Director of Utility Services

Industry: Facilities Management
Location: Massachusetts - Cambridge
Sector: Higher Education
Search ID: 20-0705-11
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Joseph F. Wargo
Joseph F. Wargo
Ryan R. Pugh
Ryan R. Pugh
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has retained Helbling to conduct an executive search to secure a Director of Utility Services.

Position Overview

Reporting to the VP of Campus Services and Stewardship, this position is responsible for the operation of the Institute's Central Utility Plant (CUP), campus utility distribution systems, and implementation of utility related projects (including over $275M in current projects) that support the MIT2030 Capital Plan. Focus on the global picture and direction while understanding and monitoring the everyday details and utility operations throughout the campus. Provide overall direction for the MIT Facilities Department’s Utility Groups. Act as a sounding board and mentor to help the Managers effectively manage to each individual and their team.

Principal Duties and Responsibilities

  • As a visionary and thoughtful leader of the campus utility systems evolution, execute on a plan to meet and exceed objectives. Drive strategic portfolio-wide initiatives that result in reliability, resiliency, efficiency, safety, and reduced carbon emissions. Represent the Institute and the Department with leadership, faculty, students, clients, suppliers, and outside engineering and architectural firms.
  • Direct the operation of the MIT CUP through the CUP Plant Manager. Plant will strive to provide prescribed services to the campus at all times and without unscheduled interruption. Track and meet all operating permit limits and state and federal regulations including the health and safety of all employees, contractors, and visitors.
  • Direct the Utility Project Management staff and Design and Operations staff to establish best practices for the design, construction, and operation of the Utility infrastructure. Direct a staff of engineers, project managers, support, and service staff in the review and execution of project and operational requirements of MIT’s Facilities Utility Department.
  • Accountable for forecasting the utility portfolio budget, which is currently $50M, from development of the annual plan to execution. Partner with a finance lead to highlight priorities and drive portfolio consistency, managing the metrics that inform the distribution of funds. Drive efficiency constantly and be a good steward of MIT resources.
  • Determine the needs of the existing Utility infrastructure for renewal through utility planning to constantly improve the resiliency and reliability of the overall systems. This position will provide the technical leadership role in assuring a cooperative teamwork approach to the design, construction, and turnover process of all projects.
  • Group shall work closely with the Facilities Department commissioning and turnover team to insure that all projects are properly accepted by the Institute and placed into service for the intended use. Additionally from time to time the department will recommission work already in place to ensure the operation is maximized and procedures for operation are optimized.
  • Participate in the selection process of consulting services and the development and review of designs, working drawings, estimates, and specifications of Capital Projects and Renovation & Renewal projects as they relate to the Institutes Utility infrastructure. Participate and supports the Construction QA/QC of all Capital and Renovation & Renewal Projects.
  • Play an integral role in both the selection process and the quality control of the design and construction contracts for the Department with architects, consultants, engineers, and construction managers for the development and execution of all construction documents. Participate in the evaluation of outside architect/engineering services.
  • Partner with other thought leaders across the Campus Services organization including Environmental Health and Safety, the Office of Sustainability, and the Office of Campus Planning.
  • Maintain contact and professional relationships with senior officials of other universities and representatives of technical organizations, professional groups and societies, leaders of architectural/engineering firms, building contractors and associations, local officials, and regulatory organizations. Has authority to speak for the Institute with such organizations.
  • Evaluate team members’ performance, recommend staffing levels, work with Facilities Human Resources on all training requirements for staff, and act on personnel issues as necessary. Serve as a staff advocate to attract, develop, and retain a diverse workforce. Participate in the selection of key leadership and management hires for the Facilities department.
  • Ability to serve on multiple cross campus teams to address issues related to the planning and operations for the campus. Must understand differing objectives of team members as they relate to the educational community, environment, and regulatory changes from within the campus and external to the Institute.
Supervision Received
Report directly to the Vice President for Campus Services and Stewardship, Office of the Executive Vice President & Treasurer
Supervision Exercised 
Provide supervision to the Central Ultilities Plant Manager, Utilities Projects Program Manager, and the Utilities Senior Administrative Assistant.  
Total employee count under the Director of Utilities Services:  50
Other Key Relationships:
  • Manager, HR Facilities/HRO, Human Resources Department
  • Director, Finance & Administration
  • Director of Sustainability, Office of the Executive Vice President & Treasurer
  • Managing Director, EHS Programs, Office of the Executive Vice President & Treasurer
  • Director, Campus Services & Maintenance
  • Director, Facilities Engineering
  • Senior Communications Officer, Facilities, Communications & Customer Engagement
  • Director, Campus Construction, Office of the Executive Vice President & Treasurer
  • Director, Capital Projects, Campus Construction
  • Director, Campus Planning, Office of the Executive Vice President & Treasurer
  • Director, Sustems Systems Performance and Turnover
  • Director, Project Planning

