Chief Operating Officer (COO)
Tampa's Lowry Park Zoo - Tampa, FL

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Tampa's Lowry Park Zoo Overview

As Tampa's Lowry Park Zoo celebrates the 25th anniversary of re-opening at its current site, the full-time position of Chief Operating Officer (COO) is being created to have profound bearing on the Zoo’s future and on current operations. As expectations continue for each revenue-generating area of the Zoo continue to grow and as we develop new lines of revenue, daily operations will become even more complex and require greater coordination, warranting the full-time position.

Tampa's Lowry Park Zoo is rare among nonprofit, science-based cultural attractions because it achieves its program and operational goals mostly with earned revenue. The Zoo’s origins were as a $200,000-a-year line-item department of a municipality, but today it is a $17M a year organization that derives more than 80% of its revenue from admissions, retail, food, education programs, and other business operations. For this reason, the Zoo’s business performance must be exemplary. Nonetheless, employees and volunteers working at this popular cultural facility are as passionate about its mission and advocacy as any charity. The Zoo is ultimately about ideas and actions: We help our community to make sense of the natural world and define social values related to animals. We also aim to model behaviors essential to living in balance with natural resources on which all life on earth depends. At the end of the day, employees, volunteers, guests, and all who are touched by experiences at the Zoo can be reassured to know that the Zoo’s collaborative work will help to leave the world a little better than we found it.

Definition of Success for COO Position
  • By effectively facilitating collaboration among Zoo departments, the COO spearheads aggressive and successful growth of the Zoo’s earned revenue and maximizes profitability to support its programs. The COO consistently ensures achievement of performance standards Zoo-wide. The COO is adept at comprehensive analysis and planning, and timely execution of complex projects.
  • With a balanced, constructive, and energetic style, guided by the Zoo’s objectives, the COO provides the leadership and management necessary to ensure that the Zoo has the proper operational controls, accountability, procedures, and systems in place to support financial strength and operating efficiency.
  • As lofty as the mission of the Zoo is, lean staff and the fast pace of work will require the COO to be practical, tactical, and hands-on in daily activities and the execution of projects.
  • Reporting to the Executive Director/CEO, the COO is expected to be customer centered, customer-service driven, and passionate about effective operations.
  • The COO must demonstrate outstanding communication skills, convey positive energy interpersonally at all times, mediate outcomes, and exemplify stamina in the workplace. The COO protects the organization’s progress to date and tirelessly pursues organizational excellence.
  • The COO encourages entrepreneurialism throughout the organization.
  • A generalist of highest order, the COO must have broad experience across diverse categories, speak the language of diverse professionals, strive to understand people, and have a collaborative approach to seeking and taking advice from experts.
  • Relevant experience includes hospitality, resorts, attractions, theme parks, cultural facilities, retail, food & beverage, guest interactive experiences, premium products, subscription programs, new product development, and effective coordination of marketing and brand management to maximize earned revenue.
  • It is expected that the COO will have a proven track record of accomplishment along with enough humility to lead by serving. The COO must exhibit confidence, integrity, and diplomacy to guide, lead, and challenge an accomplishing team.

Position: Chief Operating Officer
Status: Full-Time, Exempt
Reports To: Executive Director/CEO
Oversees: All earned revenue-generating departments and support functions.

COO Position Summary
By effectively facilitating collaboration among Zoo departments, the COO spearheads aggressive and successful growth of the Zoo’s earned revenue and maximizes profitability to support its programs. Through a constructive and energetic style, guided by the Zoo’s objectives, the COO provides the leadership and management necessary to ensure that the Zoo has the proper operational controls, accountability, procedures, and systems in place to support financial strength and operating efficiency.

Executive Team Member
The COO works as part of the Executive Management team to ensure overall organizational goals are met and exceeded. The Executive Team collectively (or severally) serves to fulfill the following functions:

Ensuring Balanced Budget (Maximize Revenue, Control Expenses); Organizational Planning and Development; Development of Projections and Proformas; Analysis and Forecasting; Program Planning and Implementation; Internal and External Communications; Safety; Quality Service and Consistency; Accountability and Compliance

Functional Areas of Responsibility
Operations (comprising Retail, Food Service, eBusiness, Membership, and Guest Services), Marketing, Education (includes subscription programs and premium products), and Facilities management.

