Vice President and Director - Data Science Division

CNA, 3003 Washington Blvd, Arlington, Virginia, United States of America Req #184
Wednesday, April 21, 2021

The Organization


CNA is a non-profit organization dedicated to the safety and security of the nation. We analyze and solve problems by getting as close as possible to the people, the data – and the problems themselves – in order to find the clear, credible answers government leaders need to choose the best course of action.

CNA was founded in 1942 when CNA analysts pioneered the field of operations research by helping the Navy address the German U-boat threat. Not content to study the problem from afar, this small group of MIT scientists insisted on deploying with Navy forces in order to observe operations and collect the data needed for meaningful analyses. Their groundbreaking work set a standard for operations research methods that CNA has maintained for over 75 years.

Today, with more than 500 staff members at our headquarters and another 50 researchers in the field, CNA still takes a multi-disciplinary, real-world approach to our work. On-site analysts carefully observe all aspects of a problem—people, decisions, actions, consequences—and then collaborate with a headquarters-based research team to assess data and arrive at findings.

CNA’s work is executed through two business units:  The Center for Naval Analyses, the Department of the Navy’s only dedicated Federally Funded Research and Development Center (FFRDC), and the Institute for Public Research (IPR).  The FFRDC supports both the Department of the Navy (DON) and the Department of Defense (DOD), while IPR supports non-defense government organizations such as the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Justice, and other state and local government agencies among others. 

The Division

The Data Science Division (DSD) is part of the Center for Naval Analyses. The mission of the DSD is to develop innovative, cutting-edge analytics that are relevant, impactful, and actionable. 

The DSD provides data science expertise and support to the Department of the Navy and Department of Defense. The division collaborates with our sponsors to transform their operations by making data and analytics an integral part of their decision-making. As part of the Navy’s only dedicated FFRDC, we use our analytic skills and our knowledge of naval operations to help create a competitive advantage for the Navy. That advantage has never been more critical than it is today, with great power competition challenging the Navy in several concurrent theaters and across all warfighting domains. 

The division has  full time and part time analysts with advanced degrees in data science, operations research, statistics, economics, computer science, physics, mathematics, engineering, chemistry, and other technical disciplines. The Data Science Division has a large set of core technical competencies, including:

  • Developing supervised and unsupervised machine learning models, such as artificial neural networks, random forests, and clustering, to predict outcomes and assist decision-makers
  • Leveraging high performance computing to obtain insights from big data
  • Developing custom analytical simulations using techniques such as continuous time, discrete event, and Monte Carlo approaches to approximate existing systems to quantify the effects of changes to improve those systems
  • Building and deploying dashboards and dynamic decision support tools in the Navy’s cloud environments
  • Identifying optimal solutions using mathematical programming techniques such as mixed integer programming, network analysis, and linear/non-linear programming.
  • Leading and facilitating human centered design workshops to ensure data-driven solutions meet stakeholder requirements and preferences

The DSD develops models and analytics to support Navy problems across all Navy domains, including aviation, surface warfare, undersea warfare, cyber, logistics, readiness, force generation, sustainment, acquisition, and cost modeling.  DSD analysts support decision-makers by identifying key drivers of both successful and poor performance to improve Navy and Marine Corps outcomes. The division currently supports the Navy’s Performance-to-Plan forum, which provides senior Navy leadership forward looking performance forecasts, which are foundational to articulating Navy progress toward readiness and capability goals. Projects generally involve large datasets and complex questions that demand advanced coding skills as well as statistical and modelling techniques. The division leverages agile project management techniques to support faster cycle times to insights and to develop analytic minimum viable products. 

The Role

The Vice President & Director DSD (VP/Director DSD) reports to the Executive Vice President (EVP), Center for Naval Analyses.

The VP/Director DSD is responsible for leading all aspects of the DSD division to include, but not limited to, the day-to-day and long-term success of the division. Responsibilities include shaping the portfolio of work to meet the most important needs of our sponsors, anticipating sponsor needs and building analytic capacity to meet current and future demand, and ensuring that the division’s work and service to our clients are relevant, timely, high quality, on budget, and delivered in a form that is useful to decision-makers. S/he is also responsible for identifying, developing, and retaining a diverse workforce, which includes members of the DSD management team.

S/he provides insightful and credible leadership to the EVP Center for Naval Analyses and Corporate leadership. S/he provides support, direction, and solutions that are creative and forward-looking. This leadership role also carries with it personal and corporate responsibility to build and sustain a respectful workplace.

