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Incubator Support Streamlines Recruitment Efforts for University Partner in the Dominican Republic

Donna Vincent Roa speaks to Dominican students in a yellow conference room as part of her consultancy work for USAID’s Partnerships Incubator project.
Photo credit: Tony Núñez
Jan 24, 2022

Identifying, interviewing, hiring, and onboarding the right candidate is always challenging—especially when an organization is up against a tight deadline. When a key USAID implementing partner in the Dominican Republic faced the need to rapidly hire a permanent Chief of Party (COP), USAID’s Mission in the Dominican Republic tapped the resources of the Partnerships Incubator to deliver the training, technology, coaching, and mentoring required for the partner to successfully recruit and hire their next COP within a tight three-week timeframe.

Situated in Santiago De Los Caballeros, Universidad Instituto Superior de Agricultura (ISA) supports USAID’s Higher Education Partnerships–Dominican Republic (HEP-DR) activity to provide youth from high-risk backgrounds with access to university programs, successful completion of tertiary education, and connections to the labor market. Universidad ISA was selected as the implementing partner for HEP-DR in 2019 but has a longstanding connection with USAID, which contributed to the university’s founding 60 years ago. 

While the university’s human resources (HR) team had a robust, paper-based candidate selection process in place, this circumstance required workflow mapping, a platform that could serve as a centralized location for the hiring team, and access to additional recruitment resources for a time-bound, executive-level recruitment process. Donna Vincent Roa (Project Director, Partnerships Incubator) partnered with Universidad ISA to support their implementation of Workable as a digital recruitment platform to automate the hiring process. She also worked alongside the university HR and project team to map this process and establish team member roles. 

“[The Incubator] brought enabling technologies to enhance the recruitment process,” remarked Cheyla Rodríguez, Technical and Administrative Analyst for the HEP-DR project at Universidad ISA. “The HR department has good recruiting protocols; it was a matter of mapping those to the solution to help accelerate the existing process and land on a great candidate in a short period of time.”

The Partnerships Incubator also leveraged social networks to elevate public communications about the vacancy to an executive level and advised the Universidad ISA team on expanding candidate sourcing to include platforms like Devex and LinkedIn. Throughout the three-week period, Roa supported the team with taking actions to increase the awareness of the position openings, reviewing candidate applications, conducting panel interviews, and selecting the most qualified candidate. 

Though its sprawling beaches and historical landmarks wow visitors, the Dominican Republic struggles to overcome key development challenges. The island nation ranks second lowest in the region in terms of educational performance, and the country struggles to provide adequate education and workforce skills development to its under-30 youth, which comprise over 50 percent of the population. 

Universidad ISA wants to change that. Six decades ago, Universidad ISA was established to respond to the educational needs of the Dominican Republic’s agricultural economy and rural communities. Since then, the university has diversified its curriculum and now offers various undergraduate, graduate, and technical programs. The university is credited with improving the security, financial outlook, and general well-being of the Dominican Republic’s next generation of professionals, training them in critical thinking and leadership skills to advance technological innovation and sustainable development—objectives that will be critical to the country’s development trajectory.

“The Incubator looks forward to seeing the continued success and growth of Universidad ISA with this technology in place,” says Roa. “Over the next six months we will continue to check in with the new COP and with the Mission to evaluate the effectiveness of the support provided to the university.”

As a result of this support, not only has Universidad ISA hired a strong COP at the helm of the HEP-DR project, but the university’s longer-term recruitment capability also now has a technology solution in place to complement its robust candidate selection processes. Ultimately, the provided support has enhanced the confidence in the selected candidate for both Universidad ISA and USAID, allowing them to focus on the programmatic elements of this important education project.

“Supporting valued USAID partners like Universidad ISA is a key component of the Incubator’s work,” remarks Roa. “I’m proud to have played a part in getting this partner set up for successful implementation of a project that promises to have a central role in advancing educational opportunities for young adults in the Dominican Republic.”

This article appears as part of our recognition of International Day of Education (January 24).