20i Domains

New Nominet Chair sets out change agenda

Discussion in 'Nominet General Information' started by Acorn Newsbot, Jul 22, 2021.

  1. Acorn Newsbot

    Acorn Newsbot Junior Member

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    Nominet today announces the appointment of Andy Green CBE as Chair of its Board of Directors, and Eva Lindqvist as Non-Executive Director.

    An experienced director, Andy is a National Infrastructure Commissioner and Chair of WaterAid UK and Vice Chair of the Disasters Emergency Committee. He was formerly CEO of BT Openworld, BT Global Services and Logica.

    In an email to members, Green set out a suite of strategic reviews, that will draw on research underway and will be shared with members at the AGM in the autumn. Those are:

    • A strategic review of all non-registry related services.
    • A review of Nominet’s wholesale price for domains.
    • A review of the reserve funds held by the company to determine a suitable level for reserves and options for using unallocated reserves.
    • A review of remuneration policy to ensure the company can attract talented people at reasonable cost.
    • A review of the public benefit spending of the company to ensure it is set at an appropriate level and supports the UK’s digital economy and society.
    • A review of the ways in which Nominet engages with members and seeks advice and input on key decisions.

    Andy Green said: “Nominet holds a critical role in UK digital infrastructure; running the national domain name registry, keeping the UK namespace secure and resilient and protecting public services. It does that job extremely well, but the EGM showed that the organisation had failed over a number of years to engage sufficiently with members about the scope and direction of the company. I want to reset that relationship, starting now.

    “I start my term as Chairman committed to: controlling costs (including executive pay); delivering value to Members; restoring Nominet’s reputation for great Public Benefit work at scale and; communicating transparently with members about the future direction of Nominet.

    “Nominet is a public benefit company, and that must be our North Star. The work we do and the way we use the proceeds of that work, must align. Trust must be rebuilt and the next phase of change will address the fundamentals that will shape the company’s future.”

    Commenting on the appointments, Digital Infrastructure Minister Matt Warman said: “As custodian of many of the most visited domains on the internet, including gov.uk and essential public services, Nominet has a huge responsibility to keep our digital economy running smoothly and securely. I welcome the reform process set out by Nominet’s new chair, and am pleased to see it taking steps to improve its relationship with its members and renew its focus as a public benefit company.”

    Eva Lindqvist joins the Nominet Board as Non-Executive Director and will chair the Remuneration Committee. Eva has extensive executive and non-executive experience across the European technology and telecommunications sectors.

    Eva Lindqvist commented on her appointment: “Nominet benefits from very solid foundations – over 25 years playing a vital role in the digital economy. Executive compensation has clearly been an issue, and the company has already taken steps to address this by closing its long-term incentive scheme. I’m looking forward to playing my part in ensuring our purpose, objectives and remuneration are closely aligned.”

    Nominet announced support for two further initiatives as part of Nominet’s social impact programme, which aims to help a million young people tackle the challenges of growing up in a digital age.

    • Funding the UK Safer Internet Centre. Nominet has committed to core funding for the UK Safer Internet Centre for the next three years. This secures the future of the helplines and advice it provides year-round, and the activities around Safer Internet Day, which reached over 3 million young people last year.
    • Kickstarting careers in coding. Nominet is working with The Institute of Coding to help young people secure qualifications and jobs in a much needed part of the digital economy.

    Andy continues: “In response to member concerns, public benefit spending has already increased significantly; this financial year’s spend of at least £5m reverses the previous trend. Moving forward, we will ensure funding is and remains restored to appropriate levels, taking the size of reserves into account in our review.”

    Andy Green and Eva Lindqvist were appointed on 21 July 2021. Details of the process have been set out in a memo to members.

    Rob Binns, Acting Chair since the EGM, commented: “With Andy on board the next phase of change gets underway. Andy has an ambitious agenda for the coming months, an appetite to tackle the key issues raised by members, and a breadth of experience to help resolve them. I’m delighted both Andy and Eva are joining Nominet at this important time.”

    -ENDS-

    Notes to editors

    Andy Green CBE

    Andy has held a range of roles supporting the digital economy in the UK: he is a National Infrastructure Commissioner and was formerly Chair of the Digital Catapult and Chair of e-Skills. He also works with a number of charities: he is Chair of WaterAid UK; a trustee of the World Wildlife Fund UK; and the Vice Chair of the Disasters Emergency Committee (which brings 14 leading UK aid charities together in times of crisis).

