Chief Operating Officer

Chief Operating Officer

WBUR

Boston, MA   |   October 28, 2021

About WBUR

WBUR, Boston’s NPR news station, is a public media leader committed to exceptional journalism on-air, online, on demand, and on stage. Their mission is to serve the public, report the truth, and enrich lives.

WBUR is home to Boston’s largest radio newsroom and reports original, local stories throughout the day that provide insight and cultural context to the community, helping to unite a diverse, complex, and changing world. WBUR reaches 7 million listeners across the country each week with two national programs, On Point and Here & Now. A pioneering podcaster, WBUR’s iLab produces critically acclaimed shows such as Endless Thread, Anything for Selena, Circle Round, and the Boston edition of Consider This.

WBUR is unapologetic in setting audacious goals, namely, to be the most trusted and beloved source of local news in Boston and beyond, distinguished in a competitive media landscape by the quality and ambition of its journalism and programming.

For more information on WBUR, please visit https://www.wbur.org.

WBUR Leadership

Margaret Low, Chief Executive Officer

Margaret Low is WBUR’s chief executive officer (CEO). Before joining WBUR in January 2020, Low was president of AtlanticLIVE, The Atlantic’s events division, which during her tenure produced more than 100 conferences a year across the country. Low joined The Atlantic in the fall of 2014 and in a short time transformed the events business into a live journalism juggernaut that set the standard for the news industry.

Prior to The Atlantic, Low enjoyed a storied career at NPR, spanning decades. She first walked through the doors as an overnight production assistant on Morning Edition and rose through the ranks to become senior vice president for news, NPR’s top editorial job. In that role, she oversaw the work of some 400 journalists worldwide and coverage of major news events from The Arab Spring and wars in Syria and Libya to the reelection of Barack Obama and the Boston Marathon bombing. She opened new foreign bureaus, launched new programs, developed new beats and led the digital transformation of the newsroom, steering the audio strategy for digital platforms and quickening the response to breaking news.

Earlier at NPR, Margaret was vice president for programming with responsibility for all non-news shows, injecting a high degree of editorial sophistication into program development and acquisitions. Among Margaret’s most notable accomplishments was the reinvention of Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me! transforming a studio-based radio quiz show into a live, award-winning road show and business success story. During her tenure, NPR earned some of the most prestigious honors in journalism, including multiple Peabody awards, duPont-Columbia Awards and an Edward R. Murrow Award.

Margaret is vice chair of the board of The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press and a board member of Wallace House at the University of Michigan, home to the Knight-Wallace Fellowship for Journalism.  She lives in Cambridge, MA.

The Opportunity

WBUR is one of the premier public media outlets in the country. This year, WBUR was recognized with two National Edward R. Murrow awards and six regional Murrow Awards. WBUR won nine awards at the annual conference of the Public Media Journalism Association (PMJA), the most of any station in the country. And was a finalist for two ONA awards, including one of digital journalism’s biggest honors, General Excellence in Online Journalism.

This is an important moment in both journalism and in WBUR’s own evolution. Over the last 18 months, WBUR has embarked on organizational changes — including a strategic transformation plan — to expand its reach, serve the public in new ways, and move towards greater financial sustainability. WBUR has a strong leadership team in place and a culture that’s described as transparent, open, honest, inclusive, and collegial.

Building and strengthening internal operations and capacity is critical for WBUR’s ability to deliver on its ambitious revenue and impact goals. To that end, WBUR is seeking its first Chief Operating Officer (COO) to provide strategic financial and operational leadership for the institution, imbuing its operations with the level of excellence needed to turbocharge a world-class media organization.

In overseeing the Finance & Administration, Engineering, Infrastructure, IT & Operations, Marketing & Communications, and Talent & Culture functions, the COO will be responsible for establishing and improving systems that are crucial for long-term institutional health. They will also strengthen cross-team collaboration, streamline processes, untangle knots, and pave the way for WBUR’s relentless pursuit of editorial excellence and audience growth.

The COO will be a key leader, reporting directly to the CEO and will serve on the leadership team as a thought partner to a range of critical internal and external stakeholders.

