Italy: Senior HR Specialist – Business Partner

Organization: International Fund for Agricultural Development
Country: Italy
Closing date: 13 Nov 2016

Organizational context

The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) is an international financial institution and a specialized United Nations agency dedicated to eradicating rural poverty and hunger. It does so by investing in rural people. IFAD finances programmes and projects that increase agricultural productivity and raise rural incomes, and advocates at the local, national and international level for policies that contribute to rural transformation.

Post’s organizational accountability

The Senior Human Resources (HR) Specialist (BPU) is responsible for the delivery of a full range of HR services for as portfolio of clients and in various integrated HR operations. The level of senior professionalism allows the incumbent to provide technical leadership in the HR specialties and commensurate expert advisory services on policy development, implementation and administration. The accountabilities/key results include:

  • Human Resources Practice Leader
  • Human Resources Business Partner
  • Human Resources Management
  • Human Resources Advocate
  • Agent of Change

The Senior HR Specialist (BPU) works under the overall strategic, policy and management guidance of the Director of the Human Resources Division (HRD) and the daily supervision of the Chief, HR Business Partner Unit. Within his/her areas of responsibility, the Senior HR Specialist exercises a high degree of independence in providing reliable HR programme delivery. He/she performs the full complexity range of HR work independently, including the analysis and approval of complex and/or precedent setting cases with the aim to ensure consistency in the interpretation and application of regulations and rules.

The Senior HR Specialist plans, organizes and supervises a team of HR staff that comprises HR associates and assistants responsible for servicing and administering benefits and entitlements and social services to the staff of Fund.

Key results expected / Major functional activities

1. HUMAN RESOURCES PRACTICE LEADER: The Senior HR Specialist is accountable for technical leadership in the administration of benefits and entitlements with responsibility for reviewing the work of his/her team for compliance with principles and concepts, policies, regulations and rules as well as for soundness of judgement and conclusions and in the interpretation of the related policies and procedures; also, she/he is accountable for technical leadership in the various HR specialty areas which are part of the Business Partner’s portfolio (job classification, recruitment, consultants’ hiring, performance management, contract management, and more in general HR management). He/she directly supervises an HR specialized team of associates and assistants (Servicing and Social Security team) with responsibility for work planning and organization, supervision of the work of the team assigned and establishing and monitoring performance management indicators of success. He/she develops, implements and monitors the interpretation and application of new human resources policies, practices and procedures in his/her areas of specialization to meet the evolving needs of the Organization.

2. HUMAN RESOURCES BUSINESS PARTNER: the Senior Human Resources Specialist’s customer service focus is on strategic planning and in the provision of expert technical advice on a range of HR policies, regulations, rules and procedures. He/she provides advice both verbally and in writing to managers, supervisors and staff on human resources policies, regulations, rules and procedures, proactively building a mutual understanding of these governing guidelines and respective (HR/Managers/Staff) roles and accountabilities in the management of IFAD’s human resources. The Senior HR Specialist supports HR best practices in the Fund through outreach to counterparts in other private and public sector organizations to identify potentially innovative solutions to IFAD; as well as maintains open communications with counterparts in other UN and IFI organizations. He/she may represent the organization in inter-agency working groups and committees ensuring IFAD’s perspective and client needs are included in evolving policies.

3. HUMAN RESOURCES MANAGEMENT: The Senior HR Specialist is a seasoned HR professional with the capacity to develop, interpret and apply a broad range of HR policies, rules and regulations, as well as standards and techniques related to the HR strategy, principles, policies, regulations, rules and procedures of the UN and of the Fund. The Senior HR Specialist also identifies improved approaches to the delivery of HRM services in assigned areas. He/she provides support to a large group of clients and serves as a senior specialist in the following HR areas: recruitment, administration of entitlements, job classification, staff development, performance management, social security, with accountability for: (a) planning and implementing recruitment strategies and programmes; (b) providing support to managers and supervisors in recruitment as well as monitoring the appropriate use of contractors/ consultants; (c) reviewing and approving the classification levels of unique professional and general service positions by analysing content of jobs, conducting classification surveys (desk interviews) and managing related review mechanisms; (d) identifying the need for additional generic job profiles (GJPs) and overseeing the association of GJPs to new or revised posts; (e) providing advisory services to managers on organizational and workforce planning, job design and career planning needs in light of programme and skill requirements; (f) monitoring utilization of staff resources; and evaluating and determining training needs. In addition to leading the full range of complexity of work, including the establishment of precedent-setting determinations on entitlements, the Senior HR Specialist reviews recommendations pertaining to highly sensitive/political cases and makes technically authoritative decisions in consultation with the Chief, Talent Management Unit and HRD Director.

