The Smithsonian Institution (Smithsonian) was established as an independent trust instrumentality of the United States by an Act of Congress in 1846 with a clear mission: the increase and diffusion of knowledge.
The Smithsonian is the world’s largest museum, education, and research complex, with 19 museums, 9 research centers and the National Zoological Park. The Institution is physically located in sites across the United States and overseas, employs over 6,000 staff, and is affiliated with thousands of additional volunteers and scholars. The Smithsonian receives federal appropriations and government grants as well as awards and gifts from private foundations, corporations, and individuals; revenue is also generated from ancillary activities (e.g., memberships, museum shops, licensing). The Institution’s endowment provides additional support. Certain revenues, such as gifts, grants, and contracts, have restricted uses, including support of research or scientific activities. With the exception of the current pandemic-related closures, the Smithsonian annually hosts 25 million visitors in its public facilities (180 million web visitors) and generates more than $170 million in business revenues. Admission is free for the vast majority of Smithsonian venues, so those revenues flow from business activities, membership programs, and media enterprises.
The Smithsonian is seeking a Head of Digital Transformation, who will be responsible for developing a pan-institutional strategy to execute the following preliminary vision statement:
Transition the Smithsonian to a digitally dexterous, data-driven organization with a virtual presence that supports the advancement of the Institution’s strategic priorities, including attracting new and more diverse audiences, increasing audience engagement, emphasizing philanthropy and revenue generation, and expanding access to all Smithsonian collections, expertise and educational resources in the U.S. and worldwide.
The Head of Digital Transformation will report to the Secretary and Deputy Secretary. The role will be expected to conceptualize and execute an institutional digital transformation strategy, integrate and prioritize ongoing digital initiatives, ensure new and innovative ideas are considered and acted upon, and target a handful of key cultural and structural reforms needed to support a truly “One Smithsonian” digital approach. The Head of Digital Transformation will be expected to work collaboratively with senior leaders and offices across the Institution such as the Office of the Chief Information Officer, Access Smithsonian (the Institution’s Office of Accessibility), Advancement, Communications & External Affairs, and Smithsonian Enterprises among others.
This role is located at the Smithsonian Institution’s headquarters in Washington, D.C. However, the Smithsonian is open to candidates who wish to reside in other locations within the United States. This position will require some occasional travel.
Audience Experience & Engagement – strategize ways to procure and utilize customer relationship management (CRM) technology, customer data and analytics to inform strategic decision-making and to adopt a visitor engagement strategy that takes a holistic view of the audience experience across all visitor touch points (digital and physical) and for all audience communities; acknowledging that audience engagement and experience strategies will be tailored as appropriate at the unit level.
Infrastructure Support & Integration – audit Smithsonian digital resources, talent, and media; create a workable and integrated support model necessary to facilitate digital transformation and activity across all units; and address current operational realities such as compliance and process demands around privacy, procurement and technical review.
Learning & Development Resources – develop a strategy to improve and advance the digital literacy, skills and resources of the Smithsonian workforce. This includes identifying, cultivating, and embedding in position descriptions key digital skills and experience, marshalling resources (e.g., procuring necessary hardware and technology tools) and training necessary to lift all units to a standard level of digital capability, and serving as a resource to help units navigate Smithsonian’s policies and processes to achieve their digital goals.
Collections Management & Capacity Building – organize the Institution’s digitization and accessibility priorities to align with its broader strategic approach such as generating K-12 educational resources, advancing signature pan-institutional programs around race and community, and conservation research. Facilitate conversations with Directors and design a workflow that makes the digitization of content a transparent and collaborative process.
Digital Preservation – coordinate Institution and unit level management of digital content, including research, collections, education and engagement, align policies, and ensure long term management and preservation of our institutional resources.
Outreach or Build Partnerships – Develop a plan and strategy for enhancing external partners, including corporate entities, donors and Smithsonian board members.
Ability to refine the abovementioned vision statement and use it to create and execute a digital strategy in a complex, distributed and highly delegated environment.
A demonstrated “customer-centric” worldview/focused on audience engagement.
Experience building interfaces between audience engagement, content distribution, and digital revenue models.
Willingness to engage stakeholders at all levels of the organization.
Diplomatic skills and ability to navigate the disruption that digital transformation create and a high degree of emotional intelligence to understand the myriad of perspectives at a large and diffuse institution like the Smithsonian.
Understanding of digital trends and technologies and an ability to focus on those that will promote the Smithsonian’s vision.
Experience working in an interdisciplinary environment and building coalitions across sectors.
Strong management and operations experience, particularly within large, public and potentially bureaucratic organizations.
Ability to lead and project manage with limited authority.
Data-driven but also experimental so will use metrics to drive innovation but not afraid to take risks.
Experience with hands-on implementation, i.e., not only a strategic thinker but an effective project manager with a demonstrated willingness to tackle operational challenges at all levels such as re-working processes and policies and assemble practical toolkits and training.
Experience working as part of a senior leadership team and interacting with governing boards.
Experience working in, or with, the federal government or a public institution is helpful, but not required.
REQUIRED EDUCATION & EXPERIENCE
Minimum of 8 years of professional experience in the digital field, with an emphasis on experience as a Chief Digital Officer or as a digital transformation lead at an organization comparable in size and complexity to the Smithsonian.