Key Responsibilities

  • Lead WBUR’s financial strategy, planning, and reporting, ultimately developing and stewarding WBUR’s long-term revenue growth strategy.
  • Drive the implementation and adoption of WBUR’s strategic transformation plan.
  • Partner with internal stakeholders to drive strategic investment in technology systems required to support WBUR’s business goals.
  • Negotiate WBUR’s business development deals with distributors, content partners, licensees, media partners, studios, and agencies.
  • Partner with the CEO and leadership team to implement a common vision to maximize WBUR’s impact.
  • Strategize with senior leaders to translate data in a meaningful way and to drive future organizational decisions.
  • Work with team members to establish clear metrics for success.
  • Work with team members to streamline process so everyone can do their best work.
Candidate Profile

The ideal candidate will demonstrate many, though perhaps not all, of the following competencies, experiences, and characteristics:

A Passion for WBUR’s Mission

The successful COO will hold a deep belief in the value of journalism and its importance in our society, drawing energy and inspiration from the opportunity to increase our improved service to the public through internal financial stewardship and operational excellence. They will demonstrate an appreciation for the work of journalists and the demands of a fast-paced, dynamic editorial environment while understanding how their work will translate across all functional areas in and outside of the newsroom. This leader will be energized working in an organization that has both a local and national reach and is committed to innovating and expanding the reach of WBUR. This leader will have a collaborative spirit and an empathic approach. While experience in media environments would be a beneficial background for an incoming COO, it is not required. Given the scale and scope of this role, candidates who have served as senior leaders of large non-profits, and candidates with significant financial and operational leadership within the arts/culture, education, and private sectors would also be attractive.

Strategic Leadership

The COO will have a proven record of implementing strategy. They will have the ability to operate with diverse stakeholders to achieve long-term strategic goals. They will be an innovative and enthusiastic self-starter who can position WBUR for the future. They will embrace principles of diversity, equity and inclusion in hiring, mentorship, team building, and stakeholder engagement. They will actively focus on building equity into structures, systems, and processes for employees and the communities WBUR serves. They will possess experience in managing up and across a complex organization to engage the necessary champions, supporters, resources, and buy-in for their work. They will be able to navigate and, where needed, adapt their work in the context of a fast-paced organization while also holding a steady vision for sustainable, long-term change.

Financial and Operational Acumen

With at least 10 years of relevant experience, the ideal COO will bring deep experience running and scaling operations in a complex context. The successful COO will bring expertise in financial planning and reporting. A proven solutions-focused leader, the COO will also bring the ability and confidence to ensure that WBUR’s operations are run efficiently and effectively. The COO will apply strong quantitative and analytical skills to shape and implement major systems upgrades. They will have the ability to conceptualize and analyze problems and solutions in a proactive, constructive, and creative manner that will result in improved performance across the organization. They will leverage technology, data, and analytics to measure outcomes and support the achievement of evolving business strategies.

Relationship Builder and Collaborator

The COO will be skilled at building effective relationships at multiple levels within a complex environment, including internal and external WBUR constituents, notably leadership, staff, Board of Directors, and Community Advisory Board. They will have the ability to cultivate vibrant and productive partnerships within and beyond the existing WBUR ecosystem. This will be a strong leader, communicator, and collaborator who is skilled at listening to, and learning from, constituents. They will have the ability to develop a powerful sense of shared purpose in others and motivate them to engage the opportunities and challenges ahead. They will demonstrate the curiosity and creativity needed to build a strategy that is responsive to the unique culture of WBUR.

Team Leader

The COO will be focused on unleashing the potential of a highly talented team. The COO is experienced in removing barriers and fostering cross division collaboration. The COO will be effective in leading change, related to both systems and organizational culture, to make the day-to-day functions more efficient. The successful candidate will have experience championing shifts in complex environments. The COO will be able to allocate resources effectively to address challenges or barriers the team is facing.

Compensation & Benefits

WBUR, a department of Boston University and an NPR member station, offers a competitive salary, commensurate with experience and generous university benefits, including tuition remission.

Contact

Tom Phillips and Charlotte Harris of Koya Partners have been exclusively retained for this search. To express your interest in this role please submit your materials here. All inquiries and discussions will be considered strictly confidential.

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WBUR is an affirmative action/equal opportunity employer dedicated to broad outreach regarding job vacancies. WBUR and Boston University strongly encourage minority group members, veterans, disabled individuals, and women to apply for positions for which they are qualified, and which are of interest to them.

About Koya Partners

Koya Partners, a part of the 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.