For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST)® is the world’s leading youth-serving nonprofit advancing STEM education and the development of holistic skills to prepare young people for the future. For 31 years, FIRST has combined the rigor of STEM learning with the fun and excitement of traditional sports and the inspiration that comes from community through programs that have a proven impact on learning, interest, and skill-building inside and outside of the classroom. This legacy and opportunity are as strong and dynamic as ever.
FIRST creates the people who will change the world – today and tomorrow. FIRST is on a mission to inspire young people to be science and technology leaders by engaging them in exciting mentor-based programs that build science, engineering, and technology skills, that inspire innovation, and that foster well-rounded life capabilities including self-confidence, communication, and leadership.
FIRST® Core Values:
- Discovery: We explore new skills and ideas.
- Innovation: We use creativity and persistence to solve problems.
- Impact: We apply what we learn to improve our world.
- Inclusion: We respect each other and embrace our differences.
- Teamwork: We are stronger when we work together.
- Fun: We enjoy and celebrate what we do!
For more information on FIRST, please visit https://www.firstinspires.org.
This is an exciting time to join FIRST, as the Chief Information Officer (CIO) will become a vital part of a growing and evolving organization. In the last year, FIRST has named a new Chief Executive Officer, Chris Moore, and promoted Chris Rake to Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer (EVP/COO). FIRST is about to embark on a strategic planning process and the CIO will be a valuable contributor. FIRST has seen tremendous growth and is at a major inflection point as it prepares for even greater growth and the CIO will be a catalyst as the leader of systems and process changes that will support significant organizational transformation and define what FIRST will look like 10 years from now.
The CIO will report to Chris Rake and will develop and lead the execution of best-in-class IT strategies for FIRST. The CIO provides thought leadership on all aspects of FIRST’s information technology and ensures all technology systems and initiatives align with organizational strategic objectives, including IT governance and roadmaps of approved technology and software investments. The CIO is responsible for leading 15-30 employees and supplemental staff across FIRST’s technology teams, including network infrastructure, IT helpdesk, and software development. FIRST is open to a conversation about the CIO working remotely and/or having a flexible work location arrangement.
Key Opportunities and Challenges
The CIO will lead the Information Technology department at a critical time in the technology evolution of the organization as FIRST embarks on several major strategic initiatives. In June 2020, FIRST initiated work on identifying the requirements for the digital tools and services necessary to develop and deliver the programming and experiences that will allow for rapid organizational growth. As a result, FIRST is currently at the start of what is expected to be a multi-million dollar, multi-year digital system and system infrastructure transformation effort. In addition to helping lead this initiative, the CIO will also be responsible for ensuring the continued support of the existing IT systems necessary for business operations as well as a migration plan to future systems as they become available. Specifically, the new CIO will be expected to address the following opportunities and challenges, among others:
Lead the execution of the Digital Systems Transformation Effort
The CIO will be the primary owner of the digital system transformation effort, which includes: refining business and technical requirements that have already been identified; working with Sourcing in issuing Requests for Proposals for the selection of appropriate technology and vendors; overseeing the development, deployment, and sustainment of new systems; leading data hygiene initiatives; working with non-IT departments such as FIRST Programs to integrate related systems used by other teams; and ensuring a smooth transition for all stakeholders including approximately 500 external Program Delivery Partners across nearly 100 countries.
Support the transition to a new Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) System
In July 2022, FIRST will transition to a new ERP system based on Netsuite. The CIO will support post-implementation efforts, including incorporating learnings from the implementation while working with stakeholders from across the organization to identify potential follow-on projects, as well as ensure successful integration of the new ERP in the upcoming Digital Systems Transformation effort.
Rationalize data center infrastructure and execute migration to cloud infrastructure
The CIO will work with FIRST technical leaders to identify opportunities for transitioning on-premise servers to cloud infrastructure, either as part of the Digital Systems Transformation effort, or as a sustainability effort to ensure efficient support of existing systems that will remain. The CIO will also set a long-term strategy for cloud services that addresses FIRST’s current mix of Azure, AWS, and other services.
Optimize Organizational Structure
Against the backdrop of an extremely competitive labor market, the CIO, in partnership with the Chief People Officer will develop and implement the organizational structure necessary for execution of the Digital Systems Transformation effort. The CIO will develop an IT team (internal and external) that has the appropriate mix of skills that successfully delivers technology services and products to stakeholders across the FIRST ecosystem. The CIO will continue to develop the IT team and, with it, will advance an inclusive culture and strive to close gaps related to under-represented populations within the IT organization. The CIO will, by example and through the implementation of sustainable programs, promote a culture of continuous improvement that is empowering and prioritizes the professional development of all members of the IT organization.
Core Duties and Responsibilities
Strategic management and planning
- In partnership with the executive leadership team, the CIO will provide insightful, innovative thinking and problem solving on all aspects of critical information technology.
- Serves as a member of the executive leadership team and acts as a trusted strategic partner to the organization. Contributes directly to strategic business decisions.
- Leads the design and implementation of metrics to evaluate IT strategy progress and outcomes.
- Directs IT department managers to execute all function-specific areas, to support the organization’s values and culture, and to drive performance.
- Interfaces with, engages, and provides updates to member of the Board of Directors as needed.
- Develops IT annual operating budget, capital planning & investments.
- Responsible for selecting and managing 3rd party technology partners.
IT Infrastructure, IT Helpdesk
- Responsible for overall operative strategies, ensuring security and creating and enforcing policies and procedures regarding information technology and cyber awareness for the organization.
