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Executive Director of Facilities Business Operations

  • Industry: Facilities Management
  • Location: Nashville, Tennessee
  • Client: Institution - Higher Education
  • Search ID: 17-0502-12

Helbling is representing a repeat client, Vanderbilt University, in conducting a search to attract and secure an Executive Director of Facilities Business Operations (ED). This role serves as the division’s chief business and financial officer and to lead the fiscal, administrative, and business services that support the institution-wide facilities organization in achieving superior performance and customer service while fostering a positive and cooperative work environment. The position serves as a core member of the division’s senior leadership team.

The university is implementing cloud-based enterprise financial and human resources (HR) systems. These systems contribute, in part, to the facilities division’s decision to establish a comprehensive Business Operations Center (BOC) directed by this position. The BOC and its ED will play a lead role in the redevelopment and deployment of existing and new technologies and processes for the division. Intended outcomes include an enhanced focus on streamlined and effective client interfaces; providing exceptional customer experiences and engagement; collecting, analyzing, and utilizing data to drive organizational decision making; facilitating cross-university communication among multiple stakeholders on complex facilities matters; and ensuring collaborative support and communication among the departments of the facilities organization.

Facilities at Vanderbilt University is composed of the following departments: Plant Operations, Real Estate, Sustainability and Environmental Management, and Campus Planning and Construction (~450 total employees). The successful candidate will be tasked with structuring the division’s business operations to accommodate this transition, leading the division through the change, and directing the division’s business operations on an ongoing basis.

Reporting to the Associate Vice Chancellor and Chief Facilities Officer, the ED oversees the BOC, and represents the division to other areas of the university, regarding the following:

  • Financial accounting, capital planning, and budgeting.
  • Accurate, timely, and actionable financial and management reporting.
  • Creation and management of an analytics function.
  • Facilities IT/systems support.
  • Facilities website management.
  • Administrative office staff that supports the division.
  • Divisional HR management within the organization, including employee development and training.
  • Heads the division’s “Lean” program – tasked to find ways in which to optimize production.
  • Contract administration and tracking of permits, insurance certificates, and other required documentation.
  • Manages institution-wide customer feedback and performance data and benchmarks against external data.
  • Leads business continuity planning, business process documentation, and continuous process redesign/improvement.
  • Oversees divisional communications.

In all areas of responsibility, the ED builds strong working relationships both within and external to the facilities organization, leads multi-department collaboration, and advocates for facilities interests in interactions university-wide. The ED is responsible for establishing and reviewing the structure of the BOC to ensure the unit is aligned with the demands of the university’s financial and HR models, as well as other systems used by facilities, and to ensure an efficient and customer-focused organization. The ED ensures the continued development of the technical, communication, and management skills of direct reports and maintains, in aggregate, an appropriate skill set within the BOC. 

Key responsibilities include:

  • Provides strategic support to the Associate Vice Chancellor and Chief Facilities Officer, as well as leadership and direction for budgeting, financial controls, and information systems (including division databases, systems, surveys and reports). 
  • Oversight of business operations including IT Infrastructure, database support, contract administration, and development of analytics, metrics/KPI’s to assure objective results.  
  • Tracks and renews permits, insurance certificates, service contracts, division wide business continuity and emergency preparedness plans, web-site development and maintenance and facilities organization communications. 
  • Leads HRM and administrative support including oversight of the administrative and part-time staff pool, human resource policy and procedures within the department; maintains current organization chart and position descriptions for the department including confidential employee records and performance records; hiring, on-boarding, performance appraisal, succession planning and termination processes; employee development and credential tracking; and employee relations.
  • Manages annual divisional operating budget, a utilities deferred maintenance funded budget, and a facilities renewal program budget, as well as campus-department funded small project and large capital budgets which vary by year.
  • Designs and implements independent monitoring, analysis, benchmarking, and reporting of customer service results division-wide.

About Vanderbilt University

A $1M gift from Commodore Cornelius Vanderbilt in 1873 established the university following the Civil War with the mission to “contribute to strengthening the ties which should exist between all sections of our common country.” Today, Vanderbilt University is a top-15 private research university offering a full-range of undergraduate, graduate, and professional degrees. Vanderbilt is situated on a 330-acre campus near the thriving city center, serving 12,000 students and directly employing almost 7,000 faculty and staff. Its affiliated academic medical center, VUMC, is contiguously located and operates in close partnership with the university.  

Vanderbilt offers undergraduate programs in the liberal arts and sciences, engineering, music, and education and human development, as well as a full range of graduate and professional degrees. The combination of cutting-edge research, strength in the liberal arts, and nationally-recognized schools of education, medicine, law, business, engineering, nursing, and divinity, creates an invigorating atmosphere where students tailor their educational experiences to meet their goals and researchers collaborate to solve complex questions affecting health, culture, and society.

Vanderbilt draws the best and brightest students from across the nation and around the world. Vanderbilt alumni can be found in Congress, on the judicial bench, among the list of Nobel laureates, leading corporations, conducting innovative medical research, writing for and appearing on the stage and screen, and playing in the NFL and major league baseball. 

The university is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools to award bachelors, masters, education specialist and doctoral degrees. Vanderbilt is a member of the Association of American Universities.

About Nashville, Tennessee

Nashville is the capital and the second most populous city in Tennessee. It is located on the Cumberland River in Davidson County in the north-central part of the state. Nashville is a major hub for the higher education, health care, music, publishing, and transportation industries.

As the "home of country music," Nashville has become a major music recording and production center. Almost all of the national record labels, as well as numerous independent labels, have offices in Nashville, mostly in the Music Row area.

The present outlook for metropolitan Nashville is positive. Since 2000, over $4B in public and private investments have made downtown Nashville a dynamic and thriving urban center. As of 2014, another $3B in potential downtown investments is planned.

Candidate must have passion and drive to create success of this newly created position.

  • Bachelor's Degree.
  • Eight (8) years of directly related and progressively responsible facilities and financial experience, preferably in a university setting; or Bachelor's Degree in Business, Quantitative Methods, or Operations Management with eight (8) to ten (10) years of experience in similar settings.
  • Strong leadership skills and a collaborative, service-oriented approach to work.
  • Excellent communication and interpersonal skills.
  • Experience in team building and partnering as well as staff development.
  • Deep understanding of both the service and stewardship roles of university facilities organizations.
  • Demonstrated sound judgment and leadership in multi-tasked, rapidly-changing situations.
  • Ability to set and manage priorities, create clear direction and expectations for staff, and follow through to ensure results in the face of competing demands.
  • Demonstrated interest in continuous client feedback, and in assessing and improving business processes and systems.
  • Must be an articulate, diplomatic, and broad thinker and have the ability to communicate, mediate, and collaborate with staff, administrators, faculty, and a variety of outside consultants.
  • Must have knowledge of best practices related to fiscal, customer, business, and administrative services in a university facilities setting.
  • Ability to develop and manage an organization structure that fosters and supports the goals of the facilities organization and the university.
  • Ability to maintain a sense of balance, perspective, and humor in complex situations.
  • A dedication to team building and professional development is essential.

Search Consultant: Rick Nawoczynski

Vanderbilt University is an equal opportunity, affirmative action employer.

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