Chief Client Services Officer
Reports To: President/COO
Job Type: Full-time
Region: Central America & Mexico - East Africa - South America - Southeast Asia - United States - West Africa
Location: Global, remote
Contact: Please apply using the form below
About Root Capital
Root Capital is an NGO founded 24 years ago with a mission to support the growth of agricultural enterprises so they can transform rural communities. These businesses, from farmer cooperatives and associations to local processors and millers, purchase crops such as coffee, cocoa, nuts, or grains from smallholder farmers and in most cases export to global markets. With growth, they become engines of impact that can raise incomes, create jobs, empower women and young people, and preserve vulnerable ecosystems. Root Capital supplies these businesses with vital resources: access to capital, trade and technical partners, financial, management and other forms of capacity building training, and advice and support to enhance bankability, gender equity and opportunity, climate resilience, and youth employment. Root works in hard-to-serve geographies where others don’t go and serves clients whom the local financial institutions are reluctant to support. To date, Root has loaned over $1.8 billion to improve the lives of over ten million people in farming communities.
Root has been a widely recognized pioneer in areas like bankability and access to finance and gender equity, and is building on this success to enhance its focus on climate resilience and youth employment. Root takes pride in its rigorous monitoring and evaluation of projects, in learning from its experience, and in proactively seeking the input of its clients and counterparts to remain “big enough to matter, small enough to act” with agility and creativity. Headquartered in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Root Capital currently works in over 15 countries in Latin America, Africa, and Southeast Asia, and has associated offices in Costa Rica, Mexico, Nicaragua, Peru, Senegal, and Kenya. Root’s global staff is 145 and growing rapidly to address our ambitious 5-year strategy to both broaden and deepen our reach in our target agricultural communities.
The CCSO reports to the President/COO, and will manage 3 teams (Lending, Advisory, and Business Development [BusDev]) whose members are based in Latin America, Africa, and Southeast Asia. The CCSO is a key member of senior management and will be part of Root’s management structure, the Senior Leadership Team (SLT), comprising the Founder and CEO; President and COO; the heads of Root’s primary departments (External Affairs [EA, overseeing fundraising and communications]; Finance; Human Resources; Legal; Risk; and Strategy, Impact, and Innovation (SII); the Chief of Staff; and the Chairs of the three Regional Teams (RTs) for Africa, Mexico and Central America (MAC).
Root’s formula for working with clients focuses on offering two interrelated elements: financial (Lending) and technical advice and support (Advisory). To reinforce the links between these two types of activities, Root’s BusDev team (which is not directly engaged in fundraising) contributes to strategy and service delivery through a range of related services, including market and country mapping; solicitation and analysis of client and peer feedback; identification and management of pipeline opportunities and business opportunities; and competitiveness analysis. In order to focus on and underline the importance of coordinated delivery of these services to our clients, Root has decided to bring them together in a new “umbrella” department, Client Services (CS), with the objective of optimizing coordination, collaboration, and mutual reinforcement among the incorporated teams. This umbrella will include Lending, Advisory, and BusDev.
To manage this new department, we have created a new role, Chief Client Services Officer (CCSO). The CCSO’s mandate is to ensure that these departments work together to deliver coordinated and mutually reinforcing financial and technical services to our clients. This coordination is also expected to facilitate efficiencies in work practices, support impact studies and other learning opportunities, identify potential fund-raising and operational partnerships, deliver specific activities supported by donor funds, and systematically achieve targeted portfolio results. A major part of the role will involve setting and managing annual operational goals as well as periodic strategic plans.
The CCSO will initially be supported by 2 Senior Directors, one each for Lending and Advisory, both of whom are currently in place. These Senior Directors will have designated responsibilities for a range of activities supporting their departments, ensuring close coordination and collaboration across regions and between the incorporated units; facilitating quality assurance; liaising with Strategy, Innovation, and Impact (SII) on promoting innovation; and troubleshooting and providing specific guidance and support to Lending, Advisory, and BusDev staff. The Senior Director for Lending will also provide guidance and support for BusDev as its role within the Client Services function develops into a third pillar of the department. We are also considering adding a Business Operations (BusOps) unit to ensure closer coordination between client facing teams and the systems and processes which support them.
