OMD/Job Description/VP Human Resources

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... an experienced professional to coordinate the evolution of Wikimedia’s human resource and organizational development strategy. The CHRO will manage human resources operations, drive recruiting strategies and ensure that the Foundation’s leadership and staff at all levels remain on the cutting edge of innovative practice.


Chief Human Resources Officer

Basic Function

The Wikimedia Foundation (WMF) is a nonprofit charitable organization committed to building a world in which every single human being can freely share in the sum of all knowledge.

The WMF maintains the technical infrastructure to support these online volunteer communities and pursues a permanent agenda of technical and programmatic innovation. It also supports an incredibly diverse international community of editors and readers through international conferences, public outreach activities, and strategic relationships which support the cause of free knowledge. It is a highly transparent, collaborative organization.

A young organization, the WMF is currently building out its management team to provide stability and strategies to enable the Wikimedia community of editors to flourish.

Located in San Francisco, the CHRO will play a central role in the growth and development of this unusual organization. He or she will report to the Executive Director and will work intimately with the senior management team.

In addition to ensuring that human resource management practices are sound and operationally comprehensive, the CHRO will be responsible for fostering a high-performance working culture that supports creativity and learning among volunteers and staff. The CHRO will ensure that Wikimedia’s unique culture is maintained and transmitted to new hires as the organization grows. The WMF has approximately 35 paid staff, which is expected to grow fairly significantly over the next years.


The Chief Human Resources Officer will execute the following responsibilities on an on-going basis:


  • Develop a Human Resources Plan, updated annually, that integrates into the Wikimedia Foundation Strategic Plan, and includes sections on Wikimedia’s:
  1. Mission, culture and values,
  2. Organization structure, with a description shaped in collaboration with the senior team on how each part of the organization advances the mission,
  3. Professional staff skills requirements and gaps,
  4. Recruiting and retention programs, including processes for shaping recruiting relationships with the volunteer community,
  5. Training and education programs.
  • Ensure that Wikimedia’s human resources infrastructure, including HR information and payroll systems, are in place to support the continued growth of the WMF; review all systems and processes – their rationale and operation; assess which elements of the organization’s HR operating infrastructure needs to be fine-tuned or refined; establish an appropriate level of transparency and accountability for all human resources processes;
  • Annually assess WMF’s current salary structure, compensation terms and programs, and benefits for fairness and impact on having a leadership and staff mix that balances stability and change, innovation and experience;
  • Keep abreast of current thinking on organizational development, evolving human capital, motivating and coordinating diverse groups of volunteers, competitive compensation practices, workplace cultures that encourage innovation and attract talented individuals; periodically expose Wikimedia’s leaders and staff to such ideas and translate concepts into human resource programs.

Organizational Development

  • Recruiting
    • Establishing standards driving excellence in recruitment, including a robust selection and hiring process; establish and outwardly communicate consistent standards for staff titles, compensation and benefits, etc;
    • Design and implement plans to periodically refresh the technical and other knowledge of the Foundation staff; produce succession plans for key staff members;
    • Oversee all recruiting for Wikimedia staff; attract staff with appropriate values, attitudes, skills and knowledge in order to strengthen Wikimedia, paying particular attention to incorporating international and culturally diverse perspectives and backgrounds into the professional staff mix; oversee all job advertising and relations with recruiters; develop screening, interviewing, reference checking, salary negotiation and other such procedures; work with the Chief Technical Officer to develop a pipeline for talented developers;
  • Retention, Evaluation and Professional Development
    • Oversee the orientation of new hires; working in conjunction with senior management, continually improve orientation procedures to help new employees to immediately align to Wikimedia’s mission and values, and equip them to be effective in their roles;
    • Design and implement a “fellows and interns” program designed to continually expose WMF staff to the best thinking and best practices of the Wikimedia community and related communities such as the free/libre open source software community;
    • Implement performance evaluation systems that encourage behavior that advances the mission; ensure that the evaluation process includes objective and subjective components, is understood, uniformly accepted and implemented fairly across the organization;
    • Develop plans for individual staff learning and development, including coaching, mentoring, independent study, and such; develop plans for collective learning and thought leadership including staging of regular brown bag lunches, meet-ups, and other convening opportunities;
    • Coach and develop the management team to continually develop their managerial, communication and collaboration skills; provide them with tools to guide their teams toward professional excellence.
  • Human Resource Operations
    • Implement and maintain payroll systems that are accurate, provide for appropriate tax and other allocations, track time and leave, and is cost effective and secure;
    • Implement and maintain benefits systems (time and leave, insurance, savings plans, training, leave, etc.) that are accurate, provide useful information to staff, and are cost effective and secure;
    • Oversee the development of personnel management manuals, handbooks and other necessary documentation; provide ongoing training to managers and staff to ensure compliance with relevant practices and pertinent immigration and labor laws;
    • Oversee negotiations of employee benefits programs, including health and major medical plans, other insurance and worker’s compensation; coordinate and monitor the activities of vendors, insurers, payroll processing companies and such;
    • Coordinate legal matters related to human resources and personnel, working with legal counsel as needed;
    • Provide consistent administrative oversight of all other personnel matters, including retention or release of probationary employees and staff disciplinary actions; ensure the privacy and safety of staff is protected, and take appropriate actions to ensure that a positive work environment is established and maintained.

Preferred qualifications

The Chief Human Resources Officer should have the following experience and qualifications:

  • Broad-based leadership and management experience as the director of a human resources department, preferably in a complex international nonprofit organization, a technology environment, or a business that includes both professional staff and important volunteer constituencies;
  • Ten or more years of experience directing and managing the activities of a human resources development function, including direct experience in strategy development in a complex environment;
  • Extensive knowledge of payroll, benefits and human resource management systems and practices;
  • Excellent management, written and verbal communications skills.

Personal characteristics

The successful candidate should be:

  • A mission-driven individual with an understanding of, belief in and commitment to the open source movement, net neutrality, and the benefits of the free exchange of information;
  • An independent and open-minded individual who values and appreciates diversity, input and collaboration from various constituencies; has the ability to make unpopular decisions when necessary and explain them; a good listener who is comfortable receiving input from many sources;
  • A facilitator who will be viewed by members of the senior management team as an strong ally and partner; a hard worker with a high energy level; a "doer" with a willingness to work hands-on with other staff, community members and members of the management team;
  • Emotionally mature and self-reliant; someone who will thrive working in a small but growing office; an ability to tolerate a high degree of ambiguity, and to negotiate with people having sharply defined opinions while maintaining positive, respectful relationships;
  • A sense of humor.