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We are working with Shop.org in their search for a Senior Vice President, Communities and Networks AND Executive Director based in Washington, D.C.  In this dual role, the SVP Communities and Networks and Executive Director, Shop.org, provides strategic direction and management of Shop.org, in conjunction with providing leadership, management and coordination for all NRF communities, which include ARTS, CIO Council and Loss Prevention.

Shop.org, a division of the National Retail Federation, is a member-driven trade association whose exclusive focus is to provide a forum for retail executives to share information, lessons-learned, new perspectives, insights and intelligence about online and multichannel retailing.

HARRY’S COMMENTS: It’s an honor to manage this particular search, and I don’t mind saying that for the first time in my recruiting career, I am doing a search pro bono. That’s right.  What I will get from handling this search is exactly the same thing everyone in the industry will get:  A world-class executive to take the helm of the most prestigious ecommerce trade association on the planet.

If you know someone who might be good for this role, please email this post to them, or Tweet it below.  You will be doing your industry a huge favor. Thank you!

Reporting to NRF COO, Carleen Kohut, the job is being done on an interim basis by Joan Broughton. Those of us who have been in the industry for a while know that Joan is the former VP of Multi-Channel Programs for REI.com. I consider Joan a friend, and I will never forget that she was never too busy to take my calls early in my career, even after she had appeared on the cover of Internet Retailer magazine. Although Joan is doing a fantastic job as Interim Executive Director, her intention is to remain VP of IT & Internet Strategies with the NRF.

At the bottom of this post, you will find the official job description for this role. But at a high-level, this job is really about three things:

Advocacy: The NRF represents an industry with more than 1.6 million U.S. retail establishments, more than 24 million employees – about one in five American workers – and sales in the trillions of dollars. One of the NRF’s primary purposes is to impact the legislative issues that effect these workers and the consumers they serve. Likewise, since Shop.org is a division of the NRF, Shop.org’s mission is to impact the legislative issues that effect online retailers and the consumers they serve. Some of these issues include online privacy, interstate sales tax, and international trade.

As Shop.org’s Executive Director, you’ll be expected to be a very visible contributor to these initiatives. That means getting out on Capitol Hill and talking with legislators. If you have lobbying or legislative experience, now is your chance to highlight that on your resume …

Communication:  As Executive Director, your job will be to make sure that relevant policies, legislation, news, trends, and analysis are communicated in a timely manner to Shop.org’s stakeholders. Additionally, you must have a teachable point of view on these issues in order to marshal the community to take action as appropriate and necessary.

Education:  This is the most visible (and fun!) aspect of the job. Shop.org is famous for its world-class conferences, research, and networking events — and the Executive Director will take an active role in striking the right balance between a.) tactically-oriented content that will help its smaller members manage their day to day ecommerce business, and b.) the strategic “TED-like” material favored by some of the community’s veteran members.

At Shop.org, member retention is just as important as new member acquisition, so it’s vital that Shop.org’s educational initiatives include something for everyone, like so

What Shop.org needs is an E.D. who cares about advocacy, but also understands the needs and values of America’s one million plus online retailers. The right person can’t be a political yes-man, nor can s/he be overly aggressive in pursuing any agendas that run counter to the NRF’s agendas. Ideally, the E.D. will possess all of the following character traits:

  • Dealing with ambiguity – Can effectively cope with change; Isn’t upset when things are up in the air; Can comfortably handle risk and uncertainty.
  • Intelligence – Deals with complex, abstract issues very comfortably; Is regarded by peers as a “brain.” There are a lot of moving parts in an ecommerce business, and the forces of Mobile, Social, Global, Local, and Cloud are causing the industry to evolve at light speed. You’ll need a high IQ to understand these issues well enough to simplify them for your members.
  • Building team spirit – Creates strong morale and spirit in his or her team; Shares wins and successes; Fosters an open dialogue; Lets people finish and be responsible for their own work; Lets subordinates present to senior management; Acts as if real success is the success of the whole team; Creates a feeling of belonging in the team. Can you make your team, your board, and your members feel like Shop.org’s best days are ahead of it?
  • Comfort around top management / managing up – Can deal comfortably with senior executives; Can present bad news to top management without undue tension and nervousness; Understands how top executives think; Can describe to senior executives the best way to get things done. We need someone who’s cool as a cucumber around senior execs.
  • Relationships with peers – Can quickly find common ground and solve problems for the good of all; Can represent his own interests, yet be fair to other groups; Is seen as a team player and is cooperative; Easily gains trust and support of others; Can deliver bad news effectively to peers.
  • Interpersonal savvy – Relates well to all kinds of people; Builds constructive and effective relationships; Shows diplomacy and tact; Can diffuse high tension situations very comfortably.
  • Strategic agility – Sees ahead clearly; Can anticipate future trends and consequences with accuracy; Has broad knowledge and perspective and can articulate a credible vision of where the industry is headed; Is future oriented and can create winning strategies based on a mixture of data, judgment, and experience.
  • Organizational agility – Is knowledgeable about how the organization and industry function; Understands how to get things done through both formal channels and an informal network; Understands the origin and reasoning behind key policies, practices, and procedures.
  • Negotiating – Can negotiate skillfully in tough situations with internal and external groups; Can settle differences with a minimum of noise; Can win concessions without damaging relationships; Can be both direct/forceful and diplomatic; Quickly gains trust of other parties to the negotiations; Has an excellent sense of timing. We need you to sort out sometimes conflicting agendas in a face-saving way that’s “hard on the issues and soft on the people.”
  • Command skills – Is not afraid to take charge when trouble comes; Does whatever it takes to get the job done despite resistance; Takes unpopular stands if necessary; Faces difficult situation with guts and tenacity; Encourages direct and tough debate but isn’t afraid to end it and move on when the time comes; Is looked to for direction in a crisis; Enjoys leading.
  • Timely decision making – Makes tough decisions in a timely manner, often with insufficient information; Has a bias for action. Big decisions aren’t going to make themselves. You’ll need to make them in a way that’s inclusive yet expedient. Remember, the job’s title is “Executive Director,” not “Executive Dictator.”

