Senior Vice President of Operations

Organization: Chicago Zoological Society - Brookfield Zoo (AZA Member)
Location: Brookfield, IL, United States
Job or Internship: Job

Senior Vice President of Operations

The Sr. V.P. of Operations serves as a key leader of the Chicago Zoological Society, responsible for internal business and park operations, overseeing major areas of the operation. Acts as a change agent, responsible for planning, overseeing, coordinating, and managing all business operations of the Society to establish and achieve strategic and operating goals and standards. Collaborates with others to develop organizational and operating strategies to drive programs and resources across all operating areas. Through a respectful, constructive and energetic leadership style, provides the leadership, management and vision necessary to ensure the Chicago Zoological Society (CZS) has the proper operating resources, controls, administrative and reporting policies, procedures and systems in place to effectively operate and grow the organization; to secure its financial strength; to assure a well managed, highly engaged workforce and a high-quality guest experience. Oversees human resources, facilities, capital construction, grounds and horticulture, fleet management, marketing and communications, information services, and guest services operations.


• Participates with the Executive Management Team (EMT) to develop, execute, and monitor strategic plans and goals for the Society, including growth strategy, activities and metrics.

• Works with the EMT to develop annual operating plans and assure integration among the overall functions and departments of the Society. Implements plans to support the organizational infrastructure of systems, processes, staff and resources needed to achieve annual results.

• Ensures the Society operates as a growing and vital business enterprise. Stays abreast of market and industry trends, oversees business systems, controls, measures, administrative and reporting procedures, people practices, systems, and programs and assure maximum operating efficiencies and productivity.

• Plans and manages for optimal park revenue generation and quality guest experiences and offerings. Works with reporting managers to evaluate the effectiveness of the Society’s operations and assure effective communications and integration of activities.

• Develops, monitors, and controls annual budgets for assigned areas.

• Plans, monitors and directs capital expenditures and asset redeployment.

• Oversees and negotiates major contracts with vendors for park operations services and products.

• Oversees the Plant and Facilities Group related to park maintenance, repairs and development of the park and physical facilities.

• Oversees, promotes and supports a comprehensive Human Resources program designed to drive employee engagement, build leadership competencies and accountability, promote workforce diversity, and achieve an engaged, inclusive workplace.

• Manages assigned staff including: recruitment, hiring, job orientation, training, placement, scheduling, counseling, performance management, recognition, compensation, promotions, discipline, and terminations.

• Directs human capital management to ensure adequate and balanced staffing levels to support operating needs and assure organizational excellence. Participates in and assures full participation in biannual employee survey process.

• Oversees and directs Information Services and technological support for the organization, ensuring effectiveness of technology systems and management.

• Works closely with V.P. of Marking regarding strategic direction of Marketing programs, strategies and goals.

• Works with key managers to maximize the visitor experience, zoo attendance, and profitability.

• Oversees the Guest Services Group, providing strategic direction and review of operations, staff, methods, budget, and results achieved, ensuring high-quality guest services are provided on a profitable basis.

• Serves as primary back-up and consultant to the CEO and provides broad input to organizational decision-making. Participates on various teams and committees. Represents the CEO externally as requested.


• Bachelor's degree in relevant field or equivalent combination of training and/or experience. MBA or other advanced degree in relevant field or equivalent preferred.

• Minimum 10 years directly relevant senior-level experience as a CEO or Chief Operations Officer with comparable scope of responsibilities. Deep experience in operations management at a strategic level, plus direction and coordination of diverse portfolio of operating and program development.

• Deep understanding of the Chicagoland area, as well as community/professional stature important.

• Strong leader and role model, big-picture thinking, adaptability, flexibility, perseverance, ability to resolve conflict and drive change.

• Strong financial and budgeting acumen and experience; experience performing meaningful analyses of operations.

• Relevant experience with marketing and sales strategies and processes in a retail setting.

• Overview knowledge of information systems and computers; computer proficiency with basic office software.

• Excellent verbal and written communication skills; persuasive speaker; active listener. Strong writing and presentation skills. Spanish fluency a plus.

• Strong interpersonal skills are essential.

• Well organized, detail oriented and able to prioritize and delegate effectively.

• Non-profit/cultural institution experience a plus.

• Must appreciate and value cultural differences and be able to communicate effectively across cultures and economic levels; experience working and interacting effectively with diverse people essential.

• Valid driver’s license required.

Interested individuals may apply on-line to the Chicago Zoological Society’s Career Center at Inquiries regarding this appointment may be directed to Charlotte Flinn, Flinn Consultants, 707 Skokie Boulevard, Suite 600, Northbrook, IL 60062, Phone: (847) 291-4360, Email:

The Chicago Zoological Society is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer-Minorities/Women/Veterans/Disabled