Chief Operating Officer

Irvine, CA, USA
about 2 months ago
Full time role


Sequoia Climate Foundation is a new philanthropy that seeks to decarbonize the world economy at a speed and scale equal ...

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Job Description

About Us

Sequoia Climate Foundation is a new philanthropy that seeks to decarbonize the world economy at a speed and scale equal to the challenge. We support bold strategies and efforts that will have both near-term impact and the greatest probability of long-term success. We believe that solving climate change requires the adoption of ambitious, evidence-based policy solutions that transform markets, advance clean technology, and lead to large‐scale change. Our focus areas include power, transportation, buildings, industry, land use, agriculture and forestry, finance, communications, and public engagement. Sequoia Climate Foundation is active in major emitting geographies, including China, the United States, India, the European Union, among others. We are dedicated to building the political will and powerful coalitions needed to achieve these bold policy solutions. Our office and staff are based in Irvine, California.



About The Role

Sequoia Climate Foundation was established in 2020 and is building out its executive team as it scales its operations and impact. Reporting directly to, and working closely with, Christie Ulman, President, the Chief Operating Officer (COO) will apply experience, vision, and innovation in building and leading the internal operations and core functions of the Foundation. The COO will be directly responsible for finance and administration, HR, IT, grants management, and facilities. The COO will ensure effective and coordinated work processes and align the Foundation’s mission with an operational strategy that encourages cooperation, accountability, innovation, efficiency, and impact. A true builder, the COO will bring a critical eye towards designing and implementing best‐in‐class organization‐wide systems capable of supporting the Foundation’s work both as it exists today as well as into the future. As a member of the Executive Team, they will empower and support the broader organization to deliver on its ambitious vision of urgent decarbonization. The COO serves as a true thought partner to the President, sharing the organization’s vision and enabling its mission by leading and driving its efforts to ensure operational efficiency. They will ensure that all parts of the organization are well managed, staffed, and aligned, and operate as effectively as possible.The COO serves as an action‐oriented leader who can partner to create, implement, and enable an operational vision, and framework has the potential to forge a lasting legacy of impact for the Foundation. This role will regularly assist in the setting of organizational priorities, developing and enhancing systems and policies, and enables institutional process and decision‐making. The COO ensures that the management, staffing, and culture of the organization are suitably aligned with the mission, evolving goals, and strategic ambitions of the Foundation. The COO holds global entity management and corporate governance, including employment requirements, distribution and grant requirements, and other local rules and requirements.The COO will enable and equip the Foundation for results through ensuring effective and aligned work processes and systems are in place with high‐quality data, information, and knowledge sharing to empower and support staff. This role will need to stay abreast of professional standards, trends, and issues affecting the field and incorporate the latest thinking into a process of continuous learning with colleagues throughout the organization. The COO collaborates with senior staff to identify innovative and best practices in order to leverage opportunities and enhance the potential for delivering greater value in each of the divisional areas, while ensuring that the organization has put in place all the appropriate policies, practices, and systems required to optimize the use of its financial resources toward the achievement of its core mission.The COO will be building for growth – and this role will be responsible for overseeing, designing and delivering both new and evolving programs – taking the best of existing mechanisms and building new ones. As the Foundation grows, ensure that best‐in‐class, bespoke tools and support are anticipated and provided to enable staff to remain focused and accountable. The COO will drive an entrepreneurial, innovative, accountable, and collaborative spirit throughout the organization.Alongside the President, senior leadership team, and staff, the COO will help build the most positive, psychologically safe, and affirming work environment possible, prioritizing an organizational culture that reflects equity, diversity, and inclusion in action. In collaboration with functional leaders, the COO leads the Foundation’s implementation process for its strategic plans, including the setting of annual operational priorities and the tight synchronization of organizational business cycles to achieve its goals.


Candidate Profile 

Sequoia Climate Foundation is seeking a dynamic, innovative, and strategic leader who can successfully support and partner with the President, as well as the Board, leadership team, and broader organization. They will have a track record of successful organizational decision‐making within a fast‐growing organization and passion for mitigating climate change. The successful candidate will have impeccable integrity and discretion, and will actively promote the values and practice of diversity, equity, and inclusion.

They will have a demonstrated commitment to excellence in administrative processes, managing through growth and ambiguity, and driving organizational culture. They will have a track record of expanding data and analytic capabilities, leading to evidence-based decisions and stronger outcomes.The Foundation is looking for a seasoned professional who leads through influence rather than hierarchy, and can drive efficiency and effectiveness across an organization. This collaborative leader will be able to provide clear guidance and to act decisively when necessary. Further, the COO will be skilled in translating vision and strategy into reality. 



The successful candidate will be experienced in strategic planning and institutional development and will have a proven understanding of how to develop, position, and align systems and processes with a whole-of-organization view. Ideally, this individual will bring experience working in a start‐up-like culture. 

