Director of Construction

Industry: Facilities Management
Location: New Jersey - Princeton
Sector: Higher Education
Search ID: 23-0302-11
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Jim Lord
Jim Lord
Joe Wargo
Joe Wargo


Princeton University has retained Helbling to conduct an executive search to secure a Director of Construction.

Position Summary 

Reporting directly to and in close collaboration with the Executive Director of Construction, Office of Capital Projects, the Director of Construction is responsible and accountable for the strategic planning, coordination, and overall execution of project delivery for all projects in the portfolio to which he/she is assigned. The Director will oversee a staff of direct Construction Manager reports (1 to 6 people), each of whom have varying career expertise and each of whom are assigned to a variety of concurrent projects.

The Director actively engages with OCP (Office of Capital Projects) project team members to establish consistent preconstruction processes, facilitate and finalize project(s) budgets and schedule(s), identify and assign all necessary enabling work, and ensure that project documents meet all regulatory requirements.

The Director oversees the execution of construction phase activities, including execution of contracts and vendor selections; allocation of staff and resources; ensuring best practices in schedule management, project controls and BIM (Building Information Modeling) technologies; enhancement of safety practices and culture; and ensuring best in class enforcement and improvement of quality assurance, commissioning, and turn-over protocols.

The Director shall actively engage with all members of the Office of Capital Projects (OCP) staff, University officials, regulatory agencies, and facilities support personnel to identify, plan, and mitigate any impacts to other campus operations. In addition, the Director reviews, recommends, and advises the Executive Director on the standards, policies, and procedures associated with the successful implementation and execution of complex, overlapping construction projects throughout the OCP portfolios.

Essential Duties and Responsibilities

  • Demonstrates a seasoned, collaborative construction industry mindset in overseeing diverse project teams on multiple concurrent, highly complex projects.
  • Oversees performance of multiple project construction management firms, while maintaining an awareness of subcontractor trade performance, to make sure that all contractual obligations and codes of conduct are being followed.
  • Verifies individual project milestones and specific goals; tracks and objectively evaluates progress toward goals and, when appropriate, works with the construction manager to implement appropriate remedial solutions.
  • Tracks, oversees, manages, and controls construction schedules and associated costs to achieve project(s) completion within schedule parameters and allocated monies.
  • Ensures adherence to scope, budget, and schedule for various new construction and renovation projects. Projects may involve complex, multi-phase and multi-year construction, upgrade, and building infrastructure.
  • Secures the timely issuance of contracts, capital expenditure requests, certification of payments, and other key documents.
  • Establishes, updates, and maintains a comprehensive database on all assigned projects and reports to management on progress and cost.
  • Audits projectscosts, evaluates project projections and forecasts along with product and service evaluations, and evaluates requested extras and progress payment evaluations.
  • Actively participates in preparation of capital budgets and programs and high-level coordination of projects through completion.
  • Demonstrates technological proficiency in the application of a collective software suite which combines Primavera P6 for CPM analysis, Autodesk Build, and PMWeb in support of budget, schedule, quality, communications, and risk management.
  • Utilizes KPIs and variance analysis techniques to manage project execution and team performance.
  • Coordinates with administrators, faculty, staff, consultants, contractors, organized labor representatives, legal counsel, and governmental agencies in the planning, design, and execution of uniquely large/ complex construction programs.
  • Recognizes opportunities for process improvements and offers a record of accomplishment for creating hands-on, resourceful solutions.
  • Champions the University diversity/equity/inclusion goals in every dimension of the role.
  • Liaises with Public Safety (DPS (Department of Public Safety)), Environmental Health and Safety (EHS) and local agencies to establish project specific job hazard assessment and articulate interim life safety measures.
  • Distributes accurate information to the correct people on time; recognizes liabilities and potential problems; prepares and presents timely recommendations to appropriate officials and decision makers; and ensures change orders for design and construction services are warranted and properly priced.
  • Maintains awareness of, and champions enhancements to, industry leading practices related to enhanced project delivery: Lean principles, IDP (Integrative Design Process), Risk, last planner, TAKT.
  • Functions as the Department’s representative on committees and task forces of the University, external regulatory agencies, and other organizations in support of the mission and design and construction process.
  • Identifies elements of project design and construction likely to give rise to disputes and claims.
  • Makes effective presentations to groups with disparate levels of technical knowledge of design and construction.
  • May serve on various University committees.
  • Performs other duties as assigned.

About Princeton

Princeton University is a private, Ivy League research university set on a 600-acre suburban campus in Princeton, NJ. Princeton was ranked #1 in National Universities in the 2022 Best Colleges Rankings of U.S. News & World Report. The University is home to world-class research facilities that are available to researchers across disciplines and departments. Princeton University is classified as "R1: Research Universities (Highest research activity)" in the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education. Having the strengths of a major research university with the qualities of an outstanding liberal arts college makes Princeton University truly exceptional.


Princeton, NJ

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Minimum Qualifications

  • Bachelor’s degree in architecture, engineering, construction management required. 
  • Graduate level education and/or professional license preferred. 
  • Minimum of 10+ years’ experience in project management and experience in supervising project managers required.
  • Experience in managing major capital (out of the ground) construction projects required. 
  • Experience in managing multiple projects required.
  • Excellent communication (written and verbal) and organizational skills required. 

Preferred Qualifications

  • Requires problem solving, strong leadership, and team-building skills. Demonstrated proficiency in Primavera P6 (CPM evaluation), MS Office Suite, Bluebeam Revu (or similar).
  • Working knowledge of:
    • BIM VDC (Virtual Design Coordination) applications: Autodesk Build, BIM360.
    • QA/QC/Cx: Autodesk BIM360Field, PlanGrid (or similar)
    • PM Software: PMWeb, (Procore, E-Builder or similar).
Please note that up to three individuals may be hired for a Director of Construction role.
Princeton University is an equal opportunity, affirmative action employer.
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