Special Advisor to the CAO-Solutions & Business Optimization

Overview of Position Scope:

The VP and Chief Administrative Officer role (CAO) for Johns Hopkins University was created at the executive level of the institution in Spring, 2020 to create an enhanced focus on optimizing the efficiency and value of key functions across the University, including: Human Resources, Purchasing, IT, administrative leadership, Institutional Risk, Security and Facilities & Real Estate. The CAO and her team will work to assess and streamline business processes and technology in these functions, with the ultimate goal of enhancing communication, cohesiveness, transparency and effectiveness. The CAO’s team will strive to ensure that the university-wide community of faculty, staff and students are fully supported by JHU’s administrative functions in a manner that aligns with a world-class university and a highly preferred employer.

The Special Advisor will serve as a strategic partner to the CAO, to help advance the short-term and long term priorities of enhanced administrative effectiveness and business optimization across the institution. The position will be directly involved in planning, socializing and implementing challenging and highly impactful strategic work, which requires creativity, focus, leadership presence and project management abilities. While the responsibilities of this role will often adapt on a daily basis to support the changing priorities of the CAO, the overall focus of the job will involve: functioning as a critical business advisor, working to improve coordination and information flow, managing internal and external business relationships, ensuring efficient allocation of time, assisting with prioritization of projects, engaging in analysis and material preparation, and monitoring the planning and implementation of various strategic initiatives. The role will interact with a wide range of external and internal stakeholders and represent the CAO in meetings as appropriate.

In addition to serving as a key member of the CAO’s leadership support team, this position will also be empowered to manage their own special projects of critical significance and high organizational impact. S/he will work seamlessly with other members of the Chief Administrative Officer’s function, including the staff of the Senior Vice President for Finance & Administration, Provost and Vice Provosts, Vice Presidents, Controller, Deputy Treasurer, Chief Risk Officer, Deans, and Divisional Business Officers and may ultimately support interaction with the Board of Trustees.

Attributes for Success/Skills/Experience/Competencies:

  • Ability to move projects and tasks forward, develop thoughtful and complete recommendations, accurately prioritize decision making for the CAO, generate clear, actionable deliverables, and bring work and projects to effective and timely completion.
  • Demonstrated project management skills and data analysis expertise, including the ability to gather data from disparate sources and synthesize it into clear, understandable, actionable deliverables. Experience with Lean and other business improvement and process mapping tools preferred.
  • Ability to quickly earn the trust of others, build rapport, inspire confidence, negotiate, persuade and gain consensus across the institution, be effective and productive, successfully navigate internal and external culture and workflows, and work in alignment with the CAO’s direction and values.
  • Demonstrated integrity, diplomacy and tact, with a strong understanding of all business and ethical principles including confidentiality and conflict of interest. Discretion to handle sensitive and confidential information in a professional manner.
  • Ability to work collaboratively, creatively, with an intentional and constant focus on developing and maintaining positive and effective interactions with colleagues and clients across the organization, at all levels of leadership, faculty and staff.
  • Proven experience with facilitating meetings and focus groups.
  • Outstanding leadership and analytical skills, excellent problem solving and critical thinking skills, along with strong written and oral communication and presentation skills.
  • Demonstrated high capacity for accomplishing work with limited guidance and direction. Ability to take ownership of a task or project and see it through to completion.
  • Advanced organizational skills and the ability to manage multiple projects/assignments simultaneously in a fast-paced, very dynamic work environment, with defined deadlines and deliverable expectations
  • Highly adaptable to respond to ever-changing priorities, including emergencies that require 24/7 availability and coverage. Ability to work with flexibility, efficiency, enthusiasm, and diplomacy both individually and as part of a complex team effort.
  • Demonstrates respect for process and knowledge and exercises diplomacy in working with sponsors, subject matter experts, stakeholders, team members, and leadership.
  • Proven project management experience. Related experience in higher education/academic administration is strongly preferred, including, but not limited to Johns Hopkins University.
  • Ability to concisely present summarized work to senior leaders, with strong attention to detail

Primary Duties and Responsibilities:

