Senior Associate Vice President of Finance

California, United States
17 Oct 2018
End of advertisement period
17 Dec 2018
Contract Type
Full Time

Introduction and  Overview

Stanford University is a premier research university located in the heart of Silicon Valley. The university seeks a Senior Associate Vice President for Finance (SAVP) to lead Financial Management Services (FMS) which includes the Controller’s Office, the Treasurer’s Office, Procurement, Global Business Services, and Financial Management Consulting & Support. The new SAVP will succeed the incumbent who is retiring after over 20 years at Stanford and will report to Randy Livingston, Stanford’s Vice President for Business Affairs, CFO, and University Liaison for Stanford Medicine.

FMS’s programs and services have a vast footprint in their support and service to every academic program and business unit at the university. The goals of the SAVP include continuously increasing client satisfaction with FMS services, while also improving efficiency and enhancing compliance. FMS is also charged with helping to assure the university’s financial integrity and health, and leading changes which support the university’s mission of teaching, learning and research.

These broad goals help to define FMS’s core programs. Additionally, and in the near to mid-term, the SAVP has opportunities to enhance operations and service with special emphasis on:

  • Talent recruitment, retention, and individual and team development within FMS which operates within a highly competitive labor market in the Silicon Valley;
  • In collaboration with campus clients, develop methodologies that are effective, replicable and sufficiently standardized to ensure compliance as well as consistency and accuracy of financial information, while growing overall commitment to adhere to these standards;  and
  • In collaboration with University Information Technology (UIT), lead implementation of next generation financial systems and reporting platforms for the university.

About Stanford University

Stanford University, founded in 1885, today comprises seven schools and 18 interdisciplinary institutes with more than 16,000 students (7,000 undergraduate and 9,000 graduate), 2,100 faculty, 1,800 postdoctoral scholars and 12,000 plus staff. Stanford is an international institution, enrolling students from all 50 U.S. states and 91 other countries, and with education and research activities with 125 global entities. The university’s annual revenue is approximately $6 billion (exclusive of affiliated hospitals) including $1.6 billion of research funding; the endowment as of 8/31/2017 was $22.4 billion, one of the largest in the country.

For this critical position Stanford seeks an outstanding executive who has deep experience in one or more of the areas within FMS, the ability to “lead from the middle” using influence, persuasion, and creativity to meet bold goals.

See for university information.

 Finance at Stanford

Financial Management Services (FMS) is part of the Business Affairs organization, whose vision is “to work together to make administration seamless and efficient to enable and support teaching, learning and research.” The other major units in Business Affairs are University IT (UIT), the Office of Research Administration, the Office of  the Chief Risk Officer (including internal audit, compliance, privacy and risk management), and Improvement, Analytics and Innovation Services. 

The five primary organizations within FMS are:

  • The Controller's Office is responsible for leading and running the financial and management accounting activities of the university, including financial reporting, payroll and tax; Controller's Office staff help manage critical risks in  an  increasingly complex environment.
  • The Treasurer's Office is responsible for cash management, bond and debt management, and payment card merchant services. Staff in the Treasurer's Office drive important initiatives to ensure the financial health of the university.
  • Procurement is responsible for the policies, processes, and systems associated with purchasing & payables, travel and reimbursement, and the university's Purchasing Card and Travel Card programs, working toward seamless processes for our clients.
  • Global Business Services partners with the Provost and the General Counsel’s offices to make it easier for the Stanford community to undertake global activities in a compliant manner.
  • Financial Management Consulting & Support is responsible for driving business process improvements and system initiatives, and improving customer satisfaction through effective customer support, training, online support materials, marketing and communications.

Position Overview

The SAVP is responsible for leading a department of over 200 staff. The average longevity of the current staff is over 8 years with the SAVP’s direct reports averaging 12 years in their roles and the Controller at 22 years. The SAVP is responsible for all aspects of staffing and talent management for this organization, including fostering and  leading high performing teams; assessing current and future staffing needs and planning appropriately to meet those needs; and promoting appropriate training, mentoring, on-the-job experiences, and other professional development opportunities. The SAVP organization has an annual budget of $40 million.

