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.

Regional Operational Team Leader South America (m/f/x) – MSF Belgium – Rio de Janeiro


Mid-2019, MSF OCB (Operational Center Brussels) launched a reform aiming at providing more autonomy to the projects: the Field Recentralization programme/FrC. Following a first phase in Southern Africa, Central Africa (CA), then MSF operations in Europe and eventually South America located operations (today Brazil and Venezuela) were selected to develop a regional and innovative and transformational support approach to operations that will be implemented in the region from 2022 on.

Amongst other changes a core Regional Support Team (RST) will animate the network in the region by ensuring the optimal autonomy of the projects and the strategic support to the projects according to the principles of subsidiarity. Cell 5 who has overseen operations in the region, has gradually handed over the operations starting from the creation of a core Regional team, foreseen to be fully in place around end of 2022. The speed of this full transformation will depend on the operational and contextual reality of each project and each country.

The Field Recentralization program therefore impacts the role of teams at the project, country and regional level. At each level, the roles and responsibilities will be adapted and different from those currently played by the projects, the unit and the coordination teams.

A core “Regional Support Team South America” (RST 5) will be based in Brazil and it be will be the interlocutor of the projects and of the country support team (today called the coordination teams), if any, in Brazil, Venezuela, any future contexts in the region in collaboration with the MSF Brazil section (MSF-BRA) who will host the team and support it in some domains.

A Memorandum of Understanding that is currently being finalized between MSF BRA and MSF-B (legal entities respectively of MSF-Brazil and MSF-OCB), listing roles and responsibilities will be the framework on interaction between MSF-BRA, MSF-B and the RST 5.

This RST will initially be made up of senior Ops, Med, HR, Log, Fin and Supply profiles. For some of these last positions a hybrid function may be designed sharing responsibilities with roles at the country or section level.

  • After opening of these positions, there will be an in-depth analysis to define in detail what specific support to the projects remains essential at the country level. Various areas of expertise are necessary for the proper functioning of the projects. Today’s Venezuela coordination teams (along with RST and MSF BRA) will be invited to further reflect on the best operational support towards the project teams. It is assumed that there will be no coordination team per se in Brazil.
  • Project teams: a more autonomous project team can only be reached through the strengthening of teams, taking into account the specificities & the life cycle of each project. The investment in staff development, an efficient exchange between projects and a new way of collaboration with country & regional level are a few examples of how this can be established.

To obtain greater autonomy for projects, a strengthening of responsibility and skills at the project level is essential. This strengthening will be accompanied by a transformation of the responsibilities of the current coordination teams with potentially a change of titles in these teams.

At the same time, autonomy includes the duty for the project to consult the teams at the country and regional level and the technical referents/experts concerned. Each operational team must have access to the expertise and internal knowledge of MSF (eg referents at the regional / global / headquarters level).

Finally, Field Recentralization promotes a participatory managerial approach by including project staff in strategic decisions, while keeping a clear decisional line.

OCB in South America:

  • OCB is currently covering Venezuela and Brazil in the region
  • Venezuela is the bigger operation in the region with a complexity of a government that does not want to collaborate with NGOs. The modus operandi was a low-profile intervention under the umbrella of a local MSF Venezuela. Nowadays the situation in this aspect have improved and OCB is leading the representation and trying to get a proper registration, we are more visible than at the beginning of the operations
  • In Brazil OCB has the intention to open a new validated project in Paras State (North of Brazil) for neglected populations, and a second TB (Tuberculosis) project in selected prisons in Rio de Janeiro
  • There is the intention to have more projects in the future
  • The supply of medical product is difficult as (most of) the countries in South America are not open for pharmaceutical importations.
  • The region has also a high bureaucratic system sometimes difficult to understand


As “Regional Operational Team leader South America” you will be, together with the Regional Medical Team leader – South America, responsible for the identification and response to the strategic humanitarian issues in the region. Depending on the revision of the role and responsibility over 2022, you will coach either the Project Coordinator (PC) at the project level or at the country level (today ”HOM”). In both cases the autonomous functioning of the project team is encouraged.

Together with the Regional Medical Team leader South America, you will be responsible for the coherence of OCB operations and advocacy in the region. You will also have a decision-making role on new operations in the region, framed by the operational prospects of the OCB and the allocation of resources; and a key role in monitoring the humanitarian context, access and in responding to humanitarian medical emergencies in the region as a key member of OCB in collaboration with the Latin America Emergency HUB (LaTam E-Hub).