  • Provide executive-level support to the CAO in managing, coordinating and facilitating the accomplishment of her organizational goals, objectives, strategic and tactical initiatives.
  • Demonstrate understanding for the problems and opportunities across the organization and in partnership with the Chief Administrative Officer and her team, effectively plans, manages, and executes projects, delivering the required outputs and the defined benefits according to plan, identifying project delivery risks, and proposing mitigations as required.
  • Prepare the CAO for a variety of key/important meetings, presentations, discussions, etc., including researching and gathering critical information and intelligence on issues, conducting data analysis and summarizing into formats that facilitate leadership decision making, creating reports, presentations, and speeches, developing and proposing agenda items, managing necessary follow-up efforts, and briefing the CAO as needed.
  • Provide analytic capacity and project management services in support of strategic initiatives and program opportunities, in collaboration with JHU senior leadership.
  • Direct, manage, and coordinate special projects and assignments such as planning initiatives, internal and external business collaborations, data analysis, specialized writing assignments and highly sensitive personnel matters that encompass many parts of the organization and require a wide range of knowledge, skills, and experience as well as organization, planning, and coordination at an advanced level.
  • Identify and assess new project opportunities that initiate from the CAO’s office, including the consideration of key risks/challenges, potential academic, political, and cultural impacts, and the creation of business and communication plans for each initiative. Coordinate with other members of the senior leadership team to clearly define the business requirement and the opportunity for improvement; gather information, map the processes, analyze results and validate information related to new projects and programs, including considerations related to long-term sustainability.
  • Manage a portfolio of business improvement initiatives, including developing plans, defining and communicating alternatives and making recommendations regarding appropriate courses of action based on thorough understanding and knowledge of desired outcomes and expectations. Implement, monitor and track projects in a self-directed manner to ensure that internal and external stakeholders are focused on meeting milestones. Ensure that the CAO and members of leadership remain well-informed of any challenges as they arise.
  • Collaborate/coordinate across different departments/units within the CAO’s span of control. Recommend policy and procedural changes to improve operations and overall organizational efficiency. Manage problem-solving, coordination and priority setting as needed, involving members of the dean’s senior staff.
  • Manage socialization efforts related to new project development and business process optimization efforts to ensure that key constituents across the University are fully informed of all potential changes and their feedback is incorporated appropriately.
  • Work toward resolving problems of significance and criticality, answering questions, providing guidance, and disseminating information. Develop institutional relationships; collaborate extensively with a variety of individuals on different matters central to the CAO’s area of responsibility.
  • Review and recommend action on all incoming requests, complaints, and other correspondence to the CAO’s office. Research and investigate when necessary, plan, write, and oversee distribution of correspondence for the CAO, and reply on behalf of the CAO when appropriate.
  • Coordinate data and reporting generated for the CAO’s office. Review and highlight information that may be of interest to the CAO or other members of the leadership team.
  • Work with the CAO to support University-wide efforts that relate to matters of significant operational impact or importance, including COVID-19 related changes.
  • Perform all related duties as requested


  • Bachelor’s degree required. Advanced degree in business, finance or a related field preferred.
  • Minimum of 8 years of related leadership-level support experience, or expertise in a content area related to the CAO’s span.
  • Ability to regularly work evenings, early mornings, and weekends and be available to address emergency situations on a 24/7 basis as needed.

This position specification is a general statement of required major duties and responsibilities performed on a regular and continuous basis. It does not exclude other duties as assigned.

Homewood Campus

Nearest Major Market:Baltimore

The successful candidate(s) for this position will be subject to a pre-employment background check.

If you are interested in applying for employment with The Johns Hopkins University and require special assistance or accommodation during any part of the pre-employment process, please contact the HR Business Services Office at jhurecruitment@jhu.edu. For TTY users, call via Maryland Relay or dial 711.

The following additional provisions may apply depending on which campus you will work. Your recruiter will advise accordingly.

During the Influenza ("the flu") season, as a condition of employment, The Johns Hopkins Institutions require all employees who provide ongoing services to patients or work in patient care or clinical care areas to have an annual influenza vaccination or possess an approved medical or religious exception. Failure to meet this requirement may result in termination of employment.

The pre-employment physical for positions in clinical areas, laboratories, working with research subjects, or involving community contact requires documentation of immune status against Rubella (German measles), Rubeola (Measles), Mumps, Varicella (chickenpox), Hepatitis B and documentation of having received the Tdap (Tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis) vaccination. This may include documentation of having two (2) MMR vaccines; two (2) Varicella vaccines; or antibody status to these diseases from laboratory testing. Blood tests for immunities to these diseases are ordinarily included in the pre-employment physical exam except for those employees who provide results of blood tests or immunization documentation from their own health care providers. Any vaccinations required for these diseases will be given at no cost in our Occupational Health office.

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