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Senior Project Manager, Capital Project Delivery

  • Industry: Facilities Management
  • Location: Illinois - Chicago
  • Client: Higher Education
  • Search ID: 19-0806-12

The University of Chicago, a repeat client, has retained Helbling to conduct an executive search to secure a Senior Project Manager, Capital Project Delivery.

General Summary

Reporting to a member of the Capital Project Delivery leadership team, the Senior Facilities Project Manager is responsible for providing professional project management and leadership on important projects for the University.

Principal Duties and Responsibilities

General functions of this position include, but are not limited to:
  • Manage the planning, design, and execution of major capital projects by providing project leadership, communication, coordination, and conflict resolution to ensure project goals are met.
  • Manage a project portfolio that could range from a single large complex project to a group of projects.
  • Support the department in pre-project planning activities, including Capital Improvement Plan preparation, submittals, and  approval processes.
  • Manage projects from initiation through final project completion and closeout.
  • Manage and be responsible for project budget, schedule, and procurement of design and construction services.
  • Provide leadership and drive progress of consultants to achieve expected functionality, architectural design outcomes, and recommend alternatives, if needed, to keep the project on schedule and within budget.
  • Facilitate timely decisions with campus representatives to report progress and issues impacting the project goals to stakeholders.
  • Take responsibility for timely and comprehensive communications with all project stakeholders and the larger University community.
  • Ensure design and construction documents comply with project requirements including established FS processes and standards.
  • Facilitate timely review of contract documents throughout all phases of the project. Assure that comments are responded to and resolutions of the comments are incorporated into the projects.
  • Facilitate timely reviews of accessibility, building, fire code, and historic preservation compliance, where applicable, to avoid delays to the project.
  • Advocate with integrity for the University in contract negotiations.
  • Review and approve design and construction contracts, changes, technical service contracts, GMP submittals, bid documents, and pay applications in accordance with University policy and FS processes.
  • Facilitate Departmental and University approvals, as required.
  • Apply departmental project control processes for consistency, to mitigate risks, and to assure compliance with policies, rules, and regulations, as well as all applicable authorities having jurisdiction.
  • Primary project liaison with campus stakeholders, facility user groups, operations, and University administration throughout the project to ensure timely input, manage expectations, resolve conflicts and facilitate decisions, deliver project on time and within budget, and meet or exceed the programmatic and client goals, as well as the architectural vision for the project.
  • Senior Project Managers are considered working managers, in that they will be expected to provide technical support to other Project Managers in addition to managing their own projects.

Essential Functions

(Please note that percent effort on project phases may fluctuate according to project needs): 

  • Continually communicate between the Capital Project Delivery management team, the staff of Operations and Maintenance and all other University and departmental stakeholders to ensure a common understanding of objectives, resources, and priorities.
  • Ensure client satisfaction by quality work and communication.
  • Ensure that the project’s program objectives are met by:
    • Encourage strong user group involvement
    • Test consistency and compatibility of design to end-user needs
    • Develop prioritization of scope and design elements
    • Document and define clear goals for the Project Team
    • Ensure communication with all stakeholders using feedback and direction
    • Ensure that the project’s design objectives and its integration with University standards are met by reviewing design documents for clarity, completeness, coordination of discipline and constructability for use by internal and external parties.
    • Assist with and/or prepare RFPs for professional consultants, including the A/E, test agencies, commissioning, site surveying, vendors, and contractors.
    • Assist with and/or prepare and negotiate contracts.


Ensures project delivery by performing Pre-Construction and Construction Services: 
  • Define the roles and responsibilities of the project team.
  • Develop the master project schedule.
  • Manage and maintaining project budget:
    • Design review 
    • Specification review 
    • Solicit or prepare construction cost estimates
    • Value engineering
    • Reconcile construction costs estimates
    • Review of contractors bids
    • Review and negotiate all additional services requests
    • Review and approve A/E and consultant pay applications
  • Review programming process with emphasis on building infrastructure requirements, utilities, mechanical, electrical, and plumbing systems.
  • Facilitate and perform value engineering during design and construction phases.  
  • Review plans and qualifications prepared by the Architect and Engineers for completeness, constructability, coordination of discipline, adherence to all University guidelines, as well as quality and regulatory agency requirements.
  • Develop logistics and supporting plans (e.g. traffic, staging areas, parking).
  • Manage permit process.
  • Ensure the maintainability and low life-cycle cost of projects by including operations and maintenance staff in the project team, and developing a commissioning and turnover plan.


  • Manage the construction process, including:
    • Weekly owner’s meetings
    • Establish and review of project documentation
    • Oversee and/or prepare monthly progress reports
    • Review and approve contractor pay applications
    • Review, negotiate, and approve change orders
    • Maintain quality assurance program
    • Review and approve contractor pay applications
  • Prepare and review itemized breakdowns of additional project costs.
  • Review and recommend contractors schedule of values.
  • Ensure the maintainability and low life-cycle cost of projects by including operations and maintenance staff in the project team, and managing the implementation of the commissioning and turnover plan.
  • Responsible for project close-out including:
    • Manage the punch list
    • Submittal of warranties / guarantees
    • Substantial completion
    • Systems training
    • Certificate of occupancy
    • Record documents
    • Contractor final pay application
  • Manage University move-in process.