About the Opportunity
This is an opportunity to build a new department, to refine its mandate and operations, and to play a leading role in shaping the future of Root as a member of senior management. This position is for someone who is:
- A strategic thinker, planner, and executive leader. This person has worked in nonprofits or NGOs of similar size, understands their dynamics and their role in international development, sees how they can operate in the complex economic ecosystem of financial and technical services, and has a demonstrated ability to think strategically about how best to deploy the resources of a complex, multinational organization to achieve its mission objectives.
- Committed to client service. This is someone with a strong grounding in identifying and meeting the needs of SME clients for financial and technical services, in working collaboratively, and in developing and utilizing tools to ensure effective communication and feedback between clients and those, starting with Root, who are their partners and counterparts in the business environment in which they operate.
- Bringing technical skill and experience with SMEs at a senior level. The successful candidate will bring extensive experience in lending, ideally to smallholder agricultural businesses in an international environment. The candidate will also be familiar with offering high-quality technical services focused on capacity building, and with developing technical services offerings in conjunction with and support of lending activities. Familiarity with trade finance, infrastructure lending, blended capital, and climate finance is highly desirable.
- Experienced with cross-cultural workplaces and sensitivity. Root is a multinational organization, both in terms of its clients and its staff. A well-grounded appreciation of the different environments in which we operate and the importance of meeting Root’s clients and staff literally where they live is critical.
- Committed to Root Capital’s mission. The successful candidate will be someone who understands and is committed to Root’s mission, while at the same time is able to bring a capacity for constructive criticism and a desire to build on Root’s record of creating positive impact to engagement with Root’s management team, staff, clients, peers, and counterparts in delivering global economic development.
Responsibilities will include:
- Ensuring a strong focus on client services, which are at the heart of Root Capital’s activities and the key to our Credit + Capacity business model
- Providing management and guidance to Lending, Advisory, and BusDev in delivering client services
- Proactively developing feedback from clients and partners on service delivery
- Developing and applying quality assurance measurements across the department
- Supporting the development and implementation of innovative approaches to product and service delivery for clients
- Ensuring effective collaboration between CS and other departments within Root, particularly with Risk, External Affairs (EA) and Strategy, Impact, and Innovation (SII)
- Developing strategy for and managing the achievement of both global and departmentally specific performance goals agreed by Root from time to time through the OKR (Objectives and Key Results) process or otherwise
- Facilitating development of “force multiplying” funding and operational partnerships in the field
- Contributing proactively to Root’s thought and practice leadership in successfully supporting the economic evolution of its clients in a cost-effective manner
- Participating as a member of the Senior Leadership Team (SLT) in the management of Root and the presentation of Root at Board meetings and other internal and external activities
- Actively contributing to Root’s efforts to act as a widely recognized and respected thought and practice leader
- Engaging with regional teams, clients, and counterparts in the field, with travel to the regions and representing Root at relevant conferences and events at least once a quarter.
Qualifications – required or highly desirable
- An economic development background, possibly with an NGO offering similar services to Root’s, a financial or non-bank financial institution working with SME clients, an IFI with a focus on SMEs, etc.
- A minimum of 15 years of experience in development work in the field, with a strong preference for experience in Latin America and/or Africa required
- Demonstrated experience with a strong client-centric approach to delivering financial and technical services required
- Significant management experience at scale in an NGO environment, preferably with extensive international or cross-cultural elements required
- Demonstrated success in developing and implementing a successful lending program directed at smallholders in emerging economies required
- Significant experience with the design and delivery of advisory work and related client services in the field, ideally in an NGO or SME context, is highly desirable
- Significant experience in agribusiness, economic development, coffee, and/or climate adaptation is highly desirable
- Ability to understand and apply information from spreadsheets, portfolio construction models, and other analytic tools required
- Experience with developing and/or applying quality assurance processes as management tools is highly desirable
- Familiarity with designing and/or applying market and sector mapping, competitiveness analysis, and similar tools for assessing and enhancing operational effectiveness is highly desirable
- Demonstrated experience in identifying, developing, and managing financial and/or operational partnerships is highly desirable
- Experience in designing, implementing, and assessing strategic plans is highly desirable
- Fluency in written and oral English and Spanish is required
- Ability to effectively represent Root externally with peer organizations, corporates, government interlocutors, potential donors, etc. is required