Local recruitment: Director (Systems Planning & Development)

Great Lakes Water Authority

Detroit, MI, USA 🇺🇸

Salary Range: $115,190.40 to $143,988.00 (Based on Professional Experience)


GLWA is looking for a broad-thinking, collaborative and technically sound Systems Planning and Development Director to meet the challenges of the future. This is a new position at GLWA. We are looking for a candidate that is well-experienced in wastewater utility planning, who is collaborative, and forward-thinking. The candidate will be responsible for many planning and analytical initiatives. These include, but are not limited to, the following: in-house master planning; facilities planning; systems modeling; evaluation of expansion and development opportunities; evaluation of systems improvements and optimization opportunities; analytics; and the like.

This candidate must be able to expertly work in a collaborative environment with internal GLWA team members, member partners, and regional stakeholders, such as road agencies. These efforts require extensive knowledge of wastewater services utilities. The ideal candidate will have experience in the technical aspects of wastewater treatment, wastewater collection, and a working knowledge of regulatory compliance. The candidate must be skilled in leading groups and teams of analysts, modelers, engineers, and various professionals. The candidate must have excellent written and verbal communication skills being able to expertly author and direct the writing of reports, studies, and technical memoranda as well as have a keen ability to verbally and visually present to stakeholders.

GLWA sees the future of the water sector as being heavily focused on the meaningful use of data for decision-making. In addition to master planning and facility planning, this individual will be expected to evaluate and make recommendations regarding data collection, make meaningful use of real-time data to support operations, use both planning and operational models, such as digital twins, to support operations, advance GLWA’s use of machine learning for operational optimization, and perform regular wet weather flow analytics.

The Systems Planning and Development Director will direct and start up a new GLWA Modeling and Analytics Team. The newly created Modeling and Analytics Team will support both planning and operations and will become GLWAs central repository and leaders of a variety of modeling efforts including those that are needed in master planning, operational modeling, regional flood mitigation, and new wastewater member partner evaluation.

Job Responsibilities (not all-inclusive)

Master Planning

  • Works under the direction of the Chief Planning Officer. Works directly and collaboratively to meet the needs of operations and engineering with the Chief Operating Officer of wastewater, Director of Wastewater Engineering and Director of Wastewater Operations, Director of Capital Planning, and the Director of Research and Innovation
  • Works with GLWA’s GIS Team and Systems Control Center to extract data needed for modeling
  • Works with the Chief Planning Officer to set the direction for the master planning efforts, engagement of others, and leadership structure
  • Advances GLWA’s plans to continue to improve system redundancy, resiliency, and reliability considering climate change, weather patterns, emerging contaminants of concern, great lakes water levels, flood mitigation strategies, and the like
  • Collaborates with Directors to ensure the master plan meets the needs of operations and engineering and are in alignment with GLWA’s goals and priorities. Collaborates with member partners as users of the system to understand their needs and vision for the future
  • Resolves cross-functional issues and strategic issues affecting planning efforts
  • Manages change, promotes continuous improvement, and encourages the implementation of cutting-edge and innovative approaches. Enables communication between leadership and team members and relays planning information across GLWA Areas, Groups, and Teams. Reports progress and results to leadership and the Board of Directors
  • Leads a transition from using external resources for master planning to the standup and regular use of an expert internal team for planning. Engages in the annual update of the Capital Improvement Plan to ensure that master planning recommendations are included as appropriate. Actively collaborates with regional partners to optimize public investment in infrastructure by partnering on large-scale projects where appropriate
  • Actively seeks new customer opportunities and opportunities to support healthy communities when wastewater systems have compliance concerns. Supervises team members including prioritizing and assigning work, conducting performance evaluations, appropriating training, mentorship, and making hiring and performance management recommendations
  • Represents GLWA in professional organizations and communicates our approach to planning and shares knowledge to support and assist other water sector utilities

Facility Planning, Operational Support, and System Auditing

  • Develops robust written facility plans that detail how individual facilities work hydraulically within the GLWA systems such that they can be used to improve the quality of capital improvement project design and operational performance
  • Supports operations and engineering by performing scenario modeling for emergency and project needs
  • Leads or directs the leadership of pre-event planning and post-event analytics for operational use and expansion of GLWA’s Regional Operating Plan
  • Provides technical support to GLWA’s contract alignment team
  • Promotes and supports the collaboration of decision-making among business units and encourages buy-in from all stakeholders
  • Supervises team members and group members, including prioritizing and assigning work, conducting performance evaluations, appropriating training and mentorship, and making hiring, and performance management recommendations

Regional Collaboration

  • Actively seeks additional opportunities to utilize GLWA’s foundation of collaboration to advance regional efforts. Advances GLWA’s hub utility concept by being a technical resource to regional stakeholders. Represents GLWA in various workshops, webinars, professional organizations, and conferences
  • Actively participates in GLWA’s technical Member Outreach workgroups including presenting and leading GLWA’s Wastewater Analytics Task Force


  • Leads a team of professionals who are collaborative, helpful, and technically competent
  • Demonstrates leadership through active engagement in a cross-functional team on a variety of initiatives. Represents the planning and analytical facets of GLWA’s work in internal GLWA cross-functional teams
  • Works collaboratively in teams to consult on a variety of administrative GLWA efforts such as goal setting, development of key performance indicators, discussion of policies and procedures, and other important related activities
  • Leads by example in being invested in the success of all facets of GLWA whether that is being an exceptional leader or an exceptional follower and teammate. Provides expert and informed insight to the Executive Leadership Team on a variety of matters
  • Willingness and the ability to stay engaged in the operations of the Authority to ensure operational continuity. Responds to emergencies as needed. Develops concepts to advance GLWA’s mission and vision

Required Education and Experience

  • Bachelor’s degree in engineering, chemistry, business administration, public administration, or a related discipline
  • A minimum of five (5) years of recent and progressive managerial and administrative experience, including staffing, budgeting, project management, and operational experience in a specialty designation, preferably in connection with large-scale public or private operations

Preferred Skills and Experience

  • At least 10 years in a progressively responsible supervisory role in water or wastewater modeling. Comfortable with various water and wastewater modeling software packages and ESRI products. Significant experience in the water and/or wastewater utility sector
  • Strong leadership, management, public speaking, and communication skills
  • A clear vision of master planning strategy and very strong technical and communication skills. Ability to integrate information from multiple sources to form a comprehensive perspective
  • Proven ability to achieve high performance in a complex fast-moving environment
  • Values lifelong learning and the ability to maintain an open mind when presented with new ideas and experiences. Ability to effectively prioritize workloads and multitask to meet deadlines and milestones

Other Requirements

  • A valid Michigan Driver’s License and the ability to drive a motor vehicle on all terrain. Ability to work irregular hours, to commute to GLWA facilities and work sites
  • Follow security and safety policies and procedures in carrying out work duties


  • Comprehensive benefits package effective 30 days after employment, including health, dental, vision, tuition reimbursement, 401k, and team member discount programs. Click HERE for more information.

GLWA is an equal-opportunity employer.




IHE Delft MSc in Water and Sustainable Development