Job Opportunities

Chief Operating Officer

Location: San Francisco, CA
Job Code: CO-100317-MA-01
# of openings: 1


Environmental Science Associates (ESA) is an environmental science, planning, and design consulting firm committed to the principles of sound science, technical excellence, integrity, and the promotion of outstanding decision making and sustainability. As a 100-percent employee-owned company with offices located in California, Washington, Oregon and Florida, continuing to meet the needs of our clients as well as the strategic aspirations of our employee-owners requires that we look to add the very best professional talent throughout our practices and offices. Specializing in project planning, environmental analysis and assessment, natural and cultural resources management, environmental restoration and design, and regulatory compliance, ESA’s scientists, historians, planners, designers, and technical specialists provide critical thinking and in-depth analysis to guide successful policy development, project planning, and the creation of enduring multi-objective solutions. Joining ESA means becoming part of a family of environmental professionals for whom every day involves growing your career, learning, creativity, fun, and the satisfaction knowing that you’ve contributed to outstanding iconic projects, improved environmental stewardship, and a more sustainable future for our communities and wild places.

Responsibilities & Expectations

Ensure that all aspects of ESA’s operations align with the values, strategic vision, and short- as well as long-term performance goals, as defined in the firm’s Strategic Plan and annual Business Plan. The COO will collaborate with the CEO and CFO, the Board, and senior managers in updating and implementing the firm’s Strategic Plan every five years, and will develop a firm-wide Operations Plan to support the Strategic Plan. The COO will routinely visit offices throughout the company.

The COO will lead the pursuit of the following three priorities:

A. The sound, profitable operation of the firm:

  • Direct and manage firm operations through the firm-wide services directors (i.e., HR, IT, Finance, and Communications) and the Regional Directors to achieve budgeted financial results, both short- and long-term.
  • Oversee and manage regional operational performance, conduct regional performance reviews, and integrate practice considerations into regional operational activities and strategies as assigned by the CEO.
  • Oversee and manage the firm-wide Strategic Business Plan and annual plan preparation process.
  • Hold Regional Directors, Practice Leaders, and Strategic Development Directors accountable for the successful implementation of their business plans.
  • Working with the CEO and CFO, lead development and maintenance of a sound plan of corporate organizational structure and operating principles. Periodically review corporate organizational structure to ensure that it supports the firm’s strategic goals and effective and efficient business operations. Recommend appropriate changes as needed.
  • Develop the firm’s operating policies, processes, procedures, and practices that govern the company’s principal business activities, including inter-departmental/office/regional coordination, project management, contract administration, business development, and client relations. Draft policies for Board consideration and adoption.
  • Ensure that the firm’s operational policies and programs, including office and project safety programs, are up to date, adequate, and implemented.
  • With the CFO, ensure that corporate activities and operations comply with local, state, and federal regulations and laws, including hiring, EEO, safety, and other legal requirements.
  • Prepare for and deliver reports on ESA operations plans and progress to the ESA Board of Directors and attend quarterly Board meetings.
  • Participate in acquisitions/mergers and other strategic teaming activities designed to grow the firm in accordance with the firm’s Strategic Plan. Serve as a member on the Strategic Acquisitions Committee.
  • With the CEO and CFO, assess and address (manage, avoid, transfer, etc.) the various risks associated with running a professional environmental consulting firm.

B. The development and success of ESA’s employee-owners:

  • Foster professional development throughout the firm to build skills, increase employee engagement, and encourage effective performance. Oversee the development and implementation of firm-wide professional development programs, including project management, supervisor, and leadership training.
  • Direct Practice Leaders, Business Group Directors, and other firm leaders to provide professional development opportunities for their teams.
  • Oversee the allocation of staff companywide to ensure the staff mix is appropriately balanced to meet short-term workload needs and the long-term strategic needs of the firm.
  • Ensure that human resource functions are implemented, with a focus on attracting, developing, and retaining a superior work force. Direct the development and implementation of compensation and benefit policies and procedures. Direct the annual salary review process and oversee salary changes.
  • Promote and support diversity in ESA staffing, culture and programs.
  • Understand and leverage the benefits of the firm’s ESOP to increase employee engagement and promote an ownership culture.

