University of Waterloo

Director, Institutional Priorities

Requisition ID 2021-6967
Job Category
Office of the President
Employment Type
Time Type
Hiring Range
$97,008 - $121,260


The Director develops the planning and tracking framework for the President’s priorities (also referred to as strategic institutional initiatives; ie those that are shared accountabilities) and monitors the implementation and any issues arising together with senior leaders assigned by Vice Presidents.  This includes regular engagement with Directors of Strategic Initiatives in the Provost and Research offices as well as others in VP and Dean portfolios.


Many projects will require coordination with the Office of Institutional Planning and Analysis, particularly around identifying and monitoring KPIs for the strategic plan. The Director will work collaboratively with Institutional Analysis & Planning on governance updates to the Board of Governors/Committees and internal bodies with respect to the implementation of the strategic plan.


The Director provides updates and analyses on areas of strategic importance to the President and University and relies on a network of colleagues and experts to identify and contribute to these reports and materials.   This includes relevant data, scientific citations and academic research to be incorporated into speeches and presentations.    The Director takes a lead role in researching and developing strategic areas of thought leadership for major addresses by the President.


The Director coordinates and reviews all materials shared with governing bodies from the President and Vice Presidents, including the president’s speaking remarks for these bodies to ensure they are strategically focused.


Strategic Initiatives & Execution

  • Synthesizes and communicates the President’s key priorities internally so that members of the University community understand the President’s vision, and how faculty and academic support unit initiatives and strategic plans contribute to the overall goal(s)

  • Works collaboratively and effectively with senior leaders to support priorities that align with, and support, Institutional initiatives, focusing on annual and long-term goals and strategies (i.e.. how the University will achieve the President’s vision)

  • Leads in the development of planning documents to assist the President and senior administration with the advancement of the goals and objectives of the University

  • Makes recommendations to the President to adjust initiatives and projects which are found to be at risk, or less successful than anticipated

  • Ensures timelines are adhered to for strategic institutional initiatives, by identifying capacity, pacing and resourcing issues needing leadership attention and keeps the President and Executive Director aware of any red flags

  • Participates, contributes and supports the President and ED in the development of annual portfolio work plans and measuring work plan progress

  • Provides a governance structure for all Institutional priorities, including creation of a measurement system to track initiatives.  Partners with others to secure business performance data and analytics

  • Maintains current awareness and knowledge of University’s administrative priorities, including decisions made at the Board of Governors/Committees and follow-up actions required or being taken as a result of these decisions


Institutional Research, Policy Advice, Environmental Scanning

  • Provide in-depth analysis through both written notes, formal briefings and position papers on a variety of topics for review the President including recommendations on initiatives and emerging issues and opportunities

  • Compiles statistics and charts on academic research, scientific citations, and other subject data to incorporate in speeches and presentations made by the President

  • Reviews journals and reports for items of interest for the President

  • Regularly reviews and briefs the President on the University’s Risk Management framework to identify emerging and longer-term opportunities and threats to the achievement of the University’s priorities and the critical success factors for the University as they related to institutional and presidential priorities

  • Conducts both internal and external environmental scans, to better understand how the University relates to its environment (i.e.. within the community, relative to peers, etc.) and advises the President on trends or opportunities resulting from environmental scans, policy reviews and research focusing on long term trends and outlook and developing competitive intelligence


Communications and Coordination

  • In collaboration with the AVP Communications and with the Associate Director, Executive Communications, the Director supports effective two-way communication between the Office of the President and the University community in support of the successful implementation of presidential priorities

    • Conducts research and analysis to support the President’s thought leadership in strategic areas and develops major external speeches, (select) internal speeches, governance remarks, presidential statements, academic book chapters, keynotes, Op Eds, administrative responses to task forces, and policy papers

    • Drafts high-level correspondence replies for the President’s consideration, working with University Communications to coordinate messaging on issues as appropriate

  • The Director supports the development and review of written materials/presentations for governance bodies for the President and from Vice-Presidents to ensure they are strategically focused

  • Supports the development of Presidential remarks for governance bodies and supports the review of all materials for governance bodies from senior leadership to ensure strategic focus

  • Maintains current awareness and knowledge of university and external events, policies, and announcements potentially affecting the public positioning of the University of Waterloo and, where applicable, the President’s Office, and brief the President and Executive Director of the Office as required

  • Collaborates with AVP Communications and/or Vice-Presidents with respect to key messages to be conveyed by the President

  • Works collaboratively with Office of Research Communications, Media Relations and Government Relations to convey President’s messaging

  • Attends PVP/EC and other internal governance meetings to ensure that suitable follow-up occurs with VPs directly or senior administrative staff in VP portfolios


Relationship Management

  • Develops and fosters effective liaison with key stakeholders in order to successfully achieve institutional and presidential initiatives

  • Develops positive relationships within and among VP portfolios, and identifies opportunities for internal collaboration and consultation with faculties, colleges, institutes and departments

  • Develop and maintain a strong cross-campus network of senior administration providing visibility to institutional and presidential initiatives and leveraging the support of campus communications channels

  • Ensures effective communications and decision-making between executive offices and constituencies (Board of Governors, Deans, PVP, Associate Directors)

  • Works on behalf of the President’s office to develop or follow up on governances matters for the Board/Committees

  • Oversees both the timetable and preparation of key documents required for Board of Governors/Committees and Senate meetings for the President

  • Accountable for the development of the President’s quarterly governance report on achievements, priorities, initiatives and actions to the Board and Senate

  • Works collaboratively and consultatively with the Executive Director, Office of the President and other staff in the Office of the President in support of a wide variety of activities and projects involving the President