    Andy’s commercial roles include Chair of Lowell Group and Gentrack group. He has over 20 years of Board level experience including SID at Arm Holdings and President of UK Space. He draws on a long career in technology and telecoms, with roles including CEO of BT Openworld, BT Global Services and Logica plc.

    Andy was awarded a CBE in the Queen’s 2020 New Year’s Honours List for services to the Information Technology sector and to the British Space Industry.

    Eva Lindqvist

    Eva Lindqvist joins the Nominet Board as Non-Executive Director and will chair the Remuneration Committee. Eva has extensive executive and non-executive experience across the European technology and telecommunications sectors. Current board positions include Keller Group PLC and Bodycote PLC where she chairs remuneration committees; she has held over 20 other board roles including Tele2, Assa Abloy, and Tieto OYJ.

    The post New Nominet Chair sets out change agenda appeared first on Nominet.

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  2. Domain Forum

    Acorn Domains Elite Member

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  3. CreativeMix United Kingdom

    CreativeMix Active Member

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    He's not spreading himself thin is he! He'll have plenty of time to dedicate to the role :rolleyes:

    Nominet management is the epitome of incompetence.
     
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  4. Siusaidh

    Siusaidh Well-Known Member

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    I've written to the Board (for forwarding to Andy Green, and copying in Simon Blackler, without whom none of this 'change' would have kicked off...) Let's see how Andy Green, the new Chair, responds:

    Good morning Rob, Ellie, Simon, and Andy (if this can be forwarded to him),

    Please could I have an email address where I can correspond with Andy directly and confidentially?

    Also, I have suggested a couple of times before, but I extend this offer to Andy as well: could I please have a Zoom/Teams meet up with ONE of you, for frank and open engagement?

    As you may know (but Andy may not yet unless informed) I am one of the only 2 candidates standing for election for the 2 'Independent' category seats of the new UKRAC. It does seem likely that - reflecting the EGM ratios - this new Council will have a majority of committed supporters of the Public Benefit campaign, led by Simon Blackler (copied in) who I hope will at last receive the credit he deserves for calling out Nominet's serious loss of direction. The voting for this Council closes today, and I know from other candidates that we are likely to meet up informally before the first formal meeting of the UKRAC. If so, it is my hope and it seems appropriate, that Simon Blackler is invited to share that initial meet up. I also know, speaking to other candidates, that we are *extremely* unhappy about the idea that a Board Director should be parachuted in to the Council and imposed as Chair. That would I believe be completely unacceptable to a majority of us.

    Now - honestly wanting engagement and the best for Nominet - can I urgently appeal to all of you, to agree that Item 1 at the first UKRAC meeting will be a vote to decide who the democratically elected Council members want to be their Chair. By agreeing to this now, you avoid the negative signal of trying to control the Members' voice with a 'top down' minder, and the controversy and bad PR that will cause? Let's just be sensible and pragmatic about this, please.

    To be honest, a wide section of the membership are highly sceptical (almost cynical) about the new UKRAC initiative, seeing it as a top-down concept to give the 'appearance' of engagement, while actually using it as a means of controlling member voice. That must not be allowed to happen (in the interests of Nominet) and frankly I believe you face at least 3 initial 'tests' about the integrity of the Board/Executive's genuine commitment to open and transparent engagement, and promotion of Members' voice and input:

    1. The first item on the agenda of the first UKRAC meeting should be the election of who the elected Council members want to choose as their Chairman (incidentally, that will not be me, just so you know I am not jockeying for that).

    2. The Board/Executive to set an early date for the re-introduction of the Members' Forum, and UKRAC to be given responsibility (as the elected representation of members) for deciding who should moderate it, and how it should operate - with the Forum accessible on the members' Hub. The Board/Executive also to commit to collective responsiveness to questions raised on the Forum, if moderators flag them up (with member endorsement) as important. Real engagement needs to be 'two way' and not just 'one way informative'.

    3. UKRAC must have the right to its own section on the Members' Hub, with freedom to post its own reports, minutes, and commentary. Up until now, the Members' Hub has been criticised for being a 'one way' information stream from Nominet. That needs to be broadened out, so there is a platform for UKRAC to provide member input (along with wider member input via a forum).

    These are 3 early tests for you as new Chair, Andy, which offer you opportunity to demonstrate genuine and dynamic openness and engagement.

