Job Details

  • Reference number: ID 520
  • Type of engagement:
  • Posted: January 12th
  • Remuneration package: The 2023 annual cost of employment including benefits is between R711 889 and R837 514, depending on qualifications and experience.

Background to Position

J-PAL Africa seeks a senior research manager to manage multiple research projects that test the impacts of a variety of social programmes in South Africa through randomised evaluations (also known as randomized control trials). This is an exciting opportunity to contribute to the generation of scientific evidence about what works in the fight against poverty. The senior research manager will build the capacity of young, talented research staff, and will get hands-on experience with real-world policymakers and their programmes – all while working at the frontier of academic research.

The position holder should be a capable manager of field research projects, with excellent quantitative research and people management skills. The role involves managing the research staff who work on these studies, closely liaising with the academic researchers who design and lead the projects and ensuring that the projects are implemented with fidelity to the study design. A key component of the role involves ensuring rigorous data quality measures are in place, including high-frequency checks, back-checking, effective training and debriefs with field staff, and other measures as required. The role also involves building and maintaining strong relationships with project partners – often governments and large NGOs - and working with them to ensure study results inform their programmes and policies.

The position will be based in the Johannesburg office of J-PAL Africa, the Africa regional office of J-PAL Global, which forms part of the Southern Africa Labour and Development Research Unit (SALDRU) in the University of Cape Town’s School of Economics. Travel to other locations in South Africa will be required for fieldwork supervision, partner management, and work with J-PAL staff or other colleagues. The Abdul Latif Jameel Action Lab (J-PAL) aims to reduce poverty by ensuring that policy is informed by scientific evidence. J-PAL consists of a global network of academics who specialise in conducting randomised evaluations of social policies/programmes to generate this evidence. 

Job Description

Responsibilities include:

  • Help set the vision and strategic direction for the research team
  • Project Management: managing J-PAL Africa’s evaluations
  • Supervise several impact evaluations/research projects concurrently.
  • Planning and feedback with principal investigators in a timely manner.
  • Preparing budgets and financial reports for donors and project financial management
  • Manage all the steps of the implementation of each impact evaluation: project management, sampling, intervention monitoring, data collection, data cleaning and analysis
  • Hire, train and supervise the team working on each research project, including (Senior) Research Associates, and less directly, Interns, Project Associates and field enumerators as appropriate.
  • Project Development: Working with prospective partners and academics to craft and fundraise for project ideas. 
  • Relationship Management: Oversee communication and engagement with (potential) partner organizations and other stakeholders and funders
  • Support as a trainer of capacity building activities of J-PAL Africa: workshops, seminars, Evaluating Social Programmes Executive Education courses, and staff training.

Inherent Criteria

Requirements for the position:

  • A Masters in Public Policy or Economics or another similar social science including graduate level (Honours and up) courses in econometrics/ statistics, microeconomics or development economics
  • A minimum of three years relevant work experience
  • Experience conducting field research in developing countries
  • Demonstrated ability to conduct rigorous quantitative research
  • Strong skills in data cleaning and analysis or other programming including task automation using Stata and/or R and/or Python 3
  • Experience managing complex research projects
  • Demonstrated people management experience (including managing staff at multiple levels), ideally including managing a survey team in a developing country
  • Experience in managing relationships with multiple stakeholders from different institutions or departments
  • Experience writing and managing budgets
  • Proven ability to handle multiple diverse assignments at one time, successfully complete assigned tasks and meet deadlines while conducting high-quality work
  • Advanced writing and oral presentation skills in English, particularly the ability to communicate technical research considerations to policymakers in a non-technical manner
  • Familiarity with Microsoft and Google Suite, and data collection software like SurveyCTO and/or Qualtrics
  • Ability and willingness to learn new software/ programming technologies
  • Valid driver’s license
  • Ability to travel regularly within South Africa, and occasionally overseas
  • The following will be advantageous:
  • Demonstrated questionnaire design experience
  • Research publications in the area of survey methodologies and/or economics

Application Requirement

To apply, please visit the UCT Internal Careers Site (For Internal Applicants) and UCT Careers site (For external Applicants) to create a profile and submit your application.

Please complete/attach the following to your profile before submitting your application:

  • Curriculum Vitae (CV)
  • A letter of motivation clearly addressing your qualifications for the various responsibilities listed above
  • Three referee names which must include their title and name, position details, relationship to you, their e-mail address and telephone number
  • Grade 12 certificate, academic transcripts and university certificates

Shortlisted candidates may be required to undergo an assessment and references may be requested by UCT at any stage of the selection process.

Any     inquiries       for     this     position       are     to     be      addressed       to     Ms. Abigail Dixon at or

021 650 1673.

Closing Date:       7 February 2024                  Website:

UCT is a designated employer and is committed to the pursuit of excellence, diversity and redress in achieving its equity targets in accordance with the Employment Equity Plan of the University and its Employment Equity goals and targets. Preference will be given to candidates from the under-represented designated groups. Our Employment Equity Policy is available at

UCT reserves the right not to appoint.

About University of Cape Town

The University of Cape Town (UCT) is South Africa's oldest university, and is one of Africa's leading teaching and research institutions. UCT was founded in 1829 as the South African College, a high school for boys. The College had a small tertiary-education facility that grew substantially after 1880, when the discovery of gold and diamonds in the north – and the resulting demand for skills in mining – gave it the financial boost it needed to grow. The College developed into a fully fledged university during the period 1880 to 1900, thanks to increased funding from private sources and the government.