Impact & Learning Manager, Investments

Stanford Impact Labs (SIL)
Location Palo Alto, California, USA
Application deadline 13 October 2023
Contract type Permanent
Hours Full-time
Salary $105,000 - $147,000 per annum
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The Stanford Impact Labs (SIL) is seeking an Impact & Learning Manager to play a critical role in using data & evidence to drive SIL’s investment strategy, while building out and executing on a nimble approach to impact measurement.

Brief description of organisation

Stanford Impact Labs (SIL) – a major initiative at Stanford University – invests in mission-driven teams of researchers and practitioners from government, business, nonprofit organizations, and philanthropy. These teams – or impact labs – work together on social problems they choose and where practical progress is possible. With our support, they rapidly develop, test, and scale new solutions to social problems that affect millions of people worldwide.

Key roles and responsibilities

  • Design and execute an impact measurement strategy. You will own the approach to monitoring, evaluation and learning for SIL’s portfolio of investments. A successful strategy will help to change how we put social science to work for society, aggregate data to measure the impact and cost effectiveness of the portfolio and the fund as a whole, report on interim progress and in so doing critically inform the strategy of the fund. Your work will include:

Designing and implementing a repeatable and reproducible approach to understanding the Expected Impact of SIL investments. As some of SIL’s early investments mature, your nimble, iterative approach will avoid spurious precision and help to provide early indication of the long-term impact of the work SIL supports. Over time, conducting a Social Rate of Return Analysis to credibly estimate the net social benefits of SIL’s portfolio of investments and compare those to the costs of the fund.

  • Use data and evidence to drive investment strategy. You will be a cultural leader on our team, promoting different strategies to test and learn in service of improving decision-making.
  • Build a culture of learning & experimentation to drive continuous improvement of SIL’s investment approach, including by supporting the team to (a) conduct a set of rapid experiments within investment team operations to improve how SIL selects and supports the teams we support; and (b) test key hypotheses in Stanford Impact Labs’ own theory of change.
  • The role will directly produce and consume evidence about the ways SIL can better direct its limited resources to where it can do the most good. This includes understanding findings from related fields such as meta-science, research on research use, implementation science, the science of scaling, systems thinking, and the diffusion of innovation. In addition to understanding the current evidence base, this role will also generate evidence around key questions central to our mission: for example, what characteristics predict high-impact investments?
  • Own a set of processes and tools to incorporate feedback from key stakeholders to improve the quality of our investment process and our approach to managing our portfolio.
  • Participate in SIL’s core investment process and portfolio management, including supporting teams to define what success looks like and responding to requests for support from the teams we support. In collaboration with other members of the Investment team, you will act as an internal advisor to staff and partners involved in evaluation and learning initiatives–such as assisting the teams SIL invests in to refine their theories of change and refresh their goals and objectives based on learnings gathered from their work.

Experience and skills

  • You have at least 7 years’ experience at the intersection of monitoring & evaluation; advanced research methods; evidence-informed policy; or related fields. This can include time pursuing an advanced degree, such as a PhD, however, the strongest candidates will marry an advanced degree with professional experience.
  • You are committed to impact. You carry with you a relentless focus on outcomes that improve people’s lives. You can quickly understand and narrow in on the key questions to be able to understand whether an idea, intervention or policy change would improve people’s lives.
  • You are rigorous and practical. You can operate within constraints. This experience should include adapting impact measurement approaches to diverse needs, in constrained environments, and accompanied by a comfort with ambiguity, and “good enough” information.
  • You have superb communication skills, including synthesizing, interpreting, and presenting complex information to a variety of audiences. This includes the ability to speak to both expert and non-expert audiences while refraining from jargon, and framing complex issues in clear and simple language.
  • You have a highly versatile skill set and “roll up the sleeves” / “no task too small” attitude. You demonstrate intellectual curiosity and comfort working across social science disciplines and sectors. You have a track record of humility and commitment to learning. You approach disagreements with a curiosity and an “ask questions first” mentality.
  • You are committed to inclusion. You have experience working to make people from different experiences, backgrounds, and perspectives feel welcome, valued, and cared for. You value equity and are looking for opportunities to incorporate these principles into our impact measurement, evaluation and learning activities.

Highly desirable

  • Advanced degree in economics or related social science discipline with substantial experience in research and program evaluation. PhD or equivalent preferred, though candidates that have a Masters Degree with relevant research experience should also apply.
  • Strong grasp of the use of counterfactuals to understand the impact of programs or policies in racial equity, health, criminal justice, education, democratic governance, or other sectors. This includes when counterfactuals can be difficult to directly estimate.
  • Experience with software applications and systems to support data management, analysis, and visualization. No candidate will meet every requirement. We encourage applications from people who are a good fit – through work experience, volunteering, and other personal experiences – and who will grow and thrive in this position.