Hi Hisham,

A warm welcome and best wishes.

Arjuna Rao Chavala
President, Wikimedia Chapter, India

On Tue, Feb 15, 2011 at 10:40 PM, Barry Newstead <bnewstead@wikimedia.org> wrote:

Dear colleagues, (please feel free to cross-post this to local lists within India)

I am pleased to announce the appointment of Hisham Mundol as a consultant to the Wikimedia Foundation to support us in our program initiatives in India.

As you know, the Wikimedia Foundation declared India to be a strategic priority during the strategic planning process [1]. I announced our plans for the formation of an office in August 2010 and the Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees approved the creation of the Wikimedia India chapter in June 2010. India is a priority for the Wikimedia movement as it has a strong and growing community of Wikimedians building the Indic and English language projects. It is a country where the Wikimedia movement can achieve our mission and learn important lessons for achieving impact elsewhere. The engagement of Hisham will enable the Wikimedia Foundation to pilot new initiatives aimed at accelerating the growth of the community in India. I am very happy we’ve now reached this point.

As I have mentioned in the past, we have a lot of momentum in India but we have a long way to go to achieve our full potential as a movement.  Indians represent 4% of the world’s Internet users today (and this share is growing), yet they only represent 1.5% of page edits on Wikipedia. We should be able to rapidly increase this share - across all projects - and expand readership in a corresponding fashion.

Hisham’s title will be Consultant, India National Programs.  He will report to me.  His role will be to design and implement specific pilot programs that encourage many more Indians to become contributors to our projects in Indic languages as well as English. The National Programs initiative will focus on the following areas in the first year:

  • Design and implement an India-wide program to increase Wikimedia’s footprint on university and college campuses with students and faculty with the aim of encouraging contributions to Wikimedia projects

  • Support the launch and implementation of community-initiated programs that seek to increase the editor base for Wikimedia projects

  • Engage with the community and chapter to build a strong relationship among these stakeholder groups and create communications forums that allow for effective partnerships

As a newcomer to the Wikimedia movement, Hisham’s first task will be to deepen his understanding of us: our history, goals, values, culture and mission. To that end, he will be spending the coming weeks (not months!) in learning mode: Hisham and I will be meeting with community members in Mumbai, Pune and Bangalore on Feb 23-25 and then Hisham will join community meetings across the country as they occur. Hisham will also spend time in San Francisco with the staff of the Wikimedia Foundation, as well as with other like-minded individuals and organizations and he will attend the chapter conference in Berlin.  

Hisham will be creating a workspace on strategy wiki where he will share what he is learning and develop the core elements of the action plan going forward. We encourage active community engagement on this wiki. We aim to move to action quickly and welcome input and guidance from across the community.

Hisham was most recently a consultant with the Public Health Foundation of India (in a partnership with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation). He designed and implemented large-scale national  programs on HIV/AIDS prevention. He worked to understand the dynamics of hard-to-reach communities by conducting in-depth, on-the-ground analysis (ask him to tell you about his experience talking to drivers while sitting under their trucks).  The programs he designed and implemented sought to convince people in large numbers - 400 million young people across the nation - to change very personal behaviours.  While we are not tackling issues of such an intimate nature, we do aim to convince large numbers of people across the country to contribute their personal time to Wikimedia projects.  During this assignment, Hisham worked closely with public, private and community groups (local and international) to work through the details of the programs and build partnerships for implementing them at scale. He did so in a manner that used persuasion rather than power to build support to move things forward.  We think his experience navigating these varied groups position him well to work in the Wikimedia community. His earlier career was in marketing and business development with a number of well-known businesses: Infosys, Accenture, Cadbury and Unilever. This experience positions him well to engage with a movement and organization that is global in nature, in particular to work with a team that is based halfway around the world.

We have scheduled an IRC chat with Hisham and myself for Thursday, February 17 at 22:00 India Standard Time (16:30 UTC).

I want to thank everyone who helped in the selection process that identified Hisham. It was a five month process in which we made an open call for consultants (using my visit in September to drum up interest via conversations with the community and the media) in India and around the world.  We had 197 applicants from a wide range of professional backgrounds.  Egon Zehnder’s India office, part of a leading global executive search firm, helped screen candidates and manage the process. Egon Zehnder conducted indepth interviews with 25 candidates based on the inputs from Bishakha and I who helped shortlist.  I interviewed 12 candidates via Skype in the first round and then I had the help of Bishakha Datta and Achal Prabhala to interview the top seven in person in Bangalore.  Our top two candidates met with Sue and Erik in Delhi and then Hisham met with the entire WMF leadership team and a broad group of staff members in San Francisco.  

We are very happy with the selection of Hisham. We recognize that we did not manage to hire someone from inside the Wikimedia community or the open source community.  We did look for people with this background and one of our finalists was a long time open source advocate. We also engaged with a long time Wikimedian for a role, though he ultimately decided to withdraw for personal reasons.  We are committed to seeing Hisham integrate himself into the community quickly and to seeing him add people to his team from the community.  We hope that the community will engage actively with him to bring him into the fold. Hisham will most definitely bring fresh perspectives to the movement that will help us grow and change for the better.

Please join me in welcoming Hisham to the Wikimedia movement.

Note: An FAQ will follow shortly.

[1] http://strategy.wikimedia.org/wiki/Strategic_Plan/Role_of_the_WMF
[2] http://lists.wikimedia.org/pipermail/wikimediaindia-l/2010-August/000850.html

Barry Newstead
Chief Global Development Officer
Wikimedia Foundation
Tel: +1-415-839-6885 x. 6634
Skype: barry.wikimedia
Twitter: @bazanews

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