Executive Director & CEO

Req Number: X1EUBI
Location: Southfield, MI - Flexible
Posted: 5/29/2024
Category: Government/Not-For-Profit : Not-For-Profit
Job Type: Permanent

The Organization
Established in 1932 as a nonprofit organization, SME represents the entire North American manufacturing industry, including manufacturers, academia, professionals, students, and the communities in which they operate. SME believes manufacturing holds the key to economic growth and prosperity, and champion the industry's potential as a diverse, thriving, and valued ecosystem. SME accelerates new technology adoption and builds North America’s talent and capabilities to advance manufacturing and drive competitiveness, resiliency, and national security. SME designs new ways to understand and solve problems, and its solutions advance the next wave of growth in manufacturing.

Our Vision
Manufacturing is a diverse, thriving, and valued ecosystem.

Our Mission
Accelerate widespread adoption of manufacturing technologies and build North America’s talent and capabilities.

Our Purpose
Advance manufacturing to drive competitiveness, resiliency, and national security. SME develops the partnerships and solutions that work to ensure North American manufacturing competitiveness, security, and superiority on the global stage through its events, media, membership, workforce development, and the SME Education Foundation. The organization builds the bridge from today to the future by developing the next generation of manufacturing talent and capabilities. SME accelerates the widespread adoption of technologies that can propel manufacturing operations into excellence.

The Opportunity

Position: Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer
Location: Southfield, MI (Flexible)
Reporting Relationship: SME Board of Directors

Purpose of the Position
The Executive Director & Chief Executive Officer (CEO) will provide overall leadership of SME. This individual is responsible for advancing SME’s vision; implementing and executing a strategy for the future; managing specific objectives contained in each annual operating plan and budget; bringing innovation and strategic thinking to the organization; building and developing strong relationships with partners, members, and institutions; and serving as the external face of the organization.
The Executive Director & CEO will serve as the senior spokesperson for SME to all current and prospective stakeholders, SME’s partners in business, academia, government, and other associations. This person will also represent SME to other outside groups, media, and the public. The CEO will report to and work in close partnership with the SME Board.

During the ED & CEO’s first year, the following are crucial priorities:

Align stakeholders and rally support for a strategic vision:
  • Align the board, staff, and stakeholders in developing, supporting, and implementing SME’s vision and mission.
  • Lead the identification and due diligence of alternative growth avenues, including but not limited to potential mergers, acquisitions, and divestments.
  • Develop and forge consensus around a proactive strategic plan for SME, including the SME Education Foundation.
Lead and manage the organization:
  • Foster a spirit of synergy and cohesion across SME’s lines of business, ensuring a seamless user experience for SME’s members, staff, and other external stakeholders.
  • Foster innovation; create the new and different; develop customer service and marketing strategies to recruit and retain members; evaluate SME’s value proposition and make recommendations for new and enhanced products and services to continually strengthen the brand and the value of SME.
  • “Own,” develop, attract new members to the SME team, and develop succession plans for key senior roles.
  • Set the pace and tone for the organization and inspire performance of employees through personal leadership.
Execute for results:
  • Establish and deliver quantifiable metrics associated with the implementation of short- and long-term goals related to the strategy, budget, staffing, and annual plan.
  • Evaluate alternate strategies to manage and grow the organization’s revenue streams ensuring a financially sound operation and budget execution.
  • Ensure appropriate translation of the strategic plans into operational goals, milestones, and objectives.
  • Participate in fundraising and development where required, including in support of the Education Foundation, from individuals, corporations, and governmental programs.
 Foster relationships and influence:
  • Serve as the external spokesperson for the association, and position SME as the prominent, recognized resource and voice for the manufacturing sector.
  • Implement ways to grow SME’s influence and improve the membership experience.
  • Develop and strengthen alliances and partnerships externally that advance SME’s mission and objectives.
  • Develop appropriate relationships with current and potential future SME stakeholders, to include customers, members, industry leaders, academia, and government officials to further grow and develop the organization.
  • Build effective relationships with individuals and organizations with shared interests. Identify partners and build alliances to further SME’s mission.
Exhibit interpersonal acumen:
  • Identify and implement innovative strategies to increase the visibility, relevancy, and value of SME for target stakeholders and markets.
  • Deliver candid and effective communication to all stakeholders.
  • Develop and sustain an appropriate working relationship with the Board of Directors, including keeping the Board informed and gaining insight, advice, and consent from the Board, on a wide variety of SME-related matters.
  • Demonstrate leadership values and integrity, fostering an organizational culture that promotes ethical practices and demands individual integrity.
  • Remain abreast of trends and new developments in both the association arena and the manufacturing marketplace.

