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Vice President, Engineering

Palo Alto, CA | Engineering

Job Description

Benetech is seeking a Vice President of Engineering to lead and expand our team of technologists committed to deliver social good at large scale. This is a rare opportunity to take on a major leadership role at the intersection of social good and technology.  Compensation is great by nonprofit standards and not equivalent to Silicon Valley for-profit standards!

Benetech was founded with the goal of identifying unmet social needs and harnessing the power of technology to create software-based solutions to meet them. We have four main program areas — Human Rights, Global Literacy, Environment and Benetech Labs---and focus on projects that offer the greatest social return on the funds invested. Jim Fruchterman, engineer, social entrepreneur and MacArthur Fellow, founded Benetech in 1989 and leads the organization as its CEO.

The Vice President of Engineering defines and oversees the technology and systems required to maintain Benetech operations and projects. Responsibilities include product development, setting technical direction, mentoring and managing an existing talented development team, and representing the technical side of Benetech externally to partners, both tech and financial. The Vice President of Engineering will work with the existing team to establish a comprehensive strategy for new application development and the migration of existing applications.

In addition, Benetech operates in an open source environment with hundreds of eager volunteers.  This leader will need to be able to strike the balance so that volunteers have great experiences helping with projects for the greater good, while ensuring that mission interests are well served with volunteer assistance (that is, the value of volunteer contributions far exceeds the cost of managing them).

Candidate should be a self-starter who is process oriented, able to see the big picture while paying attention to details and have an aptitude for systems architecture. Creativity in problem solving with minimal resources is a core capability. Candidates must have a demonstrated passion for improving the world: this is not just another technology management position!

This position is on-site in Palo Alto, California, and reports to the CEO.

Essential Duties and Responsibilities

  • Member of the senior Benetech leadership team, helping guide the strategies and major decisions for the entire organization
  • Provide primary technology leadership for Benetech.
  • Provide day-to-day management and strategic direction for the technology team, both directly and through existing engineering management.
  • Ensure the performance of the technology team as measured by objectives and within budgets.
  • Help define the core Benetech messages and positioning and ensure accurate communication to technical audiences.
  • Assist in the development of Benetech and project business and operational plans.
  • Leverage limited resources to achieve incredible results.
  • Mentor staff for personal development and to improve technical performance.
  • Steward Benetech culture through position responsibilities, including internal and external relationships.

In addition to core Benetech management responsibilities, other duties and responsibilities may include the following:

  • Brainstorm innovative technical solutions. Work with members of the Benetech technical staff, technology leaders and others to develop cost-effective and innovative solutions to social needs.
  • Build and direct teams to work on specific projects, including paid staff, fellow, interns and volunteers.
  • Maintain and expand Benetech’s relationships with the technology community.
  • Provide technical leadership in the technology development process and represent the interests of users by working with product managers.
  • Provide leadership and direction for IT infrastructure and oversight for operational functions encompassing systems acquisition, system support and maintenance, networking and direction of all IT services across Benetech
  • Be aware of social needs for technology that cannot be solved by the for-profit sector.
  • Maintain familiarity with current technology innovations to ensure that Benetech is developing solutions with best practices and current technology.
  • Assist in raising capital for specific initiatives. Work with fund raising staff to identify and secure funding for specific projects.


  • Bachelor's degree (B.A./B.S.) in computer science or a related field with at least ten years related experience and/or training; or equivalent combination of education and experience; graduate degree preferred
  • An excellent manager with a track record (7 years +) of achieving results in software development
  • Personal belief in our mission
  • Experience with web services and content delivery
  • Demonstrated skill in capacity planning, budgeting and conflict management, and the ability to impart these skills to others
  • Track record of successful technology leadership outside of a single company
  • Nonprofit and/or volunteer service highly desirable
  • Familiarity with technology policy and standards
  • Aptitude for streamlining engineering operations
  • Strong communication abilities, including writing and public speaking
  • Ability to excite and inspire technologists behind a vision
  • Ability to plan, organize, implement, evaluate, and modify programs, informational support systems and processes
  • Ability to read, analyze, interpret and write business plans, financial plans and general business documents
  • Ability to effectively present information to top management, public groups and/or boards of directors
  • Ability to define problems, collect data, establish facts and draw valid conclusions
  • Creative problem solving skills
  • Ability to work well with a wide range of people


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