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Sr Director Business Ops Strategy & Planning / Chief of Staff

  • Corporate & Business Initiatives
  • Franklin, WI Corporate

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


Helps to drive the strategic department or functional vision, operating model, budget and planning activities, and outcomes for the function or department. Regarded as a technical expert in job discipline and within the organization.

May serve as a trusted, strategic advisor to an executive, functional or department head and leaders within the department or function.

Primary Duties & Responsibilities

Strategic Planning

  • Contributes to the development of and directs departmental / function strategy development and execution, ensuring alignment with key business priorities and outcomes.
  • Leads department/functional strategic initiatives that drive business value. Collaborate, plan and organize with and through people to bridge strategies across teams.
  • Supports a complex area of the business, determines inter-dependencies across the organization, and facilitates work of notable risk and complexity within own area and across the business.

Department / Function Reporting Metrics and Data

  • Accountable for functional/department reporting metrics and data.
  • Oversees reporting and data reports to ensure accurate, ongoing reporting relative to functional and departmental goals.
  • Accountable for providing guidance to leadership relative data insights and validity

Business Operations

  • Responsible for strategy and planning to align business operations with the company's overarching strategy, mission and goals.
  • Identifies gaps between ideal and current state of operating model and recommends solutions to close the gaps.
  • Facilitates execution of departmental / functional operating model to improve the health of the department / function and organization.
  • Exhibits expert level and business acumen in order to solve unique, complex problems across the function with a broad impact on the business; requires conceptual and innovative thinking to develop solutions.

Project Management

  • Partners with department / function leadership team to identify and track priority work, including identifying business outcomes and key metrics, portfolio management of key department / function priorities, developing strategy for project execution, and creating transparency on priority work in the department / function and throughout the enterprise.
  • Leads projects with notable risk and complexity; develops strategy for project execution.

Department / Function Planning Budgeting

  • Leads function/department planning and financial/budgeting process.
  • Oversees budget forecasting, administration and reporting.
  • Manages multiple and complex funding mechanisms and provides guidance to leadership on securing resources to achieve business outcomes.
  • Aligns department / function planning and budget to functional and company priorities, working cross-functionally with peers in the function and organization.
  • Develops action plans based on budget decisions.

Meeting Planning

  • Plans and prepares agendas for functional/departmental staff or leadership meetings and planning sessions.
  • Participates in regular department / function leadership meetings to evaluate barriers to success and develop courses of action to overcome issues at the functional/departmental level.
  • Impacts the direction and resource allocation for programs, projects or services and ensures alignment of functional/departmental priorities to organizational strategy.
  • Facilitates cross-functional initiatives and the flow of information between stakeholders and other teams.
  • Coordinates requests for information from stakeholders and prepares reports and presentations in response.
  • Anticipates business issues; recommends product, process or service improvements.

Trusted Advisor

  • Represents and provides support to an executive, functional or department head to facilitate effective decision-making which has a significant impact on the organization; this includes strategic planning, roadmap development, operational planning, leading key departmental / functional priorities, and meeting planning and preparation. Has a high impact on the implementation of strategic initiatives that carry out overarching departmental / functional and organizational objectives.
  • Establishes and maintains organizational savviness, an executive presence and high level of business acumen for area supporting and also for entire function in order to unearth issues, opportunities, problems, etc.


  • Minimum of 10 years' business leadership experience.
  • Proven leadership skills working with diverse teams.
  • Experience in leading and overseeing portfolio and/or project management, strategic and operational planning, budget management, data and metric reporting, change management
  • Demonstrated organizational agility to work across organizational boundaries, influence, and collaborate with all levels
  • Superior interpersonal skills to lead groups of people.
  • Thinks within lateral accountabilities and interdependence.
  • Proven skills in dealing with ambiguity and paradox, and leading change.
  • Exceptional business acumen and focus on achieving business impact through progressive practices and sound business judgment.
  • Ability to translate goals and strategies into executable business plans.
  • Strong integrity and proven ability to treat confidential information confidentially.
  • Demonstrated learning agility and outside-in perspective to identify future trends and practices.
  • Strong organizational skills; able to handle competing demands, and work under tight deadlines and short time frames.
  • Strong problem solving and strategic/critical thinking skills.
  • Ability to identify underlying issues and influence others without formal authority.
  • Facilitation and team building skills; ability to play an active, operational and communicative role. Interpersonal savvy and comfort interacting with and presenting to all levels of the organization, including senior leaders.
  • High degree of self-motivation with leadership and initiative in sharing information, contributing towards group goals, and accepting responsibility for results.
  • Pro-active and an ability to anticipate needs for a range of broad / complex business problems and staying ahead of them; comfortable working in an ambiguous environment

Compensation Range:

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Northwestern Mutual pays on a geographic-specific salary structure and placement in the salary range for this position will be determined by a number of factors including the skills, education, training, credentials and experience of the candidate; the scope, complexity as well as the cost of labor in the market; and other conditions of employment. At Northwestern Mutual, it is not typical for an individual to be hired at or near the top of the range for their role and compensation decisions are dependent on the facts and circumstances of each case. Please note that the salary range listed in the posting is the standard pay structure. Positions in certain locations (such as California) may provide an increase on the standard pay structure based on the location. Please click here for additional information relating to location-based pay structures.

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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.

If you work or would be working in California, Colorado, New York City, Washington or outside of a Corporate location, please click here for information pertaining to compensation and benefits.


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.