Details of FMS are available at: 

Other responsibilities include:

  • Serving as the business owner of the university’s financial systems and a member of the Systems Governance Group.
  • Creating and updating financial policies and processes.
  • Partnering with and supporting university management (such as school and department financial managers, Stanford Management Company, hospitals, Budget Office and Student Affairs, etc.) on university-wide initiatives.
  • Together with the university’s Chief Risk Officer, staffing the Board of Trustees Committee on Audit, Compliance and Risk.
  • Attending the Stanford Health Care, Lucille Packard Children’s Hospital and SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory at Stanford Audit Committee meetings as university financial representative.

Success Measures for the New SAVP

Stanford seeks a strong, pragmatic, visionary leader to work with partners across the university on compliance and financial matters. The university is highly decentralized with a variety of requirements and initiatives. Partners need to understand the importance of compliance in simple terms. They expect easy to use financial tools with a high degree of customer service. This requires a leader who listens, communicates well across various audiences, leads through influence, and can prioritize among diverging needs.

Leadership is also required within FMS. Similar to many Silicon Valley organizations, FMS has issues with recruiting and retaining talent in the Bay Area. This challenge takes on special importance for Stanford where opportunities for better paying positions with equity beckon; and due to the pending move of all FMS staff to an off-campus location in Redwood City which will separate the staff from many individuals with whom they have daily interaction. Success will include achieving recruiting and retention goals, creating opportunities for telecommuting and remote work, providing career development programs that lead to overall advancement, and reaching goals for employee satisfaction and engagement surveys.

Stanford is highly decentralized with many policy and operational decisions made by academic and business unit leaders. Increasing use of standard financial management practices will be important for assuring consistency and accuracy of financial data as compliance requirements, public disclosures, and new/different funding streams increase. Success on increasing use of standard business processes/processing can be assessed by scale efficiencies in operations, reduced time to negotiate “one off” solutions, reduced risk in information accuracy and enhanced sharing of solutions created in one part of campus to others who could benefit.


The successful candidate must be both an effective executive who can lead a pragmatic financial vision and transformation across the university, and a highly sophisticated finance professional with technical expertise in several areas. This “breadth and depth” skillset is critical to success as Stanford’s SAVP, who must partner with multiple colleagues  and  departments across the industry to implement, execute, communicate, and carry out strategies to support and enhance the university's mission campus-wide.

The successful candidate will have many of the following experiences and competences.

  • Positive, successful, high impact management and leadership of financial operations in higher education or in an industry with similar and/or related characteristics.  Technically proficient across financial disciplines.
  • Experience in major systems development and implementation.
  • Strategic vision to drive innovation and efficiency, in both the short and long term.
  • Demonstrated success in navigating and leading organizations through change.
  • Understanding of laws, regulations, systems and procedures to support internal control and external reporting and compliance requirements, and the ability to balance these requirements with a customer service approach to FMS clients.
  • Demonstrated skill and ability to create a shared vision for the organization and lead and inspire staff to execute on the organization’s commitment to the university and its diverse constituencies; leading with a customer service focus. Commitment to staff development allowing for learning from failure, as well as from success.
  • Ability to work effectively in a consultative decision-making culture.
  • Ability to represent the university in the local and global community to provide effective interaction with vendors, donors, government agencies, auditors and other constituents.
  • Excellent oral and written communication skill for effective communications to various audiences, including reporting to the Board of Trustees. In this context, communication requires excellent listening as well as presentation skills.
  • Personal attributes – including integrity, patience, flexibility, adaptability, persistence, sound judgement and tact – necessary to deal in a decentralized, collaborative, inter-dependent environment.