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Associate Director, Planning

Date: July 31, 2015
Reports to (Job Title): Executive Director, Propel
Jobs Reporting (Job Titles):

2 Data Analysts, 2 Senior Managers reporting directly, Research and Communications Coordinator; 14 staff reporting indirectly through Senior Managers

Department: Propel Centre for Population Health Impact, Faculty of Applied Health Sciences


Main Campus


USG 13
35 hr/wk

Primary Purpose

  The Associate Director, Planning is accountable for supporting and evaluating progress on the Centre’s strategic and annual plans and is responsible for advice and support to the Executive Director with regard to Centre planning and special initiatives.  The incumbent contributes to strategic planning and alignment of operations as a member of the Centre Planning Team.  Other members of the Centre Planning Team are the Executive Director, Associate Director, Operations and the Executive Officer for the Faculty.  The incumbent is also a member of the Operations Team (which is comprised of the Associate Director, Operations; and 5 Senior Managers) which is responsible for the day-to-day operations of the Centre including human resources management; each Propel staff member reports to a member of the Operations Team and the team manages pooled resources and delegates project responsibilities.

Key Accountabilities:


Strategic Planning

  • Work directly with the Executive Director to ensure the Centre continually monitors and adjusts its plans to maximize alignment of activities to support the University of Waterloo’s Strategic Plan and the Faculty of Applied Health Sciences strategic plan, the Canadian Cancer Society’s nation-wide prevention plan, and the directions of other key stakeholders and funders
  • Provide leadership through the Centre Planning Team to ensure the Centre is ready for review, including periodic international scientific peer review, as required by the core funder(s), Waterloo governing bodies as a senate approved Centre, and the Propel Board of Directors
  • Integrate the Centre-wide functions of planning, evaluation and communications
  • Facilitate Board meetings and act as a resource to the Executive Director in crafting agendas, preparing key documents and information for the Board’s review and approval, and putting in place a mechanism for confirming action items and accountabilities
  • Contribute to annual and long term planning by providing input into operational plans aligned with the Centre’s strategic plan
  • Develop, support, monitor and adjust an annual planning cycle to ensure the appropriate and timely input of scientists and senior staff in the development of plans within and across various programs to ensure sustainability and growth
  • Advise and consult collaboratively with the members of the Centre Planning Committee about relevant problems and concerns, issues and strategies for ongoing improvement, development and operations within the Centre
  • Inform and engage with the Operations Team and Centre staff regarding research and evaluation projects as well as Centre initiatives


Centre Evaluation

  • Oversee and be accountable for reporting requirements and maintain proactive and effective relationships with stakeholders and partners
  • Lead a team in the completion of reporting requirements by funders and the Propel Board including developing and supporting a system for efficient tracking of Centre metrics
  • In consultation with the Executive Director and scientists oversee the development and implementation of an evaluation framework and review process that meets the planning, reporting and continuous improvement approach of the Centre
  • Monitor organizational design (structurally, operationally and procedurally) to ensure the Centre is efficient, aligned with the vision and mission, and achieving goals.  Work through the Centre Planning Team to make necessary adjustments including succession planning.


Catalyzing New Initiatives

  • Advise, contribute and mentor staff to independence on new initiatives that are recognized as ahead of the curve
  • In support of the Executive Director, proactively consult with policy and practice stakeholders to determine evaluation and research needs
  • Scan the internal and external environments for new and innovative opportunities, investigate and evaluate relevance and alignment with strategy, and recommend new approaches that fit with the Centre’s vision and mission
  • Develop and carry out the implementation of complex research and evaluation projects, including writing (or supervise other staff to write) the project scope, budgeting, time line, staff training and supervision, consultation with investigators, liaison with external stakeholders and relevant university departments, overseeing day-to-day operations, and producing papers and reports


Staff Leadership and Management

  • Provide feedback and mentoring to staff on an ongoing basis, support professional development and the assignment of new projects to keep staff motivated and engaged
  • Review and provide input to staff appraisal for indirect reports, and conduct appraisals for direct reports
  • Participate in the hiring, training and allocation of resources to ensure that skilled and talented staff pool is available to meet the needs of the Centre.  Work with other members of the Operations Team (i.e. Associate Director, Operations and Senior Managers) to ensure the Centre’s pooled resource model functions effectively and efficiently
  • Provide consultation and mentoring to Propel staff to ensure effective project teams
  • Contribute to the drafting and implementation of organizational policies and procedures


External and Partner Relationships, Communication and Publications

  • In support of the Executive Director, help to ensure key stakeholders (e.g., Canadian Cancer Society) and the University are appropriately informed of strategic directions
  • Liaise with various internal and external contacts and represent Propel’s interests and seek opportunities for strategic alignment
  • Collaborate in the writing of articles for peer-reviewed journals (including as author) and make presentations at professional meetings and conferences based on Propel research and evaluation activities
  • Contribute to the preparation of research grant applications in collaboration with Principal Investigators, including literature reviews, development of project budgets and implementation plans, liaison with other sites (in multi-site studies), and overseeing ethics approvals

Position Requirements


Master’s degree in health studies, psychology or other social science; or equivalent combination of honours degree and experience.


8-10 years progressive experience as an established senior manager in health related research and/or program evaluation.  Experience in the development of strategic and long term implementation plans at an organizational level.  Staff management and leadership abilities and progressive experience overseeing staffing in a team-based culture.  Demonstrated ability to build strong relationships, motivate and work effectively at the executive level with partners and stakeholders.  Experience and solid abilities working with a Board of Directors.  Knowledge of theory and methodologies relevant to population health research and evaluation.  Able to analyse complex information, draw correct conclusions and articulate clear and focused policy and/or direction.  Excellent communication skills, both oral and written.


MS Word Excel PowerPoint Other
Intermediate/Advanced Intermediate Intermediate Familiar (various data management/analysis software)

Nature and Scope

Interpersonal Skills:

Demonstrates enthusiasm for Propel’s vision; motivates and empowers others to achieve organizational goals.  Inspires and leads others towards high levels of performance.  Able to focus and set priorities, has a responsive management style, and must be a strategic and pragmatic thinker.  Has outstanding verbal and written communication skills and a proven record in demonstrating tact, judgment, diplomacy, and maintaining confidentiality.  An accomplished problem solver with the ability to quickly assimilate, analyze and interpret information.  

Level of Responsibility:

Manages Centre-wide functions and processes.  Provides back-up and represents the Executive Director as required, including representation with external agencies including Provincial and Federal government and Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) stakeholders.  Consults with Executive Director to determine new strategic areas of growth for the Centre including funding opportunities to ensure Centre remains financially stable.

Decision-Making Authority:

Responsible for identifying and implementing changes in policies or systems and ensuring that these are communicated and procedures are put in place.  Makes decisions on timelines, budget allocation, and staffing recourse to meet objectives.  Responsible for decisions on hiring and promotions.

Physical and Sensory Demands:

Minimal demands typical of a position operating within an office environment.

Working Environment:

Occasional travel required.  There are frequent opportunities for meetings and interaction with co-workers.  The work is varied.  There are deadline pressures, a demand for thoroughness and accuracy and exposure to stress and pressure associated with level of responsibility and confidential human resources leadership.