Program Executive

Industry: Facilities Management
Location: New Jersey - Princeton
Sector: Higher Education
Search ID: 23-0303-12
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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 Program Executive.

Position Summary 

Reporting to the Associate Vice President for Capital Projects within the Facilities Organization, the Program Executive plays a critical role within the Office for Capital Projects (OCP) in executing on the Capital Plan projects at Princeton University. As Princeton implements the Capital Plan, the Program Executive will set a strategic and integrated approach to implementing facilities projects within a defined program or collection of projects.

This individual must embody core values essential to the Facilities Organization including collaboration with academic and administrative leadership to support the Capital Plan, while cultivating and sustaining cooperative working relationships with local, county, and state agencies. The position will support the VP of Facilities, the AVP of Capital Projects, and the University Architect in preparing for the Board of Trustees, the Facilities Planning Group (FPG), and other committees involving developing projects.

Essential Duties and Responsibilities

Pre-Construction (45%)
  • Provide Project Managers (PM) guidance that is complementary to the organization’s strategic objectives and track the alignment of strategic objectives to project objectives.
  • Allocate resources to projects within a program in accordance with the organization’s priorities and commitments and coordinate with leadership on OCP workload and staff resources.
  • Work with the Office of University Architect (OUA) and leadership to establish benchmarks.
  • Participate in the creation of Value Proposition and PPOs; discuss early relationships with user and executive sponsors.
  • Lead PMs and project teams, particularly at initiation, through project milestones to completion.
  • Provide input to project teams on governance, resources, priorities, risks, and communications.
  • Serve as liaison with executive sponsor, users, and University administration.
  • Monitor a plan for project governance, authorization, and approval.
  • Support PMs to position them for success.
  • “Clear a path” to secure approvals, establish funding strategies, and set priorities.
  • Monitor “hot” issues to ensure resolution.
  • Prepare and present FPG capital approval process.
  • Develop project requests into executable projects.
  • Assign projects and manage PM workload, including “standing in for PM” when unavailable.
  • Ensure client and stakeholder communication is ongoing.
  • Work with PM and Project Planner to draft project scope for RFPs.
  • Work with PM to establish project schedule, with inputs from PM, OUA, and others.
  • Participate in project team selection, including AE/CM.
  • Manage budget building process and funding approvals at milestones.
  • Work closely with PM and procurement to establish contracts.
  • Work with senior administration to establish Facilities or campus initiatives and policies and procedures, such as ADA compliance, Fire Code compliance, Design Standards, wayfinding, and campus space utilization.
  • Follow up on quality assurance for performance of teams’ ability to meet DSM (Design Standards Manual) compliance after tech team progress reports.
Construction (45%)
  • Closely monitor team performance and ability to achieve milestones.
  • Work with PM and project team when issues arise on performance, cost control, or schedule slippage.
  • Collaborate to ensure PMs have established agendas and scheduled meetings.
  • Lead discussions with CM and A/E on cost estimating process.
  • Work closely with PM and finance team to monitor budget, including options early on and alternates as documentation progresses.
  • Work closely with PM and Project Planner and lead discussion to create and monitor overall project schedule including design process, procurement, approvals, and construction/move in.
  • Ensure communication is inclusive and includes project stakeholders and user representative.
  • Actively participate in preparation for and meeting with senior leadership where PM reports out on project progress and risks.
  • Closely monitor construction, turnover, and move-in preparation to ensure smooth project delivery.
  • Ensure post construction issues are resolved.
  • Ensure progress during project close out.
Other (10%)
  • Develop PMs as leaders within the organization and expand their capabilities to assume more and greater responsibility for project success, through a variety of means such as training, mentoring, and coaching.
  • Serve as role model for the PM and project team through making timely and supportive decisions.
  • Closely monitor progress and performance of team.
  • Ensure quick resolution by PM/team as issues arise.
  • Provide clear and timely communications on risks and project issues.
  • Participate in senior leadership updates.

​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 a relevant field such as engineering, architecture, real estate, etc. or equivalent combination of education and experience.
  • 15 years of successful experience in managing capital design and construction projects.
  • Familiarity with construction contract law.
  • Broad knowledge and expertise in various building types (e.g. wet labs, residential, classroom, athletic, etc.)
  • Knowledge of municipal approval processes.
  • Demonstrated leadership of people with proven skills in effectively engaging and motivating staff.
  • Significant experience and a well-developed maturity in decision processes and leading/managing diverse teams with conflicting needs or requirements.
  • Excellent oral and written communication skills as well as the ability to develop and maintain effective customer relationships within a team approach to construction management.
  • Ability to manage multiple complex projects with varying scope and multiple stages of completion.
  • Assertive and collaborative skills capable of maintaining momentum of projects and driving them to successful conclusion in a politically sensitive manner.
  • Effective organizational, prioritization, and multi-tasking skills.
  • Ability to understand existing policies, processes, and procedures; and to conceive of and implement new work procedures to enhance efficiency or execution to individual project circumstances.

Preferred Qualifications

  • Master’s degree in engineering, business, or related field.
  • Previous experience working in the higher education environment, in the construction industry, or real estate development.

Princeton University is an equal opportunity, affirmative action employer.
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