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Assistant Director - Process Improvement

At Northwestern Mutual, we are strong, innovative and growing. We invest in our people. We care and make a positive difference.


Provides direction, motivation and development of teams who develop, identify, analyze, and improve existing business processes to improve product/service quality, increase efficiencies, reduce costs or waste, decrease errors or delays, and increase customer satisfaction. Influences strategic business decisions and leads implementation of process improvement opportunities across the enterprise at all organizational levels.

Delivers superior business performance by relentlessly pursuing process excellence on behalf of our employees, field, and clients.  Architect experiences using business process management to design, analyze, implement, and control processes.

Provides direct leadership, strategic and operational direction to others, ensuring that operations are running efficiently, within budget and business outcomes are met. Accountable for the performance and results of team, ensures that work is aligned to department and enterprise priorities, and contributes to business plans and organizational priorities.

Primary Duties & Responsibilities:

Drive Business Performance

  • Accountable for ensuring operational plans are aligned with departmental and business objectives.
  • Measures, analyzes, and evaluates existing processes, collects data to identify root causes, performs cost benefit analysis, and identifies improvement opportunities.
  • Drives improvements while maintaining business and enterprise perspective.
  • Develops, recommends, and implements solutions for process improvement, system enhancement, and operations efficiency that are aligned with business strategies.
  • Designs, guides, and promotes process architecture that aligns with business priorities.
  • Integrates best practices on process improvement activities across the organization.
  • Researches and advocates for process improvement tools, techniques, and technology to determine potential impact and opportunities to provide additional value to the organization.
  • Demonstrates highly empathetic, customer-centric service while aiding others in their learning and execution of transformational activities. Customer may include the field.
  • Demonstrates independent, expert-level command of business process principles and methods, and guides improvement initiatives and mindsets for business partners with exceptional emotional intelligence and political acumen.
  • Collaborates with, and influences business leaders, technology, and other stakeholders to connect process architecture roadmap with operational decisions.
  • Proactively seeks opportunities to connect processes across journeys
  • Guides complex process reengineering and technology implementation to enable process redesign and innovation.
  • Develops, builds, and deploys business process architecture and management framework that provides measurable impact across organizational boundaries through principles, best practices, patterns, guidelines, standards, methods, techniques, and models.
  • Demonstrates digital savvy and engages the business and technology experts to innovative future state processes with high first-pass yield, high field/client satisfaction, and a frictionless employee experience.

Subject Matter Expertise

  • Leads others in providing deep subject matter expertise in process improvement to product, operations, and/or technology teams in collaboration with other disciplines.
  • Develops a mastery of end-to-end processes within respective journey (e.g., volume, AHT, costs, cycle time, defects within processes, processes that are defects)


  • Provides direct leadership to managers and/or professional staff. Performs management responsibilities such as recruitment, performance appraisals, pay reviews, training, goal setting, development, etc to a team of individuals.
  • Integrates knowledge and business priorities to help resolve the most challenging, cross-organizational problems, which usually span multiple priorities, experience journeys, or departments.
  • Integrates staff from various functions and leads large-scale, complex, cross-functional projects while maintaining an enterprise perspective.
  • Leads others through ambiguity with confidence and engagement.
  • Informs and influences senior leadership in setting the strategic direction for process improvement capability and ensuring maximum business outcomes are achieved.
  • Develops and manages relationships with key corporate partners to advance engagement, alignment, and understanding of the benefits of business process excellence for their teams and the business as a whole.
  • Drives results by aiding others to stretch beyond their comfort zones to achieve breakthrough results.

Talent Development

  • Proactively coaches, trains, and mentors leaders and staff at all levels of the organization on principles, behaviors, methods, and tools to promote and sustain cultural transformation.
  • Reviews team member’s work and provides direct, immediate feedback that guides growth and development. Coaches and develops team, providing opportunities for professional growth.

Knowledge, Skills & Abilities:

  • Bachelor's degree or an equivalent.
  • Minimum of 8 years of progressively responsible experience, including a mix of people leader, project management and process transformation experience, with numerous experiences leading complex, large-scale improvements and projects.
  • Demonstrated superior people leadership, management, human relations, and interpersonal skills to directly lead and develop teams.
  • Strong communication at various levels of the organization (from staff to upper management) to increase engagement and understanding of business process excellence processes, goals, and benefits.
  • Strong project management skills with the ability to lead or manage highly complex projects involving multiple stakeholders, process improvements, communications, and difficult change management.
  • Superior oral and written communications skills with the proven ability to build relationships and successfully negotiate issues with the home office and field.
  • Deep experience with utilizing various systems to collect and analyze data.
  • Previous Facilitator and Coaching experiences where problem solving, process development, and/or behavior change methods and tools have been demonstrated.
  • Expert-level experience (i.e., Master Black Belt equivalent) with Lean, Six Sigma, or similar methodology.
  • Manager or team lead experience in technology and/or business functions.
  • Demonstrated superior leadership skills and a high degree of self-motivation and initiative.
  • Demonstrated ability to lead, direct and influence with authority at all levels of an organization.
  • Strong leadership experience in a transformational, fast-paced environment.
  • Experience in designing and implementing large high-impact roll-out efforts to ensure sustainability of individual efforts as well as of business process excellence.

This job is not covered by the existing Collective Bargaining Agreement.

Required Certifications:

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We are an equal opportunity/affirmative action employer and all qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, national origin, disability, age or status as a protected veteran, or any other characteristic protected by law.


We’re excited about the potential people bring to Northwestern Mutual. You can grow your career here while enjoying first-class perks, benefits, and commitment to diversity and inclusion.