4. HUMAN RESOURCES ADVOCATE: The Senior HR Specialist projects HRD’s reputation as a value-added, technically competent and reliable service provider as part of the Division’s HR strategy. The focus is on expert knowledge of the Fund’s governing structure, mandate, long-term business strategy, organizational dynamics and culture and on their senior-level professionalism, the incumbent advocates for new or revised policies, procedures and initiatives. He/she reaches out to managers, supervisors and staff, listening and responding effectively and efficiently to common issues and problems and builds relationships based on respect and trust. From the perspective of a value for diversity and respect for a multi-cultural client base, the Senior HR Specialist demonstrates communications skills that serve to promote the Division’s strategy and the equitable management of IFAD staff.

5. AGENT OF CHANGE: the Senior HR Specialist understands and applies the principles of change management and proactively serves as a role model for transformation and capacity for acceptance of change. He/she uses a solid knowledge of information technology to analyze and promote acceptance of new methods of work and effective communication skills to persuade and influence managers, supervisors and staff to adopt change. Going beyond acceptance to change in methods and technology tools, the Senior HR Specialist manages change through consultations with HR management and colleagues and outreaches to client management, supervisors and staff to establish and maintain collaborative, open and regular communications pertaining to current and planned changes in HR strategy, policies, regulations and rules. He/she is able to explain the scope and ramifications of proposed HR initiatives, promoting understanding of their purpose and functional advantages.

6. MANAGERIAL FUNCTIONS: the Senior HR Specialist leads a team of HR associates and assistants responsible for servicing and administering benefits and entitlements and social services to the staff of Fund, with accountability for integrity, transparency, and equity in the management of IFAD resources. This includes:

  • People Management through recruitment, performance and career management of staff as well as learning management establishing learning plans and ensuring staff supervised meet their development needs while meeting the needs of IFAD.
  • Resource Management by providing strategic and data inputs into the divisional budget preparation exercises.
  • Knowledge and Content Management by ensuring (1) knowledge content within functional area is continuously updated and available to colleagues and clients (2) best practices are continuously identified, documented and distributed and (3) appropriate and up-to-date information and learning tools are available to the Fund’s managers, supervisors and staff.
  • Information Technology Management through leveraging ERP functionality for improved business results, simplification of transaction and reporting processes and improved client services.

Impact of Key results / Key performance indicators

The work requires the development of new and/or modifications of existing policies, practices and techniques as well as the revision of HR work performed at lower levels and taking corrective and adaptive actions. The Senior HR Specialist is accountable for (a) convincing management of the utility of improved approaches to the delivery of assigned HR services; (b) addressing problems involved in formulating the Fund’s position on the interpretation and application of policies, regulations and rules to highly contentious cases; (c) satisfying the organizational, programmatic and HR needs related to the field of work; and (d) developing expert advice for the Fund that is recognized and accepted as being fully sound. Detailed analysis of the interrelationships of HR issues with those of programme, political and resource considerations is required. The work is defined by support to one major or a group of the Fund’s departments and offices yet the impact of work encompasses HRD as a whole requiring continuous and collaborative exchange of technical expertise with peers and management to ensure HRD is seen as speaking with one voice.

The key performance indicators for the Senior HR Specialist include both technical and team leadership.

