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Athabasca University



Athabasca or EdmontonAEIQ-274873 -1374064

Company Information


Athabasca University, Canada’s Open University, is dedicated to the removal of barriers that restrict access to and success in university-level study and to increasing equality of educational opportunity for adult learners worldwide.

Athabasca University has five faculties (Business, Health Disciplines, Humanities & Social Sciences, Science & Technology and Graduate Studies) committed to excellence in teaching, research, and scholarship and to being of service to the general public. As one of four comprehensive academic and research universities in Alberta, Athabasca University specializes in online distance education.

With an enrollment of more than 40,000 students, Athabasca University helps thousands of undergraduate and post-graduate learners every year to accomplish their personal goals and realize their dreams.

Athabasca University’s approach to post-secondary education is based on four key principles:

Excellence: Athabasca University is dedicated to achieving the highest standards in undergraduate and graduate teaching, research, scholarship, and student service.

Openness: Athabasca University is committed to their mission of guaranteeing access to post-secondary learning to all who have the ability and desire. Anyone 16 or older is eligible for admission.

Flexibility: Athabasca University’s flexible learning model adapts to student needs, putting students in the driver’s seat. Enrollment in many undergraduate programs and registration for many undergraduate courses is available at multiple times throughout the year and students work at their own pace, studying at home, at work, or wherever they may find themselves.

Innovation: Athabasca University continues to adopt and develop new, learner-centred learning models and technology-based alternatives to traditional, classroom-based instructional channels and contexts. Athabasca University applies technology to make learning accessible and to help students achieve their learning goals.

Athabasca University governs itself through a bicameral governance structure, as set out in the Alberta Post-Secondary Learning Act and the Athabasca University Regulation. The Board of Governors is the senior governing body, but shares academic governance with the General Faculties Council, the academic governing body.

To learn more, visit http://www.athabascau.ca/aboutau/

To learn more about the charming Town of Athabasca that is situated along the beautiful Athabasca River, visit the following local and regional links:http://www.athabasca.ca/ http://www.athabascacounty.com/

Job Description


Reporting to the Vice President, Finance and Administration, the Director, Financial Services is a member of the Senior Finance and Administration Management Team, responsible for effective leadership and management of all Financial Services functions in the areas of financial planning, budgeting, operations, reporting, and financial systems management. The Director also provides critical financial advice and information to the University community including executives, management, employees, and students. In addition to managing the daily operation of the Financial Services Department, the incumbent is responsible for leading the development, implementation, and monitoring of financial policies and procedures in alignment with applicable regulations, legislation, public sector accounting standards, best practices, and industry trends. The Director is instrumental in the development of financial plans and financial strategies that support the University’s strategic goals and mandate. The Director may serve in the capacity of Acting Vice President, Finance and Administration as required, in the absence of the Vice President, Finance and Administration.


 Strategic Leadership:                                  

  • With input from the Executive Group and in consultation with the Vice President, Finance and Administration, the Director develops effective financial planning and financial management strategies for the University that are in alignment with the University’s strategic goals and mandate, including strategic sourcing capabilities, financial systems and services, and operational efficiencies;
  • Provides advice to the Executive Group, the Deans and the Directors in relation to the development and operationalization of initiatives that support the University’s financial sustainability, effectiveness, and operational efficiency;
  • Provides early warning signals and advice to the VP Finance & Administration on financial sustainability issues or finance-related risks, and develops appropriate risk mitigation strategies;
  • Ensures continual review, research, development, and implementation of new and emerging trends and legislative requirements related to financial management including: planning, strategies, operations, and financial and management reporting;
  • Oversees the research of best practices in financial planning and advises the Executive Group, informing their decisions regarding planning, development, and implementation of a financial oversight and stewardship strategy for long term sustainability;
  • Balances potentially conflicting needs of multiple stakeholders when making recommendations;
  • Leads the development and execution of the Department’s operational business plan, ensuring objectives align with the University’s overall goals and mandate, critical success factors, and that performance metrics are implemented to assess its effectiveness; and
  • Provides strategic leadership in the execution of the Department’s strategic direction and operations in the areas of financial planning, budgeting, financial reporting, and financial operations.