You will be based in Brazil but mobile in the region of South America operations in order to:

  • Facilitate interaction & communication with projects & country teams
  • Facilitate the synergy with the MSF BRA section to ensure a coherent institutional representation in Brazil and the region ; facilitate the synergy with the BRAMU (Brazil Medical Unit) which has an agreement (MOU) with the Medical Department in Brussels (BRAMU referents will be providing technical support to RST and projects in their domains of expertise)
  • Develop regional networks, in collaboration with the Advocacy unit and with the Analysis Department Regional position from OCB, primarily with MSF BRA and other MSF initiatives in the region such as the OCB/OCG Latam EHUB.

You will be the main contact for the autonomous project teams and the country teams for main challenges related to security. It may be required to impose security decisions if the case arises.

Finally, you will play an active role in the design of this new regional setup (with the MoU as reference), which will be in evolution for at least the first year after implementation.


Together (co-management) with the Regional Medical Team Leader South America:

  • Responsibility for OCB operations in the region
  • Mirror role for country teams and/or project teams (according to final setup in each country)
  • Maintain (in synergy with MSF BRAl) a regional network and monitor political and humanitarian developments in the region, including in countries with no presence of OCB
  • Negotiate humanitarian access in collaboration with projects, country teams as well as with the Advocacy unit and other MSF advocacy regional initiatives already integrated with MSF BRA
  • Guarantee the visibility of the project teams in the movement
  • Promote creation of platforms, roundtables for strategic reflections in the region
  • Accompany the design and implementation of a regional support team and the adaptation of roles at project and country level
  • Consultation and mirror role in security management (rules and incident management in the region; security plan remains at project responsibility). Final responsible for the management and follow-up of critical incidents (lessons learned and resuming of operation/movements)
  • In collaboration with the project & country teams (and taking into consideration the MoU regarding communication and advocacy), identify & moderate the main priorities for communication & positioning initiatives.
  • Ensure, in close collaboration with MSF BRA Advocacy Unit (HAAU), a coherent institutional representation in Brazil and in the region (as per the MoU)
  • Represent OCB operations at the regional level, internally and externally (in articulation with the advocacy unit and advocacy regional position)
  • Be the custodian and main promoter of FrC principles in the region (subsidiarity, consultation, ‘rescue’ role), apply these principles to interactions with projects, country teams and collaboratively within the regional team
  • Final responsibility for the allocation of human and financial resources within the budget frame
  • Identify and coordinate the response to emergencies in the region, propose and participate in exploratory missions, assessments in collaboration with E-hub OCB-OCG, BRAMU and other MSF entities in the region, the operational & medical responsible at project and country level
  • Participate in the development of regional technical support according to the needs of the projects and in collaboration with the other OCs and the regional initiatives in progress.
  • Promote staff mobility in the region
  • Guarantee the diversity of experiences and profiles in the region (sansfrontièrism)
  • Coordinate and manage the members of Regional Team as per new operation’s roles and responsibility

Specifically, for the Regional Operational Team Leader South America:

  • Direct contact with the Operations Department/DO, as well as with MSF BRA Executive Director
  • Consultation and mirror role in security management (rules and incident management in the region; security plan remains at project responsibility). Final responsible for the management and follow up of critical incidents (lessons learned and resuming of operation/movements)


Education & experience

  • A university degree is a strong asset
  • Background in international politics is an asset
  • A minimum of 5 years humanitarian experience
  • 2 years MSF experience in coordination positions, preferably with project experience
  • Experience and/or real interest in migration, HIV-TB, geo-politics, humanitarian and human rights law
  • Coaching certification is an asset
  • Work experience in the region is an asset


  • Strategic vision
  • Leadership
  • Management and development of staff
  • Service orientation
  • Teamwork and cooperation
  • Coaching & mirror attitude with the teams
  • Strong communication and coaching skills
  • Flexibility and stress resistant


  • Proficiency in English
  • Proficiency in Spanish and/or Portuguese


  • Expected starting date : 01/12/2022
  • Location: Rio de Janeiro (Brazil)
  • Up to 30% mobility in the region
  • Contract type: Fixed-term contract – Full time
  • Contract duration: 1 year
  • Salary as per MSF Field salary grid
  • The contractual conditions will be established based on the station, on administrative / legal constraints and in respect of MSF function grids and salary policies
  • Family position
  • Adhere to the MSF principles and to our managerial values: Respect, Transparency, Integrity, Accountability, Trust and Empowerment
  • Adhere to the MSF Behavioral Commitments

Deadline: 22 November 2022

How to apply

How to apply?

Please, send your CV and cover letter to Recruit-HQ-Operations@brussels.msf.org and mention “Regional Operational Team Leader South America” in the subject of your email.

Only shortlisted candidates will be contacted.

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