  • Strategic Vision
  • Performance and Execution
  • Decision Quality and Accountability
  • High Performing Team
  • Communications

About The University of Chicago

The University of Chicago is one of the world's premier academic and research institutions.  It has driven new ways of thinking since its founding in 1890.  Today, The University of Chicago is an intellectual destination that draws inspired scholars to its Hyde Park and international campuses, keeping The University of Chicago at the nexus of ideas that challenge and change the world.
University of Chicago Facts:
  • 5,860 undergraduate student
  • 9,866 graduate, professional, and other students
  • 160,000 alumni worldwide
  • 2,274 full-time faculty
  • 7,164 staff
  • 49 majors and 40 minors in the undergraduate College
  • 5 divisions and 6 professional schools for graduate study
  • 99 Nobel Laureates
  • Located in Chicago’s Hyde Park neighborhood near Lake Michigan
  • 217 acres; designated a botanic garden in 1997
  • Blend of traditional English Gothic and award-winning modern buildings designed by renowned architects
The University of Chicago is a vibrant community of people dedicated to the pursuit of excellence in education and research. One of the largest employers in the metropolitan area, the University employs 10,000 diverse and talented individuals who come to work at the University from all over the world. The University's location in the heart of an urban environment provides many cultural offerings, as well as opportunities to engage with the local community.
The campus is often described as an oasis in the middle of the City of Chicago, and the development of the campus as a botanic garden has certainly added to that notion.  Within the main quadrangles of the original campus, various gardens have been introduced throughout the years. The gardens have since spread throughout the 217-acre Hyde Park campus, as new capital projects add to the variety of plant materials and garden spaces, and donor gardens enhance existing spaces. The initiative to develop the gardens was approved under the directive that whatever was installed needs to be maintained. Thus, the close partnership with the Landscape Services Department began and has developed over the years.


The Hyde Park community is rich in tradition, culturally diverse, and brimming with art, music, and entertainment opportunities. Hyde Park is a unique Chicago neighborhood.  Located on the southwest shore of Lake Michigan, Hyde Park is home to people of diverse backgrounds, perceptions, and pursuits. As a growing and changing community, Hyde Park is still deeply rooted in tradition. Ever-evolving, expanding, and alive with history, Hyde Park remains home to many lifelong residents.
Conveniently located on a beautiful park-like campus near Lake Michigan in the community of Hyde Park, The University of Chicago is one of the world's leading research universities, known for its internationally renowned researchers, scholars, and intellectual pioneers. Known as a "teacher of teachers,” the University also partners with local educational institutions to enhance educational opportunities for residents of all ages.
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Education / Certifications / Licenses

  • Bachelor’s degree or related degree in architecture, engineering or a construction related field, or equivalent job related experience required.
  • Master’s degree preferred.
  • Professional License preferred.


  • Minimum fifteen (15) years’ experience in design and construction, preparation of construction costs estimates, value engineering, and project management-related duties and activities required.
  • Demonstrated ability to deliver large scale ($200M plus) science and/or research facilities through planning, design, and construction stages.
  • Demonstrated ability to provide project management direction and leadership on behalf of an owner.
  • Familiarity with building processes and codes in a variety of settings, and the ability to apply this knowledge to the development of innovative solutions to problems in the design and construction process required.
  • Detailed understanding of building systems, construction practices, contracting procedures, building design methodologies, and code requirements required.
  • Demonstrated ability to manage successfully, from the Owner’s perspective, the design and construction process for large, complex, building programs within demanding time and cost constraints required.
  • Demonstrated negotiation skills in a management role for high-profile projects with active senior management involvement required.
  • Demonstrated ability to manage project budget in design and construction required.
  • Demonstrated ability to manage preconstruction and construction project schedules required.
  • Comprehensive understanding of project delivery gained through documented education and/or experience required.
  • Demonstrated ability to represent and present project to organizational executive leadership.

Technical Knowledge or Skills

  • Strong supervision and management skills required.
  • Strong leadership skills and the ability to drive project teams towards required outcomes.
  • Ability to work independently with general guidance and direction from Director required.
  • Strong budget and financial management required.
  • Demonstrated oral and written communication skills appropriate to managing the flow of information in support of decision making at the highest management levels of a complex institutional organization required.
  • Demonstrated ability to work with consultants to integrate the detailed, functional requirements of departmental user groups with the broad-scope project goals of a complex institutional organization required.
  • Demonstrated ability to manage large teams in preconstruction, construction, and closeout required.   Responsible for coordination, and lead preconstruction through construction.

Working Conditions and Physical Requirements

  • Ability to inspect architectural plans, keyboarding, bending, stooping to reach files, light lifting, and standing.  
  • Some travel may be required.  For project managers assigned to international projects, frequent overseas travel for periods up to two weeks may be required.  A valid US passport, or ability to obtain one, is required for these assignments.
  • Ability to physically enter a construction site (climb a ladder) and visually inspect work in progress.

Search Consultant: Rick Nawoczynski

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