Chief business officers: need to expand their skills

More flexible in their roles

A Renaissance CBO

The role of chief business officer is evolving (and growing) rapidly, so current and future CBOs need to broaden their skill sets and approaches, write Thomas Ayers, Karen Goldstein. Chief business officers, like most university administrators, are expected to have a wider range of responsibilities, work with more constituents, and possess a wider set of skills than any other.

CBO’s role has been broad and often includes responsibility for finance, human resources (auxiliary services), information technology, campus security, risk management, and facilities. The new challenges facing colleges have created new and expanded responsibilities. These include helping to guide strategic planning and its implementation, creating entrepreneurial partnerships to generate new revenue streams, planning for emergency preparedness, Title IX compliance, building cross-functional teams to provide better services, integrating resource allocation efforts and outcome assessment, as well as serving as an educator and champion for transparency with all constituencies regarding their institutional financial health.

What institutions want Chief business officers

You can quickly get a feel for the skills and responsibilities County Business Patterns required by open positions in CBO across academia by browsing through position descriptions. The listing below demonstrates the high expectations.

“Be a partner with the president, vice president for research, vice president of student affairs, and provost. Together, they will work to expand academic programs and research operations. They also need to develop new initiatives and high impact extracurricular activities.

Create “a variety of student-related success activities and initiatives that are especially suited to the student population and their life circumstances.”

“Provide leadership to support the development and implementation of creative chief business officers solutions to the public higher education challenges.”

“Play a key and active role in helping to find new revenue streams…including developing public-private partnerships, and other chief business officer collaborations.”

Kettering: A Vignette of Challenges

Take a look at the current challenges facing CBOs. The new challenges faced by the CBO at Kettering University, Flint, Mich. (i.e. Tom Ayers in his role of vice president for administration & finance) include:

Collaboration with community partners and local government to buy nearly 200 blighted and foreclosed properties near campus in order to improve safety and facilitate future economic development.

Collaborating with campus leaders to cultivate a greater transparency in the allocation of resources, with links to institution assessment and goals.

Working with alumni and outside donors, engineering faculty and other campus leaders to transform an industrial brownfield site into an area for automotive research.

Assisting the president, university advancement staff, legal counsel, and other city leaders in taking over the operation of a historic stadium for the benefit both of the city and university.