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Associate Director, Operations

Date: July 30, 2015
Reports to (Job Title): Executive Director, Propel
Jobs Reporting (Job Titles):

Centre Assistant, Financial Assistant, Information Specialist, 2 Senior Managers; 14 staff reporting indirectly through Senior Managers

University of Waterloo (UW)

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


Main Campus


USG 12
35 hr/wk

Primary Purpose

The Associate Director, Operations is responsible for the financial management, human resources administration, overall co-ordination among projects, sites and investigation teams; drafting and implementing organizational policies and procedures; and equipment and space management and other administrative functions as required in supporting the mission of the Propel Centre for Population Health Impact (Senate approved Centre).  The incumbent contribute 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, the Associate Director, Planning, and the Executive Officer of the Faculty.  The incumbent is also a member of the Operations Team (which is comprised of the Associate Director, Planning; 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 and Operational Planning

  • Actively contribute to annual and long term planning with the Centre Planning and Operations teams by providing input into the development and preparation of the operational plan which is aligned with the Centre’s strategic plan
  • Working closely with the Executive Director, Associate Director, Planning and the Executive Officer (Centre Planning team) provide advice, counsel, management and support to team members about relevant problems and concerns, issues and strategies for ongoing improvement, development and project management operations within the Centre
  • Keep staff informed of leadership initiatives; provide Operations team with updates for information and decision making
  • Work with the Operations team to ensure the Centre continually monitors and adjusts its plans to maximize alignment of activities to support the attainment of the Centre’s vision, mission and goals
  • Responsible for drafting and implementing organizational policies and procedures
  • Coordinate with University (AHS, Office of Research, Finance) and Stakeholders to ensure that operations meet the requirements of funders and stakeholders


Financial Planning, Management and Control

  • Provide budget advice to investigators and manage the day-to-day finances of the Centre to ensure there is continuity in the cash flow given the numerous grants/contracts that support the Centre.  All staff are contingent on funding (approximately 45 staff with monthly salary and benefit budget of $240,000) and therefore a financial liability for the Faculty
  • Provide leadership to ensure efficient, effective and accountable financial administration of research resources and activities in order to enhance the Centre’s mission
  • Oversee budget preparation
  • Oversee monitoring  of budgets to ensure resources are allocated and tracked appropriately according to University and funders’ policies, and meet the expectations and requirements of the Propel Board
  • Provide budget analysis and reporting including current and long term planning for research grants and contracts run through the Centre
  • Have signing authority on all operating and research accounts in the Centre
  • Review budgets for all research proposals including grants and contracts
  • Responsible for preparing financial records for Propel Board
  • Work with the Office of Research to develop contracts with consultants, organizations, etc. as required
  • Ensure space (in negotiation with the Faculty) and equipment is utilized effectively
  • Work with the Executive Director/Scientists/Senior Managers to ensure budgets are spent appropriately


Development and Execution of Projects

  • Direct the overall administrative and organizational operation of the Propel Centre, including budget, hiring, operations and project planning in consultation with the Centre Planning and Operations teams and Scientists
  • Responsible for overall co-ordination among projects, sites, and investigative teams
  • Work with Investigators drawn from both UW and other institutions, staff, funding agencies and other external organizations


Staff Leadership and Management

  • Supervise and co-ordinate Senior Managers, administrative and other personnel establishing short and long term objectives, delivering performance feedback, both on an ongoing basis and at formal milestones such as the annual performance review
  • Manage the pooled resources for the organization, facilitate the creation of project/program teams, provide an effective infrastructure to support the teams, establish reporting lines for the duration of projects/programs, handle human resources (HR) questions or issues that arise, and monitor the performance of teams, making adjustments as necessary
  • Participate in the hiring, training and allocation of human resources
  • Support professional development and the assignment of new projects to keep staff motivated and engaged in the work (or establish and implement training, mentoring and coaching programs related to the business operations to help give managers and staff the tools and resources they need to deliver on goals and expectations)
  • Conduct staff appraisals for senior staff annually and as required
  • Involve Data Analysts, Data Managers and Administrative Assistants as appropriate to achieve project goals and to ensure quality control processes
  • Facilitate team-building – mentoring and monitoring junior staff, building rapport among staff
  • Work with the Executive Officer of the Faculty and Human Resources on an ongoing basis to determine how the unique staffing needs of the Centre can be accommodated within the University’s guidelines
  • Continually monitor organizational design to ensure structure is effective and efficient
  • Consider succession planning as part of this process


External and Partner Relationships and Publications

  • Work with the Centre Planning Team, Operations Team and Strategy Forum, staff and stakeholders in the implementation of the Centre’s Strategic Plan to meet the growth ambitions of the organization
  • Anticipate and manage legislative and policy standards including Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy
  • May be required to make presentations to senior officials from the university and broader community
  • Assist the teams to find suitable sources of funding and assist in the preparation of funding applications
  • Liaise with various internal and external organizations
  • Other duties as assigned

Position Requirements


University degree in relevant field (business, management).  Knowledge of population based research focused on chronic disease.


8-10 years progressive experience as an established senior leader in operations, planning, strategic management, preferably in research, academic or similar setting or with clearly transferable skills and abilities.  5-7 years of experience developing and simultaneously monitoring the budgets of many complex, large scale research projects.  Staff management and leadership abilities and progressive experience overseeing staffing in a team-based culture.  Knowledge of pooled resources and the ability to effectively assign, motivate, engage and support team work.  Demonstrated ability to initiate and respond to senior officials from government, universities, and voluntary agencies.  Experience preparing financial reports for Board of Directors.  Excellent communication skills, both oral and written.


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Nature and Scope

Interpersonal Skills:

Within the Propel Centre, communicates with Scientists and staff at all levels to deal with, influence and motivate to achieve organizational goals.  Outside of Propel, communicates with senior staff to promote, justify and settle highly sensitive matters.  Also must work directly with the Canadian Cancer Society and other Research partners.    

Level of Responsibility:

Deadline pressures and a demand for thoroughness and accuracy.  Manages Centre-wide functions and processes that are highly specialized with direct reports.

Decision-Making Authority:

Has financial authority for Propel’s operating funds, grants and contracts.  Responsible for identifying changes in policies or systems and ensuring that they are communicated and procedures are put into place to implement them with Propel.  Make decisions on timelines, budget allocation, staffing resources to meet stated objectives.  Responsible for monitoring budgets and project progress for all research projects run through Propel.  Responsible for decisions on hiring, salaries for staff, and for decisions on Propel staff promotion

Physical and Sensory Demands:

Minimal demands typical of a position operating within an office environment.  Exposed to stress and pressure associated with senior level responsibilities.

Working Environment:

This position involves office work in a comfortable area.  Time is spent at an ergonomically appropriate work station with suitable computing equipment and accessories.  There are frequent opportunities for meetings and interaction with co-workers.  The work is varied