Learning Advisor, Network Development

Start Network

  • Team: Network Development
  • Location: London, Home-working
  • Closing: 11:59pm, 20th Jun 2021 BST

Job Description

Start Network is made up of more than 50 aid agencies across five continents, ranging from large international organisations to national NGOs. Together, our aim is to transform humanitarian action through innovation, fast funding, early action, and localisation.

We're tackling what we believe are the biggest systemic problems that the sector faces. Problems including slow and reactive funding, centralised decision-making, and an aversion to change mean that people affected by crises around the world do not receive the best help fast enough, and needless suffering results. Our work focuses on three areas to change the system:

  • Localisation: shifting power to those closest to the front line for more effective response.

  • New forms of financing: providing fast, early, and predictable funding to improve community resilience and preparedness.

  • Collective innovation: sharing expertise, insights and perspectives to shape a more effective humanitarian system.

The Start Network is at a critical point in its journey. We have grown and diversified our membership over the past 10 years. We are now set to evolve into a decentralised “network of networks” by 2025. We are currently working with five national and regional networks (hubs) in Pakistan, DRC, Guatemala, India and the Pacific. They are developing locally-owned ways of anticipating and responding to humanitarian crises. We aim to support the emergence and development of further Hubs in the coming years.  Our ultimate ambition is to devolve leadership, membership, programming and decision making to the hubs, while the UK team transitions to provide services of support.

Start Network is committed to protecting people, particularly children, at-risk adults and affected populations from any harm that may be caused due to their encountering the Start Network as well as responding effectively should any harm occur.  We are also committed to safeguarding staff from any forms of bullying, harassment, sexual harassment, discrimination and abuse of power as outlined in the Dignity at Work policy. 

Start Network embraces diversity, promotes equality of opportunity and eliminates unlawful discrimination. We are an equal opportunities employer and treat every application on merit alone.  We particularly welcome applications from disabled, black, indigenous and people of colour (BIPOC), and LGBT+ and non-binary candidates.  We offer a guaranteed interview scheme for disabled applicants who meet our essential selection criteria. 

Our roles are open to discussion about flexible working.  While our team is office based, home working is part of our culture.  For part-time working and job-shares, please get in touch with us for a conversation about possibilities.


The Learning Advisor, Network Development is a critical role in ensuring that learning, reflection and adaptation guides Start Network’s efforts to become a decentralised and locally-led network. The Start Network aims to shift from a centralised network model to a dispersed ‘network of networks’. In this vision, regional or country-based hubs predominantly made up of local and national organisations will lead responses and drive innovations that will foster a better and more locally-led humanitarian system. We are currently one year into testing our vision via an 18-month proof of concept with five pilot hubs, in India, Pakistan, DRC, Guatemala and the Pacific, and beginning to apply learning to engage with a second cohort of hubs.

The Learning Advisor will advise and facilitate the Start Network and the hubs to embed learning and reflection practices across strategic and operational aspects of this Network transformation. The focus will be on designing and facilitating a collaborative approach to learning that results in strategic reflection, adaptation and uptake across the Network to ensure it is moving closer to its vision of being a locally-led network of networks. In particular, it will involve supporting the Network Development team to learn and iterate its approach to incubating and engaging with hubs.


Technical skills

  • Excellent expertise and experience in innovative learning and evidence tools, methods and approaches.

  • Ability to synthesise, analyse and present complex data - particularly qualitative data - in an easy to understand and engaging manner.

  • Understanding of design methodologies and user-centred design approaches to learning

  • Basic understanding of localisation, decentralisation or decolonisation approaches and mindsets or experience of working in a locally-led programme or context desirable

  • Proven ability to draw learning effectively and efficiently from large bodies of qualitative and quantitative data and to feed this into programmatic or strategic change.

  • Proven ability to design and implement innovative learning frameworks. 

Personal skills

  • Proven mentoring and facilitation skills

  • Innovative and creative thinker

  • Excellent team player with an ability to work flexibly and adapt to changing demands

  • Excellent written and oral communication skills, able to communicate complex learning concepts in plain language with a wide range of professionals from different organisations and backgrounds. 

  • Strong inter-personal and influencing skills.

  • Cultural sensitivity to work with a diversity of organisations and countries 

Education/professional experience

  • Experience supporting a collaborative community of practice

  • Experience working remotely and effectively across organisations

  • Minimum 5 - 7 years’ experience of supporting or delivering an organisation or programme level learning framework in a humanitarian or similar organisation

  • Experience of working in change processes desirable


Developing and adapting the Network Development learning strategy

  • Working in a collaborative manner with the Network Development Team and the hubs, you will develop, own, implement and adapt an approach and strategy to learning and reflection. This learning strategy will build on the hubs’ theory of change and will complement and expand the existing learning framework - that enables adaptive learning to feed into the organisation’s approach to hub incubation and decentralisation.

