Posted: Sep 22, 2022

Associate Director, Tools for Thought Initiative

Application Deadline: N/A

Who We Are  

Working hard is no longer the pathway to economic opportunity and upward mobility that it once was. We believe that is because the nature of jobs has changed. For most of the 20th century, the key to the middle class was a strong back; today it is a flexible mind. Jobs have shifted from the physical to the social and mental. Businesses increasingly can’t find workers with the “soft” skills needed to thrive in these jobs. These challenges will only get worse over time as the economy changes: three quarters of jobs are already in the service sector – where these skills are crucial – and that sector is still growing. AI is set to eliminate the routine, non-social parts of jobs, leaving only the parts that require soft skills.

Our goal with the Tools of Thought Initiative is to develop a new training program for the workforce that combines what the very best behavioral science research tells us about which soft skills matter most with our field experiences about how to design engaging, culturally competent programs that work in the real world. In doing so, we aim to fundamentally change the productivity and well-being of millions of workers.

The Role

The Associate Director will play a key role in the operational delivery of the Tools of Thought Initiative, including building and maintaining relationships with development and testing partners, producing plans for the development of early product prototypes and testing of those prototypes, and developing and using systems to ensure the project stays on track.

This is a unique opportunity to combine the culture and pace of a startup with the rigor of a research environment. Like any good startup, fundamentally we want to produce a product that works and scales. Unlike most startups, we rely on foundational research to inform our product development and our goal is positive social impact. This role will involve continuous learning and adaptability to the changing needs of the initiative.

This person will report to the Director of the Tools of Thought Initiative and have primary responsibility for all operations of the Initiative. The above is intended to describe the general content of and requirements for the performance of this job. It is not to be construed as an exhaustive statement of duties, responsibilities, or requirements.

Duties and Responsibilities

  • Works with the Director of the Initiative to manage program operations and product design and development, including operational management of product design and test cycles.
  • Contributes to design of program content, policies and strategic planning efforts.
  • Builds and maintains strong relationships with various stakeholders, including within the University of Chicago researchers, other academics, donors, and public and private sector and nonprofit partners.
  • Assists with the design and implementation of the strategy to achieve the objectives of the Initiative, including the staff and operations plan, design and execution of research activities, and communications plan.
  • Assists with administrative functions which may include planning and scheduling, program evaluation, policy implementation, personnel administration, budget, marketing, fundraising and proposal development.
  • Assists with developments of publication of internal- and external-facing documents and program descriptions.
  • Performs other related work as needed.


Bachelor’s degree in economics, business, public policy, or a closely related field required; Master’s Degree in Business, Economics, Behavioral Science or related field preferred.


  • Minimum requirements include knowledge and skills developed through 4+ years of work experience in a related job discipline.
  • Previous experience with product design and build work, program design and implementation work strongly preferred.
  • Previous experience working in a research organization or managing research projects — especially field experiments — preferred.


  • Strong operational and project management skills — including leadership of others to achieve operational targets — with exceptional attention to detail required.
  • Entrepreneurial spirit with demonstrated ability to work effectively and collaboratively with multiple constituencies in a sometimes ambiguous and fast-paced environment preferred; ability to work independently in a fast-paced environment required.
  • Outstanding interpersonal skills and ability to maintain positive relationships with various stakeholders required.
  • Strong time management skills with a proven ability to multitask and to prioritize activities to successfully complete projects on tight deadlines with little supervision required.
  • Excellent written and verbal communication skills, with the ability to present data in a simple and straightforward way for non-technical audiences required.
  • Demonstrated ability to exercise sound judgment required.
  • Knowledge and understanding of behavioral science or psychology literature preferred.
  • Ability to work discreetly with sensitive and confidential data preferred.
  • Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint skills preferred.

To Apply

We seek a diverse pool of applicants who wish to join an academic community that places the highest value on rigorous inquiry and encourages a diversity of perspectives, experiences, groups of individuals, and ideas to inform and stimulate intellectual challenge, engagement, and exchange.

All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, age, protected veteran status or status as an individual with disability.

The University of Chicago is an Affirmative Action / Equal Opportunity / Disabled / Veterans Employer. 

Please submit a resume, cover letter, and reference contact information to UChicago’s Workday system. Within the Workday system, this listing can be found by the position title or by the requisition number, JR18002.

If you have an active UChicago Workday account, you will need to complete the Internal Candidate application process. Simply log in to Workday and select the career worklet to begin.

External candidates should apply at

If you have questions about the Workday system, please contact our Shared Services department at

Job seekers in need of a reasonable accommodation to complete the application process may contact the Shared Services Office by calling 773-702-5800 or by emailing [email protected] with their request.