- Responsible for overall operative strategies for an internal group of customer service focused technicians providing support to all departments within the organization.
- Ensures all IT infrastructure follows all relevant privacy and security regulations, including GDPR Software Development.
- Responsible for the complete software development lifecycle of home-grown software applications.
- Creates a software development culture drawing from current best practices of software engineering, product management.
- Strategic oversight including defining service level objectives for software application, design development, and overall product lifecycle.
Steward of Custom Applications
- Work closely with leadership, key external stakeholders, and cross-functional teams to refine product strategy and define a roadmap prioritizing and weighing tradeoffs across multiple business units that share the platform. Communicate the roadmap to ensure buy-in and alignment.
- Structure collaborative processes and communication protocols to ensure the right stakeholders are involved at the right level of detail at appropriate moments.
- Continuously evaluate the competitive and partner landscape and products for new trends, competitive threats, and growth opportunities and ensure that the team conducts user interviews, focus groups, pilots, classroom observations, surveys, and other research, identify and prioritize questions to answer with research and data and set up the appropriate practices to support it.
- Ensure timely, quality execution of new products and services to market. Guide the creation and measurement of event logging and data metrics. Hold yourself and your teams accountable for results.
- Evolve products to best meet the needs of users, arrive at product-market fit, and reach ambitious reach, revenue, and impact goals.
- Oversee the documentation, communication, and go-to-market process internally and externally to ensure products are successfully launched, implemented, and supported.
Manage Physical and Staff IT Systems and Resources
- Oversee physical IT infrastructure, including networking, phone, and on-premise (Manchester, NH) systems, as well as the technology used by 200 in-person, hybrid and remote staff.
- Oversee the Office 365 suite of tools in addition to a variety of other services including custom-built applications.
The ideal candidate will have the following professional and personal qualities, skills, and characteristics:
- Depth of expertise and knowledge in leading organizations through digital transformation initiatives, including large scale system and process changes.
- Exhibits a thorough understanding of specific aspects of work supervised (IT Infrastructure, Enterprise Systems and Applications, IT Security, Software Development).
- Typically requires BS/BA in related discipline.
- Generally, requires years of directly related functional experience, including effective supervisory or management experience.
- Professional certifications such as ITIL, CISSP, PMP, CCMP are preferred.
Strategic Planning and Strategic Thinking
- Adept at overseeing and executing strategic projects with significant visibility and impact.
- Skilled at looking downstream and focusing organizational and team efforts on big picture, long term impactful initiatives.
- Experience with the effective use of IT Governance.
Collaboration and Partnership
- Builds collaborative working relationships across groups; evokes respect from others.
- Possesses the executive presence and interpersonal skills to work effectively with people from diverse backgrounds and effect change through influence.
- Collaborates with senior management to deliver strategic business results.
Team Management and Development
- Demonstrated ability to develop and manage cross-functional, effective teams in a fast-paced, complex, mission focused environment.
- Directs, coordinates, provides leadership to, and reviews the work of professional and supervisory level employees to accomplish operational plans and results.
- Estimates staffing needs and schedules and assigns work to employees and subunits to meet service and budget targets.
- Frequent contacts with senior executives within the company and outside the company.
- Expert advisor to upper management, Board members, peers, and internal and external customers.
- Skilled at communicating to both technical and non-technical audiences in language appropriate to the group.
Creativity and Problem Solving
- Excellent analytic, problem solving, coaching, and conflict-resolution skills.
- Recommends policies, methods, processes, and techniques for information technology based on change initiatives; creates/conceptualizes new methods, techniques, and /or processes across information technology.
In addition, strong candidates will offer:
- Passion for the mission of
- Demonstrated personal and professional commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging.
- Knowledge of educational environments and experience leading teams in complex, decentralized environments through influence and persuasion.
- Significant experience in budget development and scenario planning.
Koya Partners, the executive search firm that specializes in mission-driven search, has been exclusively retained for this engagement. Tom Phillips and Marisa Chock of Koya Partners have been exclusively retained for this search. To express interest in this role please submit your materials here. All inquiries and discussions will be considered strictly confidential.
Koya Partners is committed to providing reasonable accommodation to individuals living with disabilities. If you are a qualified individual living with a disability and need assistance expressing interest online, please email NonprofitSearchOps@divsearch.com. If you are selected for an interview, you will receive additional information regarding how to request an accommodation for the interview process.
Thriving on our core values, celebrating the uniqueness of our employees and committed to inclusion, FIRST is proud to be an equal opportunity employer.
FIRST Commitment to Safety
Protecting our community from COVID-19 continues to be a priority. Based on the recommendations of scientists, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and OSHA health officials, vaccination provides the best protection against severe infection. COVID-19 vaccines are required as a condition of employment with FIRST.
For health & safety reasons at FIRST, current and future employees are required to provide proof of full vaccination or to obtain approval by FIRST for a sincerely held religious or spiritual belief or medical accommodation, or as otherwise required by applicable law.
About Koya Partners
Koya Partners, a part of Diversified Search Group, is a leading executive search and strategic advising firm dedicated to connecting exceptionally talented people with mission-driven clients. Our founding philosophy—The Right Person in the Right Place Can Change the World—guides our work as we partner with nonprofits & NGOs, institutions of higher education, responsible businesses, and social enterprises in local communities and around the world.
For more information about Koya Partners, visit www.koyapartners.com.