Assistant Vice President, Fiscal & Management Services
for a university

Partnering with a private research institution with an overseas component and strong internship program, Helbling consultants attracted and secured a professional for its Assistant Vice President, Fiscal & Management Services role. The individual placed is a senior environmental and engineering professional from a major public transportation authority, where she held a significant position. During her first year with our client, she has been instrumental in a major organizational restructuring, and has formed solid relationships with leaders of various departments, helping the division to be ‘at the table’ for discussions moving forward about multi-year operating, and capital budget and program planning.

Our client was seeking an Assistant Vice President, Fiscal and Management Services for its Facilities Division (AVP FMS). This role leads fiscal, administrative, and business services that support the Division in achieving superior performance and customer service. Its responsibilities are broad with the division’s structure and entail:

  • Operations, deferred maintenance, and capital budgeting
  • Financial and management reporting
  • Information Technology systems support
  • Human Resources Management
  • Contract administration and tracking of permits, insurance certificates, and other required documentation
  • Customer feedback and performance data as well as benchmarking against external data
  • Business continuity planning, business process documentation, and continuous process redesign/improvement

At the time of the search, the university was also in the process of transitioning to a new budget model, which led to the expectation that the FMS department would need to reinvent itself with an increased focus on client interface and inter-university communication, as well as collaborative support and communication with the Facilities Operations and Facilities Planning, Design, & Construction Departments. The AVP would be tasked with structuring the department to affect this change and leading the department through the change to create an efficient and customer focused organization.

For this assignment, Helbling worked with multiple professionals within the university. These individuals were very open and forthright in initial conversations which supported the successful outcome of the search. From conversations with these professionals about ideal candidate characteristics, it was determined that they sought an individual who had a Master’s degree in Business Administration with five years of experience, preferably in a university setting; or an individual with a Bachelor’s degree in Business, Quantitative Methods, or Operations Management with eight (8) to ten (10) years of experience in similar settings.

They also expressed that they needed an individual who had an understanding of construction and operations, and best practices related to fiscal, customer, business, and administrative services in a university facilities setting. They sought an individual who had an analytical, strategic mindset who understood how to develop goals and objectives, analyze their current and future needs, and manage that information.

To accomplish the division’s objectives and to fit within its culture, candidates had to possess strong leadership skills; a collaborative, service-oriented approach to work; a deep understanding of both the service and stewardship roles of university facilities organizations; and demonstrated interest in continuous client feedback and in assessing and improving business processes and systems.  

To secure an ideal individual with all of the necessary skills and experience, Helbling focused on candidates within our client’s local area for two reasons. One, we felt that the area provided enough talent from which to draw. And two, it was important to secure a candidate who had thorough knowledge of the local building codes and processes.

Within the local area, Helbling targeted hospitals, universities, corporations, public agencies and private facilities operations, and design and construction service providers. 

While the majority of candidates in our client’s final slate were in senior administrative and financial roles within higher education institutions, they selected an individual who was a senior environmental and engineering professional from a major public transportation authority. She held a significant position as the Assistant Director of the agency’s Capital Programs Department, which had a five-year capital program of $4B. In her role, she was responsible for the development and implementation of its capital program, and for the procurement and management of public design and construction work. She acted as a key advisor to the Director of Capital Programs on all department matters including environmental, legal, procurement, and administrative matters.

Her professional references describe her as an extremely intelligent, thoughtful, and strategic leader with a progressive mindset who strives to understand the big picture, mission, goals, and purpose. She then utilizes her skills and works in a collaborative manner to achieve those objectives. She is also described as having a knack for working with different types and levels of people, and managing different personalities in effective and motivating ways. All of these traits were attractive to our client.

In following up with our client during the candidate’s first year, they have expressed that she is a great fit within their team. She has been successfully participating in the organizational change strategy mentioned above, and she will now be taking a key role in project controls systems delivery along with her original responsibilities. Our client feels that the professional’s prior experience in this area will be highly valuable. She has also formed solid relationships with the central budget, finance, and administrative leaders which is helping the Division to be ‘at the table’ for discussions moving forward about multi-year operating, and capital budget and program planning.

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The selected candidate is a great fit for our client's objectives and its team. She is successfully participating in organizational change strategies, and she has assumed a key role in project controls systems delivery on top of her original responsibilities. By forming solid relationships with the central budget, finance, and administrative leaders, she is supporting the division to be ‘at the table’ for discussions surrounding multi-year operating, capital budget, and program planning.
Jim Lord, Executive Director - Northeast

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