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Head of Operational Communications Unit (Position based in Barcelona)


Médecins Sans Frontières is an international independent medical-humanitarian organization, which offers assistance to populations in distress, to victims of natural or man-made disasters and to victims of armed conflict, without discrimination and irrespective of race, religion, creed or political affiliation.

MSF is a civil society initiative that brings together individuals committed to the assistance of other human beings in crisis. As such MSF is by choice an association. Each individual working with MSF does it out of conviction and is ready to uphold the values and principles of MSF.

The MSF movement is built around five operational directorates supported by MSF’s 21 sections, 24 associations and other offices together worldwide. MSF OCBA is one of those directorates. The operations are implemented by field teams and the mission coordination teams; together with the organizational units based in Barcelona, Athens and decentralised in Nairobi, Dakar and Amman. The field operations are guided and supported by 5 Operational Cells, the Emergency Unit and other departments supporting operations, including the Communication Department.



As part of the Communications Department at OCBA, and based in Barcelona, the Operational Communications (OpsComms) Unit focuses on developing MSF’s global communications strategies, supporting field teams with their communications activities and raising awareness about the plight of the populations which the organisation assists.

The Unit is made up of six Communications Advisors (CA) either based in Barcelona, Nairobi or Amman, under the direction of the Head of Operational Communications, known also as Communications Coordinator or CoCo.

The CoCo leads and manages the OpsComms Unit. S/he is under the direct supervision of the Director of Communications.

Although the CoCo will spend most of his/her time in Barcelona, s/he is expected to travel to project locations from time to time, as well as to MSF offices abroad.



Strategy and Planning

  • Supervise the definition of MSF's international communications strategies and public positioning for MSF-OCBA’s operations in close collaboration with the Director of Communication;
  • Together with the Department of Operations and the OpsComms Unit, define for each country or cross-cutting subject, MSF’s public positioning, priorities and strategic objectives and ensure they are in line with the overall OCBA Strategic Plan and MSF´s Operational Policy;
  • Prioritise and design the short- and longer- term external communication plans, activities and tools to be developed in support of MSF global priorities and operational needs;
  • Ensure the coherence, relevance, timing and technical quality of communication activities and materials (written, audiovisual, and digital) developed by the OpsComms Unit;
  • Lead and advise other departments on communication strategies in the event of crises involving MSF or its staff members;
  • Participate in the reflection on medical and humanitarian dilemmas and MSF’s role through keeping up-to-date on global communications environment, organized debates, analysis and reflection exercises;
  • Collaborate in defining procedures, indicators and tools with the rest of the department, to monitor and assess the impact of communication activities;



  • Line-manage team members in the OpsComms Unit and oversee their daily activities;
  • Provide team members with the necessary support to ensure the achievement of identified priorities;
  • Organise and chair weekly team meetings and bi-laterals with each member;
  • Manage and support each team member’s professional development (including evaluation and career development);
  • Define and guarantee a proper allocation of communications resources in key strategic locations in order to provide efficient support to MSF communications aims and needs;
  • Maintain a trained pool of communication staff for crisis management, field emergencies, gap fills and vacation periods;
  • Oversee objectives and Key Performance Indicators (KPI) for the different projects of the OpsComms Unit;
  • Define and manage the OpsComms budget, including the monitoring of communications expenses and investments in the field and HQ to optimize resources;
  • Handle or oversee all HR recruitment activities for OpsComms (Comms Advisors and Field Comms) from writing job descriptions, interviewing, and evaluations;
  • Define, create and conduct Comms Trainings for field staff, key spokespeople, and Comms staff in collaboration with the Training Unit, when appropriate;
  • Anticipate future needs/prospects/opportunities to generate capacity to meet future operational staff, resources and organizational challenges.



  • Professional background in journalism and communication (minimum 5 years’ experience required)
  • Field experience and knowledge of/experience with MSF, or similar international humanitarian agencies
  • A comprehensive understanding of humanitarian interventions, their principles and ethics
  • Solid knowledge of and experience with the international media scene
  • Track record of developing successful communication strategies
  • Experience in team and project management
  • Knowledge of video, photography and digital communications highly valued
  • Knowledge of the digital media tools and landscape highly valued
  • Excellent writing and communication skills
  • Fluency in English, working knowledge of French.
  • Other languages (Arabic, Spanish) an asset.



  • Flexibility to travel to the field on very short notice.



  • Commitment to MSF’s Principles
  • Cross-cultural Awareness
  • Strategic Vision
  • Results and Quality Orientation
  • Service Orientation
  • Planning and Organising
  • Initiative and Innovation
  • Teamwork and Cooperation
  • Leadership
  • People Management and Development
  • Security Awareness and Management



  • Full time job based in the Médecins Sans Frontières-Spain Barcelona Headquarters; spending around 10% of the time in the field
  • Availability to travel with short notice to complex security contexts
  • Long term contract. Minimum commitment with the position of 3 years.
  • Gross salary: 39,448.49 € (divided in 12 monthly payments) + secondary benefits based on MSF-OCBA Reward Policy 
  • Starting date: immediately



  • Applicants should send their CV and covering motivation letter under the reference “Head of Operational Communications Unit ” to:
  • Closing date: 12nd of December 2018
  • Replies will only be sent to short-listed candidates.