Position Description

Operations Manager - LIGO Livingston
Job Category Fulltime Regular
ExemptOvertimeEligible Exempt
Benefits Eligible Benefit Based
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Caltech is a world-renowned science and engineering institute that marshals some of the world's brightest minds and most innovative tools to address fundamental scientific questions. We thrive on finding and cultivating talented people who are passionate about what they do. Join us and be a part of the diverse Caltech community.

Job Summary

LIGO Laboratory (the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory) seeks a highly motivated and skilled Operations Manager to join its team. LIGO Laboratory is a National Science Foundation major facility dedicated to observing the newly discovered gravitational-wave universe. Jointly operated by the California Institute of Technology and Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the LIGO Laboratory operates world-leading observatories near Richland, WA and Baton Rouge, LA as well as R&D centers on the Caltech and MIT campuses. The LIGO Laboratory’s mission spans a broad and vibrant array of activities related to gravitational-wave physics and astronomy, including detector operations, R&D toward detector improvements, gravitational-wave astrophysics, observatory operations, and education and public outreach.

For more information, please visit the Laboratory website at https://www.ligo.caltech.edu/LA  .

This position is located in Livingston, LA.

Life at LIGO Livingston as a Caltech Employee
LIGO’s observatory in rural Livingston Parish, Louisiana, is an approximately 35-minute commute from Baton Rouge, LA., and is about 1 hour 20 minutes from New Orleans. Caltech employs a staff of 42 at the Livingston observatory. Caltech has an extraordinary science impact across many fields. Its small size creates a community where innovation and collaboration are the norm. Caltech manages the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) for NASA, the leading US center for the robotic exploration of the Solar System. Caltech also operates large-scale research facilities such as the Palomar and Keck Observatories.

South Louisiana enjoys a friendly and unique blend of cultures, food, art, music and festivals—including Mardi Gras each spring.  Baton Rouge, the State capital, hosts Louisiana State University. New Orleans, founded in 1718, is one of the most distinctive and well-known cities in the Americas, and is considered the birthplace of jazz. The region along the Mississippi River, which flows through both cities, includes a significant petrochemical industry base and several high-volume shipping ports.  Area rivers, lakes and the Gulf of Mexico provide opportunities for recreation and fishing.

People choose to work at LIGO for many reasons, often with fulfilling, long-term careers. LIGO is a family-friendly laboratory and strives to ensure everyone is able to achieve the work-life balance they desire. Employees have access to a wide range of benefits including a child-care assistance program. Caltech’s benefits program offers a quality, competitive benefits package that is affordable for you and the Institute. The program provides a strong base of coverage for you and your dependents, and the ability to choose the plan and the level of coverage that best meet your needs. We also offer a 403(b) defined contribution plan to eligible staff as well as a Voluntary Retirement Savings (TDA) Plan.

Caltech HR diversity page:  https://hr.caltech.edu/careers/2commitment-diversity

Caltech and LIGO Laboratory’s goal is to build a world-class, diverse workforce and support an inclusive environment that encourages professional development and offers top-notch benefits. Our talented staff, who work at the Caltech campus, or one of our Observatories, come from a variety of fields. Positions include scientists, engineers, information technology staff, outreach professionals, managers, writers, business professionals, and administrative staff. We are deeply committed to encouraging people of all backgrounds to apply for these opportunities. Our experience has demonstrated that the broader the styles, characteristics, backgrounds, and abilities of our staff—in other words, the more diverse our team is—the greater potential we have for success. Caltech is an equal opportunity employer.

LIGO Laboratory is committed to being a welcoming place for everyone regardless of race, color, religion, gender, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, national origin, disability, age, or veteran status.

Job Duties

LIGO Livingston Observatory’s (LLO’s) operations manager (OM) has duties that fall into five categories: serving as deputy to the observatory’s head; supervising most operations activities and groups on site; overseeing resource and budget planning; leading LLO’s safety program; leading and contributing to key LLO and LIGO Laboratory-wide projects; and serving on various leadership committees and contributing service to the Lab, Caltech, and the scientific community.

LLO’s organizational structure consists of 8 work groups, most of which are led by a line supervisor. Overall supervision and leadership are provided by the observatory head and the operations manager (who reports to the observatory head). Each formally line-supervises a subset of the work group leaders and individuals.

