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Position: Senior Geotechnical Engineer (Retainer)
Job Time: Full-Time
Job Type: Contract
Place of Work: Home based, Ethiopia
Posted date: 1 year ago
Application Deadline: Submition date is over

Background Information - UNOPS

UNOPS is an operational arm of the United Nations, supporting the successful implementation of its partners’ peacebuilding, humanitarian, and development projects around the world. Our mission is to help people build better lives and countries achieve sustainable development.

 UNOPS areas of expertise cover infrastructure, procurement, project management, financial management, and human resources.

Working with us

UNOPS offers short- and long-term work opportunities in diverse and challenging environments across the globe. We are looking for creative, results-focused professionals with skills in a range of disciplines.


With over 4,000 UNOPS personnel and approximately 7,000 personnel recruited on behalf of UNOPS partners spread across 80 countries, our workforce represents a wide range of nationalities and cultures. We promote a balanced, diverse workforce — a strength that helps us better understand and address our partners’ needs, and continually strive to improve our gender balance through initiatives and policies that encourage the recruitment of qualified female candidates.

Work-life harmonization

UNOPS values its people and recognizes the importance of balancing professional and personal demands.


Background information - Implementation Practices and Standards (IPS)

Within UNOPS, Implementation Practices and Standards (IPS) is responsible for the UNOPS delivery practices. IPS provides thought leadership, standards, and oversight as support to the successful delivery of programmes and projects within UNOPS service lines (infrastructure, procurement, project management, human resources, and financial management services).

IPS is comprised of the Infrastructure and Project Management Group (IPMG) and the Procurement Group (PG) which aims to reduce organizational risks, improve project performance, and promote excellence across UNOPS projects through the Standards Management Framework; and provides organizational oversight on the application of standards. These groups also support the positioning of UNOPS in the UN system and development sector in Infrastructure, Project Management, and Procurement. In addition, the Portfolio Support unit aims at building up and managing the organizational readiness of UNOPS and therefore support the implementation of the UNOPS global portfolio. It also provides support services to the Implementation Practices and Standards function. Last, the IPS is hosting the corporate Knowledge Management initiative.

Background Information – IPMG

UNOPS strategic focus places increased emphasis on national capacity development and sustainable approaches to project management, procurement, and infrastructure services.  A key objective is to be recognized as an organization that delivers world-class infrastructure and project management, which is both economically and socially sustainable, even in the most challenging environments. To achieve this goal, UNOPS has established the Infrastructure and Project Management Group (IPMG). 

Within UNOPS, IPMG’s objectives are to serve the organization’s personnel and partners by broadening their infrastructure and project management capabilities, while disseminating best-practices in both of these areas. Through this work, the group helps facilitate the successful delivery of programmes and projects around the world.

To achieve its objectives, IPMG has established three interrelated and interdependent workstreams, namely, Engagement Assurance, Strategic Initiatives, and Standards. IPMG is managed overall by the Deputy Director of IPMG. 

The Engagement Assurance (EA) team ensures an oversight function on the application of standards, guidance, and best practice throughout the project cycle. This is undertaken through Infrastructure Design Review, Organizational Portfolio Management Office reviews (OPMO), Risk-based Performance Assessments (RBPA), and hosting the secretariat for the Engagement Acceptance Committee (EAC).


Background Information - Job-specific

The Engagement Assurance workstream includes the Design Review team. The Senior Geotechnical Engineer will provide the technical support services and qualifications to Design Review as part of their regular evaluation of infrastructure designs submitted by UNOPS' global project offices. The Senior Geotechnical Engineer will work in support of Engagement Assurance and Standards streams, and may also work directly on behalf of projects.

This is a home-based assignment, which may involve travel to various locations, including to remote or post-conflict/post-disaster environments. The functions/duties/key results of this job description are generic and may not always be applicable, nor be comprehensive, for all missions under this job title. The specific tasks and deliverables for each retainer assignment may vary and will be detailed in the terms of reference developed for each assignment by the requesting office/unit, which IPMG will exercise oversight on. 

All retainer assignments will be managed via the UNOPS online retainer management tool managed by Portfolio Support (PS), including the request for the retainer’s services and the provision of feedback for each assignment. 

All UNOPS personnel are required to share a common understanding of UNOPS’ and the UN’s mandate, policies, and activities. To this end, UNOPS Personnel must complete a set of mandatory courses. As a UNOPS ICA retainer, you are required to complete three (3)  online courses upon signature of your contract and prior to commencing any retainer assignment related to Ethics and Integrity, the Prevention of Sexual Exploitation and Abuse, and Security awareness while on an official mission. These courses are available for free on the UNOPS learning platform and shall be completed within the first three months following the contract signature,  at no cost for UNOPS. 


