Valley Water CEO Norma Camacho is set to retire July 10, but with the coronavirus outbreak forcing so many aspects of society online, the district’s board members have had to get a little creative in conducting their search for a successor.
The first round of interviews for Camacho’s replacement commenced last week via the videoconferencing platform Zoom. But while going virtual keeps things in line with social distancing guidelines, some Valley Water board members say it also presents challenges.
“The most important decision any board makes, even above all policy, is hiring or firing the CEO or the general manager,” board member Gary Kremen tells Fly. “When you rush that process of the most important task, and we have to due to the situation, maybe you won’t get an optimal result.”
Kremen says he has concerns about the impersonality of doing an interview via Zoom, noting that it can be hard to examine a candidate’s body language or “gauge their level of shiftiness.” However, he noted that at this time, the only alternative would be to wear a mask and sit at least six feet apart from other board members and the interviewee.
Board colleague Barbara Keegan echoed Kremen’s concerns about the difficulties in evaluating candidates’ personalities over video chat.
However, she added, it’s not impossible.
“Obviously these are unusual times and so we just have to do the best we can under the circumstances,” she remarked. “We need to replace our existing CEO. We really don’t have other options. We can’t leave the position vacant and I’m sure we’re not the only organization that’s going to be grappling with this kind of thing.”