CEO Search Committee
The ICANN CEO Search Committee was formed following Rod Beckstrom's August 2011 announcement that he would not continue as CEO past the fulfillment of his term, completed on 1 July 2012. The topic of CEO succession planning was first discussed at a Board meeting on 17 September 2011, where they directed the Board Governance Committee to appoint members to a CEO Search Process Management Work Committee. The committee contracted with search firm Odgers Berndtson in Brussels, who will be handling application inquiries and expressions of interest. In January 2012, ICANN began openly advertising the position in places such as The Economist.
The committee was originally expected to announce their CEO selection in May, with the CEO taking office at the close of Beckstrom's term, on July 1, 2012. The committee later stipulated a deadline of February 17 for applying for the CEO position. They subsequently updated the community in February that they had received over 100 applications and were still aiming for a July, 1st start date and that they hoped to have finished the actual vetting and interviewing process with top candidates by mid-April.
Njeri Rionge, a former ICANN Director and founder of Wananchi Online, an ISP in East Africa, and Ignite Consulting, a business consultancy firm, expressed her desire to apply as ICANN CEO. Her application to the position was published by Sophia Bekele, CEO of DotConnectAfrica (DCA). Lesley Cowley, CEO of Nominet and current chairperson of ccNSO was also rumored as one of the possible applicants to the position.
It was reported on February 21st, several days after the application period ended, that Odgers Berndtson had collected more than 100 applications for the position, with candidates coming in from community referrals, the ad in The Economist, and the firm's outreach. The firm then interviewed 27 of these applicants and submitted the results to the CEO Search Committee. The Committee proceeded to interview 16 of these candidates via teleconference and planned to interview a subset of this group face to face. Following the face to face interviews, the Committee planned to present a smaller subset for intensive interviewing by the ICANN Board. The Committee anticipated that the Board would announce its final decision by mid-April. By late March, the pool was narrowed down to six applicants and by the beginning of April, the pool had been narrowed to four, none of which had any hands-on experience with ICANN.
It was announced at ICANN 44 on Friday, June 22, that the new CEO would be Fadi Chehade, who had served as the CEO of Vocado, a company providing cloud-based administrative software for educational institutions. Current COO Akram Attalah served as interim CEO until Chehade took over the post in October 2012. During the next CEO search, Akram Atallah again acted as interim CEO. The CEO Search Committee selected Göran Marby, who took office in May 2016.
At a Board meeting on 11 October 2011, the BGC announced the following members, which were approved by the Board:
- George Sadowsky (chair)
- Steve Crocker
- Bertrand de la Chapelle
- Erika Mann
- Chris Disspain
- Cherine Chalaby
- Raymond A. Plzak
- Rajasekhar Ramaraj
At ICANN 42 in Dakar, the committee held an open session to consult with the community on the process and criteria used for the selection of the next CEO. They also set up an email address to receive input, with a deadline of November 15th 2011.
The following Public Comments were received during the open forum held in Dakar:
- Alejandro Pisanty pointed out that one of the biggest challenges to the ICANN CEO is working with a Board that changes, has differing opinions and motivations, and its own internal politics. He also pointed out that following the previous CEO selection process, expectations were too high for the new CEO, Rod Beckstrom. He also suggested that the salary for the next CEO could be less than Beckstrom's.
- Desiree Miloshevic requested that the process proceed transparently and the CEO applications be made public.
- Ron Andruff thanked the committee for the opportunity to comment on the process, as there had not been such an opportunity during the previous CEO hiring processes. He also brought up the topic of salary, saying that the CEO's salary should be commensurate with ICANN's success under his or her leadership.
- Werner Staub argued that ICANN is too dependent on its CEO, and the next CEO should be someone who is replaceable and makes themselves easily replaceable. He also argued that the position's salary should be lowered.
- Khaled Fattal emphasized that the CEO be able to operate on behalf of global public interest, as the Internet is expanding internationally. He also addressed protecting against potential conflicts of interest in regard to the new gTLD program.
- Sebastien Bachollet pointed out that the new CEO could come from anywhere, and that he or she doesn't need to be a superman or superwoman, but someone who can run the organization under the guidance of the Board and properly serve the volunteers within the organization.
- Jonathan Zuck argued that ICANN is being run like a monopoly, which it is not. He stated that the organization is at a critical point of transition, and the next CEO needs to be able to turn it around and run it properly.
- The next speaker, Roelof Meijer, agreed, saying that a major criterion for the next CEO should be the ability to improve the quality and performance of ICANN.
- Roland Perry asked whether a requirement for the next CEO would be to have attended at least one ICANN Meeting, and whether the person must be an American citizen. The answer to both questions was no, however, the person must legally be able to work in the State of California.
- Elliot Noss reiterated the importance of hiring a person and not a set of qualities. He also emphasized the importance that the next ICANN CEO be someone with a deep connection to and understanding of the Internet, who would serve the role better due to their emotional investment.
- Bret Fausett commented that none of the past CEOs worked out of any of the established ICANN offices, and suggested it might be a good idea for the next CEO.
- Barry Shein questioned whether or not the position of President and CEO should be split into two or more positions.
- Kieren McCarthy stated that what ICANN needs from a CEO is not just a frontman, but an effective delegator who values community input, who uses ICANN's assets to create effective participation and assist community members.
- Titilayo Akinsanmi, like Staub, emphasized the importance that the next CEO be able to allow room for their successor to come in and operate effectively.
- Naomasa Maruyama supported the idea that the CEO should support the Board and listen to the Board's guidance, instead of being in opposition to the Board, which represents the community.
