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Vice President of Guest Experience

Monterey Bay Aquarium
Monterey, United States Posted: May 03, 2024

With a mission to inspire conservation of the ocean, the Monterey Bay Aquarium (the Aquarium) is the most admired aquarium in the United States, a leader in science education, and a voice for ocean conservation through comprehensive programs in marine science and public policy. Everything we do works in concert to protect the future of our blue planet. 

  • Founded in 1984, the Aquarium is known for our focus on local and global research and conservation efforts, excellence in exhibits and educational programs, and animal husbandry techniques.
  • Frolicking sea otters, fast-swimming sharks, pulsating jellies and waddling penguins – the Aquarium’s world-class exhibits and breathtaking scenery instill a love of the ocean in our visitors.
  • With nearly 2 million visitors a year and over 200 exhibits and 80,000 plants and animals, the Aquarium is a window to the wonders of the ocean.
  • Scientists at the Aquarium are rebuilding sea otter populations, transforming fisheries and aquaculture around the world, and working to protect California’s ocean.
  • Our policy experts are moving the needle on legislation to address climate change and end plastic pollution.
  • The Aquarium’s Seafood Watch team is shifting the global marketplace to make seafood more sustainable.
  • Education is a top priority at the Aquarium.
  • Since 1984, more than 2.5 million students have visited for free.
  • Our life-changing teacher and youth development programs are helping young people find their voices as ocean conservation leaders and will ensure a healthy future for the ocean.
  • The Monterey Bay Aquarium has taken a strong, public stance and made a significant investment in promoting diverse voices in ocean science and conservation.
  • For too long, Black people, Indigenous people, and people of color, as well as LGBTQIA+ people, have been underrepresented in marine science and conservation fields.
  • To learn more about Monterey Bay Aquarium, please visit website. 
The Opportunity
  • The Monterey Bay Aquarium is seeking an engaged leader to fill the role of Vice President of Guest Experience.
  • This important role is responsible for managing and strategically planning for an exceptional guest experience in line with the aquarium's strategic goals. In particular, helping the Aquarium become a fully bilingual organization as a next step towards becoming a welcoming and inclusive organization.
  • The vice president oversees all departments responsible for the overall onsite guest experience including ticketing, visitor program development and delivery, the call center, paid programs, environmental services (custodial), twenty-four-hour security operations, emergency planning and preparedness and the volunteer Guide Program with over 800 volunteer guides.
  • Direct reports include Environmental Services Manager, Director of Security & Emergency Management, Director of Guest Experience - Operations, Director of Guest Experience – Administration, and Director of Guest Experience – Interpretive Programs.
Job Summary: 
  • Lead all aspects of the Guest Experience Division to create an exceptional onsite visitor experience.
  • Oversee division administration, including setting divisional goals, developing plans, preparing annual budgets, monitoring divisional spending and supervising division directors.
  • Participate in institution-wide short- and long-range planning and decision-making, as a member of senior management.
  • Guest Experience includes ticketing, greeting and orienting visitors, visitor programs and interpretation, security and emergency preparedness, environmental services (custodial), and volunteer guides. Perform other duties as required.
  • This role is fully onsite and is required to be onsite nearly 5 days a week.
  • Remote work days can be arranged on an as needed basis; This is subject to change.
Core Activities: 
  • Lead Guest Experience long and short term strategic planning in alignment with the Aquarium mission and delivering an educational and inspiring visitor experience.
  • Lead divisional planning efforts in strategy and operational decision-making.
  • Manage GE leadership; establish priorities, set objectives, and assign accountabilities; establish and monitor staff performance and development goals and provide coaching and mentorship.
  • Ensure service and programs are evaluated regularly against audience research and modified as appropriate.
  • Manage the overall budget of the division which includes a labor budget, expense budget and earned revenue.
  • Participate in institution wide short and long range planning an decision making, as a member of senior management.
  • Serve as a leader in the overall organization by being a member of strategic groups.
  • Act as a community liaison in support of Aquarium activities.
  • Provide availability 24/7 to act as an incident commander in an emergency, in support of the Aquarium’s emergency readiness plans.
  • Ensure the Aquarium and related support buildings are properly maintained and cleaned to institutional standards.
Preferred Knowledge, Skills & Abilities (KSAs): 
  • 10 years progressive management experience in a guest service operations environment and/or public program development and delivery
  • Preferred 2-3 years of housekeeping, facility maintenance, building engineering
  • Bachelor's degree or higher preferred. Education preferences may be substituted by equivalent combination of education, training, and experience.
  • Demonstrated ability to lead cross functional projects
  • Excellent interpersonal, written, and oral communication skills
  • Demonstrated ability to build and lead a team of creative and diverse staff
  • Applied knowledge of management, strategic planning and budget control
  • Strong commitment to the Aquarium’s mission of inspiring ocean conservation
  • Comfortable in fast-paced, high-volume environment
  • Experience leading teams and stakeholders to adopt new processes and procedures
  • Ability to promote a culture of high performance and continuous improvement that values learning and a commitment to quality
  • Strong team building, organization, communication, facilitation, and active listening skills
  • Ability to communicate effectively, diplomatically, honestly, and sensitively with all levels of management, staff, volunteers, and guests
  • Ability to converse in another international language (Spanish, Chinese, Japanese, French, German, Portuguese, etc) preferred
  • Nonprofit experience a plus
  • Able and willing to work weekends, nights and holidays
  • Ability to work within, and maintain Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Core Values
Physical Requirements to Perform Essential Job Functions: 
  • Typical office equipment
  • Constant sitting, standing, walking, bending
  • Occasional unassisted lifting up to 50 lbs
  • Typical office environment, main aquarium and exhibits, occasional offsite events
Annual Compensation Range: 
  • $160,000-$210,000 USD annually. Starting rate will vary based on previous experience and relevant skills/knowledge set.
  • $160,000-$210,000

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