October 16, 2017 – The Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) has retained Los Angeles-based Shelli Herman and Associates to find its next chief financial officer. Shelli Herman, president of the recruitment firm, will lead the search along with her associate, Krista Haley.
MOCA is seeking an experienced, results-oriented CFO for the strategic financial health, operational management and administration of the museum, said the search firm. The CFO is expected to help assure the fiscal soundness, workplace effectiveness and provision of the museum’s mission-centric services to the Los Angeles community.
As the financial, operational and administrative manager of the museum, the CFO must possess and project the integrity and standards of professional conduct, said the search firm. The individual should also have the accomplishment and experience to lead a capable, collegial and motivated professional community.
MOCA, established in 1979, remains the only artist-founded museum in Los Angeles and the only museum in the area for contemporary art exclusively. The organization strives to engage audiences through an ambitious program of exhibitions, educational programs and publishing, said Shelli Herman and Associates. The museum stages events that range from screenings and performances to readings and lectures. It also operates pop-up shops across three distinct venues in Los Angeles: MOCA Grand Avenue, the Geffen Contemporary at MOCA and MOCA Pacific Design Center.
Ms. Herman, who has 20 years of executive recruitment experience, has a strong record of leading searches and building upper management teams for a diverse clientele, including Fortune 500 companies. She has completed senior-level assignments in many industries, including consumer products, healthcare, high technology and finance, as well as for non-profit & cultural organizations.
Ms. Herman recently sat down with Hunt Scanlon Media to discuss the search and the recruiting of finance executives.
Shelli, what type of leader is MOCA looking for?
MOCA is looking for someone to provide active leadership in all aspects of the museum’s operations and serve as a partner to the organization’s director on business and strategic planning. This means that the CFO will need demonstrated financial acumen, but will also have to be focused on more than just the numbers. The ideal CFO is most likely currently in an organization like MOCA, understands that their areas of oversight are in service to the larger mission of the organization and actively seek new opportunities to advance that mission. This means that this leader must have extensive experience with budget and financial analysis, but also be capable of generating a vision for successful future operations.
What are some challenges the incoming CFO will face?
Current public and private funding trends are nudging arts non-profits further toward more innovative ways of creating revenue while staying true to their mission. But too much focus on revenue generation can distract from the standing model of non-profits as mission-driven organizations for the benefit of society. It’s a bit of a Catch 22. Private funding for arts organizations nationally represents only about 30 percent of total revenue, with the rest coming from individual giving. While the arts are exceedingly valuable to society in and of themselves, it is critical to make the case that they are even better strategic essential partners in solving other areas of concern private funders are now considering. I suppose my point in sharing this macro thinking is that a new CFO will need to partner actively with their colleagues internally to continue to keep this reality on the forefront and recognize that there is a new norm in terms of funding sources for MOCA and other prominent cultural organizations.
Where will you be looking for candidates?
Non-profit and museum experience is highly desirable, but MOCA is willing to consider corporate finance executives who demonstrate a clear understanding of the distinctive nature of the non-profit sector at a museum and a commitment to the mission of the organization.
Can you share some similar searches you have worked on?
Shelli Herman and Associates has completed a number of successful finance searches for non-profit and higher education clients where this combination of technical skills and mission-centric strategy was required. Our clients have included Otis College of Art and Design; the Catalina Island Conservancy; the Annenberg Foundation; Pacific Northwest College of Art; California Polytechnic State University; San Luis Obispo; and University of California, Los Angeles.
Discuss the current supply/demand for finance execs.
“More than ever, organizations are looking for finance executives who can function with deep technical acumen with an eye on the strategic business opportunities. The demand for individuals with the full complement of financial, strategic and leadership proficiencies is very high.”
Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor; and Will Schatz, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media