The Council for Entrepreneurial Development’s staff expected changes to be made when longtime President Monica Doss retired in May. However, they didn’t foresee the staff to be cut with five people being laid off and some other spots not being filled through attrition.
From a staff of 17 earlier this year, CED will go forward with 10 full-time employees when new president Joan Siefert Rose comes onboard Aug. 11.
Incoming board chairman Stephen Wiehe delivered what he called the “right-size” news in person to the CED staff at its new headquarters on Wednesday morning. Wiehe, who is chief executive officer at Sciquest, takes over as board chair on Aug. 1 but has been actively involved in helping make the decisions that led to the layoffs. He is part of the CED’s executive committee.
“When we began to evaluate the organization, the CED while it has been very successful to date and is unique in the country had become much larger than we felt was necessary,” Wiehe said.
Mary Musacchia, the current chairperson of the CED board, said the evaluation began after Doss disclosed plans to step down. “We wanted to take a good, hard look at the organization,” she said, “We have great backing, but like with any other organization and a change in leadership we wanted to take a moment and look at what we best needed to do to serve the interests of the community.”
Asked if the changes were a reflection on Doss’ leadership, Musacchia replied: “Oh gosh, no. Heavens no. There could not have been more of an outpouring when Monica said she was retiring. Monica built a fantastic organization. She raised the child. It’s time to send the child off to college.”
Wiehe said the layoffs were part of a review of CED and were not based on finances.
“I described to the staff that we have a fiscal responsibility to our members,” he said. “We just want to be very careful and transparent with our members’ money. Having too large an organization is part of that. We have to be sure we can balance the economics and the services we can deliver.
“Second, we are fine-tuning our business model. It’s not broken. It’s actually very effective. We want to get focused on activities that generate value and benefit to our members.”
While many of the CED’s activities are “very valued,” other s are “valued less by our members,” Wiehe said. He pointed out that “later this year and early next year we are going to be growing the organization back into what it should be.”
Part of the go-forward strategy was to “resize through attrition and the five people who were notified this week” that would be laid off.
No further cuts are planned, he added.
“It is done. There are no more shoes to drop,” Wiehe said. “I made clear to the staff that this was a one-step process.”
The board is also not making the decisions due to “dire straits or financial stress,” Wiehe said.
CED has more than 5,000 members and is touted as the largest organization of its kind in the country.
Rose, who stepped down as general manager of WUNC radio to take the CED position, would not comment when reached by Local Tech Wire and WRAL.com. She deferred to Wiehe because she has yet to join the CED.
However, Wiehe said Rose “has been providing input in terms of her vision for the organization, its business model and strategy.”
“She has some very exciting ideas,” Wiehe added.
The CED puts on a wide variety of conferences and networking events as part of its mission to help entrepreneurs launch and grow new businesses. Wiehe said the financial moves did not mean the CED would put on fewer events.
“This is a very exciting time for the CED,” he added. “I hate to say that this [change] is a good thing. It’s not to the people affected. The CED will continue to be a world-class organization.”