Director of Early Product Development

Calbright College - Remote - Full time

Director of Early Product Development

Calbright College

Position Type: Full time

Requisition No: 21034

Category: Administration

Supervisor: Chief Technology Officer

Last Updated: December 2020

Job Purpose: Leads prototyping and validation of future Calbright technologies

Location: Remote, various locations throughout California

Position Overview

The Director of Early Product Development leads the prototyping and validation of future-facing technologies and digital solutions to support Calbright College programs and student success. The Director is responsible for informing and preparing future production technologies by identifying promising technical solutions early on, and prototyping, iteratively refining, and evaluating the best of these for broader adoption at Calbright.

Calbright College is committed to increase economic mobility and close equity gaps for working adults who lack easy access to traditional forms of higher education. We do this by offering online, flexible, affordable skills-based programs that provide tangible economic value for both working adults and hiring managers. In order to achieve this mission, we focus on building, measuring, and learning on multiple fronts on a regular basis: new models for student support and success, new program offerings, new models for outreach, and new models for post-graduation support. As a fully online institution, each of these efforts has a layer of digital technologies supporting students and staff.

In some cases, the technologies that we leverage and build in order to achieve our mission have already been implemented and validated in similar contexts, allowing us to move confidently to implementation at scale. In many other cases, however, the technologies and digital solutions that hold the most promise have not been tested in a comparable program or with a comparable student population. In these cases, we see solution prototyping, piloting, and controlled testing as an efficient and effective mechanism to validate technical solutions and approaches prior to moving to implementation at scale. This pre-implementation stage also serves as the appropriate time and place for rapid iterative development of technologies in a feedback loop optimized for learning about impact and effectiveness (in contrast to the production engineering focus on scalability, reliability, security, and performance.)

Under the direction of the Chief Technology Officer, the Director of Early Product Development leads a dedicated team of technologists (e.g., prototype engineers) focused on turning prioritized ideas for applications of technology in support of Calbright’s mission into detailed and validated technology plans ready to be implemented and deployed at scale by the Technology Team. The Director coordinates efforts and collaborates closely with a number of other leaders and teams across the organization: the Information Technology and Information Systems groups within the Technology Team, the R&D group within the Program Operations team, and cross-functional teams tasked with timely projects including the initiatives detailed in Calbright’s enabling legislation.

Early product development at Calbright does not necessarily mean building technologies from scratch. In many cases, relevant high-level building blocks are available through APIs, products, and services. In these cases, the team is tasked with constructing and iteratively refining solutions constructed with these building blocks. At the extreme, candidate solutions might exist as commercially-available or open-source products, in which case the Director would lead the process of running and evaluating technology pilot launches, and making adoption and customization recommendations based on results.

Technology leadership roles at Calbright are hands-on, so we expect the Director to be both a leader and also a direct contributor.

Essential Job Duties and Responsibilities

The duties below are representative of the role and are not intended to cover all of the duties performed within the scope of work.

  • Prepare informed recommendation regarding which available technology options and building blocks should be evaluated when solving for a particular problem
  • Participate in cross-team efforts to devise high-potential technology-supported solutions, and lead the technical development of prototypes of these solutions.
  • Lead the process of rapid iteration based on testing and feedback, resulting in a validated plan and a more polished user experience.
  • Collaborate with the Information Technology group to ensure availability and reliability of underlying systems and technologies, and collaborate with the Information Systems group in order to ensure a smooth and successful implementation process.
  • Manage a small team of technical professionals. Meet regularly, provide productive feedback, and support growth and development of each team member.
  • Set high expectations of team members and offer support as needed towards meeting those expectations.
  • Collaborate with cross-functional teams from across the organization in order to enable and support focused initiatives.
  • Perform other related duties as assigned that support the objective of the position.
  • Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities
  • Ability to create functional prototypes that approximate real-world systems but are light enough to allow for rapid iteration
  • Ability to design meaningful metrics and collect data from the testing process
  • Ability to actively engage in both high-level strategic conversations and detailed implementation discussions
  • Ability to learn from experience
  • Present solutions to management level with confidence and effectiveness
  • Train, supervise, mentor and evaluate personnel
  • Oversee, review, and critique the work of others
  • Foster a team-oriented, collaborative and positive work environment
  • Meet schedules and timelines
  • Communicate effectively both orally and in writing
  • Work independently with little direction
  • Analyze situations accurately; exercise sound judgment; work independently; and adopt an effective course of action
  • Operate a computer and related office equipment
  • Establish and maintain cooperative and effective working relationships with others
  • Interpret, apply, and explain rules, regulations, policies, and procedures
  • Assure compliance with applicable District policies, procedures, and governmental regulations
  • Demonstrate understanding of, sensitivity to, and respect for the diverse academic, socio-economic, ethnic, religious, and cultural backgrounds, disability, and sexual orientation of community college students, staff and faculty
  • Minimum Qualifications
  • Experience constructing prototype/pre-production software systems that informed the subsequent development of production software
  • Five or more years of software development experience
  • Please provide a link to a portfolio of relevant work (e.g., Github profile, personal website)
  • To Apply
  • Please submit your application through our web-based system at
  • Only those applicants who meet the minimum qualifications will be considered.
  • We prefer the successful candidate to be a California resident or someone who is willing to relocate to California.
  • Candidates must be authorized to work in the U.S. as a precondition of employment.
  • Desired Qualifications
  • Prior experience working in an academic research or R&D environment
  • Two or more years of management experience
  • Prior experience working in a startup-like environment
  • Experience running and evaluating pilot projects
  • Working Conditions and Travel
  • Calbright College is a statewide online college where all instruction and support are done via various online technologies both in person and remotely. Calbright College has administrative offices in Sacramento available for use. When working remotely, employees should be able and willing to use digital communication tools as used by the college, and have the ability to work on a computer for extended periods of time.
  • Regular attendance is considered an essential job function; the inability to meet attendance requirements may preclude the employee from retaining employment.
  • The person holding this position is considered a mandated reporter under the California Child Abuse and Neglect Reporting Act and is required to comply with the requirements set forth in Calbright College policies, procedures, and Title IX.
  • Calbright College celebrates all forms of diversity and is deeply committed to fostering an inclusive environment within which students, staff, administrators, and faculty thrive. Individuals interested in advancing Calbright College’s strategic diversity goals are strongly encouraged to apply. Reasonable accommodations will be provided for qualified applicants with disabilities who self-disclose.
  • Requires the ability to function in a remote online instructional environment performing work of primarily a sedentary nature. Requires the ability to use hearing and speech to make presentations to groups and carry on conversations over the phone and in-person. Requires speaking skills to communicate with staff and students in one-on-one and small group settings, on the phone, and to distinguish sound prompts from various types of equipment. Requires near visual acuity to read printed materials and computer screens. Requires sufficient hand/arm/finger dexterity to retrieve work materials, operate a personal computer keyboard, and operate standard office equipment. Requires the ability to lift and/or move up to 25 pounds.
  • Work is performed indoors where minimal safety considerations exist.
  • Equal Employment Opportunity

    Calbright College provides equal employment opportunities (EEO) to all employees and applicants for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, national origin, age, veteran status, disability or genetics. In addition to federal law requirements, Calbright College complies with applicable state and local laws governing nondiscrimination in employment.

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    Product Management

    Experience Level

    Senior Level

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