In your first hundred days on the job, you’ll need to establish a very good rapport with the board. That means proactively seeking them out to establish trust and credibility and develop an agenda for an effective relationship. Moreover, you’ll work with Shop.org’s SVP of Membership to establish a membership and retention plan. All of that’s for starters.

Should you apply?  Well, you can’t beat the job for industry visibility.  It’s an insanely high-profile gig.  Think about that.  It takes a special person to want to be this far out front in the industry. This is a job for the extremely extroverted — but not in a weird, ego-maniacal way. Shop.org needs a hands on, approachable, servant-leader.

If you apply, plan on being asked the following during your first call with me and Joan:

  1. What do you know about Shop.org?  Seriously.  What do you really know about the soul of the organization and the character of its membership?
  2. Are you a member and do you go to their events?  Why?  What have you learned?  What would you change?  Be specific.
  3. In your opinion, what are the top three legislative issues that will impact the industry in the next 3-5 years?  Why?  What data do you have to support your assertions?
  4. What is your background in ecommerce?  Have you actually made an impact with one of Shop.org’s member companies?  Again, be specific.
  5. Why do you want to do this?  Although the base pay is fantastic, the NRF is a non-profit, so money shouldn’t be a motivating factor. What’s your end-game?

Please Tweet this job, and you’ll be automatically entered into our monthly drawing. Just do it and see what happens: 2010 prizes included $100 Amazon gift certs, Dean & Deluca steaks, and Keurig coffee machines. ALL Shop.org members should Tweet this job for the sake of their community …

Essential Functions:

  • Develops goals and measures performance through organizational development, strengthening member services and member development.
  • Facilitates a collaborative environment for all NRF communities to work together and tap into each others strengths for the enrichment of the membership and the benefit of the retail industry.
  • Serves as the steward of the Shop.org brand, ensuring that it is aligned with the values of the organization, the needs of the members, and is positioned effectively relative to the competition
  • Oversees Shop.org membership recruitment and retention strategies and the effective communication of the Shop.org membership value proposition
  • Provides tactical and strategic support to the Shop.org board of directors on a wide range of tactical and strategic operations and governance issues
  • Oversees public relations efforts to promote Shop.org, ARTS, CIO Council and Loss Prevention communities as industry authorities
  • Identifies and develops opportunities for new program offerings and expansion/growth of existing programs and services consistent with strategic plan
  • Collaborates with and leverages NRF Government Relations staff to execute policy and advocacy strategies and programs that promote, protect and advance NRF Communities
  • Oversees Loss Prevention community initiatives based on the needs of the retail industry
  • Manages the overall work activities of employees within the Communities department, including establishing performance objectives, conducting performance reviews, and facilitating employee development

Position Requirements:

  • Minimum 10 years of professional experience with management, external relations and program experience
  • Successful track record in business development, strategic planning, marketing and outreach
  • Coalition building experience and exceptional interpersonal skills in order to foster effective collaboration and linkage among member communities
  • Proven revenue generation experience with an ability to develop and manage important relationships
  • Experience working in partnership with a Board of Directors
  • Facilitative and collaborative work style, with the ability to build bridges across divergent and competing interests, successfully driving consensus
  • Expertise as a senior-level leader with demonstrated skills in leading, coaching and mentoring staff
  • Produce effective, accurate and concise written product
  • Effective presentation skills
  • Must be energetic and creative, and have a strong inclination for individual initiative

Applications for this position are being coordinated by Harry Joiner. To apply, CLICK HERE. Candidates, please be sure to ask Harry for packet #1342 of market research and company / competitive intel that will differentiate you in your candidacy. Due to the competitive nature of this search, thorough preparation for these interviews with this proprietary material is strongly recommended.

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