Q&A with the Nominating Committee

Aug 15, 2013 | English

The IFAC Nominating Committee plays a vital role in establishing the expertise of the independent standard-setting boards, the IFAC Board, Compliance Advisory Panel, and IFAC committees by seeking out and identifying the best candidates for vacancies. Whether it is one of the independent standard-setting boards or an IFAC committee, the Nominating Committee examines nominations from around the world, analyzes experience and expertise, and considers diversity when recommending new members and leadership for the boards and committees, all while maintaining transparency and strict adherence to due process. The Nominating Committee, under the oversight of the Public Interest Oversight Board (PIOB), also strives to ensure sufficient nominations are received each year and helps professional accountancy organizations and other stakeholders establish an effective nominations strategy.

The Nominating Committee is comprised of two ex-officio members—the IFAC president and deputy president—and at least four non-ex-officio members, of whom no more than two can be IFAC Board members. There are currently two Board members on the committee—Ana Maria Elorietta and Japheth Katto—although during some years there have been none. For 2013, the non-Board members, or ordinary members, are Margaret Parker, Professor Judy Tsui, and Sir David Tweedie.

I asked committee members to share their experiences and thoughts on the work of the committee in order to increase the knowledge among our stakeholders of the work and diligence involved.

—Warren Allen, IFAC President

  1. What made you interested in serving on the Nominating Committee?

    Ana Maria Elorrieta: Due to my accumulated knowledge of IFAC, I felt that I had a reasonable understanding of most of the needs at the board and committee level so I realized that I could contribute to the nominations process. Additionally, in so doing, I would be representing Latin America.

    Japheth Katto: I wanted to make a contribution to the leadership and governance of IFAC, its committees, and the independent standard-setting boards by being part of the selection of professionals serving on the boards and committees. In my view this is an important exercise as serving the public interest is the foundation of IFAC's mission.

    Margaret Parker: My member body contacted me to put my name forward. I was on a nominating committee in my state in Australia so was familiar with the overall requirements of a nominating committee at the local level.

    Sir David Tweedie: I believe passionately in global standards, whether they are in accounting, auditing, ethics, or education. If we are to gain acceptance for these standards, we need the very best people the profession can offer to draft them. I wanted to do my best to ensure that the [boards and] committees were filled by those who were respected thinkers in their particular specialisms and had an international outlook rather than being merely placemen.
  2. Since you became a member, has your view of the Nominating Committee and its work changed? Has serving on the Nominating Committee been what you expected?

    Japheth Katto: I always knew that the committee played a very big role and that its job was not an easy one. However, I did not fully appreciate how intricate and complicated the process was, especially when you have many candidates who fit the criteria of "best person for the job."

    Margaret Parker: Serving on the committee has been much more than I expected. The rigor and concern for the public interest are foremost in the committee’s mind. I have also come to understand that the work of the committee is vital to the quality of volunteers on the boards and committees.

    The committee is very cohesive and cooperative, which adds to the overall enjoyment of the work. On a personal level, it has been a wonderful experience to be on an international committee where the members are from all over the world.

    Judy Tsui: I was pleasantly surprised to find out that the Nominating Committee has established such comprehensive and consistent procedures and processes for all the nominations. The PIOB observer, in particular, serves as a monitor of public interest.

    Sir David Tweedie: I have been astounded at the thoroughness of the work of the committee. It seeks to be scrupulously fair—it examines the CVs very carefully, then ensures that not one committee member has an undue influence in the result. I have found the work of the committee and its staff extremely professional—far exceeding anything else I have experienced with nominating committees.
  3. The competition for membership on boards and committees is very high; how does the committee select the “best” candidates for positions?

    Ana Maria Elorrieta: This is really a very important activity. We first analyze the profile of the best candidate in accordance with the boards’ and committees’ needs. Then we analyze the CVs received and try to match one to the other. The analysis of the CVs is very detailed work performed individually by each Nominating Committee member, so when we discuss as a group, each member has a point of view on the best candidates. Then we complete our knowledge of the candidates through the interviews to provide the basis for the final decision. It is a very comprehensive process.

    Japheth Katto: In arriving at the best candidate for the position, the committee's guiding criteria is the candidate's knowledge, experience, and ability to add value to the board or committee. Before the final decision, other factors, such as geographical and sector (Big 4, small- and medium-sized practices, professional accountants in business, etc.) representation are taken into account. Clearly, it wouldn't be in the public interest if all or most members of a board or committee were from the Big 4 or one region. Diversity is important.

    Margaret Parker: The committee members read all the CVs submitted via the Call for Nominations. We also consider the requirements of the boards and committees for which we are recommending candidates. It is, therefore, important for nominees to include their experience relevant to the particular board in their CV. The committee members individually rank the nominees prior to our meeting. At our next face-to-face meeting, a technical voting system is used to rank the nominees who are then chosen for either telephone or face-to-face interviews.