Representation / Work relationships

Internally, the Senior HR Specialist is an authoritative HR technical adviser to the Fund in the development of new or modified policies and practices and in the provision of expert advice within their areas of specialization. Recommendations for solutions to HR problems involve discussions with management, staff and other HR specialists and staff. The advice and recommendations provided are considered technically accurate and are provided to senior managers inside and outside the HR division. External contacts include: counterparts in other United Nations organizations in order to negotiate and reach agreement on the transfer of staff between organizations or to exchange information on approaches to similar HR problems, etc.; and inter-agency groups such as CEB and ICSC to provide information on the Fund’s HR policies and practices and negotiate the adoption of common system practices. The Senior HR Specialist also may represent the Fund in consultations with staff representatives, formulating management’s position with respect to grievances and appeals, as well as in inter-agency coordination committees dealing with human resources questions.



  • Strategic thinking and organizational development: Personal influence (Level 1)
  • Demonstrating Leadership: Leads by example; initiates and supports change (Level 2)
  • Learning, sharing knowledge and innovating: Challenges, innovates and contributes to a learning culture (Level 2)
  • Focusing on clients: Contributes to a client-focused culture (Level 2)
  • Problem solving and decision making: Solves complex problems and makes decisions that have wider corporate impact (Level 2)
  • Managing time, resources and information: Coordinates wider use of time, information and/or resources (Level 2)
  • Team Work: Fosters a cohesive team environment (Level 2)
  • Communicating and negotiating: Acquires and uses a wide range of communication styles and skills (Level 2)
  • Building relationships and partnerships: Builds and maintains strategic partnerships internally and externally (Level 2)
  • Managing performance and developing staff: Manages staff and teams effectively (Level 1)


  • Human Resources Specialist with a strong and extensive expertise in the area of benefits and entitlements administration and with an authoritative knowledge of HR theories, principles, policies and procedures.
  • Human Resources Specialist with a demonstrated success in the delivery of comprehensive professional HR services (recruitment, job classification, staff development, performance management, social security).
  • Ability to provide technical and administrative leadership to staff supervised and to develop clear goals that are consistent with agreed strategies.
  • Team worker –participate in teams and work effectively with internal and external colleagues in a multi-cultural environment.
  • Capacity to adapt policies, approaches and models to meet emerging needs and to enhance the continuing relevance of the Fund’s HR capacity/programme to client divisions/departments/offices.
  • Ability to identify and analyze systemic issues, formulate opinions and make conclusions and recommendations to resolve same.
  • Analytical and organizational skills.
  • Demonstrated ability to communicate effectively in a diverse organization tailoring language, tone, style and format to match audience; ability to present sometimes negative results in a considered and tactful manner to promote acceptance.
  • Takes responsibility for incorporating gender perspectives and ensuring the equitable consideration of women and men in all assigned HR activities.
  • Excellent knowledge of information technology systems and tools.
  • Ability to empathize with client managers, supervisors and staff while advocating for consistent and equitable applications of promulgated HR regulations and rules.

Minimum recruitment qualifications


  • Advanced university degree from an accredited institution in Human Resources Management, Public Administration, Business Management or other job related field.


  • At least eight (8) years of progressively responsible professional experience in human resources management of which three (3) years preferably in the United Nations or an international financial institution, or another multi-cultural organization or institution or a national organization providing support on a global scope.

Language requirements:

  • Excellent written and verbal communication skills in English. Working knowledge of another official language (Arabic, French, or Spanish) is desirable.

Other information

Applicants should note that IFAD staff members are international civil servants subject to the authority of the President of IFAD, and they may be assigned by him/her to any of the activities of IFAD, including field assignments and/or rotation within IFAD.
In the interest of making most cost effective use of funds and resources, we are only able to respond to applicants who are short-listed for interview. Candidates who do not receive any feedback within three months should consider their application unsuccessful
Candidates may be required to take a written test and to deliver a presentation as well as participate in interviews.

IFAD is an equal opportunity employer and female candidates are strongly encouraged to apply.

How to apply:

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