own.


You will be expected to be available for meetings in Manchester on a regular basis so being based in Manchester is strongly preferred.


In the longer term all positions are expected to be fulfilled based on remote working, while we aim to meet physically as regularly as possible. We have people across four continents and it can be a real advantage to keep travel time down.


If you’re joining relatively early in your career, it would be really useful if you are based in the Manchester area for the first couple of years. This would allow us to meet regularly and travel together and for you to get the senior mentorship support you need. However, the exact arrangements for this can be discussed.


Things like holiday entitlements are flexible too. Obviously, the more holidays you have, the less you’ll be working and we can build our partnership around that.


Beyond this, if there’s a way of working you have in mind, we’re open to the conversation.

Next Steps

Please provide a CV, covering letter and a written response to this question of at least two pages:

What's wrong with development and what can we do about it?

Submit via email:

We have live and pressing opportunities and so the sooner you reach out and we see whether there might be a good fit, the better.

Closing date

31st March 2021

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