In The Game Of Executive Musical Chairs, Philly Can’t Find Someone To Sit Down

At a time when both the LA Philharmonic and the Dallas Symphony Orchestra announced new CEOs within the span of one day, the Philadelphia Orchestra continues to be vexed by finding someone to fill their top executive gig.

Adaptistration People 075On the other side of that coin, Philly may have pulled out the chair for one or more candidates only to see them walk away.

In another context, the timeline for all three executive announcements could be considered amusing:

  • Wed, Nov 15: Philadelphia Orchestra announces they haven’t been able to find a new CEO and for now, will be splitting CEO duties and responsibilities between two existing senior VPs. The orchestra has been searching since at last June, 2017 when the current CEO announced she was leaving the position on Dec 31, 2017.
  • Thu, Nov 16: Los Angeles Philharmonic announces they’ve hired Simon Woods to as their new CEO. He officially begins on Jan 22, 2018.
  • Fri, Nov 17: Dallas Symphony announces Kim Noltemy will serve as their new CEO. She begins in her new role on Jan 22, 2018 (seems to be the popular starting date).

It’s not a stretch to imagine that both Noltemy and Woods are from the caliber of executive that should have attracted the eye of Philly’s headhunters. If they did, it appears both found greener pastures farther west.

About Drew McManus

"I hear that every time you show up to work with an orchestra, people get fired." Those were the first words out of an executive's mouth after her board chair introduced us. That executive is now a dear colleague and friend but the day that consulting contract began with her orchestra, she was convinced I was a hatchet-man brought in by the board to clean house.

I understand where the trepidation comes from as a great deal of my consulting and technology provider work for arts organizations involves due diligence, separating fact from fiction, interpreting spin, as well as performance review and oversight. So yes, sometimes that work results in one or two individuals "aggressively embracing career change" but far more often than not, it reinforces and clarifies exactly what works and why.

In short, it doesn't matter if you know where all the bodies are buried if you can't keep your own clients out of the ground, and I'm fortunate enough to say that for more than 15 years, I've done exactly that for groups of all budget size from Qatar to Kathmandu.

For fun, I write a daily blog about the orchestra business, provide a platform for arts insiders to speak their mind, keep track of what people in this business get paid, help write a satirical cartoon about orchestra life, hack the arts, and love a good coffee drink.

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