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#106811 Chief Operating Officer - Birch Aquarium

Initial Review Date: Thu 12/10/2020

Recognized as one of the top 10 research universities worldwide, a culture of collaboration sparks discoveries that advance society and drive economic impact. Best practices, best people at the best place to work! Our team is looking to add an extremely creative individual as Birch Aquarium's new Chief Operating Officer. If you are a strategic leader with an innovative mind, we want you!



Birch Aquarium at Scripps (BAS) serves as the outreach center for Scripps Institution of Oceanography and provides the public a lens into cutting edge ocean, atmospheric and earth sciences. Birch Aquarium at Scripps’ mission is to ‘connect understanding to protecting our ocean planet.’ BAS’s growing portfolio of services and outreach programs currently serve over 500,000 public visitors and 50,000 K-12 students. BAS is a recognized industry leader in animal care and conservation and in innovation in science communications. Birch Aquarium is distinguished from other public aquariums by its deep association with a world-class ocean research and teaching institution and its commitment to pre-college pipeline development. Birch Aquarium is at an exciting inflection point in deepening its work in community engagement, expanding its business model and advancing its Revitalization capital campaign. Late next spring, BAS will be launching an exciting new Species Survival Program initiative with the opening of a new exhibit exploring conservation. BAS is also in the early planning stages for participating in a new downtown Blue Campus (aquarium, learning center, and blue tech innovation center) as part of the Seaport Village renovation project.


The Chief Operating Officer (COO) position is responsible for developing and executing operating plans to support delivery on mission and strategic direction for Birch Aquarium at Scripps Institution of Oceanography. The COO is responsible for oversight of organizational strategy, business development and operational execution. The COO reports directly to the Aquarium’s Executive Director and is an integral member of the BAS senior leadership team. The COO manages all operational aspects of BAS including general administration, finance, human resources, IT systems, facilities maintenance, marketing, membership, visitor services (admissions, group sales, food service, first aid, parking), special events, and retail.

The COO provides strategic leadership by formulating a clear institutional plan that is thoughtfully orchestrated, through integrated departmental and individual plans, to achieve coordinated organizational outcomes. The COO leads annual and long-term strategic and budget planning and oversees and monitors an overall annual budget of approximately $10M. The COO embodies an entrepreneurial spirit and drives new business initiatives that contribute to BAS’s long-term fiscal sustainability.

Birch Aquarium is a fast-moving work environment requiring careful management of staff, resources and overlapping initiatives. The COO is responsible for developing and maintaining an effective team-oriented environment and creating a positive esprit de corps through artful communications, empathetic listening, and communal problem solving. The COO is responsive to and responsible for effective change management on multiple scales.


  • Minimum five (5) years experience with demonstrated success managing the operation of a multi-million dollar aquarium, zoo, museum, science center, or related operation; demonstrated application of professional standards of aquarium, museum and/or non-profit operations.

  • Bachelor degree in business administration or business-related field or equivalent combination of education or experience.

  • Demonstrated experience developing and successfully managing complex annual strategic and budget plans.

  • Proven ability to think, act and plan strategically to help BAS successfully navigate the fast changing social and economic environment.

  • Proven skills to apply entrepreneurial thinking to identify and make the most of opportunities, overcome and learn from setbacks, and succeed in a variety of settings using creativity, innovation and risk-taking, as well as the ability to plan and manage projects in order to achieve objectives.

  • Demonstrated team player attitude having a growth mindset, openness to feedback, an active listener, adaptability, with strong emotional intelligence skills.

  • Broad knowledge of the organization's processes, protocols and procedures with a focus on budget, account and fund management and / or personnel management under labor contract(s) and personnel policy.

  • Knowledge of public funding sources and grant proposal process; ability to support development of budgets for proposed projects.

  • Experience coordinating staff members of diverse functions; knowledge of best management practices and demonstrated ability to apply them; ability to express expectations and facilitate achievement of goals and objectives.


Must pass a background check.

Our employees enjoy competitive compensation packages and educational opportunities in a diverse, stimulating workforce.

This position is eligible for full benefits first day of hire:
a) Health/Dental/Vision Insurance.
b) Vacation/holidays (18 vacation days & 13 paid holidays a year).
c) Work/Life Balance.
d) UC Retirement Plan.

For more information about UCSD Benefits please visit and UCSD Work/Life visit.

The University of California is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability, age, protected veteran status, gender identity or sexual orientation. For the complete University of California nondiscrimination and affirmative action policy see: http://www-hr.ucsd.edu/saa/nondiscr.html

UC San Diego is a smoke and tobacco free environment. Please visit smokefree.ucsd.edu for more information.

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Commensurate with Experience
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Work Schedule:
Days, 8 hrs/day, Mon-Fri