C. The anticipation and delivery of the high quality, timely services that our clients need:

  • Maintain market awareness, ensuring that ESA systems, staff, and services provide what clients need, when they need it.
  • Oversee and assist in identifying, developing, and supporting the technical capability that clients demand through targeted staff training programs, key hires, and the application of emerging technology.
  • Lead the pursuit of continuous improvement in project quality and client satisfaction.

Skills and Abilities

A. Leadership & Communication

  • Inspirational, visionary leader—Proven ability to influence and motivate others.
  • Clear, direct communicator—Skilled communicator, ability to connect with a range of audiences, able to express and support well-reasoned opinions and conclusions; embraces open, lively discussions.
  • Empathetic—A good listener, can sense the feelings of others and hear their perspective.
  • Mentor, coach—Adept at recognizing and cultivating the potential in others.
  • Positive change agent—Ability to focus on strengths as a way to stimulate personal and group excellence.
  • Collaborative—An active, confident partner in the Executive Leadership Team.

B. Thinking & Acting

  • “Get it done” mentality—“Rolls up their sleeves” to turn thoughts into prioritized actions.
  • Accountable— Follows through on commitments and confronts non-performance, secures reliable commitments.
  • Analytical—Anticipates and recognizes factors that could affect operations, develops systems and tools to address, and follows through on implementation.
  • Problem solver—Identifies the problem and develops appropriate and realistic solutions.
  • Direct—Addresses conflict directly and effectively.
  • Decisive—Takes care in making decisions, in an effective and efficient way.
  • Financial acumen—Thorough understanding of financial performance metrics and their implications and relationship to performance. Proven ability to develop and deliver programs/systems to improve efficiency and profitability.
  • Creative—Innovative, original thinker.
  • Strategic thinker and tactical “doer”—Can identify long-term issues and opportunities, develop appropriate strategies, and implement tactical solutions.

Performance Style

  • Solves problems in a deliberate, collaborative manner.
  • Socially engaging, optimistic, enthusiastic, and confident.
  • Dependable team player; consistently follows through on commitments.
  • Sets strong example by adhering to current and future rules, procedures, protocol, and standards. Maintains high standards; conscientious and steady.
  • Hard-working, efficient, and organized.

Personal Ambition

  • Results-oriented. Driven to create bottom-line value through efficient and practical systems. Identifies wastefulness of resources and time, develops approaches to address.
  • Embraces organizational operations, strives to continually improve.
  • Desires to understand and learn, and solve problems systematically.
  • Enjoys leading and directing others; wants to coach and mentor others.
  • Altruistic, compassionate. Exhibits an “outward mindset” (gauges personal success by the level of success others achieve).
  • Committed to the employee-ownership business model.

Experience / Education

  • A Bachelor’s degree in engineering, environmental science, planning, or a related field; Master’s degree is preferred.
  • 15–20 years of progressively responsible engineering, environmental, and/or planning consulting experience, including at least 10 years at a supervisory/management level.
  • Demonstrated experience as a practitioner with successful client service and project delivery experience in the A&E industry.
  • Experience with budget management and oversight of a company or division (full P&L responsibility) with operational responsibility (hiring, firing, staff development, marketing oversight, and P&L).
  • Experience managing large operational units, including human relations departments and/or services.
  • Demonstrated experience working collaboratively and effectively with corporate executives and board of directors.
  • Computer literacy, including proficiency with Microsoft Excel, Word, Project, PowerPoint, and Outlook. Familiarity with Deltek “Vision” accounting system desirable.

ESA’s Commitment to the New COO

  • Engage in and invite open and honest dialogue.
  • Provide clear direction and expectations, with regular feedback.
  • Expect collaborative, open problem-solving.
  • Continued commitment to robust employee ownership culture.


ESA is owned entirely by our employees, creating a unique ownership culture rooted in a commitment to do work that matters, technical excellence, outstanding client service, professional development, and life-long learning.  ESA’s comprehensive compensation and benefits program reflects our commitment to our employees. Our benefits include: 401(k) Salary Deferral Plan with company match program, Employee Stock Ownership Plan, medical and dental insurance vision care, paid vacation, sick leave, 9 paid holidays, group term life insurance, short-term and long-term disability insurance, commuter/transit incentives, healthcare and daycare Flexible Spending Accounts (FSA), tuition reimbursement assistance, performance bonus plan, and employee referral bonus program.

ESA is an Equal Opportunity Employer, committed to a diverse and inclusive work environment.  (EOE M/V/F/D)

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