Educate!, a high-growth and award-winning non-profit social enterprise, is seeking a dynamic Chief Product Officer (CPO) to lead all product development and build our product org’s capacity for high-impact and data-driven product development. As a product-led org in a sales-led industry, Educate! lives a culture of data-driven product development built on human-centered design and rapid experimentation. The CPO will be at the center of this working with a team of product managers to build product strategy, operations, data-driven decision-making and culture, while investing in coaching and team growth. As part of the executive team, the CPO will help define the next 5-10 years for Educate!.
The right person will be mission driven with an obsession for impacting their end users, and eager to use their product development experience to build highly disruptive products that drive social vs. financial value and meaningfully alter youth life-trajectory and life outcomes. In doing so, you’ll meaningfully contribute to addressing one of the biggest challenges facing the world’s youngest continent - youth unemployment.
Educate! takes a product-led approach to designing highly scalable youth products, and product is at the core of our org design. The right person will love team building, coaching and the product craft, bring in growth-stage experience, and will be passionate about building educational experiences that leverage both accessible technology (e.g. feature phones) and in-person learning. This role can be virtual and does not need past education or international development experience.
Educate!’s growth prioritizes building a suite of simple tech-enabled bootcamps and related products targeting youth left out of the education system (with a vision of building an alternative to traditional high school) and expanding our solutions for national education systems The CPO will lead this work and be a critical senior leader driving towards our vision to measurably impact millions of youth across Africa each year.
What if there was a way to measurably change the trajectory of the lives of youth across Africa? Since its launch in 2009, Educate! has worked to do just this, delivering outsized impacts at scale and at disproportionately low cost, through a product-led approach to youth development. As a disruptive, not-for-profit, social enterprise, our team leverages an obsession with evidence and entrepreneurial drive to tackle one our planet's greatest challenges - unlocking the potential of its youngest continent.
Educate!’s core model combines training in key skills with access to practical experience starting a business and mentorship, a formula that has been validated by several independent evaluations. This model is distributed through products targeting two lead channels. First, Educate! works with governments to help reform education systems at scale through policy change, teacher behavior change and tech-enabled products targeting systems-level sustainability, while also working directly with select schools. Second, Educate! builds employment-focused bootcamps and business support services targeting out-of-school youth left out of the education system. To date, more than 200,000 youth have been meaningfully impacted by this model across Uganda, Rwanda and Kenya and along the way Educate! has become the largest youth skills provider in East Africa.
Educate! is a team of over 170 largely African staff and 300 volunteer youth mentors. We have been backed by top foundations and product leaders such as Imaginable Futures, Big Bang Philanthropy, Echoing Green, the 1st Google Employee’s foundation, the head of Google Search and Rippleworks Foundation. Educate! won a 2018 Klaus J. Jacobs Prize and a 2015 WISE Award, and has been highlighted by Bill Gates, in the World Bank’s S4YE's Impact Portfolio, an Al Jazeera documentary, BBC, and The Brookings Institution as one of 14 case studies in their global scaling education learning initiative. Educate! was also selected by the UN’s Generation Unlimited as 1 of 20 innovative youth solutions and by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation as a Goalkeepers Accelerator.
Educate!'s long-term vision is to design solutions that measurably impact millions of youth across Africa each year.
Key 3 Year Performance Objectives
Rural girls bootcamp validated and scaling up in Kenya and Uganda, delivers meaningful income boost (exact number TBD), and model built to serve 10-20k per year now, with potential for greater growth in future years.
New product teams set up and experimenting with two new out-of-school youth bootcamps
Education reform product suite simplified and team to fulfill design needs staffed to be able to serve needs in Rwanda, Kenya and two new countries
VIP bootcamp, adapted as necessary, creates impact that is on par with direct to school model
All strategist and product owner roles staffed and/or strategies to experiment to staff them
Product team knows how to interact with delivery and functional teams in ways specific to each stage.