  • Promote a “user-centred” approach and design methodologies, in ensuring that processes are driven by learning and reflection from the hubs.

Driving collective learning activities

  • Facilitate discussion to develop, shape and use innovative learning tools and methodologies.

  • Lead on the collection, consolidation and analysis of feedback and data at tactical and strategic levels, to support the team to pivot and course-correct based on testing and learning

  • Create and facilitate space with the Network Development team, hubs and the wider Start Network team for regular reflection, feedback and analysis of learning.

  • Support the Network Development team in designing processes to navigate the tension between thinking, trialling and deciding to move forward in line with expectations from key stakeholders, namely members and hubs.

 Supporting hubs on their learning journey

  • Mentor, facilitate and support hubs to identify their learning priorities and to develop, refine and put in place an approach to learning. 

  • Support hubs to share their activities and learning and ensure that this information is incorporated into wider Start Network learning and reporting.

Influencing uptake of learning

  • Facilitate sense-making sessions to understand the implications of and respond to learning.

  • Support a culture of accountability by facilitating teams to make strategic and actionable commitments, with follow up and reflection on progress.

  • Communicate learning internally and externally, which will include producing, commissioning and overseeing the development of products (reports, video, blogs, animations etc.) to support effective communication and uptake of findings.

  • Contribute to strategy reviews and updates based on the evidence emerging from these processes.

  • Commission additional research as required to further support the programme and learn from its experience.


  • Contribute to the overall Start team and the mission of the Start Network, with particular emphasis on collaboration with the Evidence and Learning team.

  • Take on other team and leadership roles from time as required in support of the team outcomes.

  • Commission and support relevant external evaluations


  •  Create and promote a learning culture, authentically sharing own learning and supporting others to do the same at organisational, team and network level

  • Promote a culture that delivers, learns and iterates, sharing evidence across the organisation and network by enabling others to establish rhythms and shared spaces

  • Actively listen and know when to hold space rather than fill it, inviting others to participate by asking questions based on an understanding of individuals

  • Hold both a strategic perspective and enough detail to work with one part of the organisation whilst understanding the impact on other parts of the organisation and network through listening and engaging with other teams

  • Balance the tension between thinking, trialling and deciding to move forward in line with expectations from key stakeholders, namely members and Hubs

  • Actively promote collaboration by spotting and breaking down barriers to siloed working, connecting colleagues, teams and initiatives

  • Promote different ways to engage different audiences, advising others on how to maximise impact through feedback and coaching

  • Flex communication style to convey complex information concisely to different audiences, avoiding jargon and using simple language

Start Network culture

  • To carry out the responsibilities of the role in line with the Start Network Code of Conduct and with a commitment to safeguarding adults and children

  • A commitment to the Start Network vision, principles, values and approach

  • The Start Network team is an agile group of individuals who use their experience and skills across the network, so flexibility to work in and with different teams and functions is a part of our culture.


  • Flexible working with options to work from home and remotely some of the time

Note: all staff are working from home under COVID restrictions and we are currently surveying staff about our office return, balancing individual and organisational needs (likely maximum xx days in the office per week for this role)

  • Centrally located WeWork office with onsite drinks and snacks available free of charge

  • Access to cultural talks, events, pop-up sales, and a place to meet and socialise after work (online under COVID restrictions)

  • Discounts at local cafes and restaurants in association with WeWork

  • Family friendly policies and approaches, particularly maternity pay (21 weeks full pay)

  • Equity support groups and safe spaces – currently BIPOC, LGBTQ+ and open to others with budget and support from a cross-organisation Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Group

  • Wellbeing initiatives responding to the needs of the organisation e.g. additional days of leave given under COVID and regular activities initiated through Wellbeing Peer Supporters

  • Training and development opportunities and budget for individuals and teams

  • Access to counselling services provided by Thrive International

  • Cycle to Work scheme

  • Contributory pension

  • Life assurance equivalent of three times your salary

  • 25 days’ holiday, bank holidays plus 2 paid company days over the Christmas period

Removing bias from the hiring process

  • Your application will be blind reviewed by our hiring team to ensure fairness
  • You’ll need a CV/résumé, but it’ll only be considered if you score well on the blind review

Start your de-biased application


Removing bias from the hiring process

  • Your application will be blind reviewed by our hiring team to ensure fairness
  • You’ll need a CV/résumé, but it’ll only be considered if you score well on the blind review

Start your de-biased application