ICANN’s new Chief Executive Officer needs to fit the bill

The contract of the current Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) chief executive Rod Beckstrom comes to an end in July 2012 having served the organization from July 2009.

Beckstrom, who replaced Paul Twomey, previously served as director of National Cybersecurity Center (NCSC) at US Department of Homeland Security, reporting directly to the Secretary of DHS and cooperated directly with the Attorney General, National Security Council, Secretary of Defense, and the Director of National Intelligence (DNI). Prior to this Beckstrom served on DNI’s Senior Advisory Group.

Beckstrom, born in 1961, is a graduate of Stanford University with an MBA and a BA with Honors and Distinction and is also a Fulbright Scholar at the University of St. Gallen in Switzerland.

The new chief executive has to fit the candidate profile circulated by ICANN in December 2011. Some of the requirements are: solid record of either or public, corporate, academic service, at a high international level; global exposure or experience of working in different countries or with different cultures; success in managing ICANN’s evolution as an organization, complex issues and programs, and key contracts; track record of achieving results, not just ‘being there’; and must be “consensus builder and catalyst, a motivator and persuader.”

The other requirement is the need to be intellectually engaging and contribute to ‘thought leadership’ in helping define vision and strategy of ICANN and ability to “combine weight of personality with empathy towards others of many different backgrounds.” The person also needs to be multicultural with language skills, practiced communicator and public speaker and “able negotiator,” without making enemies.

In recognition and acknowledgment of Beckstrom’s service, ICANN chair Steve Crocker in his New Year message to the internet community noted that:

Rod Beckstrom, current ICANN CEO whose term expires in July 2012

“June will also mark the transition period for our CEO. Rod Beckstrom has brought enormous energy to the position and has greatly increased the visibility of ICANN around the world. The search process for the next CEO is now in full swing. Applications have started coming in and I believe there will be an announcement in the Economist shortly. George Sadowsky is leading the Board committee steering the process, and I know first-hand how hard he and the whole committee are working.”

Though an American can still be selected to head ICANN, there are those who argue that because ICANN is a US based organization,  policy decisions were skewed towards the US benefit and now expect the post to consider individuals who are not necessarily seen as and representative of a global citizenship.

However, the proponents of an American as the next ICANN chief executive argue that only someone with a high standard education, experience and rapport with the US government that Beckstorm brought would be able to project the clout necessary to command respect from the round of high profile Ivy League-educated US Senate House and the current opposition that ICANN is facing regarding its new gTLD program from strong lobbies like trademark holders.

Though ICANN is a US-based organization, people are also keen to see whether the time has come for it to have a chief executive from either Asia or Africa. But is there anyone that could fit the bill from the outgoing Beckstrom and the unstipulated position in the above CEO job description?



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