Career/paternity break!
5024 karmaJoined Working (6-15 years)Oxford, UK


I'm currently on a career break, and so won't be checking the Forum for a bit!



Before that I was Executive Director at CEA: I set our overall strategy, hired people to further in our work, and managed and empowered the leadership team.

I used to be a moderator here, and helped to launch the new version of the Forum in 2018. Before that I studied economics, did some mediocre global priorities research, and helped to set up an early version of EA Funds.

Feel free to reach out if you think I might be able to help you. Follow the links to give (anonymous) feedback to me.

How I can help others

  • I might be able to help you talk through issues you're facing relating to management, and I can point you towards some good resources if you're new to management


CEA Updates (Q3 2021)


Topic contributions

Also, a tougher question: how over-determined was this hiring?

[Just speaking for myself based on being a member of the hiring committee, without running this take past anyone else.]

I do think that Zach was in our top 5-10 most promising people at the start of the process. So I think that directionally the update is that we spent too much time/energy on this process, since the outcome wasn't that surprising.

However, I'm not sure if we should have spent that much less time/energy:

  • In general I think that this is a really crucial hire, and finding someone marginally better or avoiding making a hiring mistake is really valuable, and worth significant delays.
  • Some of our other top candidates were unknown to the hiring committee at the point where we started the process. So I think that there's a nearby-ish world where the broader/more-in-depth search led to a different outcome.
  • I think that the more in-depth process can help the board, staff, and community to be more confident in the decision, and that's useful for the new CEO's future in the role. If we had appointed Zach with no process at all then in some sense that would be the same outcome, but I think it would leave Zach in a weaker position to lead CEA.
  • Even if we'd appointed Zach sooner, I think that he might have only been able to start in mid-February anyway, because of his commitment to EV. Making the appointment sooner would still have been valuable in that it would have resolved some uncertainty sooner, but not as valuable as if Zach could have started several months sooner.
  • I think that some aspects of the process could have gone more quickly, as I noted in my last post on this topic. But there were some important aspects that the hiring committee couldn't have altered much, and some things that mean that the actual hiring process was shorter than it seems (e.g. it took us 3 weeks or so after Zach said yes to get this post together, partly because CEA staff were on team retreat).
  • I don't want to overupdate on one datapoint.
  • Outside view, I think that this is a fairly standard length of time for an exec search process.

So yeah, overall I think you're right that we spent too much time on this, and I'm still confused how much we should have compressed the process.

I’m delighted that Zach has agreed to join CEA, and I’m excited for CEA’s future under his leadership.

I think that Zach is an extremely strong leader and manager, who thrives under pressure and cares deeply about building a better world. We dug deep into his strengths and weaknesses, through strategy discussions, work-history interviews, and reference calls. He has many outstanding references from people who have worked closely with him at Open Philanthropy and Effective Ventures US.

Thank you to everyone on the search committee, advisors to the search committee, staff involved in the process (especially Caitlin Elizondo and Oscar Howie) and of course to our candidates for engaging with a broad and intensive search process. The depth and detail of the search makes me confident that Zach is the right person to lead CEA going forward.

I’m also incredibly grateful to Ben West, CEA’s leadership team, and all the staff for leading CEA to one of its best years ever in 2023. It’s been an honour and a joy to work with them.

I will be available to support and advise Zach and the CEA leadership team as needed, but after 7 years at CEA I’ll now be taking a break (with a new baby!) before exploring my next career steps. 

I look forward to seeing Zach, CEA, and EA flourish in the coming years!

Thank you for all of your hard work over many years, Will. I've really valued your ability to slice through strategic movement-buliding questions, your care and clear communication, your positivity, and your ability to simply inspire massive projects off the ground. I think you've done a lot of good. I'm excited for you to look after yourself, reflect on what's next, and keep working towards a better world.

Makes sense! I was thinking of Effectiv Spenden, but I see that that's an ambiguous example. Another public attendee who is doing on-the-ground community building is Kuhan Jeyapragasan (and I think that there were 1-2 others who were invited but can't make it, or aren't public).

Thanks for sharing James! We did invite a few people doing more on-the-ground community building in various university/national groups, and some of them (e.g. Anne Schulze) are attending (note that not all attendees are public). But I'm not sure whether we got the balance right here, maybe we should have invited more such people.

[Brief comment, sorry!]

Thanks for those thoughts - we're planning to do some of those (e.g. have people write memos on important topics before the event), and I think we've considered doing all of those things. (Not sure if we made the right decision on how to handle each of these, and not explaining our stance on all of them because of time.)

Re trust: Sorry, that second sentence is rather confusing. What I mean is that: we're not guaranteeing that everyone attending the event is 100% trustworthy. And I hope that the event will allow attendees to understand each other's motivations/strengths/weaknesses/etc in more depth, so that attendees can get a better understanding of when/how to trust each other and collaborate. I think that non-attendees won't get these benefits, and shouldn't make big updates from the fact that someone is invited/not. I hope that's a bit clearer.

I think that the last one was in July 2022.

Thank you for all of your hard work in this role, Nick. 

When I was still new to leading CEA (and fairly new to management), your advice as active trustee was incredibly useful. I learned a lot from you about how to manage people, and your feedback on our plans was always perceptive. I think that I would have done a much worse job without your advice and support.

I've always found you tirelessly kind, thoughtful, and collaborative, and I've really enjoyed working with you.

I have to say, this really worries me.

I can't speak for other people who filled out the survey but: I agree that orgs should be transparent about their motivations. 

The questions asks (basically) "should 80k be more transparent [than it currently is]", and I think I gave a "probably not" type answer, because I think that 80k is already fairly transparent about this (e.g. it's pretty clear when you look at their problem profiles or whatever).

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