Chaloner Tapped by Wikimedia to Find Chief Communications Officer

June 15, 2017 – New York-based executive search firm Chaloner has been retained by Wikimedia Foundation to spearhead its search for a chief communications officer. Amy Segelin, president of Chaloner, is leading the search.

The foundation is seeking a creative, collaborative, forward-thinking chief communications officer to join it executive team in San Francisco. The organization is looking for a leader who is mission-driven, transparent by default, has a truly global worldview, and can champion the foundation’s values and voice in the world.

The Role

The incoming executive will be expected to lead a collaborative, multidisciplinary team of 11 storytellers, media strategists, marketers and designers. The individual will lead the collaborative definition of long-term strategies to increase awareness and relevance of their brand, meeting priorities in audience growth and development (including contributors, readers and donors), international language growth, open culture advocacy and media relations.

Candidates must have 10+ years in strategic-level communications and marketing roles with a proven track-record of leading high-impact global marketing and communications initiatives with measurable results. Experience leading multi-disciplinary teams, developing talent, and creating systems for creative and sustainable workflows is also a must. The right executive will have a clear, effective communications style, including experience guiding messaging for major organizations, political candidates, or movements. Significant experience navigating complex international organizations, movements, or networks is also a plus.

The Wikimedia Foundation is the non-profit organization that supports and hosts Wikipedia and several other Wikimedia free knowledge sites. It builds technology to help people around the globe access Wikipedia, across devices and in nearly 300 languages.

Established in 1979, Chaloner is a national executive search firm specializing in communications, public relations and marketing recruitment. The firm works with corporate, agency, consulting and non-profit clients in all industries across the U.S. and Canada.

Chief Communications Officers

The chief communications officer is typically the corporate officer primarily responsible for managing the communications risks and opportunities of a business, both internally and externally. This executive is usually responsible for communications to a wide range of stakeholders, including employees, shareholders, media, bloggers, influential members of the business community, the press, the community, and the public. He or she may partner with others in the organization to communicate with investors, analysts, customers and company board members. Most organizations will rely on the communications officer to advise and participate in decisions that may impact the ongoing reputation of the firm.

Qualifications for the role typically include communications experience with multiple stakeholder groups. Early experience may include journalism, work in a public relations agency or an MBA-type background in strategy or business development. In many cases, the communications officers will need to assume responsibility for plans and outcomes that are the result of actions by persons throughout the organization.

Most organizations today rely on the chief communications officer to advise and participate in decisions that may impact the ongoing reputation of the firm. According to a recent report by Korn Ferry, 46 percent of chief communications officers report to the CEO, while 14 percent report to a chief administrative officer and 10 percent report to a chief marketing officer. It is its growing proximity to the CEO that has this role gaining in influence.

Turning to Search Firms

With the communications officer growing importance in the C-suite, companies have been calling upon search firms to help fill this position.

Search boutique Lochlin Partners recruited former Defense Health Agency executive Tanya Bradsher as chief communications officer at the American Psychiatric Association. Managing partners Patrick Friel and Liza Wright led the assignment. She oversees all communications, public affairs, integrated marketing and member communications for the organization.

Spencer Stuart placed Kathryn Metcalfe as chief communications officer of Hartford, Conn-based insurance giant Aetna. Ms. Metcalfe’s core responsibilities include internal and external communications, crisis response, CSR, public affairs, social media, and integration communications. She was previously Deloitte’s chief communications officer. 

Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor; and Chase Barbe, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media

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