BBG Watch Commentary
At a December 18, 2013 open meeting of the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) in Washington, DC, Chairman Jeff Shell announced a new interim management team at BBG’s chief management and support unit, the International Broadcasting Bureau (IBB), while the board tries to hire a permanent agency CEO. Jeff Trimble, who is acting IBB director, will be out of his current job in early January. He will be replaced by a three-person team, as announced by Jeff Shell who cited unanimous approval of the board for this move.
Shell said that Jeff Trimble will stay with the BBG and will take a yet undetermined journalistic job. Trimble’s boss, former IBB Director Richard Lobo retired at the end of last month.
Shell underscored that these personnel changes are temporary as the entire board is “extremely committed to hiring not only a CEO, but a great CEO for this organization.” “We think it’s critical. This is a part-time board and we need a full-time CEO to manage the organization. This interim structure is an interim structure,” Shell said.
Trimble will be replaced by André Mendes, Director of IBB Office of Technology, Services and Innovation; Suzie Carroll, BBG’s Executive Director; and Robert Bole, Director of Innovation. Their respective interim titles would be Director of Global Operations (Mendes), Director of Global Strategy (Bole), and Director of Global Communications (Carroll), BBG Governor Armstrong announced. Shell announced that Armstrong would have an advisory liaison role with the interim IBB management team.
Shell said that André Mendes will focus on agency management issues, Robert Bole in addition to his normal duties will focus on strategic issues and oversee the work of the Office of Strategy and Development headed by Bruce Sherman and the Office of Performance Review. Suzie Carroll will expand her oversight of external and internal communications, Shell also announced.
Shell said that oversight congressional committees will be notified about these interim management structure changes.
Longtime observers of U.S. International Media view these interim changes as positive and encouraging. They have praised to BBG Watch Jeff Shell’s leadership and the new BBG Board.
BBG PRESS RELEASE
DECEMBER 18, 2013
The Broadcasting Board of Governors today announced an interim management structure, took an in-depth look at the Voice of America and hosted a rich discussion on technology and innovation with key industry leaders.
The Board agreed to divide the responsibilities of the recently retired IBB Director among three members of the senior management team in order to help pave the way for a future Chief Executive Officer. Under this interim structure, André Mendes will serve as Director of Global Operations, Robert Bole will be Director of Global Strategy, and Suzie Carroll will serve as Director of Global Communications. Together they will lead the agency in an arrangement that is expected to begin in January, pending congressional approval.
“These individuals were chosen because they are forward thinkers and change agents,” said Chair Jeff Shell. “We are extremely committed to bringing on board a CEO, and this interim management structure will prepare the organization for that reform.”
Mendes, Bole, and Carroll will provide, in their respective areas, oversight and direction to the Director of the Voice of America, the Director of the Office of Cuba Broadcasting, and all other offices of the federal agency. The three will work together until a CEO is selected and hired. Governor Matt Armstrong will serve as the Board’s Management Liaison.
Jeff Trimble, IBB Deputy Director, will transition to a new role to be announced separately. Shell thanked Trimble for taking the helm of the IBB management team after IBB Director Dick Lobo’s retirement.
After the regular business meeting, including comments from the public, the Board held a 90-minute “deep dive” session focused on the Voice of America. Before a live studio audience, VOA Director David Ensor reviewed the network’s worldwide activities, distribution and effectiveness, illustrating his talk with numerous examples of excellent work by VOA journalists. Ensor also fielded questions from the Board concerning mission, allocation of resources, and audience engagement.
The technology and innovation panel opened with a discussion between Shell and Reed Hastings, CEO of Netflix, about the challenges of steering a large international media organization. Hastings was then joined by Macon Phillips, Coordinator of the State Department’s Bureau of International Information Programs, and Tom Cochran, Chief Technology Officer of Atlantic Media, in a panel moderated by Bole. An engaging conversation followed between the panelists, governors, and assembled audience on topics including measuring impact, developing partnerships and revitalizing content strategies.
All three segments of the Board meeting were live streamed online and are available for viewing here.