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PFM Executive Search

Associate Vice-President, Communications

Canada-British Columbia-Vancouver


Company Information

Associate Vice-President, Communications



Located on the traditional territories of the Musqueam, Coast Salish, and Okanagan peoples, the University of British Columbia (UBC) is one of the world’s leading universities and is a global centre for research and teaching.  Consistently ranked among the 40 best universities in the world, UBC currently places 32nd in the Times Higher Education World Reputation Rankings.  Since 1915, UBC’s West Coast spirit has embraced innovation and challenged the status quo. Between UBC’s two main campuses (Metro Vancouver and the Okanagan Valley) its entrepreneurial perspective encourages students (59,600), staff (10,100) and faculty (5,100) to challenge convention, lead discovery and explore new ways of learning.  At UBC, bold thinking is given a place to define ideas that change the world. 

Job Description

This is a newly established and pivotal leadership role which will have a sharp focus on strategic communications and marketing, along with the brand building of one of the world’s great universities.  UBC’s ongoing story is about the expansive environment and refreshing openness around how the University people learn, explore, and give back; how individuals are encouraged to tackle difficult questions and take on tough challenges while at the same time be engaged and forge strong ties with the communities it serves locally, nationally, and internationally.


Title:                                  Associate Vice-President, Communications

Company:                       The University of British Columbia

Business Address:             5950 University Blvd., Vancouver, BC V6T 1Z3                                 

Location of Work:            5950 University Blvd., Vancouver, BC V6T 1Z3

Term:                                Full-Time Permanent Position

Salary:                              CAN$170,000 – CAN$220,000

Benefits:                           Benefits will include BC MSP coverage, extended medical, dental, pension, disability,                                       life insurance, employee and family assistance plan, and staff tuition plan.

Vacation:                        25 paid days per year


Essential Duties


  • Directs development of UBC’s key messaging with authority to ensure consistency across the University, including all material published in traditional, social and electronic media;


  • Builds partnerships and collaborative working relationships with a wide variety of internal and external stakeholders, particularly the various facilities and departments;


  • Cultivates and maintains productive relationships with key media throughout the province and Canada as a whole. Takes a proactive, strategic approach to media relations;


  • Oversees and manages sensitive, complex issues and provides strategic communications counsel to UBC’s leadership and subject matter experts;


  • Serves as the University spokesperson as appropriate and anticipates and responds to all media inquiries;


  • Manages, develops, and coaches team members, conducting ongoing performance management and succession planning;


  • Develops and oversees departmental operating plans and budgets;


  • Monitors best practices and recent developments in industry practices and standards.


Additional duties relating to Strategic and Program Planning:


  • With the Vice-President, develops the over-arching long-term communications strategy and plan for UBC, ensuring alignment to the mission, vision and values. Collaborates with leadership to ensure the strategy accounts for University priorities, reputation management, internal engagement, student focus and stakeholder needs;


  • Directs the translation of the long-term communications strategy into strategies and plans for students, faculty, staff, media, public, community, and other stakeholder communication programs in support of University objectives and high profile projects and initiatives;


  • Leads traditional and social media programs and the development of proactive communications strategies, programs and key message platforms;


  • Recommends program concepts, tactics and budgets that are balanced against the University’s objectives and strategies;


  • Oversees UBC’s internal communications strategy to promote awareness of UBC’s vision and values amongst staff;


  • Works closely with human resources on any major change initiatives and how they are communicated to the UBC team.




  • Language Requirement: English;


  • University degree in business, communications or a related discipline;


  • Minimum of 5+ years of strategic marketing and communications expertise within a research intensive university setting spanning multiple campuses; including at least 10 years’ experience in a leadership capacity;


  • Proven experience working within internationally competitive environments;


  • Strong experience in managing sensitive/complex issues and crisis management including experience in the media spokesperson role;  


  • Extensive experience in developing and implementing integrated strategic communications and marketing campaigns that increase understanding and engagement;


  • Demonstrated leadership in developing strategies related to brand positioning and brand management with a focus on market research and data;


  • Experience in people resource management and ability to resolve conflicts;


  • Advanced level of business acumen to identify risks and leverage opportunities that can be addressed through communication solutions;


  • Proven abilities in building partnerships and collaborative working relationships with a wide variety of internal and external stakeholders and be seen as a trusted advisor to the Vice President, External Relations.


Desired Skills and Abilities


  • Advanced analytical and critical thinking skills to identify strategic opportunities and risks;


  • Demonstrated ability to exercise appropriate confidentiality and manage highly sensitive/confidential information appropriately;


Desired Skills and Abilities cont’d



  • Excellent written and verbal communication skills;


  • Takes a pro-active approach to relationships; adheres to a “no surprises” approach with key stakeholders and builds on productive working relationships to ensure buy-in on strategies;


  • A proven leader of people and able to work within a matrixed team environment;


  • Possesses a track record of supporting and motivating employees by providing a sense of opportunity based on performance and expertise;


  • Able to interface comfortably with individuals at all levels.



How to Apply


UBC hires on the basis of merit and is strongly committed to equity and diversity within its community.  The University welcomes applications from visible minority group members, women, Aboriginal persons, persons with disabilities, persons of minority sexual orientations and gender identities, and others with the skills and knowledge to productively engage with diverse communities.


If you are interested in this opportunity, please visit and submit your letter of interest, along with your resume, to Partner George Madden and Partner Shelina Esmail.


PFM Executive Search / Panorama Search Partners

Suite 2020, 1055 West Hastings Street 

Vancouver, BC   V6E 2E9

Tel 604.689.9970




Contact Information

PFM Executive SearchSeema KanwalDirector, Researchpfm@pfmsearch.com604-689-9970
Posting Date: 07-Mar-2017Other Permanent, Full-Time Open 1 ASAP
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