Choosing the Lab’s new leaders

May 18, 2001

Choosing the Lab’s new leaders

Today, I am announcing the selection of a new deputy director and a number of associate directors. The selection of all of these individuals at one time is somewhat of a first for our Lab, and so I thought I would take the opportunity to describe the process used in their selection and some of the external factors that influenced my decisions.

As with any position at the Lab, the first step is to post the position and advertise it appropriately. Next, a committee of Lab employees is formed to aid in the search and screening process. This committee will usually be chaired by one or two current senior managers, and contains several people from the organization whose leader is being sought. It also has representatives from other organizations that have special interests in the position, as well as some “at-large” people from throughout the Lab. There has been a real effort to make these committees broadly representative of many perspectives about the organization and the Lab while still keeping them small enough to function effectively.

The committee has two jobs: to search for qualified applicants and then to collectively evaluate their suitability for the position. The search involves “networking” both inside and outside the Lab to generate a strong array of candidates, and people and groups (e.g. the UC review committees) outside the search committee are often asked for their suggestions. Once a representative set of applicants is obtained, the committee assesses their qualifications and interviews those who appear to be the most qualified.

The committee uses this interview/screening process to provide me with a short list of those candidates who, in their judgment, are qualified to do the job in question. In addition, I asked them to summarize the strengths and weaknesses of each individual and to include minority opinions or viewpoints that are not easily captured in a summary document. Often, I will meet with the committee members to discuss their conclusions and how they reached them.

At this point, the committee has finished its work, but mine has just begun. I now interview each candidate on the short list. In addition I seek additional input, primarily from people outside the Lab who often have little insight (or interest) in the internal workings of the Lab, but who have strong views on how various individuals are perceived in other environments.

My final job, of course, is to make a decision, balancing the committee’s assessment, the results of my interviews, and the external perspectives. For the senior positions, this is complicated by the fact that I view a deputy or associate director job as strongly representing the entire Laboratory, not simply the needs and desires of his or her own organization. In the current situation, an additional factor entered the equation, namely the opportunity to create a major part of the entire senior team, so I sought different strengths in that context as well.
The process for seven positions is now concluded with today’s selections and I am very pleased with the outcome. I want to thank our selection committees for their important contributions to this process. Another position should be filled shortly, another will open as a result of today’s selections, and it is likely that an additional one or two jobs will be added to the Lab senior team. All in all, I am very excited by the new senior team, and I hope all of you will provide the support they will need to succeed in their new jobs.