Financial Management:

  • Provides effective financial stewardship for the University;
  • Effectively manages Financial Services programs and operations at all levels, and ensures services are provided in a positive, proactive, effective, and timely manner;
  • Responsible for the management of the University’s financial systems and information, and ensures proper internal controls and processes are in place to safeguard information and University assets;
  • Monitors and ensures compliance with all institutional and Financial Services related policies, procedures, processes, and related internal controls;
  • Facilitates the resolution of complex or sensitive financial and reporting issues;
  • Ensures effective communication within Financial Services units, as well as between Financial Services and key stakeholder groups and divisions that Financial Services works with on a regular basis;
  • Works collaboratively with other University divisions, in particular Procurement and Contract Services, Human Resources, Information Technology Services, and Facilities and Services, to ensure financial systems, services, and related information is managed and maintained effectively;
  • Actively participates in applicable University committees and groups. Attends applicable or required standing Committee meetings of the Board of Governors; and
  • Manages special assignments and projects, as well as amassing recommendations related to opportunities to implement changes to systems, services, procedures, and processes under management by Financial Services.

Fiscal Planning and Budgeting:

  • Together with the VP Finance & Administration and the Provost, leads and works collaboratively with stakeholders, including AU executives, in relation to the development and implementation of multi-year financial plans, budgeting, and forecasting for all financial, capital, and human resources of the University;
  • Oversees the coordination and formulation of annual operating and capital budgets, the multi-year operating plan and the annual Summary Capital and ICT Infrastructure Plan;
  • Leads the development of effective budget development and planning strategies, budget forecasts, and variance and trend analysis;
  • Provides AU executives and upper management with timely advice and information to help resolve important financial matters or to mitigate risks; and
  • Enhances financial oversight, fiscal prudence, and systemic business planning by providing accurate and timely financial information and analytical services.


  • Oversees all accounting functions of the University, ensuring that financial transactions are carried out in a timely and efficient manner, financial records are reliable, accurate, and secure and that data integrity is maintained;
  • Ensures appropriate financial policies, procedures, and internal controls exist, remain up-to-date, and are operating effectively;
  • Oversees all University banking and cash management; and
  • As a key financial signing officer, exercises authority and responsibility for the approval of disbursements pursuant to the University’s banking resolutions.

Financial Reporting:

  • Liaises with stakeholders to identify their information needs and ensures that financial management reports fulfill these requirements and are complete and accurate;
  • Provides the necessary financial information to facilitate strategic managerial decision-making;
  • Oversees the preparation of annual financial statements and preparing for and facilitating the year-end audit under tight timelines. Maintains strong relationships with the external auditors to ensure operational effectiveness and positive audit-management relations. Ensures year-end audits are coordinated effectively and that all issues raised by the auditors are appropriately responded to in an effective and timely manner;
  • Attends all formal meetings with the External Auditors;
  • Advises the Vice President, Finance and Administration of any concerns or complications that may arise or be identified in internal and external audits;
  • Ensures preparation of timely and accurate financial statements/reports, including reports through the Vice President, Finance and Administration to the Board of Governors and its Standing Committees, and answers information requests/enquiries as required;
  • Monitors financial reporting obligations and ensures that reporting deadlines are met; and
  • Ensures compliance with financial accounting standards, reporting and filing requirements, statutory legislation, and related business practices.

Risk Management:

  • Is integrally involved in the ongoing identification and rating of financial risks, develops mitigation strategies, monitors these risks, and executes tactics and alerts the Director of Strategic Initiatives and the Vice President, Finance & Administration when new risks emerge or the status of a known risk changes.

Team Leadership:

  • Leads, influences, and collaborates with team resources to develop strategies and tactics to resolve issues related to forecasting, long range planning, and decision making;
  • Promotes an environment within Financial Services that facilitates continual improvement and staff development to maximize staff potential and optimize processes to support the University in meeting its strategic goals and mandate;
  • Ensures effective communication within the department and with clients that the department serves; and
  • Conducts recruitment, performance evaluation, development, coaching, and training of departmental staff.


