Recruiting exceptional leaders for mission-driven organizations.

Executive Director, E.A. Fernandez IDEA Factory College Park, MD

The University of Maryland, College Park (UMD) seeks an innovative, entrepreneurial, and student-focused leader to serve as the inaugural Executive Director (ED) for the newly completed E.A. Fernandez IDEA Factory. The ED will play a strategic leadership role at one of the country’s most outstanding public research and educational institutions, whose innovation and entrepreneurship (I&E) Ecosystem has ranked in the top 10 nationally year upon year. This is a singular opportunity to organize, inspire, and lead some of the nation’s most talented students to achieve globally impactful innovations aimed at the world’s grand challenges now and in the future, aligning with the goals of the UMD Strategic Plan while leveraging the resources of an R1, AAU, flagship land-grant institution in the heart of the National Capital Region (NCR).

The strategic aim of the IDEA Factory is to serve as a force multiplier for solving the most intractable problems. The Factory will promote the values, skills, and aspirations at the core of what it means to be a problem solver: to foster collaboration and harness creativity; to engage in interdisciplinary design, innovation, and entrepreneurial activities; to create and support experiences that shape the careers of future leaders; and to empower students and faculty to generate knowledge and solutions to society’s grand challenges and translate them to improve the quality of life for all humankind. The ED will coalesce these activities at the new, 60,000 GSF E.A. Fernandez IDEA Factory, a state-of-the-art building just opened at the A. James Clark School of Engineering that also houses cutting-edge lab space for the UMD Quantum Technology Center (QTC), the Maryland Robotics Center, and the Alfred Gessow Rotorcraft Center. The entire first floor of the IDEA Factory is dedicated to student innovation, entrepreneurialism and competition and is called the Tom & Susan Scholl Center for Student Innovation. The Scholl Center includes the ALEGarage- a student co-working, design, and fabrication space; a rapid prototyping lab; a pop-up innovation lab; and the Startup Shell, an accelerator operated by undergraduate students.

Candidates will have a personal record of success in innovative and entrepreneurial activities, connectivity with and understanding of the ways in which commercial and governmental institutions support these activities, a dedication to fostering student innovation through experiential learning, and a passion for solving societal problems. They will exhibit a proven ability to work collaboratively and effectively with faculty, administrators, and students while developing and maintaining strong external relationships and partnerships, including with the external venture community. The ED will demonstrate tested leadership and delegation skills, a record of administrative experience and diplomacy in a highly matrixed environment, and strong interpersonal skills.

The ED will be charged with: (1.) Catalyzing cross-disciplinary student entrepreneurship and innovation aimed at grand challenge-level problems, (2.) Leveraging and reinforcing the existing I&E Ecosystem at UMD and in the State of Maryland and the NCR, and (3.) Broadcasting the IDEA Factory’s emerging capabilities, aims, and successes across and beyond the University of Maryland. 

The successful candidate will be a convener, motivator, and relationship builder, who will leverage the transformative potential of the University of Maryland’s top-ranked research enterprise and the University’s external assets, positioning the E.A. Fernandez IDEA Factory for bold and meaningful national and global impact across disciplines.

All applications, inquiries, and nominations, which will remain confidential, should be directed to the firm.

Gale Merseth is leading this search with Vijay Saraswat and Debbie Scheibler.

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