- Katim Touray emphasized that it should be necessary for the next CEO to have the sensibility to work effectively with people and companies from the developing world, regardless of whether or not they have prior experience doing so.
- Marilyn Cade suggested that even when the CEO Search Committee is not able to turn to the public for input on the search process, they should turn to members of SGs constituencies, advisory committees, etc, for general feedback. She also suggested that feedback continue once the CEO has been appointed, to review the CEO continuously.
Letters to ICANN
In November 2011, an open letter addressed to ICANN Chairman Dr. Stephen Crocker was published by a group of friends of ICANN who recognized the additional responsibility of the ICANN Board to properly select the next CEO. The group noted that the ICANN Board needs to uphold its multistakeholder model given that some entities are actively trying to put current internet governance at risk. The group reminded ICANN to implement the recommendations of the Accountability and Transparency Review Team (ATRT) to adopt more transparent and accountable mechanisms for selecting the next CEO. They also recommended the following:
- The selection of candidates must be advertised internationally through regional and global media
- Issue a request for proposals from external consultants/firms to help in the selection process
- The ICANN Board must be on top of the selection process to maintaining its openness and transparency
- The next CEO must be chosen prior to the expiration of the term of its predecessor to ensure the continuity of leadership
On January 24, 2011, the group once again sent another letter to Dr. Crocker, expressing satisfaction regarding the mechanisms implemented by the ICANN Board in the selection process and emphasizing their observations on the following points:
- The CEO Search Committee was properly formed and chaired by an experienced and respected personality.
- The external consultant was chosen through a bidding process
- The pre-screening of CEO applicants was conducted by the external search consultant
- Transparency was improved as the internet community had the opportunity to comment on the draft for the CEO job description and aspects of the selection process
- ICANN advertised the vacancy for the ICANN CEO position in The Economist, a weekly international publication
The group also noted that ICANN's advertisement in the Economist did not include the ICANN is a not-for profit organization and the phrase "private-sector led multistakeholder organization instead it said that ICANN fulfilled its mandate by "engaging in a global community of thousands of actively participating stakeholders" with a role in keeping the Internet secure, stable and interoperable. The group commented that the sentence seemed to weaken the multistakeholder principle.
In response, Dr. Crocker expressed his appreciation that the group was monitoring the selection process and informed the group that the ICANN Board received a strong response from highly qualified candidates. He also acknowledged that the comments they provided were good and the absence of the words "not-for-profit" was unfortunate, as it would have complemented the words "public service," which are "fundamental to the nature of ICANN."
The job description can be found here. The criteria decided upon by the search committee was divided into four categories: Professional, Personal, Technical, and The Internet Governance Ecosystem. The following are examples of each facet:
- Public, corporate, or academic service at a high international level;
- Experience working with different countries or cultures;
- Track record of achieving results.
- Consensus builder, motivator, persuader;
- Empathetic, especially to those with differing backgrounds;
- Earns respect and generates trust;
- Multicultural, skilled at language, practiced communicator and public speaker.
- Knowledge of Internet architecture;
- Familiarity with ICANN community and system, including registries, registrars, ICANN's Multistakeholder Model and policy development processes;
- Understanding of the domain name market.
The Internet Governance Ecosystem
- Understand the institutions involved in the functioning of the Internet, including but not limited to IETF, ISOC, and W3C;
- Knowledge of relevant government stakeholders.
The full list of criteria can be found here. It is not expected that every candidate will meet every criterion.
One of the qualifications was frequently discussed by ICANN attendees and commentators was whether the next CEO should be an American. Those against having another American CEO argued that the organization is already so U.S.-centric that a non-American leader would bolster ICANN's international reputation. The proponents of an American CEO note that the CEO must be able to work closely with the U.S. government and command respect from American lawmakers and lobbying groups.
First CEO Search Committee
In 2008, the previous CEO Search Committee was formed by some members of the ICANN Board who volunteered or were self-appointed. A significant number of consultations were conducted before the ICANN Board formally approved the composition of the CEO Search Committee. An external consultant was also hired to help ICANN in selecting a CEO, but ICANN did not issue any bidding process from interested parties. The responsibilities of the consultancy firm in the CEO selection process were not clearly defined by the previous CEO Search Committee. ICANN published the vacancy for the CEO position only on its website. The advertisement for the CEO job was seen as inadequate and undermined the credibility and transparency of the Internet governing body.
- CEO Search Committee, icann.org
- CEO Search Committee Progress, icann.org
- ICANN CEO job ad in The Economist, domainincite.com
- CEO Selection Criteria Powerpoint Presentation, icann.org
- Announcement, ICANN.org
- Announcement, 2.21.12, ICANN.org
- First ICANN CEO candidate revealed
- CEO Search Committee, icann.org
- The final six for the ICANN CEO job, dot-nxt.com
- The final four for the ICANN CEO job, dot-nxt.com
- Internet domain body names new chief executive, reuters.com
- CEO Search Committee, icann.org
- CEO Search Committee, icann.org
- CEO Succession Process Public Forum, 10/24/11 (audio)
- CEO Succession Process Public Forum, 10/24/11 (transcript)
- Selecting ICANN's Next CEO: An Open Letter
- Selecting ICANN's CEO Letter 2
- Selecting ICANN's CEO Letter 2
- CEO Candidate Profile, icann.org (PDF)
- Transcript: CEO Succession Forum, 24 October 2011
- ICANN's New CEO Needs to Fit the Bill, Aptantech.com
- Selecting ICANN's Next CEO - Letter 2