Experience and Professional Qualifications
Ideal candidates will bring a combination of sophisticated manufacturing experience/knowledge and association leadership and/or academic expertise. This individual possesses at least ten years of manufacturing leadership experience in a complex operational environment, to include staff and budget oversight and execution, relevant to SME’s size and scope. They should be a seasoned P&L owner, with the ability to engender confidence from a broad range of constituents, including staff, industry executives, Board members, volunteers, government officials, and academicians. Ideal candidates will have demonstrated a strategic approach to growth, innovation, and collaboration.

The successful candidate will possess a highly collaborative, team-oriented approach, with a unique combination of grit and tenacity that mirrors and further enhances the corporate culture. We seek a high-energy/low-ego individual who seeks to create value through the success of others. Additionally, this individual should bring strong knowledge of key topics facing the manufacturing sector such as additive manufacturing, artificial intelligence, digital transformation, metaverse-based tools, etc.
  • Demonstrated ability and success in growing, in both size and influence, an organization of this scale and complexity.
  • Proven experience working with a board of directors in developing and implementing an organization’s mission and plans.
  • Evidence of success as a senior external spokesperson-- to interested groups, members, the press, etc.
  • A demonstrated appreciation for how to enhance SME as a “community of manufacturing” through deepening engagement and cross selling all of SME’s channels (workforce development, shows, media, membership, scholarship, etc.) as well as providing real solutions to challenges in the advancement of manufacturing.
  • Because SME’s Education Foundation depends on outside funding for key programs, the successful candidate will ideally have a proven ability for external fundraising from individuals and/or foundations, and/or success in winning external grant funding from corporations or government entities.

Key Competencies and Relevant Skills
  • Proven strategic leader with the ability to think long term and define a plan in its broadest context, but also the practical sense to develop and implement a systematic process to develop plans and achieve specific outcomes.
  • A motivating style focused on results rather than activities.
  • Commitment to question the status quo, be decisive, and take calculated risks, but also willing to defer when legitimately challenged.
  • A hands-on, detail-oriented, collaborative professional with excellent analytical, planning, evaluation, and implementation skills.
  • Executive presence combined with a high degree of maturity and business judgment.
  • Ability and willingness to travel to support the operating divisions.
  • A commitment to mentoring and bringing out the best in his/her team.
  • Proven business skills coupled with a superior level of financial sophistication.
  • Technology orientation with the intellectual curiosity and awareness/ability to identify new trends and technologies being developed in manufacturing.
  • Possessing sensitivity, personal awareness and commercial savvy that allow for accurately reading people and situations ensuring positive interactions with customers, suppliers, and other commercial partners.
  • Team orientation and the wisdom and maturity to put aside personal agendas for the good of the organization and patiently communicate at all levels.
  • Hands-on leadership style and equally comfortable in the field and the board room.
  • A high level of personal integrity, empathy, authenticity, and moral and ethical standards.
  • An open, outgoing, positive, and passionate personal style characterized by regular communication and involvement at all management levels.
  • Passion for developing the next generation of manufacturing talent and leadership.
  • Adaptable, resilient, and innovative in orientation

Bachelor’s degree required. An advanced degree in a relevant discipline or equivalent business experience is preferred.

Compensation and Location
SME is prepared to offer a market-competitive and performance-driven compensation package. This is a hybrid work environment, requiring scheduled time in the Southfield, MI office to effectively lead the SME team.

Lorraine Lavet
Senior Client Partner
T: 703-919-6540

Justin Ripley
Senior Client Partner
T: 312-593-7144

Brian Melroy
Senior Associate
T: (720) 878-4772

Emily Lynch
Senior Project Coordinator
T: 703-873-3212


Korn Ferry shall provide equal employment opportunity to all qualified candidates, and will refer candidates without regard to race, color, religion, national origin, sex, age, disability, veteran status or any other legally protected basis.