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Chief Data Architect

In response to the rapid pace of technological advancement in higher education, a number of leading research universities formed Unizin. The Unizin Consortium is working to improve the digital learning experience by providing an environment built on collaboration, data, standards, and scale. Unizin is membership-based, governed by those institutions as a not-for-profit service operator, and currently composed of 22 institutions totaling more than 700,000 students.

Unizin is intent on helping its institutions achieve their goals by providing a dynamic ecosystem of content, systems, tools and data platforms.  Institutions will use these products, underlying content and analytics to create the next generation digital teaching and learning environment.

Overview of this position:

Based in Austin, TX , the Chief Data Architect will be responsible for planning and delivering a data architecture that supports institutional and consortium strategies for Unizin.  The Chief Data Architect will own the data reference architecture including traditional Data Warehouse, Big Data, and Data Lake environments, as well as assess existing legacy data assets with an eye toward modernization and simplification.  The Chief Data Architect will also define data architecture processes and support consortium development teams in the use of data.

The Chief Data Architect will be an individual contributor in a highly entrepreneurial work environment. Technology and team leadership qualities will enable increasing responsibility and the leadership of teams as Unizin grows. Initially, the focus will be on leading consultant / contractor relationships to deliver value. This position reports to the Chief Technology Officer.


Data Strategy & Reference Architecture:

  • Develop and maintain an aspirational data architecture roadmap indicating current, transition, and future state architectures, focused around clear benefits to internal teams and consortium members
  • Deliver data architectural initiatives that create value for Unizin inline with product management
  • Gain commitment for enterprise-level data architecture and data infrastructure initiatives
  • Stay current on emerging technologies; analyze, prototype and develop a point of view for core, enabling, and emerging technologies
  • Lead lean software evaluations
  • Deliver executive presentations supporting final directional recommendations
  • Identify core common data shared across our institutions and participate in ecosystem-wide efforts to reach common understanding of that data
  • Design Metadata management and creation of logical data architecture within Data Lake
  • Develop framework, metrics, and reporting to ensure progress can be measured, evaluated and continually improved; communicate progress effectively with the executive team

Data Architecture and Implementation of the Unizin Data Platform:

  • Manage the delivery of the Unizin Data Platform (UDP)
  • Work with Product Management to define the requirements for the UDP
  • Develop and improve the Unizin Common Data Model and Schema
  • Deploy the Unizin Common Data Schema within the UDP to support both operational stores and data warehouse stores
  • Evaluate the effectiveness of the UDP over time and make adjustments to the architecture and implementation to maintain performance, reliability, availability, and scalability
  • Create best practices for UDP data stores, data integration, and data services


  • Develop and maintain data-related processes, policies, procedures, and guidelines
  • Manage cloud security controls relating to the data tier
  • Lead internal audits and participate in third party audits
  • Define a data design review process to oversee technical data design activities in order to preserve the architectural vision
  • Manage data privacy controls to maintain compliance with FERPA


  • Minimum 10 years of progressively responsible professional experience in data warehousing, operational data stores, and large scale architecture and implementations
  • Minimum of 5 years of leadership experience in software product development and/or client-centered services role
  • Expertise in Big Data and Data Lake technologies in the Amazon Web Services ecosystem
  • Experience with Hadoop, Spark, Columnar Stores, RDBMS, Stream Processing,  and the various AWS managed service offerings
  • Familiarity with various AWS costing models, cost monitoring, and cost optimization
  • Experience with infrastructure monitoring techniques
  • Experience in solution crafting and developing proposals to illustrate business value provided by technical solutions
  • Strong understanding of data analytics and data visualization
  • Ability to work across higher education technology, Institutional Review Board, and analytics communities to understand technical requirements, workflows and system trade-offs
  • Ability to provide strategic and architectural direction to address unique consortium problems
  • System design and modeling skills (e.g. domain driven design, data modeling, API design)
  • Continuous Integration, Continuous Delivery, DevOps, and Infrastructure-as-Code experience 
  • Ability to lead and develop a team of data architects, data scientists, and engineers
  • Maintain in-depth knowledge of Educational Technology industry best practices, technologies, architectures and emerging technologies
  • Excellent one-on-one communication and presentation skills, specifically able to convey technical information in a clear and unambiguous manner  
  • Ability to influence and communicate across key stakeholders
  • Drive change management of new data capabilities and architectural direction

Leadership Behaviors:

  • Deliver Outcomes - Demonstrate a bias for speed and execution that serves our consortium members
  • Operate as a Team Player - Work together to drive solutions for the good of Unizin
  • Build Strong Partnerships - Demonstrate integrity and build trust with others
  • Strive for Excellence - Motivate yourself and others to achieve high standards and continuously improve

You will stand out from the crowd with any combination of these:

  • Experience in a data architecture role within a large university
  • Experience in a data product or services provider serving higher education
  • Experience with Common Education Data Standards (CEDS)
  • Experience with IMS Global Standards
  • Experience as a Data Scientist
  • Experience as a Data Engineer

Unizin respects diversity and relies on our employees' varied backgrounds and perspectives to spark innovation.  All candidates are encouraged to apply. 

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