  • Serve as deputy and second-in-command to the observatory head, acting with that authority and representing LLO under circumstances set by the head.
  • Manage and direct most operations staff directly and/or through subordinate managers or project leads. Provide, acquire and apply appropriate technical input and engineering judgment concerning all aspects of facilities infrastructure and operations.
  • With the observatory head, oversee resource planning, including but not limited to staffing, career development, salary planning, facility and resource allocation, and organizational structure.
  • With the observatory head, oversee, lead, mentor, train and advise LLO’s group leaders, by initiating, overseeing and assisting with (as appropriate) staff searches, skill and development training, performance evaluations, salary recommendations, disciplinary actions, etc.
  • In response to the operational objectives set by the observatory head, have overall responsibility for tracking of operations-funded financial activity within the Livingston Observatory, including planning, preparation, and management of operations budgets and financial accounts, interfacing with the resources of LIGO’s business services group.
  • Manage and direct LLO administrative staff and activities at the observatory site.
  • Develop and implement policies, procedures and processes to improve the overall efficiency of the Observatory and the effectiveness of overall interactions within the LIGO Laboratory as a whole. Work with the Observatory head to develop and support business strategies that address current and anticipated Observatory goals.
  • Serve as the LLO local Safety Officer, with the primary responsibility for ensuring compliance by LLO with the overall Laboratory safety program. Oversee and assure compliance with relevant Institute policies and governmental regulations including OSHA; departmental and LIGO Laboratory safety regulations, requirements, education and training. 
  • Assess and anticipate the financial and other impacts on the Livingston Observatory of new LIGO Laboratory and Observatory programs, initiatives and actions. Propose and implement new initiatives in support of operational excellence in consultation with the Observatory head.
  • Lead and/or contribute as is appropriate to mission-critical technological activities and system improvements, often for the LIGO Laboratory as a whole. Anticipate and work with colleagues to resolve challenges to the various systems’ complete implementation, including engineering, administrative and interpersonal issues.

Basic Qualifications

  • Bachelor’s degree in a scientific or engineering field, or the equivalent relevant knowledge and experience.
  • 8–10 years of management and leadership experience within a technological or educational organization. 
  • Proven skills in areas of finance, project management, human resources and other business-related functions, including contractor management.
  • Knowledge and experience with team building, problem solving and change management.
  • Experience collaborating and communicating effectively with a diverse and international group of scientists, engineers, technicians and other personnel at a state-of-the art education or research facility.
  • Experience in effective oral and written communication, including formal expository and technical writing intended to be read by staff colleagues, funding agencies, and proposal reviewers.
  • Ability to possess a U.S. driver’s license, and commitment to primarily reside within routine commuting distance to LLO.

Preferred Qualifications

  • Advanced degree in a science or engineering discipline relevant to the LIGO detector or its operations.
  • Experience developing, or managing development related of, one or more key LIGO technologies, as can be found here: https://www.ligo.caltech.edu/page/ligo-technology.
  • Demonstrated experience in managing the operations and maintenance of leading-edge technological facilities.
  • Demonstrated experience supervising engineering and operations group managers—i.e., experience in second-line supervision.
  • Experience developing or executing workplace safety programs.
  • Demonstrated experience devising and implementing high-level improvements to operations and maintenance programs.
  • Comprehensive knowledge and overall understanding of multiple business functions, including—but not limited to—financial, project, and human resource management.
  • Experience acting as a liaison with contractors and members of the local community.
  • Thorough understanding of laws, regulations and processes that apply to NSF-sponsored research and development programs.
  • Demonstrated strong leadership, including in times of tight schedules and organizational change. This could include team building and systematic problem-solving methods.   It also could include experience in effectively planning to avoid crises and stress.

Required Documents

  • Resume
  • Cover Letter

COVID-19 Vaccine Required for All Employees

Caltech has implemented a mandatory vaccination policy effective October 15, 2021, requiring COVID-19 vaccinations for all employees (with Institute-approved exemptions for religious or medical contraindications only). At present, an individual is deemed “fully vaccinated” when that person has received, at least 14 days prior, either the second dose in a two-dose COVID-19 vaccine series (e.g., Pfizer or Moderna) or a single-dose COVID-19 vaccine (e.g., Johnson & Johnson). As a condition of employment, employees must submit official COVID-19 vaccine documentation. More information may be found here.

EEO Statement

We are an equal opportunity employer and all qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to age, race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, or national origin, disability status, protected veteran status, or any other characteristic protected by law.

Caltech is a VEVRAA Federal Contractor.

To read more Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) go to eeoc_self_print_poster.pdf.

Disability Accommodations

If you would like to request an accommodation in completing this application, interviewing, or otherwise participating in the employee selection process, please direct your inquiries to Caltech Recruiting at employment@caltech.edu

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