    There are other issues that will need addressing, including a review of the proposed 'terms of reference' of UKRAC: to be clear, there must be no limits on what elected UKRAC members discuss (providing they themselves take responsibility not to break the law). The UK Registry is what Nominet exists for. It is its primary function. Everything else the Company does is relevant to the wellbeing and reputation of the registry. Therefore elected UKRAC members must be free to discuss any aspect of Nominet because of the relevance of ALL of what Nominet does to the primary reason for its existence: the UK registry. Plainly, the Registry itself will be at the heart of what UKRAC is concerned about, but not to any exclusion of free speech.

    Honestly: I think the best way to approach understanding is face to face dialogue, so I repeat the invitation for one of you to meet me online for private but frank conversation. And meanwhile, we should all try to work for Nominet's success as a Registry for the UK.

    sincerely, Susannah Clark
     
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  5. Siusaidh

    Siusaidh Well-Known Member

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    Just to add, there is a Zoom meeting with the new Chair tomorrow (23rd July) from 12 to 1.

    You can register on the link on the email sent out today. (Rather short notice!)
     
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  6. webber

    webber Active Member

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    Personally I'm skeptical, but there are a few months till the AGM during which Andy can show meaningful progress.
    In statements as these, there's often a flurry of nice adjectives and keywords to get us all excited, but they are carefully written so a lot can be read in what's not said. E few things I picked up on:

    Why are these people so afraid of the words non-profit?

    So transparency is limited only to the "future direction" and not finances, decision making, investments or executive pay.

    There is no appropriate level. All surplus income should go to public benefit projects (eg open source software) or approved charities. If you're making excessive additional income then pricing needs to be adjusted.

    So prices will go up then?

    Also Anne Taylor tells us that she
    Has she spoken to anyone here? She banned me on social media
     
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  7. Siusaidh

    Siusaidh Well-Known Member

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    Helpful analysis, Ciprian.

    I agree, nothing should be taken at face value, given that the Board/Executive have proven unworthy of Members' trust. Everything should be measured by actual actions (hence the '3 tests' I've set out for the new Chair on UKRAC).

    You're absolutely right: the term 'not for profit' was studiously avoided.

    There has been glaring lack of transparency about the sums of money squandered on failed or failing ventures, until heaviest pressure applied, and even then - we are still in the dark about the extent of loss ongoing.

    Don't get me started on executive pay. In the days I was standing as a NED candidate, the remuneration for a designated 21 days was greater than the whole year of a nurse's salary. And as we see with Andy, some have multiple directorships. Plainly, having been called out, they will probably keep director/executive pay pretty static for a year or two. But there are few grounds to trust that pay won't rise again after that - same with domain prices.

    By 'applying global bench marks' on domain pricing, that is not reassuring really, because ICANN has sanctioned .com prices being raised 7% yearly. Surely, if Nominet is in profit - and especially if they cut back on unnecessary marginal ventures - the goal should be to reduce prices.

    You also raise a really good point about the selection process: as far as I know, members generally were excluded from that selection process, not asked what criteria should be used, and I am unaware of any open fact-finding carried out by Anne or anyone else on criteria, candidates, process, let alone participation - happy to be corrected on that one.

    Probably the elephant in the room is governance change. It is very reasonable to assume that what the Board/Executive/HugeRegistrar clique are doing is playing for time. They are 'fronting' as nice and full of promises, but actually they could be regrouping and consolidating in preparation for change in voting caps, followed by radical change in governance, with the risk to all members here that after that, Nominet would be able to do exactly as they pleased, raise prices, get bought out (with generous pay-offs), and head back down the corporate, profit-seeking direction.

    If the new Chair radically backs the goals of Simon Blackler's Public Benefit campaign, and opens up transparency, responsiveness, two-way engagement, with pruning of the company to what it's really meant to be doing... running the UK Registry cheaply and effectively - then it's possible trust may grow. But we're in a year where 740 of the most engaged Company Members revolted (quite rightly) and trust is still profoundly fractured. So at every step it depends on action, on not dragging things out to play for time (time to plot the removal of current member influence), for openness, for transparency.

    Frankly, it needs a radically changed Nominet, not management speak. It needs a return to Nominet's founding remit. Or is it a case really of:

    "The King is Dead, Long Live the King."
     
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  8. webber

    webber Active Member

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    I have to admit I couldn't initially find the link.
    If you want to join (it starts in 40 minutes), on the very bottom of Andy Green’s email:

    From: Nominet news@info.nominet.uk
    Date: 22 July 2021 at 10:16:50 BST
    Subject: Board Announcement

    Is a signup link to a call with the new chair today

    I will be meeting as many members as possible over the coming weeks and months. I look forward to listening and learning, and to using my experience to plot a path ahead that aligns the company, its members and all its stakeholders. You can register to attend here.