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Principal – Skoll Foundation

  • Palo Alto, CA
  • Posted 1 week ago

skollfoundation Skoll Foundation

About the Skoll Foundation

The Skoll Foundation drives large-scale change by investing in, connecting, and celebrating social entrepreneurs and the innovators who help them solve the world’s most pressing problems. Founded by Jeff Skoll in 1999 to pursue his vision of a more peaceful, prosperous, and sustainable world, the organization took to heart early advice to “Bet on good people doing good things.”

The Skoll Awards for Social Entrepreneurship

Each year, Skoll selects four to six extraordinary social entrepreneurs identified as change agents whose innovations disrupt the status quo and have the potential to spark large-scale change. Selected social entrepreneurs receive a $1.25 million investment over three years, but more importantly are incorporated into a growing community of entrepreneurs and organizations supported by Skoll in a wide variety of ways beyond the limits of ordinary grantmaking. Entrepreneurs benefit from the full resources, skills, and assets of the Skoll Foundation – including its network of investors, media, and other strategic partners – to accelerate innovations and break down barriers to social change. Over the past 15 years, the Skoll Awards program has invested over $470 million in 128 social entrepreneurs on five continents.


The Opportunity

As the number of Skoll Awards recipients – both entrepreneurs and their organizations – expands, the organization seeks to add to its team of Principals a seasoned, strategic global business professional who has a deep desire to support entrepreneurial solutions to the world’s most intractable problems. The Principal reports to the Senior Director of Social Entrepreneurship.

The Principal team is responsible for the Skoll Awards for Social Entrepreneurship and the ongoing investments in social entrepreneurs made directly and through funding partners.

Each Principal manages a portfolio of 8 to 12 Awardee organizations and partners on an ongoing basis with a focus on increasing impact: connecting them to other networks; understanding the breadth and depth of their work and progress towards large-scale systems change; and identifying creative opportunities to help advance their work far beyond the initial grant. Co-creating a shared set of goals and plan for facilitating the partnership between Awardees and the Foundation allows Principals to assess how the Foundation’s time, talents, and resources can be used to advance the Awardee’s progress towards transformative change, as well as understand, analyze, and share how an Awardee is achieving impact in the world and develop shared milestones to track the efficacy of the collaboration.

Principals play the lead role in the selection of new opportunities each year and develop a healthy, long-term pipeline of investments in potential Awardees with whom there exists remarkable potential for large-scale and lasting change in the world.

They work in partnership with Skoll’s Analysis and Insights team to identify organizations well-aligned with the investment strategy; with Skoll’s Global Partnerships team to identify aligned programs and partners that will support the change they seek; with the Portfolio & Investments team to source and develop opportunities for investment; and with other teams across the Foundation. Principals conduct rigorous due diligence, interviewing issue experts, working with regional leaders, and conducting site visits to understand the organization’s work through the eyes of their beneficiaries and with the lens of large-scale, sustained change. The role involves defining the highest impact investment tools to use, from grants and direct investment to program-related investments, structured debt, and other investment vehicles.

Principals work in close collaboration with peers across Skoll programs, practice centers, and the executive team to advance knowledge and evidence of scaling impact. Partnership with other Skoll teams aims to leverage the social entrepreneur portfolio and their innovations across Skoll’s strategic partnerships, research, communications, outreach, PR, media, and signature events. A Principal serves as a credible, global spokesperson for social entrepreneurship and the Skoll Foundation’s strategy and mission.


Ideal Candidate

The Principal role at the Skoll Foundation requires a well-rounded and balanced set of business skills, combined with a passion for making a difference in the world through on-the-ground changemakers.

The ideal candidate is, above all, a listener and learner. The Principal is a generalist rather than a specialist, and so must be a quick study to prepare insightful questions to learn more about an entrepreneur’s innovations or a partner organization’s goals. The role requires an insatiable curiosity, desire to explore “what if?” questions, ability to connect the dots across sectors and geographies, and embrace of ambiguity.

The Principal team is highly collaborative – within the team, across the Foundation, and with a wide variety of external partners. The role requires an individual who is both a team player and can operate independently. The ideal candidate is able to operate independently to prioritize work and make decisions. They show initiative. In addition, principals must be resourceful and hands-on, able to work in a lean, intense, results-oriented environment.

Evaluating and supporting innovators requires an analytical mind – heavily qualitative and at times quantitative. Candidates must bring a thorough understanding of the dynamics of organizational growth, scale, and investment—in for-profit and non-profit contexts. Keen investigative skills and meticulous attention to detail in the evaluation of business models, financials, and data, while keeping a thoughtful, empathetic field view are key competencies. Candidates need the versatility to translate strategic imperatives into tangible execution. Also essential is a drive to make a deep impact in the world through the work of others – operating via influence and mobilizing others. An understanding of what drives social entrepreneurs and systems change will support success in this role.

The Skoll Foundation seeks to build a highly diverse Principal team, recognizing that the global effort to find social entrepreneurs making large-scale change requires experience from the widest possible variety of communities, and the insight that comes from navigating cultural differences. We are looking for professionals with humility, perspective, and cultural competence, and strongly prefer candidates who have gained that experience from living/working in developing countries.

The ideal candidate is self-aware and reflects on lessons learned to inform future work. Deep and pragmatic knowledge of how philanthropic funding is structured and deployed is required, along with a thorough desire to innovate beyond the current state of the art. A natural inclination toward collaboration, sound judgment, profound commitment to creating a better world, and a good sense of humor are all important personal characteristics, as are imagination, creativity, and an entrepreneurial spirit.



  • A minimum of 10 years of demonstrated success in developing, accelerating, measuring, and influencing growth of entrepreneurial organizations
  • Investment and/or portfolio management in an international context
  • Due diligence for investment purposes
  • Knowledge of a wide variety of investment tools, including grants and program-related or mission-related investments, as well as debt and equity as applied in an impact context
  • Time living and working in the developing world
  • Demonstrated excellence in verbal and written communications
  • A Bachelor’s degree is required; an advanced degree can be useful but is not required
  • Must be available for international travel
  • Foreign language proficiency; highly desirable are Portuguese, Spanish, French, Hindi, Tamil, or other Indian language family

Direct experience with grassroots social change, policy advocacy, or entrepreneurial organizational development and capacity building is strongly preferred.

A multi-sector background including experience in a grant-funded organization, with a funder or collaborative funding partnership, and in the for-profit sector, is advantageous.

Candidates must be authorized to work in the United States.


To Be Considered

The Skoll Foundation is an equal opportunity employer and welcomes a diverse candidate pool. The Foundation recognizes diversity as an asset essential to accomplishing its work and embraces differences in age, color, disability, ethnicity, family or marital status, gender identity or expression, language, national origin, physical and mental ability, political affiliation, race, religion, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, veteran status, and other characteristics that make employees unique. All qualified candidates are encouraged to apply.

The search for a Principal at the Skoll Foundation is being assisted by a team from Waldron.

Please submit your resume and cover letter expressing your passion for the mission and fit for the role via Waldron’s candidate web portal. Cover letters may be addressed to Jenn Raley Miller.