  • The Director will have regular contact with executives, department heads, and other internal and external stakeholders as well as occasional contact with the Board of Governors;
  • The Director holds a leadership role in developing and executing University-wide financial management strategies while still managing day-to-day operations;
  • This position has the potential to affect collective bargaining negotiations;
  • The range and diversity of responsibilities assigned to this position result in an exceedingly high degree of complexity. This position has a high degree of impact on University strategies and outcomes.


Success in the first year will be determined by the Director’s ability to:

  • Develop a trusted and cohesive relationship with direct reports, executives, Directors, Deans, and relevant stakeholders;
  • Earn the trust and confidence of the Board Finance and Property Committee and Executive Group;
  • Work with the department to produce high quality, complete, and accurate reports;
  • Define and establish objectives and key performance indicators for the Financial Services team;
  • Complete critical assignments and initiatives on planned deadlines;
  • Demonstrate expertise in accounting, budgeting, and financial planning; and
  • Identify inefficiencies related to financial services provided and actions for improvement, or the identification of opportunities elsewhere in the University that could be optimized to achieve savings.


The successful candidate will have the following:

 Education and Experience:

  • Chartered Professional Accounting designation (CPA), undergraduate degree in management, commerce, accounting, or related field plus ten years related experience, with at least five years at a senior management level. Master’s Degree in Business Administration preferred. Experience managing within a post-secondary and unionized environment preferred.
  • Knowledge of financial services practices in all areas is required, with the proven ability to apply that knowledge to meet the needs and challenges of the University. Strong business acumen with demonstrated experience in technical financial concepts, best practice financial processes and financial information systems, financial and managerial accounting, financial planning and budgeting and financial reporting is required. Change management experience is essential. Experience working with, and/or implementing, an Activity-based Cost budget model and zero based budgeting considered an asset. Extensive knowledge of disclosure and financial reporting issues within a public sector environment considered an asset.
  • An equivalent combination of education and experience may be considered.

Competencies & Attributes:

  • Ability to quickly gain trust and respect and to act in the capacity of a trusted advisor and strategic advocate at the leadership table;
  • Exceptional financial acumen and strong familiarity with budgeting and financial reporting;
  • Ability to analyze financial data and prepare financial reports, statements, and projections with an effective attention to detail and a high degree of accuracy;
  • High level of leadership and political acumen, recognizing and appreciating both business and technical complexities and political subtleties;
  • A macro, long term, and strategic thinker with strong analytical skills to quickly assess complex situations, determine key issues and risks, and prepare and implement clearly defined solutions and/or responses;
  • A passion for, and belief in the mission of the university and the value of higher education;
  • Outstanding relationship-building skills with people at all levels of the organization and with a focus on creative and proactive problem solving, consensus building, and negotiation;
  • Ability to motivate teams to produce quality materials within tight timeframes and simultaneously manage several projects while keeping the overarching strategic path in focus;
  • Excellent judgment as well as an analytical approach to decision making, using clear, fact based, and logical methodology;
  • Develops and promotes a culture of continuous improvement and fosters a climate of openness, adaptability and flexibility to change;
  • Exemplary talent for presenting and discussing financial information and determining what information is relevant or required for each meeting or situation;
  • Ability to respond appropriately in pressure situations with a calm and steady demeanor;
  • Excellent written and oral communication skills with the ability to construct an audience-appropriate message;
  • Strong interpersonal skills and ability to work as a team player and leader in a complex, multi-faceted organization;
  • An engaging leadership style that excites, engages, and holds the team to a high standard;
  • Ability to quickly ascertain the most appropriate departments or experts to consult; and
  • High level of integrity, discretion, patience, and accountability;
  • Sound judgment, common sense, and the ability to maintain confidentiality and diplomacy. 
  • Calm under pressure

Contact Information

Athabasca University
Posting Date: 09-Jun-2017Finance, Budget and Audit Permanent, Full-Time Open 1 ASAP
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