With Rich Doud set to retire after 23 years leading the Arlington Chamber for Commerce, the organization is seeking a new president and chief executive.
David Martin, a managing partner at District-based executive search firm Sterling Martin Associates, is spearheading the search for Doud’s successor. Martin chatted with Capital Business about what kind of leader he’s looking for. The conversation has been edited for length and clarity.
What is more important: For this person to know the Arlington business community? Or to have experience in a similar job?
The Arlington Chamber is focused on promoting business and Arlington in general — living, working in that area — so someone who knows the Arlington business community would be a big plus, as opposed to someone who has just been running another chamber of commerce. We’ve had people, for example, who’ve applied from different chambers all over the country, but I don’t think they are necessarily looking for that.
What other criteria are you looking for?
I think an ideal candidate would have a mixture of nonprofit and for-profit background. They’re focused on working with different businesses and helping businesses grow. So if someone has been involved in running a business or starting a business, I think that would be a big plus. But at the same time, they are a nonprofit organization and they report to a volunteer board of directors. And working with nonprofits often means that you have to be able to do a lot with a limited amount of resources.
Every job has upsides and downsides. What are they for this role?
The biggest challenge that they have — and I think this is the challenge for most membership associations — is that they’re trying to recruit new members. They’re looking to build the membership; It’s about 750 right now and they’re looking to grow it to 1,000. That’s a challenge. You’ve got to demonstrate the value of membership. You kind of always have to be in recruiting mode.
The upside for this position is that [the organization] has solid financial reserves. They have a very good brand and a name within the Arlington community. Rich Doud was there for [almost] 25 years, so he’s still kind of a legacy for the organization. So it’s a great platform to build it, grow it and take it to the next level.