Functional Responsibilities

Reporting to IPMG’s Design Review Manager, the Senior Geotechnical Engineer will play a key role in ensuring the safety and quality of UNOPS infrastructure works. Specifically, the Senior Geotechnical Engineer will perform the following duties and responsibilities: 

1. Technical review of design documentation 

  • Review and provide detailed comment on geotechnical design drawings and calculations, technical specifications, and bill of quantities (BOQs) in terms of accuracy and suitability to overall design objectives, identifying aspects where designs do not align with applicable, technical codes and standards, and also established IPMG policies and technical design guidance. 
  • Technical evaluation and comment on design and implementation of geotechnical investigations and reports including seismic considerations, technical assessments of excavations & retaining structures, and review of foundation designs and calculations including seismic considerations for  residential & institutional buildings, slabs, linear transport infrastructure (roads, bridges, retaining walls), dams, towers, storage tanks, and green technologies (wind turbines, photovoltaic frames, irrigation canals)

2. Support to design development

  • Applying technical expertise and professional experience, the Senior Geotechnical Engineer will support projects by providing technical guidance in the development and/or implementation of geotechnical designs to achieve technical objectives through independent, 3rd party design review and also possible direct field support.

3. Application of professional judgment

  • To ensure the protection of life/safety, functionality, and fitness of purpose while recognizing the circumstances and constraints of the UNOPS operational context, the Senior Geotechnical Engineer will be required to apply professional judgment in the technical assessment and mitigation of project design risks and ranking of importance for recommended design adjustments.

4. Independence, integrity, and objectivity

  • In the performance of professional services, the Senior Geotechnical Engineer will act as an independent technical expert person, free of conflicts of interests, and must be able to maintain the integrity of his/her technical opinion.



  • Develops and implements sustainable business strategies, thinks long term and externally in order to positively shape the organization. Anticipates and perceives the impact and implications of future decisions and activities on other parts of the organization.
  • Treats all individuals with respect; responds sensitively to differences and encourages others to do the same. Upholds organizational and ethical norms. Maintains high standards of trustworthiness. A role model for diversity and inclusion.
  • Treats all individuals with respect; responds sensitively to differences and encourages others to do the same. Upholds organizational and ethical norms. Maintains high standards of trustworthiness. A role model for diversity and inclusion.
  • Acts as a positive role model contributing to the team spirit. Collaborates and supports the development of others. 
  • Demonstrates an understanding of the impact of their own role on all partners and always puts the end beneficiary first. Builds and maintains strong external relationships and is a competent partner for others (if relevant to the role).
  • Efficiently establishes an appropriate course of action for self and/or others to accomplish a goal. Actions lead to total task accomplishment through concern for quality in all areas. Sees opportunities and takes the initiative to act on them. Understands that responsible use of resources maximizes our impact on our beneficiaries.
  • Open to change and flexible in a fast-paced environment. Effectively adapts own approach to suit changing circumstances or requirements. Reflects on experiences and modifies their own behavior. Performance is consistent, even under pressure. Always pursues continuous improvements.
  • Evaluates data and courses of action to reach logical, pragmatic decisions. Takes an unbiased, rational approach with calculated risks. Applies innovation and creativity to problem-solving.
  • Expresses ideas or facts in a clear, concise, and open manner. Communication indicates a consideration for the feelings and needs of others. Actively listens and proactively shares knowledge. Handles conflict effectively, by overcoming differences of opinion and finding common ground.
Education/Experience/Language requirements


  • An advanced university degree (Masters or equivalent) in Geotechnical Science/Engineering is required.

  • A university degree (Bachelor's degree level) in Civil Engineering or other relevant degrees with a combination of additional 2 years of demonstrated professional experience in Geotechnical Science may be accepted in lieu of an advanced university degree.


  • At least 7 years of progressively responsible experience in geotechnical engineering roles is required

  •  Within these 7 years, at least 3  years of experience in design and calculations of complex geotechnical systems is required (complex system could mean multi-floor excavations, complex foundations, soil improvement, slope stability, etc..)

  • Experience and training in Finite Elements Analysis is a significant asset (candidates are required to demonstrate this experience in their profile if they have it)

  • Experience in structural design of foundations and other geotechnical areas (retaining walls, soil improvement, etc) is a significant advantage 

  • Understanding of and experience with geotechnical analysis including considerations for seismic impacts and liquefaction, settlement analysis, impacts of negative skin friction on piles, and calculations of the stability, strength, and rigidity of structures, including loads, stresses, and safety factors, among others is highly desired

  • Understanding of and experience in applications of geotechnical engineering design within a developing country context is highly desired.

  • Knowledge of sustainable and resilient approaches to geotechnical engineering and green technologies is an asset 

  • Knowledge of seismic-resistant design and calculations is an asset.


  • Fluency in English is required

  • Fluency either in Spanish or French is highly desirable 


Professional Engineering (PE) license/certification from an internationally recognized accreditation authority is desirable 
Contract type, level, and duration
Contract type:  Individual Contractor Agreement (ICA)
Contract level: IICA 3
Contract duration: one year, with the possibility of extension