Lisa McCracken

Over the past several years, several senior living operators have chosen to dedicate an entire employment role to strategy and business development, according to a new survey by specialty investment bank Ziegler.

The titles vary and include chief strategy and/or chief business development officer, but the role essentially is focused on growth, partnerships, additional revenue streams and new business line development among others. 

The firm tracked more than 50 not-for-profit senior living organizations that have such a position, with the majority being multi-site providers. The survey, conducted in December, found that approximately 70% of those in chief strategy and business development roles have held the position for five or fewer years within their current organization.

In addition, 56% of respondents came from another role within their organization, whereas the remaining 44% were external hires. Among those who transitioned from another role within the organization, common previous roles included operational positions, sales and marketing, or foundation oversight.

In terms of primary responsibilities associated with the role, a majority of respondents cited new business line development; exploration of new partnerships; strategic planning; and affiliations, mergers and acquisitions as the most common ones. Almost all say they attend board meetings regularly and are considered part of the senior executive management team.

On average, respondents said they spend about 65% of their time in this role, although the amount of time varied widely, with respondents saying they spend anywhere from 20% to 100% of their total time on strategy, growth and business development.

“In an industry that is growing in complexity, whereby not-for-profit providers are increasingly competing with the fast-paced private sector owners and operators, having someone specifically in this role can help elevate the playing field for an organization,” Lisa McCracken, director of senior living research and development at Ziegler, said in a newsletter article examining the survey results.

Creating a strategy/business development officer role is one approach that can help organizations with a clear, aggressive growth plan to allocate the necessary resources for achieving those goals, she added.