Essential Functions (Including, but not limited to):
  • Provides day-to-day leadership and management for the Zoo that mirrors its adopted mission and core values. Owns guest experience and maximizes earned revenue.
  • Drives the Zoo to achieve and surpass sales, cash flow, and business goals and objectives; relentlessly manages expenses; and maximizes profitability specifically by facilitating collaboration among all Zoo departments.
  • Spearheads development, communication, and implementation of effective growth strategies and processes. Acts as primary project manager for growth strategies and processes.
  • Assists, as appropriate, with the development of proformas to analyze profitability and payback of Zoo projects or initiatives.
  • Provides timely, accurate and complete reports on the operating condition of the Zoo.
  • Collaborates with the management team to develop and implement plans for the operational infrastructure of systems, processes, and personnel designed to accommodate rapid growth objectives of our organization.
  • Motivates and leads a high performance management team. Fosters a success-oriented, accountable environment within the Zoo.
  • Provides forecasts for planning and budgeting purposes to assist all revenue-generating departments in making informed decisions; and formulates and recommends operating objectives and provides leadership in preparing short and long-range plans.
  • Ensures that Zoo policies and procedures are uniformly understood and properly interpreted and administered by subordinates.
  • Develops and monitors the budget of the functional areas of responsibility and analyzes operating results of the Zoo and its principal components and ensures appropriate steps are taken to correct unsatisfactory conditions.
  • Acts as lead "client-care officer" through direct contact with clients and partner organizations. Represents the Zoo with clients, supporters, and business partners.
  • Responsible for ensuring Association of Zoo & Aquariums (AZA) accreditation as it relates to functional areas of responsibility.
  • Verifies that the Zoo remains in compliance with all relevant local, state and federal laws and standards as they apply to the functional areas of responsibility, for example DEP, Health Department, ATF, Bureau of Rides Inspections, and other various licensing, permitting, and regulatory agencies, and guidelines for animal welfare.
  • Responsible for promoting a safe working environment and, in cooperation with other Zoo leadership, ensuring that all Zoo employees and volunteers have proper tools and resources to complete assigned tasks and that proper safety precautions are taken to avoid injuries.
  • Responsible for overseeing relevant HR functions for functional areas of responsibility, including staffing and hiring decisions, as well as evaluating, motivating, and guiding staff.
  • Other duties as assigned.

  • Master’s degree or equivalent preferred.
  • Ten or more years relevant experience; or equivalent combination of education and experience.

Skills and Experience:
  • Must possess good business acumen managing to the bottom-line in regards to profitability and effectiveness.
  • Must have proven ability to directly manage and track performance.
  • Must have proven ability to accurately forecast annual, quarterly, monthly, and weekly performance and financial trends.
  • Must have proven ability to develop and manage an effective and positive guest relations program.
  • Leadership: a demonstrated ability to lead people and get results individually and through others.
  • Decision making: demonstrated performance making informed decisions of consistently high quality.
  • Capacity to anticipate: an ability to think ahead and plan over multiple-year time span.
  • Team Management: ability to build and sustain high performance teams.
  • Assessment: ability and humility to evaluate results honestly to improve future performance.
  • Management: ability to organize and manage multiple priorities of competing urgency and importance.
  • Problem analysis, prevention, and resolution at both a strategic and functional level.
  • Technical skills in strategic financial planning and revenue development.
  • Excellent interpersonal and communication skills including presentation skills.
  • Create synergistic relationships among departments.

Computer Proficiency:
  • Must be proficient with Word, Excel, and Access, and be able to adapt well to various other computer programs and technologies.

Cover Letter Requirements:
If you are interested in applying for the COO position, in addition to your resume, please provide a cover letter, addressed "To COO Selection Committee," that includes the following:
  • Reason for interest in the position
  • Summary of experience relevant to the position
  • Career goals
  • Leadership philosophy
  • Salary requirements

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