Career Opportunity: Senior Director of Exploration Technology with Nat Geo

National Geographic Society is seeking a Sr. Director to run our Exploration Technology Lab. The Senior Director of Exploration Technology leads strategy, research and development, management and execution of a portfolio of breakthrough technology products and solutions in support of the National Geographic Society’s mission and goals.

Date published: 2019/08/21

Job Description Summary

The National Geographic Labs were created to position the National Geographic Society as a leader in harnessing new and emerging areas of technology and innovation that have the potential to create and scale impact and transformative change in the fields of conservation, science, and exploration. As a senior member of the National Geographic Labs team and reporting to the Vice President of National Geographic Labs (“Labs”), the Senior Director of Exploration Technology leads strategy, research and development, management and execution of a portfolio of breakthrough technology products and solutions in support of the National Geographic Society’s mission and goals. The Senior Director is responsible for providing thought leadership as well as strategic direction and technical expertise. This will include overseeing the development of smart sensors, hardware platforms, hardware systems, and related software development, field testing, and deployments in support of the National Geographic Society’s programmatic priorities. The Senior Director establishes, maintains, and advises on technical and scientific partnerships.

The National Geographic Labs consist of the Exploration Technology Lab, the Geographic Visualization Lab, and the Citizen Explorers Lab. The Exploration Technology Labs’ mission is to build and deploy breakthrough systems and hardware to accelerate exploration and understanding of the natural world and our cultural heritage.

Job Description

Leadership and Team Management (40%)

  • Act as a change agent by providing thought leadership and developing the Exploration Technology Lab’s capacity, expertise and means to harness the rapid advances in technology with a focus on smart sensors, hardware, hardware platforms and systems. 
  • Manage and mentor a high-functioning team of technical and program staff.
  • Develop and grow a dynamic team by inspiring the team to elevate their level of responsibility and performance, while insisting on the highest standards. 
  • Create a culture of inclusion, empowerment and accountability, while strongly promoting innovation and incubating and identifying ways to develop and implement great ideas. 
  • Provide counsel to the National Geographic Society leadership team on breakthrough capabilities in multidisciplinary systems engineering that can support the Society’s mission and goals. 

Product R&D (30%)

  • Oversee all research and development and rapid prototyping for the Exploration Technology Lab.
  • Lead and oversee research and technology landscape analysis to identify opportunities and technological solutions.
  • Conceptualize the development of advanced sensors and sensor platforms, including integrated edge sensors network, in support of National Geographic Labs’ extreme exploration and conservation intelligence technologies.
  • Lead the development of convolutional neural networks and the related algorithm to analyze imagery and acoustic data for biodiversity monitoring and anti-poaching applications. 
  • Lead the development of new hardware systems to explore and advance the understanding of our cultural heritage.

Strategic Planning and Implementation (20%)

  • Oversee the Exploration Technology Lab team’s contribution to Labs’ strategic plan and implementation of this plan. 
  • Lead the development and implementation of high impact initiatives and related programs, projects, and products for the Exploration Technology Lab. 
  • Oversee the Exploration Technology Lab’s budget and ensure that the Lab is adequately resourced to meet outputs, outcomes and impacts within stated timeframes.
  • Work with the VP of Labs and Labs’ senior team members to develop detailed multi-year programs and project work plans, including cross-divisional budgets with monthly reporting mechanisms. Ensure that programs and projects are being designed to meet organizational goals. 
  • Identify clear and quantifiable measures of success and develop ambitious, attainable timelines for deliverables. Regularly assess progress toward quantitative impact targets and outputs.
  • Evaluate priorities based on strategic goals, impact potential, and the probability of success. Make strategic and tactical recommendations for setting or changing programmatic direction.

Outreach and Partnerships (10%)

  • Develop a deeply networked community at the nexus of technology, innovation, conservation, and exploration.
  • Identify and cultivate strategic partnerships with relevant technology companies, nonprofits, research institutions, and others to collaborate with and amplify the objectives of the Exploration Technology Lab’s programs, projects, and products. 
  • Advise and work closely with the National Geographic Society’s Partnerships team to develop and secure new funding and contribute to the innovative revenue stream.
  • Develop strong working relationships across National Geographic Partners (NGP), NGP’s parent company - The Walt Disney Company - and the National Geographic Society to create a dynamic network that cultivates innovation and team development.
  • Represent the National Geographic Labs team with internal and external stakeholders and host Exploration Technology Lab tours for potential donors and strategic partners.

Minimum Education Required

Bachelor degree required; Advanced degree strongly preferred.

Minimum Years and Types of Experience

10+ years demonstrated experience in developing and managing diverse teams and complex multidisciplinary scientific and engineering development projects.

Knowledge and Skills Required

  • Excellent organizational and leadership skills.
  • Proven experience managing and mentoring diverse and matrixed teams in a dynamic and innovative environment.
  • Strong interpersonal skills to work positively and productively with a large team.
  • Excellent oral communication skills. 
  • Ability to author and critically edit technical journal articles, white papers, funding pitches, and other documents related to the department.
  • Must have ability to work with scientific communities, journalists, photographers, business partners and international stakeholders to create innovative, public-facing programs.

Project and Program Management Skills

  • Experience overseeing large, complex programs with multimillion-dollar budgets.
  • Ability to understand and weigh the risks during the R&D Development Process.
  • Ability to manage multiple work streams, while balancing competing priorities with attention to detail.
  • Ability to triage multiple projects and handle multiple tasks under the pressure of tight deadlines.
  • Change-management experience is a plus.  

Technical background with a foundational understanding of:

  • Mathematics, Material Science, Thermodynamics, Classical Dynamics, Numerical Methods, Circuit theory, Digital systems theory, Analog and Digital Signal Processing, Control System Theory, Analog design, Sensors and Transduction Theory, Energy Systems, Electrical Mechanical Systems, Algorithms and Heuristics, Statistical Methods, Numerical Optimization, and Machine and Deep Learning
  • Understanding on how to scale prototypes to products to programs.


Four staff members.

Responsibility percentages may vary depending on business needs.

National Geographic's headquarters is located in the heart of Washington, D.C. In addition to a unique and dynamic work environment, National Geographic offers its employees a comprehensive benefits package, including health and dental benefits, generous vacation and leave time, a 401(k) plan, and flexible work options. National Geographic is an Equal Opportunity Employer

To Apply

To learn more and apply for this role, visit the National Geographic Careers Portal