HR Officer Cell 5 (m/f)

Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is an international humanitarian aid organization that provides assistance in more than 60 countries to populations in distress, to victims of natural or manmade disasters and to victims of armed conflicts, without discrimination and irrespective of origin, religion, creed or political affiliation. To support this work, the Operations Department of the MSF Operational Centre Brussels is looking for an: HR Officer Cell 5 (m/f)



At the heart of the Operations department in the Operational Centre of Brussels (OCB), the cells are comprised of a multidisciplinary team of 7 people (Coordinator, Deputy Coordinator, Medical Officer, HR, Log, Fin, Supply) whose function is to supervise and coordinate MSF activities in several countries. The cells are the direct interface from HQ to field. Each member is in charge of a specific component under the supervision (hierarchical link) of an Operations Coordinator, with a functional link (technical link) with the coordinator of the corresponding department. In the cell, the HR department is represented by the HR Officer function.

The HR Officer (HRO) has a role of strategic generalist, is integrated into the Operations department in close collaboration with the HR Department and is assisted by the Centre of Expertise in the HR Department.

S/he is a strategic actor of the HR department at the heart of the cell. S/he is familiar with all the projects of the cell and actively participates in the operational decision process in relation to the strategy and the mission and project’s objectives.

S/he is the guarantor of the coherence and quality of the HR response to operational needs whilst respecting the contextual specificities of missions and of the OCB HR vision pertaining to the search for excellence, MSF as a responsible employer and the development of talent. S/he can relay HR needs and operational issues in missions to the HR department.

Context of Field Recentralization:
Mid-2019 OCB launched a reform in support of the projects aiming at providing more autonomy to the projects. Southern Africa (SnA) missions (Mozambique, Zimbabwe and South-Africa) have been chosen as first pilot, where an innovative and transformational approach will be implemented in 2020 in the region.

The current cell will phase out of current responsibilities and will function as ‘safety net’ as long as a relevant hand-over hasn't been completed. The role of ‘safety net’ is not fully defined yet as it will depend on timelines and capacities of the new setup, but eventually the HRO for cell 5 will no longer be responsible of these missions but may be required to support and guide the new regional HR person in their role.

A Regional Support Team (RST) will be established to be the first line contact for the projects for strategic matters. While being based in other offices in the region, the RST will report directly to the OCB Director of Operations.

‘National support team’: a transformation of what is currently known as the Coordination Team (often based in the capital of the country) into a mixed team of junior and senior profiles that provide country-specific support within the different technical domains (HR, fin, supply, log, med..) and keep a role of representation at country level.

‘Project teams’: based on unicity of every project reality, lifecycle, setup etc... During 2020, a reinforcement and/or re-organization of punctual, temporary or more permanent positions/functions will accompany the transition towards a more final setup. Speed of transition is project specific.


  1. Person accountable of the coherence and quality of administrative and HR management:
    • S/he guides and provides counsel to HRCo for the elaboration and annual revision of an HR strategy which is adapted to the specific mission needs.
    • S/he monitors the quality of the use of HR for the movement and the adequacy of resources with the project(s)/mission(s). S/he participates to common efforts needed for the institution to create an healthy HR pyramid in terms of field posts.
    • S/he mobilizes the field teams to provide an HR demand which is clear, precise, complete, quality-driven and predictable. S/he supervises the quality of set up in the mission (coordination and project).
    • S/he is responsible for the HR budget of the cell and guarantor of the HR commitments taken during the ARO.
    • S/he ensures the promotion and supervision of respect and the contextualized practical application of the MSF HR principles, policies, procedures and tools by the HRCo to ensure optimal efficiency. The HRO is guarantor of their coherence and their longevity.
    • The HRO is responsible for submitting exceptions and deviations to the HRO coordinator or to the exception committee, depending on the case and following the principle « apply or explain ».
    • S/he monitors the HR & administrative quality of the mission. S/he uses control tools (HR Fundamentals, to be developed) at his/her disposal in order to ensure the HR and administrative health of the mission.
    • S/he follows the legal-judicial situation in missions and involves the legal unit as soon as s/he deems it necessary.
    • The HRO steers the HRCo towards an optimal management of HR information tools (Homere, HR.Net, KITSCH, and, in the future HR Database tool), and their use as a management tool.
    • Briefing/debriefing: The HRO is guarantor of the quality of the induction process of expats before arriving on the mission.
    • Matching: The HRO takes part in the expat selection for the missions according to the defined frame for the matching process.
  • The HRO is guarantor of the quality of open positions.
    • S/he contributes towards national staff detachment initiatives, all the while respecting the procedures.
    • HR Management:
      • S/he is guarantor of the taking into consideration of the social context in the HR OPS decision-making process and the subsequent enforcement.
      • S/he is the person in the cell who ensures that decisions applying to employees take into account a respect for legal aspects and good HR management.
      • S/he assists the HRCo in their responsibility as career manager for national staff in their mission, and assures the continuity thereof.
      • S/he supplies the L&D department with information in order to develop competencies for field actors.
      • S/he advises and develops HR management competencies within field teams.
      • S/he is a key factor in the resolution and/or management of conflicts.
  1. Definition of operational HR demand in the HR department
    • Thanks to their knowledge of the HR issues on the field, s/he is an indispensable relay between operations and the HR department, and takes part in the definition of the operational HR demand in the HR department.
    • S/he ensures support to missions from the Centre of expertise (CoE) during the development, the implementation and the improvement of the HR & administrative management framework, puts into context the recommendations of the CoE and validates. S/he will obtain approval for all deviation or exception by the HRO Coordinator according to the procedure.
  2. Formative supervisor of the HRCos

