Riding Off Into the Sunset
10 January 2012, 15h00 EST (GMT-5)
Click image for the official public advisory
After meeting with Equine Canada's staff this morning, I issued the letter below to the federation's Board, Councils, and Committees. I have served as Chief Executive Officer of EC, Canada's national governing body for equestrianism and the executive arm of the Canadian Equestrian Team, since 2008.
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This is certainly one of the most difficult letters I have had to compose since Equine Canada did me the honour of inviting me to serve as Chief Executive Officer.
I am writing to let you know that I am standing down as CEO of our federation.
When I accepted the post in 2008, I did so committing to serve for one quadrennial cycle. The time has slipped by too quickly, but nevertheless, the time has come for me to make good my pledge.
Few people find a vocation that allows them to combine their ideals, passions, and profession, and fewer still discover it amongst friends. I know, therefore, what a rare gift I was given, in having the opportunity to strive alongside each of you in the service of our sport, our sector, and our country. It is an honour I have always tried to be worthy of, and now, at the end of the path, I can only hope that you feel I justified the faith of our federation in choosing me.
Although I know many people find it quaint to the point of absurdity, I believe deeply that each of us is nothing if not a living memorial to the generations of men and women who came before us, and that if we are to be deserving heirs and worthy stewards of our heritage, then our first responsibility is to build upon our inheritance. My work at Equine Canada has been a passionate effort to live up to that creed, to leave Canadian equestrianism stronger – howsoever modestly – than when I arrived.
There have certainly been dark moments, times when this job felt like one of the trials of the damned, when a great national institution seemed beset on all sides, and when high ideals were assailed by low pettiness and vulgar jealousies. If I ever had any doubts before, I certainly have none now, that not every horse’s ass is connected to the front of a horse.
But the moments of light have been far greater.
I have served with professionals in the Equine Canada office whom I am proud to call my colleagues. I have worked with athletes who have taken an unsuspecting world by storm. I have witnessed our federation emerge as a leader in the international equestrian and national sport movements. I have had the extraordinary good fortune to live through a golden age of Canadian equestrianism. And I have enjoyed it all with new friends and kindred spirits.
It is hard to leave all this behind. In many ways, leaving is the last thing I want to do. But I always knew that leaving would be my final debt of honour to Equine Canada.
All institutions stagnate and wither if they do not deliberately rejuvenate themselves. A culture of regular renewal is not only essential to bring in new perspectives, new talents, and new ideas; it is also vital to ensure that serving leaders do not become locked in a jealous embrace with the status quo.
An over-long tenure for a CEO in a federation like Equine Canada would surely be a mark of failure, because it would suggest a love of office rather than of service, a hesitancy to expend political capital in pursuit of important goals, and an excessive willingness to suffer fools gladly. I am guilty of many, many faults – but not these ones.
I envy my successor, because I know what a glorious opportunity awaits him or her: to look upon an established institution with new eyes; to perceive its future with a new imagination; and to work towards new triumphs with new zeal. It is the gift I received from my predecessor; it is the gift I now pass on with a happy heart.
The Equine Canada Board has been directing the CEO transition process through its Executive Recruitment, Retention, and Review (ERRR) Committee. Although the timing and timelines the committee has chosen are certainly eccentric and astonishingly compressed, they assure me of their confidence that they have matters well in hand, to prevent any undue disruption or loss of institutional memory. In the immediate term, they will be delegating the CEO responsibilities to our CFO Mike Arbour and our COO Craig Andreas. I know that each of you will be as supportive and helpful to them as you were to me.
Equine Canada will be issuing a public advisory to our members and our partners later today, formally announcing that I am relinquishing my post as CEO.
I am looking forward to seeing as many of you as possible at the Equine Canada convention in St John’s, Newfoundland, in February, and offering you my thanks in person for your confidence and kindness during my tenure as your Chief Executive Officer.