University of Waterloo

  • Director, Strategic Research

    Requisition ID
    Job Category
    2175 - Dean of Engineering Office
    Job Status
    Regular Full-Time
    Hiring Range
    $99,729 - $124,661
  • Overview

    The Director, Strategic Research is responsible for identifying, developing, implementing and sustaining the research mission across the Faculty of Engineering. Working directly with the Dean and the ADR, the Director’s primary objectives will be to grow the research portfolio of Engineering’s faculty members, ensure the ongoing success of Engineering faculty in flagship national research programs, raise the national and international profile of Waterloo Engineering, and provide leadership within the Engineering Research Office to ensure the operational effectiveness of the Faculty’s research support services.

    The Director will help develop the Faculty’s Strategic Plan, contributing to direction setting, implementation and performance measurement. The Director will facilitate discussion of key strategic priorities with stakeholders across campus, from Department Chairs, School Directors, Institute Directors and Associate Deans to the University’s senior leadership team. They will ensure that new and ongoing initiatives within the Faculty enjoy broad support and are fully integrated with the University’s overall strategic vision. Alongside the Dean and the ADR, the Director will identify and actively pursue new opportunities,  collaborations, and research partnerships at the national and international level. 


    Where external partnerships with the private and/or public sectors are critical for establishing new initiatives, the Director of Strategic Research will work in parallel with the Director of Engineering Research, who has overall responsibility for the development and maintenance of the Faculty’s external research relationships. Where programs and initiatives are primarily academic and/or institutional in scope, the Director of Strategic Research will take the lead, liaising with the Director of Engineering Research as appropriate.

    The workflow includes: setting strategic priorities; managing high-profile strategic proposals and guiding teams pursuing them; developing and monitoring performance targets; and developing and managing professional relationships with key partners.


    Strategic Initiatives

    • Provide leadership and direction in strategic planning activities to advance the Faculty’s research agenda, working closely with the Dean and the ADR
    • Identify new and significant opportunities for research leadership, including emerging areas of research, new funding sources and potential new collaborations. Ensure that Engineering faculty are well positioned and supported to capitalize on such opportunities
    • Develop strategies to ensure that the Faculty’s established areas of research strength are properly recognized, supported and sustained within the context of a rapidly evolving national research landscape
    • Provide leadership and oversight within the Faculty for high-profile and mission-critical funding programs, including the Canada Research Chairs program, Canada Foundation for Innovation programs, and other key federal and provincial research programs
    • Provide expert counsel to Engineering faculty members and staff on securing competitive research funding and effectively communicating their research goals and successes to stakeholders
    • Identify promising opportunities for new research collaborations within and beyond the Faculty of Engineering, promoting communication between research groups and new interdisciplinary projects
    • Oversee the development of strategies to identify and remove systemic barriers to underrepresented groups within the Engineering research community, and exceed the Faculty’s EDI goals and targets
    • Maintain a strong knowledge base of current UW programs, policies, resources and services
    • Assist and advise the Dean in creating and hiring exceptional faculty research positions, as the need arises

    Relationship Management

    • Work closely and collaboratively with the Vice-President University Research and the Office of Research to support the Faculty and University’s research objectives and ensure strategic goals are fully aligned
    • Work closely and collaboratively with the Office of the Provost, University Relations, Advancement and other executive offices to advance key initiatives, as appropriate
    • Develop and maintain strong relationships with University leadership and research leaders within the Faculty of Engineering
    • Represent the Faculty of Engineering on University committees and working groups related to research. When necessary and appropriate, act as the ADR’s designated delegate
    • Facilitate communication and coordination between the Dean, ADR, Department Chairs, School Directors and Research Centres and Institutes to ensure that all unit perspectives are properly reflected in the Faculty’s strategic research support activities
    • Provide expert onboarding advice to new faculty members to assist them in launching their research programs at the University, and take responsibility for maintaining contact and providing support as they work towards tenure

    Performance Management

    • Identify opportunities for improvement in current data gathering processes within the Engineering Research Office, and implement improved procedures in coordination with other groups on campus
    • Develop new procedures and metrics to capture the Faculty’s expertise and successes with respect to innovation, entrepreneurship and intellectual property development
    • Develop reports and analysis of the existing research strengths of the Faculty’s departments and schools, and the development potential of these research areas with respect to emerging national and international priorities
    • Leverage institutional tools for research evaluation and bibliometric analysis to inform and support specific strategic research goals, as required
    • Provide qualitative and quantitative data and analysis for inclusion within the Engineering Research Office’s strategic direction and within annual progress reports
    • Assist and advise the Dean and the ADR in creating and hiring for new executive, staff positions within the Engineering Research Office and key Faculty research units


    • Master’s degree in STEM discipline required, PhD preferred; or equivalent education and experience
    • Five (5) or more years of experience in a research-driven academic environment
    • Writing, editing, and coordinating large-scale multi-disciplinary research proposals within academic institutions
    • Demonstrated experience in strategic planning and implementation of research initiatives
    • A proven track record of providing strategic advice to those in institutional leadership roles
    • Demonstrated experience navigating the federal and provincial research and innovation funding landscape
    • Demonstrated familiarity with federal and provincial political priorities with respect to academic research
    • Strong organizational, analytical and problem-solving skills
    • Ability to work independently, and as a member of a team
    • Exceptional communication skills in all mediums, and the ability to select and carry a message through the most effective channel(s) in order to reach a target audience
    • Strong knowledge of research management best practices, including strategies to increase EDI performance
    • Excellent interpersonal skills, with the ability to build effective relationships, partnerships and development efforts with individuals placed at all levels within an organization
    • Political acumen is essential. The Director must be sensitive to the needs and interests of schools, departments, and units in the Faculty and elsewhere in the University and have the ability to successfully manage competing strategic priorities and objectives
    • Knowledge of UW policies, procedures and guidelines would be an asset
    • Occasional travel; regular working hours, with some evening/weekend work required


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