Outside of their specific role within the Foundation, the successful candidate will have unquestioned personal and professional integrity, a balanced ego, self-awareness, and an understanding of others that enhances interpersonal communication and management abilities. The COO will bring an exceptional capacity for managing and leading people. The successful candidate will be highly collaborative and effective gaining buy-in from the team and external partners. They will bring superb listening and communication skills, and a passion for developing the staff.

Key Responsibilities

In terms of the performance and personal competencies required for the position, we would highlight the following:

Setting Operational Strategy

  • Demonstrated executive‐level experience in strategic decision‐making, leadership, and operational management, preferably in a global and multi‐cultural organization. Capacity to innovate and solve complex problems. Ability to set priorities decisively, delegate responsibilities, assure and value accountability, and allocate resources appropriately to achieve results.
  • The ability to put to practice the vision for the organization, especially for the areas they are directly responsible for, but also for the enterprise as a whole.
  • The inclination to seek and analyze data from a variety of sources to support decisions and to align others with the organization’s overall objectives.
  • Developing organizational growth strategy and plan, including expansion of satellite offices in new geographies and facility management. 
  • The ability to effectively balance the desire/need for broad change with an understanding of how much change the organization is capable of handling, to create realistic goals and implementation plans that are achievable and successful.

Executing for Results

  • The ability to set clear and challenging goals while committing the organization to improved performance, tenacious and accountable in driving results.
  • Comfortable with ambiguity and uncertainty; can adapt nimbly and lead others through complex situations.
  • Willingness to try new approaches and an ability to look at new and exciting ways to advance the field of philanthropy and best support grantees. A risk-taker who seeks data and input from others to foresee possible threats or unintended circumstances from decisions; someone who takes smart risks.
  • A leader who is viewed by others as having a high degree of integrity and forethought in their approach to making decisions; the ability to act in a transparent and consistent manner while always considering what is best for the organization.

Leading Teams

  • The ability to attract and recruit top talent, motivate the team, delegate effectively, celebrate diversity within the team, and manage performance; widely viewed as a strong developer of others.
  • A genuine commitment to diversity and an appreciation for different perspectives, experiences, and traditions; passionate about creating an organizational culture that reflects belonging, equity, diversity, and inclusion in action.
  • The ability to persevere in the face of challenges and exhibit a steadfast resolve and relentless commitment to higher standards, which commands respect from followers.
  • A leader who is self-reflective and aware of their own limitations; leads by example and drives the organization’s performance with an attitude of continuous improvement by being open to feedback and self-improvement.
  • Self‐awareness and understanding of others that enhances interpersonal communication and management abilities. Perceptive of cultural differences, open to new ways of doing things, and able to adapt words and practices to cultural context. 

Relationships and Influence

  • Naturally connects and builds strong relationships with others, demonstrating strong emotional intelligence and an ability to communicate clearly and persuasively.
  • An ability to inspire trust and followership in others through compelling influence, powerful charisma, passion in their beliefs, and active drive.
  • Encourages others to share the spotlight, ask questions, and visibly celebrates and supports the success of the team.
  • Creates a sense of purpose/meaning for the team that generates followership beyond their own personality and engages others to the greater purpose for the Foundation.

Driving Organizational Influence

  • Integrates economic, societal, and environmental factors into a purpose-driven operational strategy. 
  • Understands and incorporates viewpoints from all key stakeholders to drive decision making and share the benefits.
  • Delivers breakthrough innovations and business models that create value for all stakeholders, continually challenging traditional approaches.
  • Sets audacious business and sustainability goals for the organization, driving concerted action and investments, and stays the course in the face of setbacks or push-back from short-term oriented stakeholders.

Compensation & Location

Sequoia Climate Foundation offers a generous benefits package and a competitive salary commensurate with experience.  We provide competitive wages, health insurance, paid time off, and other perks to promote work/life harmony. We operate in a hybrid model, which means both workdays from home and in the office for our Irvine, California location.  The expectation is this role will be our beautiful office at least three days a week (though never five, lots of opportunities to still work remotely a few days a week). We can be flexible on relocation timelines and offer a small amount of relocation assistance.

COVID-19 Hiring Update


Sequoia Climate Foundation requires its employees to be fully vaccinated and up to date with their COVID-19 vaccines unless they are approved for an exemption as allowed under federal and applicable state law. Unless approved for an exemption, new hires must provide proof of COVID-19 vaccination at the time of hire, and offers of employment will be contingent on compliance with Sequoia Climate Foundation’s COVID-19 vaccination policy.  

To learn more about this opportunity: 

Prospective candidates are invited to send their CV to Tory Clark, John McNaught, and/or Stefanie Lukasko of Russell Reynolds Associates at All inquiries and discussions will be considered strictly confidential.

Sequoia Climate Foundation is an equal opportunity employer.

Sequoia Climate Foundation is a new philanthropy that seeks to decarbonize the world economy at a speed and scale equal ...

View Company Profile