Senior Director: Student Support, Engagement, and Retention

What You’re Looking For

The Senior Director, Student Support Engagement & Retention will supervise a top-notch team of program-dedicated managers who are responsible for managing the day to day activities of the student support staff. This role is responsible for designing and implementing processes and initiatives that foster student retention and success. This position is critical in making sure all programs are executing 2U’s expected white glove service level for its students and graduates.

We are looking for someone who has a unique blend of experience; someone who:

  • Will roll up their sleeves and take ownership
  • Has experience in creating and improving processes
  • Is strategic and analytically minded
  • Can effectively communicate and be comfortable both in the academic world and in a fast-growing, ever-changing organization

This is a client-facing role that requires being able to balance multiple projects and priorities with a good degree of attention to detail.

Why I Want to Be a Part of it!

First, I’m a lifelong learner who understands the value of online education. I completed a bachelor’s degree, two master’s degrees, and I’m currently working on a certificate in workplace performance improvement – all online. Online was the best option for me, as I was active duty military for 11 years and I was determined to suck the marrow out of the education benefits offered by the military, but I quickly became tired of moving for my job and losing credits at traditional schools.

As a lifelong online learner, I empathize with online students. I’ve had awesome and awful learning environments. Awesome and awful course facilitators. I have a keen awareness of what online learners need to feel welcome and supported so they can focus on learning.

I’m also eager to join 2U because I believe in 2U’s vision that “education is one of the most powerful drivers of change and upward mobility” and I want to be a part of making it accessible to everyone.

At 2U, we empower forward-thinking universities to reimagine education, ensuring that students everywhere can dream bigger, reach their highest potential and fulfill their aspirations through life-changing educational experiences. We help universities become the best possible digital versions of themselves so they can offer more students than ever access to transformative education.

I also fully embrace the No Back Row® philosophy (and its eight supporting principles) – both in education and from a corporate standpoint. This philosophy helps me feel valued and heard as an employee and this is the philosophy I want my children’s teachers to embrace.

No Back Row® is also our corporate philosophy: the idea that every person counts; each person is and feels included; and when we each lean in and do our part, we are better individually and collectively. This philosophy is fundamental to the learning experiences we create with our partners and is at the core of the company we are building. Motivated by the common goal of reimagining education, we work in an environment that promotes innovation, creativity and excellence.

What I Bring to the Table

Enough about why I want to join the awesome collaborators at 2U…who wouldn’t? It’s an easy sell! Let me tell you a little about why I would be a rockstar in the Senior Director: Student Support, Engagement, and Retention position.

I have keen organizational understanding / operational acumen

I’ve worked in a variety of organizations throughout my career and I’ve studied organizational behavior and leadership at the graduate level. Given this, I have a well-developed sense of how organizations work, what roadblocks may exist to optimal performance at the individual and organizational level, and how to best navigate organizational relationships to build trust. The best example I have of this is my time at the Federal Bureau of Investigation. I was given a task (create training) and I ran with it – talking to the right people, identifying who was doing what organizationally (and who should’ve been doing what to optimize effectiveness), filling in gaps when there were no answers, becoming the “belly button” when our customers had no one to turn to, establishing communication channels and innovative ways to engage with our program.

I have a strategic mindset and I’m eager to use it

I enjoy aligning my program with the organization’s strategy and goals. My keen organizational understanding and experience with business process improvement has helped me develop program goals that align with organizational goals and to measure the effectiveness of my programs. It is also critical that everyone in the organization aligns with strategic organizational goals; so when people develop their own program goals, I help ensure they are aware of and aligned with strategic organizational goals. This helps ensure that everything we are doing is working toward the common organizational goals. In my current job, I’ve aligned my enterprise cyber security training program with organizational goals to help ensure that what we’re looking for on the outcomes end (changed user behavior), meets the organization’s strategic and operational goals (such as no headline-causing security incidents and empowered employees who are able to do their jobs securely).

I tackle tough problems

Every organization has its fair share of problems. Some are internal process-related, some are communications-related – but all of them affect the customer in the end. I inherited an unhappy client in my work at the Central Intelligence Agency and, by listening to the client’s needs, researching what had been done in the past, implementing best practices, collecting and sharing feedback…I turned that client’s frown upside down! Here’s the letter of commendation stating so 🙂

I have a wealth of knowledge and experience improving performance

Historically, my position titles have included the terms “instructional designer,” or “trainer” in them; however, as my depth of knowledge and experience increased during my 12 years in this field, my breadth of knowledge and ability to look strategically at problems also improved. Since the work I did at the FBI from 2008 to 2011, I’ve looked at my programs from a broader perspective – thinking not only about what training solutions might exist, but thinking also about organizational or systemic issues that might need improvement. My work at the FBI showcased this. I was hired as a contractor to develop training. A year later, the FBI hired me as an employee to manage the program and represent our division chief at interagency meetings. Why? Because I fixed some major issues, improved communication, and stood up a program where previously there’d been a gaping hole.

I like helping people become the best “them”

I learned very valuable leadership skills in the US Air Force. I enjoyed leading and developing the Airmen I was responsible for when I served. Being a good human and having compassion and empathy when leading others is important; I learned that as a leader in the military and I learned it from (good and bad) supervisors and managers I’ve had since I joined the civilian world.

My favorite part of leading Airmen as an officer in the US Air Force was  helping people do their best work. Whether it be listening when I took on a new job (who knows how to improve processes more than the folks who are implementing them every day?) or helping my troops identify strengths and passions and then helping them find ways to express those strengths and passions – I really enjoyed the people part. I enjoyed helping streamline processes to make every day work easier. I enjoyed establishing better communication with and among our units. I enjoyed conversations about career aspirations. I enjoyed watching families grow and helping families acclimate to new environments (especially overseas).

I ask questions

If there are things that can be done better, the best way to find out why or how is to observe and to ask questions. In my current position, I ask a lot of questions, every day. I’m trying to get nine geographically separated offices on the same sheet of music so the cyber security professionals can better manage and secure the infrastructure. People don’t always like it when people ask questions, but I build relationships so everyone understands what I’m doing and why – and that just because a problem is identified, doesn’t place blame on the people who helped identify it – it just gives us a starting point to move forward.

I make decisions

I don’t need a 100% answer to make a decision. I listen. I learn. I make a decision. I own it – even if (especially if!) it has any negative impacts. I adjust course as required if the situation changes or if the decision doesn’t work the way I’d envisioned it.

I’m a great leader; a great follower; and a great teammate

As much as I love developing a vision and a strategy, managing programs, and leading people, I am also a great team player. There is a lot to be gained from sharing skills and knowledge and a co-created solution is always greater than what could’ve been done individually. I enjoy the human dynamic. I enjoy learning from others. I can thrive and contribute regardless of my “level” in an organization or on a team.

 

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