Operations Controller, China

  • The Energy Foundation
  • San Francisco, CA, USA
  • Jun 16, 2020

Job Description

Energy Foundation China’s (EF China) vision is to achieve prosperity and a safe climate through sustainable energy. Its mission is to achieve greenhouse gas emissions neutrality, world-class air quality, energy access, and green growth through transforming energy and optimizing economic structure. They deliver their mission by serving as a grantmaker, facilitator, and strategic advisor.

With a view to assisting China in coping with development, energy, environmental, and climate challenges, EF China supports policy and standard research, capacity-building, and international cooperation across seven fields: power, industry, transportation, cities, environmental management, low carbon economic growth, and strategic communications. In addition to the sector-by-sector work, the Foundation also contributes to crosscutting and integrated issues that have big impacts on China’s decarbonized development through six task forces: Long-Term Strategy for Decarbonization, Belt and Road Initiative, Track II Cooperation, Electrification, Air Quality, and Urbanization.

Previously known as the China Sustainable Energy Program, EF China was initiated in 1999 with funding from the David and Lucile Packard Foundation and the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation as part of Energy Foundation U.S. (EFUS). EF China has achieved steady growth due to increasing commitments from a number of funders, reaching cumulative grantmaking through 2019 of more than $330 million for 2,893 projects operated by over 760 grantees, including leading policy research institutes, academies, industry associations, local energy efficiency institutions, and NGOs in China and abroad. As part of this growth trajectory, EF China now operates as an independent organization while maintaining strong ties to its sister organization, EFUS.  A majority of EF China’s nearly 50 staff sit in Beijing, with a small team sharing the EFUS office in San Francisco, California.

To learn more about EF China, visit their website.



This is an opportunity for a sophisticated accounting professional with exceptional communications skills and the aptitude to successfully handle a variety of technical accounting and finance tasks with rigor and attention to detail. The Controller will operate at the strategic finance level and enjoy digging into daily accounting details to build comprehensive systems, processes, and reporting capabilities. This new position reports directly to the EF China Director of Grants Management and Finance, who will also be based in the EFUS San Francisco office.

The Controller will join the organization as it builds out the U.S.-based Grants Management and Finance teams, designed to oversee the full grants management cycle and support Foundation-wide finance capacity. The Controller will leverage a moment of organizational transition to reflect on financial systems and processes used to date, then iterate, refine, and optimize the finance work to authentically reflect the specific needs of EF China. The Director and the Controller will play critical roles in ensuring proper processes, reporting, compliance, quality control, and data management across their respective functional areas of expertise in grants management and finance. The Controller will also provide required finance and accounting expertise to meet the highest standards of compliance with U.S. donor and tax regulations. Together with the Director of Grants Management and Finance, the Controller will ensure the department establishes best practices in finance and grants management.



Strategic Financial Management and Reporting

  • Support planning and monitoring of revenues and expenses for programs, administration, fundraising, and capital expenditures
  • Drive forecasting, budgeting, variance reports, and data analysis with a particular eye towards IRS and GAAP compliance; lead budgeting for US-based EF China team, and align with EFUS on proper cost allocation methodology
  • Work with Director of Grants Management and Finance to prepare management reports for the EF China Board, Audit Committee, Leadership Team, and other stakeholders to support the development and execution of organizational strategy
  • Partner with Director of Grants Management and Finance to develop both standard and highly customized donor reports; fulfill project-based accounting needs to support funder requests as needed
  • Lead and own monthly and quarterly close process; prepare and publish month-end and year-end financial statements

Manage Audit and Daily Financial Operations

Assume responsibility for all aspects of EF China’s US-based financial management and transactions:

  • Manage schedules and control narratives for audits; act as primary contact for auditors; review, track, and implement audit recommendations
  • Prepare annual 990 and other regulatory reporting, alongside Director of Grants Management and Finance and external audit, tax, and legal advisors
  • Work with Director, and potentially external advisor(s), on cash management across brokerage and bank accounts and investments
  • Own all daily accounting and recordkeeping functions, including but not limited to: A/P, G&A, cost accounting, revenue recognition, grants receivable, bill pay, weekly wire transfers, and journal entries
  • Work with EFUS to process and record the cost allocation from EFUS to EF China
  • Interface with external advisors to ensure EF China stays abreast of technical accounting issues and remains compliant with all legal, tax, and other financial matters

Assess, Strengthen, and Implement Financial Systems

  • Provide expertise and guidance on accounting system audit and analysis, and partner with Director of Grants Management and Finance to refine existing US-based accounting, finance, and grants management systems
  • Plan and implement quality assurance and quality control procedures over financial transactions and reporting
  • Develop and document business processes and accounting policies to maintain and strengthen internal controls, with an eye towards continuous improvement and best-in-class business practices

The ideal candidate is detail oriented and a strategic systemic thinker who has the ability to map daily responsibilities to EF China’s overall mission, goals, and donor needs. Candidates must bring a positive, professional, and proactive approach to problem solving, with an acute sense of foresight to effectively support the team’s needs, questions, and challenges. The ability to pivot from day-to-day accounting to high level financial strategy work is essential, as is a willingness to adapt one’s skills to the most relevant needs of the organization as it moves through this transition. It will benefit candidates to have experience driving organization-wide accounting and finance process and systems changes.

The Controller is an approachable expert—a person who leads with warmth and humility, speaks with confidence, and is able to effectively share their opinions along with the information required to bring others along. The successful candidate must have excellent verbal and written communication skills and routinely demonstrate sound judgment along with the highest levels of confidentiality, discretion, and tact. It is imperative that the Controller possess the personal maturity, intellectual dynamism, and business acumen to be effective in an independent culture that demands significant personal responsibility.

While Mandarin language skills and an understanding of Chinese culture are preferred but not required, experience working internationally or in cross-cultural contexts is essential due to the close collaboration between the Controller and colleagues in Beijing. Given the remote nature of the role, this individual will need to be comfortable working across time zones and managing work streams accordingly.


Candidates must have a minimum of eight years overall accounting experience with a track record working as a financial controller. Experience working in nonprofit or foundation accounting, specifically in partnership with Grants Management or Fundraising teams, is highly preferred. Candidates must also bring exceptional analytical and Excel skills, and knowledge of working with general ledger functions, accruals, fund classification, month-end and year-end close, and assessing, implementing, and managing financial systems. Systems used by EF China include Adaptive, Fluxx, NetSuite, and JReports. A bachelor’s degree in accounting and experience conducting business across cultures is required.

The Controller will be located in the EFUS San Francisco office. This position requires the ability to flex hours to work across time zones.

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