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BTA aims to fill CEO job internally

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Tracy Berkeley, the interim chief executive officer of the Bermuda Tourism Authority (File photograph)

The Bermuda Tourism Authority will try to fill its vacant top position internally rather than conduct another global search for a new chief executive, The Royal Gazette can reveal.

The publicly funded quango announced in June that Charles Jeffers III, a Bermudian who had been CEO for little more than a year, had departed and that plans were “in motion for a permanent replacement”.

Mr Jeffers was appointed in 2021 after an international search described by the BTA as “open, transparent and rigorous” — but the authority has opted for a markedly different approach to replace him.

It made chief administration officer Tracy Berkeley the interim CEO and has not advertised the six-figure salary position.

The BTA told The Royal Gazette on Friday, in response to questions about the recruitment process, that it would “seek to fill the role of CEO from within the organisation first”.

A spokesman said: “If we do not find a candidate from within, the BTA will welcome external candidates to apply for the role via local advertising and international headhunting.

“Until then, Tracy Berkeley will remain interim CEO.”

The last CEO search took place in 2021 after the departure of Kevin Dallas.

The BTA said then that it needed to look globally for a candidate because the “extraordinary times demand that we acquire the precise talent needed at all levels of the organisation“.

It said the search would provide the opportunity for the BTA to determine “what expertise is available and how we best position the organisation to discharge its critical mission on behalf of Bermuda”.

Applicants in 2021 received a six-page job specification, with a long list of requirements for the post, including “minimum ten years’ experience as a senior executive with responsibility for leading high-performing marketing, sales and investment teams and delivering results” and “proven ability to lead an organisation”.

The BTA and Mr Jeffers have been tight-lipped on the reason he exited the high-profile job after such a short time, with neither commenting on whether he quit or was let go.

He was previously chief operating officer at Visit Baltimore Inc and moved back to Bermuda to take on the CEO role after decades working overseas.

Ms Berkeley has been described by the BTA as a “highly motivated, agile and focused C-suite professional, with 20-plus years of diverse, global, strategic human resources and operational experience in the (re) insurance, tourism, healthcare and international business sectors”.

She came to the BTA in January 2020 as its “director of people”, or head of human resources, having previously been head of talent and culture at Rosewood Bermuda, in charge of the Bermuda HR division at Aspen Re, and head of the Bermuda Hospitals Board’s human resources and operations team.

A year later she was promoted to chief administration officer, taking on responsibility, according to a BTA press release, for “directing best practice in both HR management and operational efficiencies” at the authority’s Bermuda and New York offices.

The CAO role now appears to have been eliminated, with no one covering the position while Ms Berkeley acts as interim CEO.

Instead, Erin Smith, who was the BTA’s chief information officer, was promoted to the permanent position of chief operations officer, leading observers to wonder if the board has already earmarked Ms Berkeley as permanent CEO.

One source, who asked not to be named, said: “You are not going to have a COO and a CAO. There is really no place for her [Ms Berkeley] to go back to.

“She had essentially the same responsibilities as the COO, aside from finance.”

The source said they believed Ms Berkeley would soon be announced as permanent CEO, despite a background in human resources rather than senior leadership in marketing.

The post, according to data released in 2016, comes with an annual salary of between $290,000 and $300,000 and a bonus between $85,000 and $90,000.

Ms Berkeley was appointed to the board of Polaris, parent company of dock operator Stevedoring Services in March 2021. She was also appointed to the Defence Board by the Governor.

Ms Berkeley also sits on the Promotions Board of the Royal Bermuda Regiment and on the board of the Bermuda Visitor Service Centres.

Last month, the BTA moved to correct reports in several international news outlets that Ms Berkeley had been appointed permanent CEO.

She hit the headlines here again soon after when she told a radio show that she enjoyed a recent visit to another island because “everywhere I went, the people that were dealing with me — first of all they looked like me — but they were all from there and so they were able to give me insight and nuance to the island in a way that we don’t always offer our own visitors because not everybody in our industry is from here”.

Questions to the BTA

Has the vacant CEO post been advertised?

If so, can you provide details, particularly the requirements/criteria for the role?

Has a headhunter been engaged to find a new CEO?

If so, can you provide details?

Has the BTA identified any possible candidates yet?

If so, how many and at what stage is the recruitment process at?

Has the position of chief administration officer been removed from the BTA C-suite or is the expectation that Tracy Berkeley will return to that role if she is not appointed the permanent CEO?

If the position of CAO is still in effect, is anyone acting in that position on an interim basis at the moment, or do the responsibilities of that role now fall to Erin Smith, as chief operations officer?

Why is the board of the BTA doing the CEO recruitment so differently this time?

Why does it no longer feel it needs to look around the world for suitable candidates?

A BTA spokesman’s response: “The Bermuda Tourism Authority will seek to fill the role of CEO from within the organisation first. If we do not find a candidate from within, the BTA will welcome external candidates to apply for the role via local advertising and international headhunting. Until then, Tracy Berkeley will remain interim CEO.”

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Published September 27, 2022 at 3:00 pm (Updated September 27, 2022 at 4:00 pm)

BTA aims to fill CEO job internally

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