Monday, September 19, 2011

Time to Find a Chair

Soon, a road-trip that started in June 1994 will, for me, finally come to a halt. Sometime in the next few months, I plan to stand down as Chairman of VoiceAbility. Just to remind, I was the founding CEO of Speaking Up, one of the two organisations that came together to form VoiceAbilty in April 2010. Seventeen years of involvement will come to a close.

Of all that time, I probably enjoyed the earlier and late parts the most. I am a natural 'early days' person and my temperament and skill-set is highly suited to start-up phase of organisations. But I also enjoyed my period as Chair enormously, striking a powerful parrtnership with our CEO, Jonathan Senker, who came from the other organisation we merged with, Advocacy Partners.

It was my hunch, correct as it turned out, that Jonathan, not I, was the right CEO for the new organisation. I had actually hit a natural limit to what I could bring to the job while I could see that Jonathan had miles of road in front of him. I could see that he would lead us to a better place.

Which already, in less than two years, he has. While like all organisations we have had to take some direct-hits, he's steered the ship extremely well, addressed our deeper challenges and built a great executive team around himself. Although quite tough decisions have been required, I have been delighted with our progress, particularly when I look around at what is happening to other organisations.

As Chair, my job has been to supply the CEO with the correctly calibrated blend of support and challenge that characterises this relationship, at its best. Not always easy to get right as a former CEO, but I think we have both been pleasantly surprised by how well we have ticked each others' boxes. Of course, I was always going to be a 'transitional chair', helping to seal the merger and our Governance thereafter, then riding off into the sunset, as the new organisation consolidated.

We are now very near that time so the search for a new Chair is on. This is something we are taking very seriously. We all know how important the Chair-CEO relationship is to the overall fate of an organisation. The person who leads our Board will have to be somebody not only of high quality with strong commitment and connections but have a reasonable amount of time to develop the board itself.

Also, we are particularly interested in people with a lived experience of disability or being a carer, though this is by no means essential. And because we have charitable status, we need a person who can afford to do this for no salary.

Interested? This is, take it from me, a great organisation and opportunity. VoiceAbility is a growing organisation with a great staff team and a strong group of trustees. I am leaving because it is right to do so, not because I feel a pressing need to so do. I feel my own legacy, as one of the founders, is now safe and that I can move on now. Seventeen years is enough time. While i still bring something, I personally don't think it is quite enough. So the search is on now for a replacement.

If you think you might be interested, contact for a pack. Or if you want a chat with me, I am on @deardenphillips - or leave a message in the comments box.

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