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Nominet finding it hard to replace Willie

Chairman post re-advertised as Black pops up elsewhere

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UK registry Nominet is to re-advertise the post of chairman this week after an initial recruitment drive turned up no suitable replacements for Internet legend Willie Black, who left officially on 8 December.

Managing director Lesley Cowley confirmed that despite an advert in the Sunday Times just before Christmas, and over 70 applicants - four of whom were interviewed - the organisation that runs all .uk domains did not feel any of them were "a good fit".

"The four we interviewed did have impressive CVs and relevant experience but at the interview, the panel felt they were not fully suitable," Cowley told us. "And if you're not sure, it is never a good idea to appoint." As such, the post will be re-advertised this week - it is uncertain where exactly - and the Nominet website will also provide a link to the ad to make it "as open to as many people as possible".

Cowley declined to say what she felt was wrong with the interviewed candidates but provided a description of what Nominet was looking for. "In general, someone who is experienced at a senior level, able to chair meetings, who has made an outstanding contribution within their industry, and who has experience of a company of Nominet's size - we are a pretty sizeable organisation."

However, she stresses, they do not need to come from an IT or Internet background. "This really is a traditional chairman role of developing strategy. It is open to a wide range of people, although they should be Internet-aware."

In the meantime, it is "business as usual" says Cowley. She explained Black's leaving has presented the "opportunity to look at the chairman role afresh", which no doubt means more day-to-day handling of the company to be handled by the MD - herself - with the chairman acting in a more representative role. Since Nominet's functions remain fairly technical, and since it appears increasingly likely that the new chairman will come from a non-technical background, the move would appear logical.

Meanwhile the man who has created all the trouble, Dr Willie Black, has popped up as the new chairman of the UK Internet Forum (UKIF). UKIF is a lobbying body set up to "work with the regulator and with the UK Internet industry to ensure the best possible regulation is applied when needed" - which in practice means trying to give Ofcom enough strength to face down BT.

In his first statement as chairman, Dr Black outlined his plans: "At the moment too many companies feel left ‘out of the loop’ and do not understand how regulation affects their business. UKIF offers a solution to this problem and provides a wide grouping of industry participants, strong contacts at government level and representation for all companies in the technology sector."

Maybe along the way he'll find someone who can fill his boots at Nominet. ®

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Willie Black resigns as Nominet chairman

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