I'm very glad to tell you that Wikimedia CH has just hired two new
directors. Duc-Ahn Chung will be our new Chief Administrative Officer,
starting in November, and Charles Andrès, our former president of the
board, will be our new Chief Science Officer. Read on for more details!
When Chantal Ebongué, our CAO and first employee, told us she was
planning to leave, we set a recruiting committee to replace her. One of
the reasons she was leaving was that it was difficult to take care of
both administrative work and project work -- both because of the high
workload, and because these two tasks require very different
competences. Thus, while drafting the job description, the recruiting
committee proposed to the board to hire two people. This was accepted,
and we now have filled these positions.
Duc-Anh ("Anh") Chung, our new CAO, originally studied hotel management,
and worked as project manager in different hotels around the world. She
then worked as an executive assistant in a start-up company in Geneva,
in charge of all administrative matters. Since May 2012, she is
assistant director in a large non-profit organization in Geneva. In this
position, she is responsible for all administrative matters, and has a
wide experience helping a purely volunteer organization transform itself
into a professional structure.
Among other tasks, Ahn will be in charge of the human resources and the
finances of our association, including the annual fundraiser and the
financial side of the FDC application, and will report directly to the
board. She will start working for Wikimedia CH on 1 November -- just in
time for the fundraiser :-)
Charles Andrès, our new CSO, was originally trained as a biologist; he
received a Master in Genetics followed by a PhD in Cellular Biology in
France. Since 2007, he has worked as a senior scientist at the
University of Neuchâtel, where he is a researcher and lecturer in
biology. He is a Wikipedian since 2007, board member of Wikimedia CH
since 2010 and the chairman of the board since June 2012.
Charles will be responsible for all the projects conducted inside our
association, including both support of individual initiatives (members
projects) and institutional partnerships, and will be responsible for
the annual FDC application. Among other projects, he will oversee our
GLAM activities, as well as the development of our education program. He
will report directly to the board. Charles has started working part-time
as CSO on 1 September (just in time for the preparation of the FDC
application :-), and will join us full time in early October.
The choice of a Chief Science Officer (CSO) position
The decision to create a CSO position stems from the fact that many of
our efforts (current and planned) are focused on "scientific" projects;
by this we mean not only that we have established many collaborations
with academic institutions, but also that we intend to drive our
projects using a scientific approach, as a tool to improve quality. We
have received very good feedback on this from many people in the
The choice of two directors rather than one executive director
In our current structure and given our level of development, the board
still takes care of many tasks traditionally in the hands of an
executive director. The choice of hiring two directors, each with
well-defined areas of competences, working closely together and with the
board, was deemed the best solution (note that despite the title of
"directors", they will not simply delegate the day-to-day work to other
employees, but will actually perform most of it).
This solution fits well with the Swiss culture, as even the Federal
government is organized following such a collegial structure
We are also glad to have been able to make a balanced hiring: not only
have we hired one man and one woman, but we have one director who knows
the Wikimedia movement very well, and another one who will bring a fresh
pair of eyes. Unfortunately, we have not been able to find a balance
between the different languages spoken in Switzerland, as we hired two
native French speakers, but we have made sure that our staff can cover
adequately the different language communities in the country.
Governance and management of potential conflicts of interests
At the time when Chantal left, Charles Andrès had indicated an interest
in a potential position within the Wikimedia movement. As such, he was
not part of the recruiting committee who suggested the creation of a CSO
position and did not participate to the board discussion that approved
this position. He did not participate either to any of the discussions
that took place afterwards during the hiring process for both positions,
until the final choice made by the rest of the board, and resigned
immediately after being told he was chosen. During the process, we
received the advice of Dominique Freymond, a widely-recognized Swiss
expert in governance (http://www.mas-ltd.ch/index.php?page=97), who
helped us eliminate possible conflicts of interests. In particular, it
was determined that our president did not have to resign during the
The main people taking part in the recruiting committee were Chantal
Ebongué, Ilario Valdelli and Frédéric Schütz, who followed the entire
process. Several other people from the board, the staff, our members and
external people were involved at one step or another, commenting on the
process or the applications and participating to the interviews.
The board has chosen current board member Patrick Kenel as president of
the board ad interim, and Frédéric Schütz as vice-president ad interim.
The current priority goes to the upcoming FDC application and the annual
fundraiser; the organization of these activities does not depend on the
transition, and so will not be affected in any way.
The next general assembly is planned on 22 March 2014, and a new
president will be elected at that time.
Before finishing this long email, I would like to thank Chantal Ebongué
again for the huge work she did while working with us, and for her
collaboration within the hiring committee.
Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions!
Board member of Wikimedia CH, in the name of the core of the recruiting
committee: Chantal Ebongué, Ilario Valdelli and Frédéric Schütz
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