Essential Functions

  • Develop and shape the strategic direction and long-term vision or the division.
  • Oversee the development and execution of focused programs of research that align with senior DON and DOD leader priorities.
  • Maintain and develop strong and effective sponsor relations to ensure the work of the division is supporting the needs of DON and DOD sponsors and their leadership.
  • Oversee the division’s business development efforts to secure task-order funding to augment the division’s line-item funded research program and to support FFRDC ceiling attainment.
  • Ensure the division organization, staff, and core mission is aligned with the evolving challenges and needs of our sponsors.
  • Work collaboratively with internal and external partners to ensure broad exposure for the division’s analytic products through a variety of venues and media platforms to maximize impact of the work.
  • Ensure high standards of quality and relevance are met and consistently deliver timely, high quality research and analyses to sponsors.
  • Exercise sound financial management of the division
  • Work collaboratively with CNA’s human resources team to recruit and retain a high quality, diverse staff sized to execute the division’s work in a timely fashion.
  • Mentor and provide for the professional development of the staff.
  • Build effective, high functioning teams and select and develop the DSD’s leadership team. Set clear objectives and measures, and hold staff accountable for outcomes. Motivate and coach direct reports to acquire skills and capabilities that contribute to a high performance team.
  • Leverage various approaches to communication to ensure employees are aligned with organizational goals and regularly receive other timely information. Engage employees and promote a collaborative work environment.
  • Be a strong corporate leader and contribute to the success of the FFRDC and CNA as a whole. Proactively support the organization’s diversity and inclusion efforts.
  • Support the growth and development of the next generation of CNA leaders.
  • Perform other duties as assigned by the Executive Vice President, FFRDC.


Key Leadership Competencies

Innovative and Agile. Ability to innovate and approach situations in new ways. Thinks broadly and creatively, beyond immediate details and issues and conventional thinking, to encourage forward-thinking ideas and approaches. Anticipates crises and problems. Displays curiosity and a passion for learning.

Strategic. Seeks to proactively identify trends and opportunities affecting the DSD division, the FFRDC and CNA. Has a proven ability to prioritize and manage competing and sometimes conflicting priorities. Prudent risk taker and experienced with change management concepts. Strong analytic and reasoning skills and ability to conduct complex, independent analysis and articulate complex or abstract ideas or theories to sponsors.

Collaborative. Engages and works with colleagues respectfully and productively across the organization. Proactively identifies and pursues opportunities for collaboration within the FFRDC, across business units, and across the organization as a whole.  Establishes and maintains a robust network in areas where the DSD division works.

The Person

Education:  An advanced degree in a technical field (i.e., mathematics, data science, operations research, physics, engineering, or other fields relevant to the division’s research portfolio) is required.

Security clearances: This position requires the ability to obtain and maintain an Active Top Secret and higher security clearance.  Preferably, the candidate will already hold an active TS security clearance.

Professional Experience

  • At least 10 years’ experience in research and analysis since attainment of advanced degree is desired.
  • Past research program management experience or experience as a director of large research and analysis projects is required.
  • Thorough knowledge of the Department of Defense and Department of the Navy is desired.
  • Technical and practical knowledge sufficient to understand specific technical and operational needs of sponsors is required.


Personal Attributes

  • Authentic leader and manager with a collaborative and inclusive approach in assessing individual/organizational challenges, problem-solving, and developing partnerships.
  • Demonstrated strong interpersonal skills and proven record of accomplishment of developing and maintaining collaborative relationships across a broad range of professionals and government sponsors at all levels, including senior levels.
  • Exceptional written and oral communication and presentation skills with demonstrated ability to be persuasive and communicate effectively verbally and in writing.
  • Strong leadership and management skills with a record of accomplishment of effectively leading performance and outcome based programs and staff. Demonstrated thought leadership both internally and with clients.
  • Ability to understand and objectively critique research projects being carried out and identify areas or methods of improvement.
  • Proven ability to handle a variety of demands simultaneously and thrive in a complex environment with multiple, competing priorities.
  • Experience in recruiting, managing, developing, retaining and objectively evaluating performance of research staff, program/project managers and other professionals.
  • Commitment and support to create a diverse and inclusive work environment in which employees are encouraged to be forward leaning and share ideas; demonstrated success negotiating and managing problems to positive resolution; and ability to build and sustain a respectful workplace.

Other details

  • Job Family Senior Management/Executive
  • Job Function Career Path III - Senior Management/Executive
  • CNA, 3003 Washington Blvd, Arlington, Virginia, United States of America