Director of Operations & Facilities
for Northfield Mount Hermon

Helbling represented Northfield Mount Hermon (NMH), a private boarding school, in securing a Director of Operations & Facilities. Working closely with key members of NMH, together we attracted a professional with over three decades of facilities experience, overseeing design, construction, maintenance, grounds, and housekeeping. In follow-up conversations, Head of School Peter Fayroian reported that he “could not imagine how [the new Director] could be doing better.”

Northfield Mount Hermon (NMH), a member of the Eight Schools Association, is a private, coeducational independent boarding school in Massachusetts for 650 students in grades 9 - 12 and postgraduates. It is situated on a 215-acre campus with 36 major buildings.

NMH engaged Helbling to provide executive search services to identify and secure a new Director of Operations & Facilities. This role has responsibility for the development, implementation, and ongoing administrative oversight of facilities planning, policies, operations, and financial resources.

After a visit to the campus and extensive discussions with the Chief Financial Officer and Assistant Head of School, we came to understand that the ideal candidate would need to have demonstrated experience in construction management; strong knowledge of electronic databases; and the abilities to establish and meet budget targets, and maintain focus on NMH’s sustainability initiatives. The successful candidate would also have an inclusive management style, and the ability to empower his/her staff, which is a multi-generational team. 

The CFO stressed that, while the role entails capital projects and strategic planning, the facilities department is a service organization, and the position's primate focus is daily operations. 

 

The search was a collaborative partnership between two Helbling consultants and NMH representatives. After working with NMH to develop a position description, we began a targeted search, focusing on college preparatory boarding schools, universities, colleges, military bases, healthcare entities, and corporations. While our efforts were concentrated on the surrounding area, we also explored college preparatory boarding schools nationally.

The successful candidate had spent three decades at a private college of about 6,200 students with a nearly 700-acre campus. He most recently served as Associate Vice President of Facilities. In this capacity, he managed a staff of almost 200, overseeing design, construction, grounds, maintenance, and housekeeping. Throughout his last decade at the school, he had managed close to $150M of new construction and renovation projects.

In follow-up conversations, Head of School reported that he “could not imagine how the new Director could be doing better.” The professional has earned the trust and respect of his superiors, and he has the knowledge and experience needed to address the facility issues.

His accomplishments include:

  • Managing several important projects including construction of six new faculty houses, development of a compressed natural gas facility, and a long overdue implementation of the campus key system. 
  • Advancing the institution’s understanding of deferred maintenance challenges. The individual worked closely with an outside firm, generating a report that was highly valued by the school's administration and trustees. 
  • Identifying and implementing important initial steps to improve the performance and morale of the maintenance crew, which included upgrading vehicles, providing uniforms, and planning renovations of the facilities building.

NMH has also commented on the confidence that the new Director instills in his team and his peers. He makes an excellent impression and follows through with careful communication. He is described as being effective, fun to work with, and supportive of those around him at all levels.

In follow-up conversations with the secured candidate, he expressed his appreciation for the passion and enthusiasm his peers demonstrate for their jobs and for the school’s mission. He said he has a great rapport with his team, and it feels as if he has already been there for years.

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The secured professional has had many accomplishments thus far in his tenure with one being the advancement of the institution’s understanding of its deferred maintenance challenges. The individual played an instrumental role in the development of a comprehensive report that has been highly valued by the school's administration and trustees.
Jim Lord, Executive Director - Northeast

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