Objectives for the First 6 to 12 Months 

  • Garner the trust of the Utilities group through empowerment by demonstrating a willingness to listen and leverage the signficant experience and successes of the team members.
  • Develop strong and deep relationships within Campus Services as well as with other staff, faculty, and students resulting in meaningful partnerships throughout the Institute.
  • Gain a thorough understanding of and appreciate for MIT’s infrastructure and the MIT2030 Plan.
  • Lead a successful transition into the new Central Utility Plant and deftly balance the running of the legacy facilities with the new plant.

The Institute

The mission of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) is to advance knowledge and educate students in science, technology, and other areas of scholarship that will best serve the nation and the world in the 21st century. MIT is also driven to bring knowledge to bear on the world’s great challenges.

The Institute is an independent, coeducational, privately endowed university, organized into five Schools (architecture and planning; engineering; humanities, arts, and social sciences; management; and science). It has some 1,000 faculty members, more than 11,000 undergraduate and graduate students, and more than 130,000 living alumni.

At its founding in 1861, MIT was an educational innovation, a community of hands-on problem solvers in love with fundamental science and eager to make the world a better place. Today, that spirit still guides how MIT educates students on campus and how they shape new digital learning technologies to make MIT teaching accessible to millions of learners around the world.


With its cafés, bookstores, and student community, Cambridge is often referred to as “Boston’s Left Bank.”  Neighborhoods to visit include:
Kendall Square: Home to MIT; center of the high-tech and biotechnology industries in Massachusetts
Central Square: international restaurants and music clubs
Harvard Square: bookstores and street performers; plenty of shops, bars, and restaurants
Inman Square: restaurants, bars, and coffee houses 
Porter Square: the region’s largest concentration of Japanese eateries and shops
Davis Square: vibrant arts community and many shops, bars, and restaurants
Kendall Square is a 10-acre, award-winning, master-planned development growing into a community of world-class office and lab space, beautiful apartment towers, restaurants, and retail shopping linked together by 2.5 acres of lush, landscaped open space. In the winter, the 8,400-square-foot skating rink is open seven days a week, while in warmer weather people gather on open plazas for lunch, concerts, a farmer's market, a canoe/kayak rental, and more.

Helpful Links

Qualifications and Skills

  • Minimum of BS in Engineering, preferably in the Mechanical or Electrical discipline. Registered Professional Engineer (PE) State of Massachusetts preferred, advanced degree desirable.
  • Minimum of 5 years of executive level management experience in utility design, construction, or operations. Minimum of 15 years of engineering and hands-on technical experience in mechanical, electrical, and operations with utility systems.
  • Must have experience with large capital project initiatives as well as smaller renovation and campus renewal activities. Experience with short- and long-term campus master planning, engineering, and architectural required.
  • Proven experience managing multi-disciplinary engineering teams and ability to deliver utility services in a manner satisfactory to building, maintenance, and management clients. Ability to foster a positive work environment and lead a group of engineers and other staff in a team centered organization.
  • Experience leading a unionized workforce is preferred.
  • Excellent interpersonal skills in order to represent the department in the overall MIT Community.
  • Collaborative leader who is able to develop relationships across the Institute.
  • Ability to work in an environment that requires an understanding of multiple stakeholders’ positions. Exhibit openness and flexibility in considering solutions and strategy development.
  • Ability to maintain composure during times of stress. Possess the ability to professionally discuss complex issues with others who have varying perspectives and objectives. Adept at conveying information using language non-technically trained individuals can understand.
  • Strong detail orientation with a data-driven approach to strategic decisions. Excellent financial acumen and ability to understand complex budgets and contractual agreements.
  • Desire to learn and improve both self and the Utilities department.

Expectation of All Employees

As a member of the MIT community, supports MIT’s Non-Discrimination Policy and respectfully interacts with others in the community. Represents MIT with professionalism, ethics, integrity, and mutual respect towards colleagues as well as internal and external clients. Keeps current and proficient with necessary skills and knowledge, including computer skills. Self-identifies training needs relevant to work area and responsibilities. Demonstrates initiative, flexibility, openness to change, and accountability. Works within a team environment, providing support to and collaboration with colleagues. Is expected to know and follow relevant Environmental Health and Safety Requirements. Builds Department structure so as to ensure the Institute is provided with the necessary Utility support in a professional cost-effective manner and in conjunction with Institutes Sustainability goals and objectives.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology is an equal opportunity, affirmative action employer.
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