On March 11, 2019, the Simon Fraser Student Society (SFSS) board of directors announced that Sylvia Ceacero would be the student society’s next executive director, following Martin Wyant’s exit in fall 2018.
Wyant announced in November 2018 that he would be stepping down from his role as CEO of the SFSS in pursuit of a different employment opportunity in Thunder Bay, Ontario. As a result of this, in December, the student society started a three-month hiring process to find a different candidate to fill Wyant’s role.
According to Samer Rihani, acting president of the SFSS, the student society hired an external headhunting company, Leaders International, to recruit top-tier candidates for executive-level positions.
“The screening process was a tedious one as we had quite a large pool of candidates to choose from. The applicants ranged from individuals across Canada with various years of expertise and knowledge, and [Leaders International] screened through each applicant to make sure they found the top level candidates [ . . . ] At the end, they came back with the top seven which were then screened to the final three,” explained Rihani in an email interview with The Peak.
Rihani further explained that the three finalists were chosen by Leaders International based on the criteria the student society had given them.
“We looked at traits from our past CEO that we appreciated and found useful, but also what new traits we hope to find such as open-mindedness and transparency.”
When asked what criteria the SFSS used to hire the new executive director, Rihani responded: “We looked for traits that we felt our student body was constantly yearning for. In this sense, we looked for transparency, willingness to work with all student groups on campus, and great oversight of staff.”
The three finalists were then invited to a community consultation between the SFSS board of directors, representatives from Out on Campus (OOC), the Women’s Centre, First Nations Student Association (FNSA), and the general SFU membership. This which place on February 8, 2019, at the SFSS Undergrounds. At this public consultation, each finalist was given 30 minutes to present and attendees had the opportunity to provide the candidates with feedback.
Rihani mentioned that because the three finalists were working for a different employer at the time of the hiring process, their names couldn’t be disclosed due to privacy agreements.
Furthermore, the consultation couldn’t be live streamed, photographed, or broadcasted on social media.
The SFSS board members who were responsible for leading the internal executive search committee were Russell Dunsford, Jackson Freedman, Amrita Mohar, and Jasdeep Gill. After the public consultation, Dunsford, Freedman, Mohar, and Gill made a recommendation to the other SFSS board of directors where they then unanimously agreed to hire Ceacero as the next CEO of the SFSS for the next five years.
“Along with the input from OOC, Women’s Center, and FNSA, we took all input to heart [including the general membership] and made sure that our final choice was one that matched the closest with what all of our students and groups were asking for,” said Rihani. “Our new Executive Director fit many of these traits and allowed us to feel confident in an Executive Director who exemplified exactly what our students constantly told us they wanted.”
Prior to commencing her role at the SFSS, Ceacero has worked on multiple non-profit and for-profit initiatives at the provincial and national level with more than 20 years of experience. She was the CEO at the BC Seniors Living Association, SHARE Family and Community Services, as well as the National Association of Federal Retirees.
The Peak had the opportunity to sit down with Ceacero and asked her why she was interested in becoming the student society’s CEO, to which she replied: “I see a great deal of opportunity for growing the society and working with [a] young group of individuals who are very keen to make things happen for the [undergraduate student society]. That was the part of the appeal [and] the opportunity to do things together.”
“I’m very excited to be here. I look forward to many years of service [ . . . ] and deliver the vision on the 26,000 undergraduate students at SFU,” said Ceacero.