United Nations Foundation

Principal Architect, Data for Development (D4D)

Other-See job description
Regular Full-Time


About DIAL (Digital Impact Alliance)


DIAL is a new global alliance to enable the digital ecosystem to deliver greater scale, efficiency and social impact by creating more inclusive digital economies. Working with partners, DIAL will generate evidence of what works through field-based projects, distil insights and tools to promote scale-up and replication, and provide mechanisms for co-investment throughout the ecosystem. DIAL is hosted by the United Nations Foundation, and the team is based in Washington, D.C.


Team: D4D/ Data for Development 


While millions of low-income and otherwise vulnerable communities remain generally underserved, new data generating technologies such as mobile devices, high-resolution satellite imagery and digital services have become more affordable and mainstream. Nearly 70 percent of the economically bottom fifth of the population in developing countries own a mobile phone – more than have access to electricity or clean water. The proliferation of various forms of digital, geospatial and programmatic services – from mobile operator call data records (CDRs) and satellite imaging to mobile apps and value added services (VAS) delivering health, education and other services over mobile channels – holds the potential to greatly inform social impact initiatives.


A number of private- and development-sector D4D efforts are underway, from elevating the development sector’s use of all types of sectoral data to corporate initiatives that utilize digital data for initiatives that ultimately impact the bottom-line. An ecosystem of organizations is emerging to realize the societal and commercial impact of these opportunities. New techniques and business models for analyzing and drawing insights from multiple and large data sets are becoming more available, enabling new ways of understanding user needs for both commercial and public good uses.


This opportunity combined with its deep technical expertise and an issue-first and partner-first approach, as well as a fundamental understanding of and sensitivity to the commercial needs of partners - positions DIAL as a cutting-edge, agile, neutral, global service provider that can advance the field of D4D.


Principal Architect, Data for Development (D4D)


DIAL is seeking a Principal Architect to join the Data for Development (D4D) team. The Principal Architect will set the vision and the strategic technical roadmap for the Data for Development (D4D) portfolio of investments.


The Principal Architect will support the buildout of the Data & Analytics functions for the D4D team with the strategic intent of pushing the field of D4D forward. The Principal Architect will be responsible for steering our technical and implementation partners and driving our research partners’ agenda and investigations. Working with our technology partners, she will develop the required infrastructural components (technical, commercial) that will match data supply (e.g., MNOs) with data demand (e.g., programmatic partners in public health, agriculture, etc.). She will lead the in-country delivery of these solutions, and enable compliance with regulatory and data protection regimes. She will also drive the development of common data architecture and standards for utilizing telco and digital data for social good. Finally, she will work with partners to develop insights and indicators that can provide accelerated support for decision-making in the public sector.


  • Collaborate closely with cross-functional DIAL and United Nations Foundation teams and partners to determine the most important questions within their domain (food security, public health, financial inclusion, education) and harness the power of data to solve some of society’s toughest social challenges.
  • Work with partners in the private sector to re-imagine their critical role in social impact and data for good initiatives, while balancing the needs of a profitable business.
  • Work with programmatic partners with a range of focus (food security, public health, financial inclusion, education) to determine the best approach to delivering insights that can be used in their initiatives, and deliver end-to-end in-country solutions.
  • Establish data convergence use cases with all stakeholders that meet the market, technical and regulatory realities, while pushing the field of enquiry forward.
  • Develop the shared value proposition for our programmatic partners as well as our demand side and supply side ecosystem participants.
  • Provide consultative guidance to steer our technical and implementation partners (e.g. System Integrators, Analytics Companies).
  • Develop risk identification and mitigation processes, and issue recommendations to maintain the integrity of private data being used for social good.
  • Determine the technical architecture roadmap and Proof of Concept (POC) for a data convergence solution using advanced analytics and machine learning technologies.
  • Determine common technical architecture and standards to reduce friction for global telecoms and other data holders to contribute their data.  Make decisions about where data from multiple disparate sources with different technology platforms will be consumed and delivered at strategic internal and external endpoints.
  • Converge mobile data with other data sets (e.g. geospatial) to fill critical information gaps.
  • Investigate and identify methods of building business models and incentives for data-holders.

Selection Criteria

  • 15+ years of experience in Software Engineering, Software Development, Database Engineering, and/or Programming role with experience architecting data solutions. Previous technical architecture experience using open source technologies preferred. 
  • Demonstrated expertise in delivering strategic technical architecture roadmaps for enterprise level data lifecycle solutions at scale. 
  • Demonstrated experience developing common architecture and standards, and scalable data governance frameworks that adhere to regulatory guidelines.
  • Ability to prepare, model, validate and operationalize large datasets to generate insights.
  • Experience delivering Proof of Concept (POC) and value proposition to share with stakeholders and partners.
  • Expertise in providing consultative guidance in business solution design, development, implementation, and support among external partners including system integrators.
  • Experience architecting enterprise/commercial solutions across infrastructure, platform, and application projects. Experience both modifying and enhancing legacy systems, and developing greenfield platforms.   
  • Strong understanding of multiple technology platforms, data convergence solutions, Big Data, and Data Science, Machine Learning. Demonstrated experience with the following: RDBMS and NoSQL solutions, cutting edge data integration and ETL/ELT processes, Advanced Analytic, Machine Learning, statistical packages, and cloud solutions. (Examples of technologies: Hadoop, Java, Python, Scala, Spark, AWS, R).
  • Bachelor’s degree in Mathematics, Engineering, Computer Science, or a related field.  
  • Versatile technical skill set that includes strategic architecture of Big Data, Advanced Analytics, Data Science, and Machine Learning solutions.
  • Strong interpersonal communications, relationship development, and conflict resolution skills.
  • Collaborative attitude. The Principal Architect will be collaborating with internal partners at DIAL as well as many external partners and vendors. 
  • Passionate technical leader skills with a strong interest in delivering technology for Social Good.
  • Experience working with global teams and managing several globally distributed partners and vendors.
  • Balanced experience across people management, program management, and product management that includes advisory responsibilities to technical teams.
  • Fluent in English.
  • Strong interest in traveling to the Least Developed Countries (LDC) with the team up to 25% of the time.

Benefits & Compensation

For full-time employees we offer an excellent range of benefits, including a choice of two health plans through CareFirst (PPO or HDHP). Dental insurance, vision discount plan, Life Insurance, Supplemental Life Insurance, Short-Term Disability, Long-Term Disability, Long-Term Care Insurance, Health Club Discounts, Commuter Benefits, Employee Assistance Program and Warby Parker discounts.


12 Paid holidays, 4 weeks of vacation, 10 sick days, 3 personal days and 8 weeks of parental leave (mother or father).  Access to the UNFCU Credit Union, 150% match on our 403b retirement plan, Flexible spending accounts, health savings accounts and discounted Zipcar membership.

Other Information

This role can be performed remotely within the United States, and the team will consider international applicants living in South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa as long-term consultants.


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