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Senior Director , Finance and Administration

Data Science Institute

Senior Director , Finance and Administration

  • 530745
  • Morningside
  • Data Science Institute
  • Full Time
  • Opening on: Oct 31 2022
  • Grade 15
  • Job Type: Officer of Administration
  • Bargaining Unit:
  • Regular/Temporary: Regular
  • End Date if Temporary:
  • Hours Per Week: 35
  • Salary Range: Commensurate with Experience

Position Summary

Founded in 2012, the Data Science Institute at Columbia University is singularly focused on advancing the state of the art in data science with the goal of transforming all fields, professions and sectors the application of data science, and to ensure the responsible use of data to benefit society. The Data Science Institute trains the next generation of data scientists, develops innovative technology, fosters collaborations in advancing techniques to interpret data and address pressing societal problems, and works closely with industry to bring promising ideas to market.

Reporting to the Chief Operating Officer, the Senior Director of Finance and Administration will oversee all financial management services and research administration services provided to Principal Investigators and Researchers within the Data Science Institute, and will be responsible for the Institute’s operating budget, quarterly forecasts, and year-end fiscal close processes.


The Senior Director of Finance and Administration will supervise a team of managers and analysts in overseeing the following activities

Institute Financial Management

  • Provides strategic financial planning and forecasting by capturing and analyzing data to inform financial decisions. Utilizes budget analyses and modeling to forecast future financial needs/resources.

  • Leads budget development and management for the Institute. Ensures annual budget targets for revenue and expense projections for each unit and program are established, approved by the leadership team, and realized.

  • Oversees process, timeline, and resources required to complete annual budget and quarterly forecast for direct grant revenues. Works closely with external finance and human resources professionals across Columbia on faculty and research staff salary allocations and research-related OTPS expenses. Works very closely with external finance and human resources units to ensure timely completion of labor accounting entries. Responsible for budget submission and other regular and ad hoc reporting. 

  • Performs complex analysis on consolidated budget vs. actual for all DSI Units. Responsible for reporting financial statements and explanations of budget actuals to variance reports. Provides OMB with explanation related to budget deviations.

  • Supervises key components related to quarterly and annual fiscal close, including oversight of clearing of payroll suspense, removal of project overruns, tuition and indirect costs revenue sharing with other schools and departments.

  • Manages financial resources available to the finance and research administration team that support the efficient financial management of departmental budget and actuals.

  • Develops complex multi-year forecasting models and communicates financial risks to DSI leadership. Includes the development of new budget methodologies as requested for the Institute’s strategic planning.

  • Ensures Institute's accounting functions are in compliance with GAAP/Single Audit. Designs and implements internal controls, policies and procedures for labor accounting, billing, budget and financial reporting.

  • Directs and ensures effective day to day management of accounting and finance operational functions, including timely completion of cost transfers, salary distributions, TBERs, invoices, additional compensation payments and internal transfers. Directs, trains and oversees the budget team including, managing assignments, setting up systems to track workflow, and enhance efficiencies etc.

  • Collaborates closely with Human Resources/Academic Appointments on issues related to processing all research, officer, casual, work-study and support staff payroll and appointments.



  • Responsible for managing finance operations, as well as developing, establishing and implementing financial policies and procedures by applying a project management approach to define, document and drive financial operations at the Institute.

  • Collaborates across units to develop, implement, and continuously improve processes and capabilities that support improved reporting and planning.

  • Leads the development of new financial and program reports, to improve the consistency of financial and program data across the Institute such as: regular reporting to Institute leadership on financial data; monthly, quarterly and annual reports for program, and institute financial operations by:

    • Leading the integration of financial and programmatic data, which will facilitate the cost efficiency of all administrative and programmatic activities of the Institute.

  • Prepares analytical reports to contribute to the development of key performance targets and long-term strategic initiatives.

  • Builds processes related to all post award activities for funded awards including account set-up and the sub-award process including initiation, setup, reporting and closeout. 

  • Ensures the DSI Finance team is working closely with PI’s, to ensure guidelines for both the funding agency and Columbia University are being followed and deliverables are met in a timely manner. 

  • Maintains oversight with PI’s on re-budget and change of scope requests as well as no-cost extension requests, as needed. 

  • Builds and improves systems to ensure the review of grant spending monthly and that meetings are taking place with PI’s to review grant financial statements.

Strategic Planning

  • Develops the Institute’s long-term financial plan in partnership with the Institute Director and Chief Operating Officer in partnership with the Institute’s Executive Committee.

  • Serves as a key resource to the Institute’s strategic planning process, led by Institute Leadership and the Executive Committee.

  • Provides data-based alternative scenarios to inform the Institute’s long-term financial planning.

Minimum Qualifications

Bachelor’s degree or equivalent in education and experience, plus 9 years of directly applicable experience.

Preferred Qualifications

Advanced degree is preferred, such as an MBA. CPA and general fund accounting preferred. Experience and working knowledge of University’s financial and administrative systems is highly preferred. Strong preference for previous process improvement and project management experience.

  • Demonstrated comprehensive financial planning responsibility in a large, complex organization is a must; experience in higher education and a CPA is preferred.

  • Strong computer proficiency (Word and Excel), including an in-depth knowledge of spreadsheet packages and familiarity with database design, required. 

  • Outstanding financial analysis and modeling skills required, including variance analysis and financial statement analysis

  • Strong familiarity with financial principles and processes related to award management in academic research or similar environment 

  • Comprehensive knowledge of sponsored project lifecycle; strong working knowledge of pre-award process; detailed familiarity with post-award financial management and compliance activities 

Other Requirements

The ideal candidate will possess excellent verbal and written communication skills. Must be customer service-oriented and focused on developing strong collaborative relationships with other partners across Columbia. Advanced Proficiency in MS Excel highly preferred. Highly skilled in MS Word. Ability to meet deadlines and maintain required confidentiality. Knowledge of government and foundation grant administration and PeopleSoft financials required. Strong managerial skills that are focused on team growth and development required.

This is a high-pressure position, as there are many internal and external deadlines. Requires a bright, competent, and organized individual that is self-motivated, reliable, conscientious, and able to solve analytical problems, as well as plan independently. Must be able to work with all levels of staff. The position requires establishing and maintaining relationships within and across departments, as well as servicing the grant and accounting needs of Principal Investigators.

Equal Opportunity Employer / Disability / Veteran

Columbia University is committed to the hiring of qualified local residents.

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