Screen Australia narrows search for CEO

21 June, 2013 by Don Groves

The quest to find a new CEO to take charge of Screen Australia is in its final stages.

The agency’s board has settled on a preferred candidate after an exhaustive search via head-hunters Braithwaite Steiner Pretty Executive Search, IF understands.


The other 90 or so applicants who were interviewed by the head-hunters have been told they were unsuccessful.

The board’s nominee has to be referred to the Arts Minister Tony Burke, who is expected to seek Cabinet approval before an appointment is made.

The current chief executive Ruth Harley, whose term expires in November, informed staff earlier this month she is no longer a candidate, stating, “The Board believes that the organisation should have a CEO who is new to the agency to lead the next phase."

Subsequently Screen Australia chairman Glen Boreham told staff the process for appointing the CEO was "progressing to schedule" and he expects to make an announcement in the next few months.

There has been a groundswell of support for Dr Harley among sections of the screen industry who feel that the way the process is being handled has been needlessly harsh on her.

IF understands the name of the preferred candidate has been circulated to the Government and to the Opposition.

The board is thought to be keen to expedite the appointment despite the turmoil in Canberra in the lead-up to the September election, acknowledging the need to end the uncertainty and to ensure a seamless transition from Dr Harley to her successor.

The board began the search in April on the assumption that the successful candidate may need to give his or her current employer 2-3 months’ notice. The timing of the September election wasn’t a consideration.

Suggestions that, if elected, shadow Arts Minister Senator George Brandis may call for a review of Screen Australia’s remit have been discounted. Brandis was in power when the decision was made to create the agency from the merger of the Film Finance Corp., the Australian Film Commission and Film Australia. It’s believed he has assured industry leaders he sees no need to alter the current federal funding structure.