Educate! “way we do product” established and adopted by the entire product org.
Own, build on, and manage a product strategy that will enable Educate! to measurably impact millions of youth each year.
Lead development of innovative outcome-driven products for youth tailored to both direct delivery and government integration. Define product strategies and theories of change and support all product lines to create sustainable impact on youth.
Build on and adapt Educate!’s product vision. Ensure the entire product organization is aligned on the product vision, strategy and goals. Facilitate strategic conversations with product and country leaders to co-create product strategies and growth plans. Support team prioritization in building the right things that drive impact for youth.
Deeply understand the problems Educate! is trying to solve. Lead root cause analyses and guide others in the organization to think critically about root causes.
Collaborate with executive team to define business priorities, resources, objectives, and market positioning. Identify key tensions and tradeoffs and bring to senior leadership team for resolution
Oversee product strategy implementation, including through the quality of product materials, such as curriculum, participant marketing and recruiting materials, and workshops
Define and evaluate appropriate product metrics and help determine the right time to apply each to help lead each product to achieve its impact goals
Identify areas of future development and ensure that continuous product improvement
Map best pathways for tech to serve as growth enabler, blending in-person experiences with simple accessible technology to drive at impact at scale
Product Team Operations, Culture and Coaching:
Empower and grow strong product teams to adopt and apply best-in-class product development standards and approach, contextualizing to Educate!’s work, target markets and youth participants. Promote application of product standards and strategy-aligned decision-making within product teams. Ensure procedures and clarity in place for conducting research, prototyping, design conceptualization, and product development across the entire product team.
Build product culture: define and integrate into product team operations answers to questions such as how we product, what are our key processes, how we generate appropriate feedback loops, how we plan, what is the role of the product manager, how product interacts with other parts of the organization, which user-centric methodologies we use, and how we uplevel product team members.
Mentor, coach, guide and grow product leaders
Teach teams and build systems that manage products at different stages in their life cycle (from discovery all the way to scale), growing our internal muscle to recognize all the different ways a new product and the ways of work around it will be different from a mature product.
Customer/User Obsession, Insight and Data-Driven Decision Making:
Build a team of product leaders who understand the problems, needs and desires of youth we serve, and engage with youth regularly
Oversee both external research (best practices, existing evidence) and internal research and reporting to support evidence-based and data-driven decision-making. Ensure effective use of different product analyses.
Identify behavioral change process for our product end-users (e.g. teachers and students)
Establishes product development systems and standards for impact and optimal user experience across technology-enabled and in-person youth models.
Ensure documentation and routine sharing of knowledge and experiences across teams and the organization
Ensure Product Experimentation Drives Learning
Create systems and procedures for experimentation to validate new product ideas and innovations
Provide oversight on the development of prototypes & pre-tests
Support product teams to brainstorm and assess product design solutions
Conduct reflection and learning workshops based on both internal and external reports and best practices
Qualifications and Requirements
5-8 years of product related experience, with significant management experience
Education or non-profit background NOT required
Passion for applying world-class product development to solving critical global challenges
Passion and interest in youth
Experience working with distributed teams
Time spent at a smaller size startup or company (below 100 people) and experiencing growth
Experience in product development - either product management, design, (user) experience, or user research.
Knowledge and experience in designing and implementing behavioral change, ideally applied to more behavior transformative products
Understanding and application of human-centered or iterative design approaches
Highly strategic thinker with passion for coaching team members
Collaborative, data-oriented approach to problem solving
A good fit with our Five Cultural Tenets (see “What is Educate! About?” Below; learn more by looking at Educate!’s culture deck here.
Candidates of African nationality or descent strongly encouraged to apply. Meaningful time spent in the Global South and ideally East Africa is required.
Location and Time Zones
This role can be virtual, with willingness to travel to meet with teams, youth and other key stakeholders.
Requirement to work majority of the East Africa time zone work day