    Committee members, together with board/committee chairs, conduct telephone interviews, gleaning the candidates’ experience of the work of the board/committee, their relevant work experience, and what they may bring on a personal level. Written reports of the interviews are provided to the Nominating Committee for further consideration in choosing the recommended nominee.

    In making the final choice, all aspects of the “best” person for the job are considered—relevant experience required by the board/committee, regional representation, gender representation, and English language skills.

    Sir David Tweedie: Once the CVs have been read by the individual members, we all vote electronically at the same time and then select for interview those nominees that receive the highest number of votes. We usually interview twice as many candidates as there are vacancies. The interviews are carried out by a Nominating Committee member and the chair of the committee [in question]. The notes on these interviews are then passed to the whole committee at the next meeting where the interview results are debated. If there are doubts about the caliber of those interviewed other candidates may be sought from member bodies.
  4. How is your role as an ordinary (non-Board) member different from a Board member? How is your role as a Board member different from an ordinary (non-Board) member?

    Ana Maria Elorrieta: The difference between a Board member and non-Board member is that we have the input from the Board, including suggestions and concerns related to the other boards and committees. This includes discussions around strategy and risks. We can add this perspective to the Nominating Committee discussion.

    Japheth Katto: I think as a Board member, I bring the perspective of the Board as a whole. I will know the Board's thinking based on previous experience and on ongoing consultations between the Nominating Committee and the Board.

    Margaret Parker: I don’t believe my role as an ordinary member is different from a Board member. We all have a say in the decision making, all have a vote in choosing the candidates for interview, all have an opportunity to provide input after an interview. The Board members will have wider experience with IFAC, which occasionally will impact our decisions; however, generally, there is no difference.

    Sir David Tweedie: In most cases, there is no difference between the two roles. The Board members, however, are more experienced with the workings of IFAC—they can explain IFAC policies and answer questions about individuals who have served on IFAC boards/committees in the past or explain the history of certain applications.
  5. What does serving the public interest, which is embedded in IFAC’s mission, mean to you as a member of the Nominating Committee?

    Ana Maria Elorrieta: To serve the public interest is to act with an objective and balanced view and avoid influence of any type. It means to think strategically and with a long-term view, looking to protect the society and not any individual part.

    Japheth Katto: Simply put, serving in the public interest means selecting those candidates that are going to work not in the interest of their nominating organization or their employers or regions, who are not going to allow [themselves] to be unduly influenced, and who are going to act with integrity in the interest of the global profession and the public that it serves.

    Margaret Parker: To me, serving the public interest means making decisions that are best for the whole rather than a part of the whole. This can be applied from a wide perspective, such as making decisions that are best for the world rather than a particular country or region, or doing what is best for a group rather than the individual. When applying this philosophy to the nominating [process], it means making decisions that are in the best interest of the public at large, rather than the accountancy profession in particular, or a particular region, country, or individual.

    Sir David Tweedie: The public interest should be in the DNA of every accountant. In looking at candidates, I look for those that have clearly been involved in public policy issues, have written articles advocating professionalism, or have given time to move the profession forward. Public interest to me is acting in a neutral, unbiased way to present transparent information to society at large and to act with integrity and objectivity without regard to particular interests. I look for this in those who are nominated for the [boards or] committees.
  6. How does the committee ensure due process in its actions?

    Ana Maria Elorrieta: There is a clear and objective process that is carefully followed. There are discussions at each phase, to reaffirm the adequacy of the decisions taken at each stage of the process. Every member is free to contribute and discuss.

    Japheth Katto: The committee has procedures and processes that are agreed [to], including Terms of Reference [which are approved by the IFAC Council and the PIOB]. It makes consensus decisions and documents its processes. In addition, its work is observed by the PIOB.

    Judy Tsui: Due process is ensured through:
    • Open, detailed, and rigorous discussions;
    • Adhering to anonymous electronic voting [to derive a shortlist of candidates];
    • Adhering to the principle of candidate selection based on the “best person for the job” and meeting geographical and gender diversity when possible once the candidates meet performance criteria; and
    • Maintaining the practice of having the board/committee chair and Nominating Committee members conduct telephone interviews for selecting board/committee members, and conducting in-person interviews for selecting IFAC Board and Nominating Committee members, and board/committee chairs.
    Margaret Parker: The committee members are very conscious of working in the public interest and according to the Terms of Reference of the committee. Members of the staff of IFAC who are familiar with the Constitution and regulations surrounding the work of the committee are also in attendance at the meetings to provide input where necessary. However, the meetings of the Nominating Committee are overseen by a member of the PIOB who ensures due process is followed and that the public interest is protected.

    Sir David Tweedie: See the answer to question three. Sometimes, however, excellent candidates simply are unable to obtain a place on a committee by virtue of the fact that their country or region is over represented and views from other parts of the world are necessary to give balance to that committee. In such cases, the unsuccessful candidates are frequently advised to reapply for a position. Due process isn’t simply looking for the best candidates but seeking to achieve a balanced composition on any board or IFAC committee.

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