Chief Administrative Officer

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Chief Administrative Officer

Job Information
Author alnationtalk
Date February 2, 2021
Deadline Open
Type Full Time
Company Cowichan Tribes
Location Duncan, BC
Category Administrative Services
Client Leaders International
Contact Information
[email protected] or [email protected]

Chief Administrative Officer

The Community and Nation Government

Cowichan Tribes represents the largest First Nation in British Columbia with over 4,900 members. The demographic consists of a relatively young community, with a large percentage of the population under the age of 35 and nearly half of the members living on reserve. Their core traditional territory spans 900,000   acres on Vancouver Island and they have seven traditional villages: Kw’amutsun, Qwum’yiqun’, Hwulqwselu, S’amuna’, L’uml’umuluts, Hinupsum, and Tl’ulpalus.

Cowichan Tribes are governed by a Chief and Council of 12, which guide a variety of member services such as Children and Families, Community Justice, Culture and Education, Emergency Preparedness, Fisheries, Health, Human Resources, Indian Registry and Band Membership, Housing, Lands, Operations and Maintenance, Social Development, Tobacco Tax, ‘Tsetsuw’ Suwa’lum’ Games and Youth Services.

Cowichan Tribes is a thriving community that is breaking new ground in areas such as treaty processes, economic development, local employment and self-determination. They are one of the few First Nations    that are currently in Stage 5 of a treaty process with their Hul’qumi’num Treaty Group. The Nation owns and operates the Khowutzun Development Corporation (KDC) group of companies, which  includes  the  Khowutzun Forest Services Limited Partnership (KFCLP). With more than 800 employees, KDC is one of the single largest employers in the region.


Tun’ni ‘utu Squw’utsun’a’lh syuwen’ Tsi’ tsuwutul’ tst tse’ Kws s’uy’yelhs Kw’amku’um Mustimuhw Through our heritage the Cowichan Tribes will work together for a healthier, safer and stronger Nation.


Cowichan Tribes’ mission is to develop an effective organizational foundation and structure with Cowichan

Tribes Teachings in order to move forward for a prosperous future and protection of all members. With strong communication, combined with acknowledgement and respect for all Community members, we will provide healing for our Nation. In celebration of our heritage, we will bring wellness, trust, and unity and by promoting mentorship with Community members, we will increase transparency and accountability.

The Opportunity

Reporting directly to the Council through the Chief Councillor, the Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) is a vital contributing member of Cowichan Tribe’s executive leadership team. As the senior operations leader for the Nation, the CAO will provide the leadership, strategy and vision necessary to ensure Cowichan Tribes has the required operational controls, administrative/reporting procedures,  and the right people and systems to bring the Nation’s Strategic Community Plan to life. To facilitate the healthy, productive and well-planned management of the Nation, the CAO will lead, develop and implement operations and performance plans that align with the strategy.

In alignment with the strategy, vision, mission and goals of Cowichan Tribes, the CAO will provide oversight and guidance to approximately 400 staff through twelve direct reports from Children and Families, Community Justice, Culture and Education, Emergency Preparedness, Fisheries, Health, Human Resources, Indian Registry and Band Membership, Housing, Lands, Operations and Maintenance, Social Development, Tobacco Tax, ‘Tsetsuw’ Suwa’lum’ Games and Youth Services.

The CAO fosters a positive, communicative, and progressive work environment and facilitates the efficient and effective delivery of programs and services for Nation members. Under the general direction of Chief and Council, the GM is responsible for building and leading the Management team, providing general administrative and financial oversight, and ensuring that the affairs of the Nation are managed within established policy, and within compliance of the First Nations Financial Management Act. The CAO enables the Operational Leadership Team to implement Chief and Council directives while operating within appropriate guidelines and legislation and administrative best practices.

Key Responsibilities

The Chief Administrative Officer is responsible for the following:

  • Accountable to Chief and Council, staff and all members of Cowichan Tribes;
  • Design and implement administrative strategies that outline and set comprehensive goals for performance and growth; evaluate and establish policies that promote and align with the Cowichan Tribes culture and vision;
  • Lead and provide direction to a team of managers and staff to deliver a variety of programs and services for the community; Strive for continuous improvement and enhancement of effective program and service delivery;
  • Reconcile the direction from Chief & Council with the needs of the community and the needs of the Operational Leadership Team;
  • Maintain professionalism and alignment with culturally appropriate practices, no matter who the audience or situation;
  • Create an environment of trust and respect amongst the leaders and managers and ensure Cowichan Tribes operates within a safe and positive work environment;
  • Build a strong team of directors to manage the growing demands of Cowichan Tribes; Ensure a collaborative and consultative approach is developed amongst the team and across departments;
  • Ensure succession planning, performance management and training and development; Support equitable development opportunities and capacity building our Cowichan staff members;
  • Analyze and provide leadership in the development and implementation of modernized policies and practices;
  • Lead the development of crisis response and prevention plans with all departments;

Key Responsibilities (cont.)

  • Implement Council directives, initiatives, priorities, and approved proposals and recommendations;
  • Provide direction on specific projects and initiatives that enhance organizational efficiency and effectiveness;
  • Occasionally review the organizational structure and its resources and provide assessments and recommended solutions, as required;
  • Provide leadership on strategic issues affecting the organization and prepare and present findings, options, and recommendations to the Chief and Council, committees, or other groups and committees, as required;
  • Participate as an active member or support to committee’s involving major and significant program, financial, strategy, development, visioning, policy and project issues and concerns;
  • Represent the Nation with government and private agencies, various stakeholders, and general membership;
  • Maintain effective relationships and liaise with colleagues, partners, vendors and government agencies;
  • Negotiate, review, and approve agreements, contracts, proposals, financial and other documents;
  • Implement policies at all levels of governance and provide chief and council with support and guidance when required; and
  • Other duties as required.