Project Management

  • Creates and executes project plans and revises as appropriate over time to meet the changing needs and requirements of various institutional and presidential initiatives

  • Liaises with and coordinates actions with stakeholders for strategic projects to ensure roles are clear and actions are executed effectively

  • Responsible for providing support for the planning, execution, monitoring and report of project related activities

  • Monitors assigned project schedules and timelines and is accountable for timely completion of objectives and key results

  • Identifies and manages risks associated with projects that might jeopardize the success of the outcomes

  • Employs project management approaches that ensure that equity approaches are integrated into the effective management of projects, including monitoring of information, logistics, and reporting on project deliverables

  • Project manages priority strategic initiatives with the President’s priorities ensuring timely progress is made, key milestones are reached, and deliverables are met


  • Post-graduate degree in a related field (e.g., Public Policy, Business, Marketing, Communications) or an equivalent combination of education and experience
  • Minimum ten (10) years’ in progressively responsible roles in post-secondary leadership, with an emphasis in strategic planning, execution, communications and governance reporting

  • Skilled writer and editor, experience in leading institutional or corporate communications

  • Proven experience of working in an organization with a high-profile reputation

  • Ability to handle complex multiple assignments at the same time and with competing demands and deadlines while maintaining a calm demeanour is essential

  • Advanced oral and written communications skills including the ability to write and edit quickly, accurately and creatively

  • Advanced influencing, negotiating, mediation, communication and relationship management skills including an ability to influence, negotiate and build productive working relationships with key stakeholders, senior UW management and partners are essential to achieve the required outcomes

  • Highly developed people management, relationship building and leadership skills with the demonstrated ability to develop and support a professional, service and continuous improvement focused workplace culture

  • Ability to form relationships with all senior UW management levels to serve the mission of the University

  • Ability to think and act strategically, creatively and dynamically in a high-pressure work environment

  • Ability to make difficult and complex decisions with good judgement and with acute sensitivity to the environment and reputation of the University

  • Ability to manage confidential and sensitive materials and situations with the utmost discretion

  • Significant experience in writing, proofing and editing material and of presenting proposals and plans to senior/board level executives

  • Evidence of being a persuasive and dynamic leader with highly developed communication and interpersonal skills, who is comfortable with networking, influencing and persuading at the highest level

  • Experience planning for and managing interrelated, complex projects, and coordinating and collaborating with cross-functional team members to deliver quality results within the project deadlines

  • Current and comprehensive knowledge of political issues, PSE trends and demographics required

  • Demonstrated ability to manage multiple concurrent projects with different stakeholders, lead meetings effectively with internal and external stakeholders, and take a proactive approach in service delivery

  • Excellent communication (oral and written), relationship building, customer service, negotiation, consultation, presentation, analytical, leadership and organizational skills

  • A high level of interpersonal skills and the capacity to listen effectively and sensitively to a broad range of diverse stakeholders, including students, faculty and staff members

  • Minimum 7 years’ experience in project management and proven ability to align work priorities and realize strategic goals

  • Demonstrated understanding of human rights and equity issues; and ability to interpret and communicate concepts

  • Experience in collating and analyzing qualitative and quantitative data and information in order to draft reports, provide briefing materials and recommendations to a range of audiences including senior leadership

  • Critical thinking and excellent analytical skills to enable immediate and appropriate assessment of complex issues of concern to stakeholders

  • Ability to manage confidential and sensitive materials and situations with the utmost discretion

  • Ability to make decisions with good judgment and with acute sensitivity to the political environment and to the reputation of the University

  • Strong research, writing, communication, presentation and interpersonal skills

  • High degree of political acuity and judgment; ability to deal with senior University administrators in a manner which facilitates cooperation and consensus building

  • Ability to work independently with a high degree of initiative, discretion, and tact

  • Ability to work under pressure; superior organizational skills in planning, project management and task coordination; flexibility and problem solver orientation, comfort and effectiveness with information technologies (e.g., advanced skills in Microsoft Office, email, Internet)

  • Diplomacy combined with an excellent understanding of, and commitment to, the University’s mission, vision, and values, and their intersection with the broader community 

  • Ability to translate and communicate complex topics in a variety of forums, tailoring communications to effectively fit and influence the targeted audience, strong executive presence 

  • Ability to work in a hectic and results-oriented environment with a strong focus on results 

  • Integrity, creativity, sense of humour, perseverance and the demonstrated ability to provide a consistent high level of service

  • Regular daytime hours with additional hours as required in emergency situations or in peak periods

Equity Statement

The University of Waterloo is committed to implementing the Calls to Action framed by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. We acknowledge that we live and work on the traditional territory of the Neutral, Anishinaabeg and Haudenosaunee peoples. The University of Waterloo is situated on the Haldimand Tract, the land granted to the Six Nations that includes six miles on each side of the Grand River.


The University values the diverse and intersectional identities of its students, faculty, and staff. The University regards equity and diversity as an integral part of academic excellence and is committed to accessibility for all employees. The University of Waterloo seeks applicants who embrace our values of equity, anti-racism and inclusion.  As such, we encourage applications from candidates who have been historically disadvantaged and marginalized, including applicants who identify as First Nations, Métis and/or Inuit/Inuk, Black, racialized, a person with a disability, women and/or 2SLGBTQ+.


All qualified candidates are encouraged to apply; however, Canadians and permanent residents will be given priority.


The University of Waterloo is committed to accessibility for persons with disabilities. If you have any application, interview, or workplace accommodation requests, please contact Human Resources at or 519-888-4567, ext. 45935.


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