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Alexis Roitman appointed new CEO of the USU

The USU prematurely posted a media release with the announcement on their website

Alexis Roitman has been appointed the new Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the University of Sydney Union (USU). Roitman will be taking over the role from interim CEO Alistair Cowie on 18 November.

Roitman’s appointment was mistakenly announced at least a day early, after a media release dated 12 November was found on the USU website on 11 November. The release may have been available as early as 30 October. The release was removed, and then posted again today.

After ten years of involvement in the USU, former CEO Andrew Woodward’s contract was not renewed in June this year. Alistair Cowie, who had been the Director of Sales & Marketing and Director of Infrastructure was appointed interim CEO as an international search to fill the position was reportedly conducted. 

At the time, then-USU President Liliana Tai told Honi that the process of recruiting a new CEO would take several months “to ensure an adequate handover period and enough time for the next CEO to be involved in the 2020 budget process.” This process would reportedly “heavily” involve the student board.

According to current USU President Connor Wherrett, over 100 potential candidates were considered.

“The board executive set the parameters of the search, the type of search and ultimately approved the final shortlist,” he told Honi.

“The board HR committee (comprising 5 student board directors) approved the makeup of the interview panel, which consisted of a mixture of past and present board directors. This panel ultimately made a recommendation of a selected candidate, which was then approved by the HR committee, before finally being approved at a board meeting. At both the committee and board level, student board directors heavily scrutinised the decision.”

The USU is a not-for-profit organisation managed by a board of 11 elected student directors and two non-student directors appointed by the USyd Senate. The board appoints a CEO to manage the USU’s business operations.

Whereas both Cowie and Woodward had prior experience working in the USU — Woodward previously holding the position of Director of Finance — Roitman is an external appointment.

According to the media release, Roitman possesses over 15 years’ experience working in membership-based not-for-profit organisations. Roitman was previously CEO of the Independent Brewers Association, but resigned from the role in May this year. 

Beyond her own student experience studying at various universities, Roitman appears to possess little experience with student unions. She does not appear to have been previously employed by a student union, but according to her LinkedIn, was a University of Queensland student representative in the Australasian Law Students’ Association (ALSA), according to her LinkedIn.

In the prematurely-posted press release, USU President Connor Wherrett welcomed Roitman for her “her impressive and diverse experience with member organisations,” and that she, “adds a new skill set and experience.”

This article has been updated to reflect that fact that, since it’s publishing, the USU have released their official announcement of Alexis Roitman’s appointment.

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