Education and Experience

The successful candidate for the Chief Administrative Officer role will epitomize the highest professional standards and will bring:

  • Post-secondary education (Master’s degree preferred) in the field of business administration or commerce, public administration, first nations law or another related field;
  • 10+ years’ senior leadership experience in a First Nations organization; Experience reporting directly to a Chief and Council or other governing body is strongly preferred;
  • Direct experience in the following areas would be ideal:
  • Administrative management, strategic planning and policy development, policy implementation and change management
  • Supervising and managing a large, diverse team; Organizational development; Employee Relations and Training; Interest-based negotiations
  • Proven experience with strategic and financial planning and analysis as well as successful previous experience overseeing a dynamic and modern human resources function; CPHR would be an asset
  • Candidates with Indigenous heritage is preferred; and
  •  Basic Halkomelem language skills will be an asset.

Skills, Knowledge, and Attributes

The successful candidate will bring the following skills, knowledge and attributes:

  • Is culturally astute with an ability to interact respectfully with diverse internal and external stakeholders o Brings a respectful, responsive and responsible approach to community leadership
  • Strong relationship building and interpersonal skills with an ability to work collaboratively across diverse groups
  • Demonstrated ability to provide direction, resolve conflicts, support team members and manage performance
  • Excellent written and verbal communication skills; comfortable making presentations to large groups paired with effective listening skills
  • Ability to multi-task and foster a solutions-oriented approach within a fast-paced environment
  • A solid understanding of advanced business planning within the confines of Federal funding agreements
  • Adept at generating and utilizing data and performance metrics in decision-making processes
  • Experience developing an effective team and fostering collaboration between divergent programs; Brings the following:
  • Ability to lead, manage and develop a productive team
  • Well-developed mentorship and coaching skills
  • Committed to developing the skills and capacity of community members
  • Recognizes the successes and contributions of all staff members
  • Instills confidence in managers and shows trust
  • Senior-level experience leading/overseeing:
  • Operational planning, performance measurement and reporting
  • Finance, Accounting and Budgeting
  • A diverse portfolio of Nation-based operations and programs
  • Proven financial management and administrative skills and an ability to: o Comply with the First Nations Financial Management Act
  • Implement change management and project management methodologies
  • Lead the development of effective policies and practices
  • Align managerial activities and functions with the Nations objectives and priorities
  • Develop complete, clear and concise reporting mechanisms
  • Apply sound judgment in decision-making processes and prioritize initiatives and issues at the council table as well as maintain boundaries between administrative and governance matters
  • Knowledge of the Indian Act, federal and provincial government systems, programming and best practices, emerging trends and other developments as it relates to First Nation Administration and self-government
  • Cultural knowledge and understanding of The Cowichan Teachings
  • A compassionate approach to employees, communities and stakeholders who are dedicated to creating a prosperous future for Indigenous Peoples

The Location

Steeped in 5000 years of history and culture, the legacy of the Quw’utsun’ or Cowichan Tribes makes up a significant amount of the cultural tapestry of the Cowichan Valley on Vancouver Island, BC. Visitors are often delighted by many totem poles, carvings, and designs of the world-famous Cowichan sweaters.

The Cowichan Tribes office headquarters are located just steps away from the heart of the City of Duncan’s fun and upbeat downtown stretch. The Nation operates and maintains an extensive number of buildings and facilities, including public works infrastructure and operations. This includes an Administrative Office Building, Lalum’utul Smun’eem Child & Family Services, Hulithut Group Home, Cowichan River Hatchery, Syuw’entst Lelum Education Centre, Ts’ewulhtun Health Centre, Sustainable Housing Centre, Elders Centre, Treaty Office, Lands & Governance Centre. The main offices are strategically laid next to each other with manicured gardens and plenty of green space.

The Cowichan Valley provides a great mix of outdoor recreation activities with its proximity to nature—the    City of Duncan is only an hour away from Victoria, British Columbia’s capital city. Vancouver Island is a popular vacation destination in the summer and winter. Mount Kain and Mount Washington Resorts are both wonderful snow sport facilities nearby. On the west coast, Tofino attracts people from all over the world to walk the long beaches and experience the rugged coast. The temperate rainforest climate provides a rich ecosystem and favourable weather. The Cowichan Valley itself is surrounded by lakes, pristine forests and an established farming community.

To Apply

This is an exciting leadership role to become a part of an innovative and dynamic First Nations community and enhance their member services to further their success. For more details, please contact:

Laurie Sterritt • Partner Mike Eager • Consultant
Leaders International Leaders International
880-609 Granville Street 1 Rideau St. Suite 700
Vancouver, British Columbia Ottawa, Ontario
V7Y1G5 Telephone : 613-619-8686
Telephone: 778-838-4569 [email protected]
[email protected]

To apply, please submit a PDF Cover Letter and Resume directly to Leaders International outlining your interest, qualifications and experience.

Leaders International specializes in the recruitment of Board of Directors, leadership succession and executive level positions. Our global network, Penrhyn International, is a world leader in the executive recruitment industry, with more than 47 offices in over 25 countries on 5 continents.

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