S/he frames, supports, follows and develops HRCo competencies, together with the career manager/pool manager who has identified the areas of development and this in the specific frame of formative supervision.

  1. Innovation

S/he contributes to the proposition, to the development and to the setting up of innovations which respond to specific HR & operational needs of missions.

A series of innovations has been identified for each cell. The HRO will develop these files and ensure their completion.

The HRO will initiate/propose changes/improvements to the frame of control of the HR & administrative quality of the mission and will ensure their implementation.

  1. Various :
    • Upon request of his CO and/or the HRO coordinator, s/he is involved in vertical files; they can be allocated the development and follow-up of specific HR files.
    • According to their availability, experience, and/or affinity, s/he may play the role of referent or key user in certain fields (Homere, HR.Net, …) for the rest of the team.
    • S/he actively participates in platforms to which he/she has been invited (cell meeting, HRO platform, ARO and CoPros, etc.)
    • S/he is the back up of other HROs upon request and according to availability/workload.
    • S/he can be requested to co-present training sessions.
  2. Specific for cell 5:

As referred to above, the recentralization process is ongoing in OCB and the pilot on 3 countries of the cell 5 is in full roll out. The candidate needs to have the flexibility and willingness to actively participate in this way of working and further feed and guide this process, which will lead to repeated adaptations of the roles and responsibilities as described above for some countries in the portfolio.

Also, in other countries we are reviewing the modus operandi together with the partner section (i.e. Brazil) which requires again an interest in designing different ways of working adapted to the context as well as 2 projects without a standard coordination team. Also, India is considering a change in their way of working which will require important HR support and strategic thinking. All will impact the type of HQ support needed and thus also from the HRO. Due to Covid 19 some of these processes are being delayed.

New countries will most likely be added to the portfolio (Haiti is planned - timeline to be confirmed).

Maybe less specific for cell 5, but very specific for today is the uncertainty we are facing due to the Covid 19 pandemic and the enormous impact this has on our operations and more specifically on the HR and the management thereof. This requires an additional flexibility and energy of the candidate to address the needs in this changing environment from and HR perspective.


  • Minimum 2 years of MSF experience on the field, at least one year in HR and one year in a coordination position
  • Available for frequent field visits
  • IT competencies: Word and Excel indispensable. HR.Net & Homere.
  • Languages: bilingual French-English (written and spoken) – Spanish and/or Portuguese are desirable
  • Strategic vision
  • Analytical spirit
  • People Management
  • Coaching and Mentoring approach
  • Teamwork
  • Leadership
  • Planning and organization
  • Stress management
  • Adherence to MSF principles and to our managerial values: Respect, Transparency, Integrity, Accountability, Trust, Empowerment
  • Adherence the MSF Behavioral Commitments


  • Open-ended contract, full-time, based in Brussels with visits to the field
  • Start date: October 2020
  • Based in Brussels with frequent visit in the field
  • Hospitalisation insurance (DKV) – pension plan – canteen - reimbursement travel expenses (100% reimbursement of public transport)

Deadline for applications: June 14th, 2020 

Interested candidates should send a letter of motivation and curriculum vitae by e-mail to Céline Miroir,, with the following reference: “HRO Cell 5”.

Please name you application documents with your LAST NAME.  We thank all those who apply. Please note that due to the volume of applications, only candidates selected for the interviews will be contacted further.

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