Job Description

Payroll Title:
Annual Full Pay Range
$78,900 - $179,900 / Year
Appointment Type:
Appointment Percent:
Total Openings:
Work Schedule:
Days, 8 hrs/day, Mon-Fri

#120214 Senior Director of Guest Experience

Initial Review Date: Thu 1/5/2023

UC San Diego values equity, diversity, and inclusion. If you are interested in being part of our team, possess the needed licensure and certifications, and feel that you have most of the qualifications and/or transferable skills for a job opening, we strongly encourage you to apply.

For the safety and well-being of the entire university community, the University of California requires, with few exceptions, that all students, faculty and staff be vaccinated against the COVID-19 virus and influenza before they will be allowed on campus or in a facility or office. For more information visit: Flu Vaccine Mandate / COVID Vaccine Policy

Recognized as one of the top 10 research universities worldwide, a culture of collaboration sparks discoveries that advance society and drive economic impact. Best practices, best people at the best place to work! Our team is looking to add an extremely creative individual as the next Senior Director of Guest Experience for Birch Aquarium. If you are a strategic leader with an innovative mind, we want you!


Birch Aquarium at Scripps, connects understanding to protecting our ocean planet. As the public outreach center for Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UC San Diego, we share the spirit of curiosity that drives Scripps’ global research to understand our planet. We engage people in science and invite them to ask questions, explore, and observe to better understand how our world works - Earth, ocean, atmosphere, and life - and our unique role in our global ecosystem. We use science to guide conservation action to support a healthy, thriving planet where we feel hope for the future and are empowered to make positive change. We connect people with each other, with nature, with science, and with a shared sense of purpose to care for our amazing one-and-only planet Earth.

Our values can be found here: Birch Aquarium

Priority will be given to candidates that apply on or before January 5, 2023.


The Senior Director of Guest Experience leads strategy development and implementation of an integrated Birch Aquarium at Scripps guest experience and oversees three core departments that most directly design spaces and experiences as well as; interface with guests: Education, Exhibits, and Guest Services. This position ensures the highest levels of guest service and team engagement while working collaboratively across the organization to optimize revenues and mission impact.

The position will apply best practices for understanding and improving a broadly defined user interface, commanding every aspect of the guest journey, from pre-arrival through departure, ensuring the Birch guest experience is unique, consistent, and exceeds guests' expectations. The position is expected to create a culture of innovation, problem-solving, and communications and should act as a creative and entrepreneurial catalyst for the Education, Exhibit, and Guest Services departments. The position works with University Development to support proposal development, project implementation, donor communications, recognition, and reporting.

The Senior Director of Guest Experience will display a high aptitude for management and operations in a fast-paced work environment. The Senior Director of Guest Experience oversees multiple concurrent complex projects with various metrics for evaluation and results reporting. The Senior Director of Guest Experience is flexible, proactive, resourceful, efficient, and always acts with a high level of professionalism. The Senior Director of Guest Experience is expected to lead the development of related institutional and departmental strategic plans and promote effective communication up, down, and across the organization.

This position interfaces with individuals at all levels of the University and demonstrates a high degree of knowledge and political acumen along with effective skills in management, leadership, and communication. Working collaboratively with the other Senior Directors, the position is expected to develop, direct, and implement a comprehensive science communication strategy that effectively integrates Scripps Oceanography science into the guest experience. This position requires an expert in developing and implementing comprehensive training, communication and support programs, problem-solving, and analysis of unique issues without precedent examples or structure. Provide guidance on performance standards and University procedures. Independently conduct performance evaluations, including communication with direct reports.


  • Seven (7+) years of experience directly managing staff in a zoo or aquarium, hospitality, education, entertainment or amusement venue

  • Specialization in an area of the museum's collection.

  • Any combination of (minimum two out of three) of the following skill strongly desired: Experience driving user-centered design process; Training in zoo or Aquarium, hospitality, amusement, or entertainment venue management; Experience with informal K-12 education, interpreting complex science and/or technology to engage and inspire public audiences.

  • Knowledge of standard museum curatorial practices and current trends. Proven ability to research, draw conclusions, and summarize data for discussion and review

  • Demonstrated experience in mission-driven organizations. Skill in teaching in a university setting.

  • Knowledge of collection building / connoisseurship, ethical and legal standards for acquisition, and of the current market.

  • Proven track record of creating bespoke, organization-specific guest experience approaches.

  • Knowledge of selection, evaluation, and exhibition of objects.

  • Skills in scholarly research and writing scholarly publications. Excellent public speaking ability and able to create presentations that visualize data elegantly

  • Knowledge of the principles of conservation / preservation.

  • Donor cultivation and relationship building skills.

  • Supervisory and leadership abilities. An industry-recognized thought leader: creative, nimble, and forward-thinking.

  • Budget and project management.

  • Possess the ability to organize and prioritize while working with strict deadlines.

  • Ability to take long-range approach.

  • Demonstrated ability to make good decisions and remain calm in stressful situations.

  • Excellent written and verbal communication skills and demonstrate the ability to interact clearly and effectively with both internal and external customer.

  • Proficient in Microsoft Office, Excel, databases, and more.


  • Must pass a background check.
  • Must be available to work evenings for special events throughout the year.

Duties may require direct contact with children (defined as individuals under the age of 18); completion of the Child Abuse and Neglect Reporting Act (CANRA) training will be required. Must meet CANRA compliance requirement per California Child Abuse and Neglect Reporting Act ("CANRA," Penal Code sections 11164-11174.4).

Our employees enjoy competitive compensation packages and educational opportunities in a diverse, stimulating workforce. Click here for Details

Pay Transparency Act

Annual Full Pay Range: $78,900 - $179,900 (will be prorated if the appointment percentage is less than 100%)

Hourly Equivalent: $37.79 - $86.16

Factors in determining the appropriate compensation for a role include experience, skills, knowledge, abilities, education, licensure and certifications, and other business and organizational needs. The Hiring Pay Scale referenced in the job posting is the budgeted salary or hourly range that the University reasonably expects to pay for this position. The Annual Full Pay Range may be broader than what the University anticipates to pay for this position, based on internal equity, budget, and collective bargaining agreements (when applicable).

Job offer is contingent on successful engagement in the UC COVID-19 Vaccination program (fully vaccinated with documented proof or approved exception/deferral).

To foster the best possible working and learning environment, UC San Diego strives to cultivate a rich and diverse environment, inclusive and supportive of all students, faculty, staff and visitors. For more information, please visit UC San Diego Principles of Community.

The University of California is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability, age, protected veteran status, gender identity or sexual orientation. For the complete University of California nondiscrimination and affirmative action policy see:

UC San Diego is a smoke and tobacco free environment. Please visit for more information.

Application Instructions

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