Recording Academy Makes Offer to CEO Candidate

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Courtesy of The Recording Academy

Job description calls for "big picture mind" and executive experience

With the announcement of a new Recording Academy president/CEO expected within weeks, Billboard has learned that an offer has gone out to a candidate and that, should the contender and the Recording Academy agree on terms, the selection will be ratified during the biannual Trustees meetings that start May 21.

Online reports have suggested that the contender was selected from three finalists -- producers Harvey Mason Jr. and Jimmy Jam, and former Warner Bros. executive Ruby Marchand -- all of whom have long ties to the Recording Academy and are current or former trustees. However, Billboard has learned that the candidate, who will replace outgoing president/CEO Neil Portnow this summer, is not any of those three, but rather is someone who comes from outside of the Recording Academy’s immediate ranks. One source said that it would be “crazy” if the candidate was not a woman and/or person of color, but would not confirm that it was.

The search committee includes nine members of the Trustees board, including Mason, which made his likelihood as a finalist suspect, since no trustee who was interested in the job was allowed to serve on the committee.

Billboard has obtained the six-page position specifications for the job circulated by Korn Ferry, which conducted the executive search. 

The document calls for a “‘big picture’ mind capable of deep strategic thinking and long-range planning in an environment of rapid change and growth,” as well as a “philosophy of inclusiveness that encourages transparency and facilitates the sharing of knowledge. This comes across as strong diplomatic skills.” The word “diverse” and/or “diversity” appears four times in the spec, with the word “inclusion” appearing twice, reflective of the Recording Academy’s efforts -- through its Tina Tchen-led task force and other initiatives -- to diversity its own ranks, as well as that of its membership and nominees.

The president/CEO of the Recording Academy reports to the board of trustees and its chairperson -- currently John Poppo -- and manages a senior staff of 22 direct reports and around 250 employees. “The President and CEO will be responsible for day-to-day executive leadership and management of the Recording Academy including: the strategic vision and operations of the Academy and its related entities/programs such as the GRAMMY Awards, the Latin GRAMMYS, MusiCares, the GRAMMY Museum, advocacy and membership; extending the organization’s mission and brand identity into the marketplace; developing and managing the business interests of the Academy; and serving as the internal and external 'face' of the organization,” the document reads.

The expectations for the new president/CEO’s first year in office include articulating “a vision and [beginning] a process to lay out both short- and long-term strategies that position the Academy for success in a rapidly changing environment.”

While some candidates have lacked previous CEO experience, the qualifications clearly state a preference for someone with executive experience: “Given the organization’s size and scope, mission and unique status in the industry, the Recording Academy needs an executive with a broad base of strategic, managerial and leadership experience. The ideal candidate will have demonstrated effective leadership and a track record of success in an organization of comparable size and complexity and will have a strong understanding of how to manage a successful and high-profile enterprise in a changing landscape. S/he should have a minimum of fifteen years of relevant experience in progressively responsible management and leadership roles.”

The Recording Academy did not immediately respond to a request for comment.