Executive Director & CEO

Req Number: WG221
Location: Miami, FL
Posted: 10/4/2019
Category: Government/Not-For-Profit : Education
Job Type: Permanent

Our client, American Welding Society, seeks an Executive Director & CEO. This individual will be responsible for overall leadership and operational management of the society, while partnering with the Board, staff, and key stakeholders to build a robust future for the organization and AWS's members.


With approximately 70,000 members and 100 years of history, the American Welding Society (“AWS”) is the premiere global membership organization representing welding professionals, manufacturers, distributors and educational institutions worldwide.  Founded in 1919, AWS serves a vital role in advancing the science, technology, and application of welding and related joining disciplines by providing robust professional development, training and networking opportunities.   AWS has an annual budget of approximately $42M, staff of 135, and operates a robust network of 250 sections and student chapters in the United States and internationally.

AWS leads the way in supporting welding education and technology development for a variety of industry professionals from factory floor to high-rise construction, military weaponry and home products.  To accomplish this agenda, AWS offers extensive programming designed to help members grow in their profession, gain access to thought leadership from industry experts, and elevate their careers through a variety of certification and professional programs.  Specific initiatives include:


  • AWS is the preeminent source for qualification and certification of welding personnel and has certified over 97,000 welding inspectors alone, plus thousands of other working professionals.
  • AWS offers nine different certification categories including inspectors, supervisors, educators, radiographic interpreters, welding engineers and fabricators.
  • These world class programs promote cutting edge practices and industry knowledge in a variety of welding-related disciplines.

     Education & Research:

  • AWS offers international, national and local educational opportunities including seminars, conferences, individual corporate programs, and online courses.
  • Education initiatives span from welding basics to leading-edge technology updates.
  • AWS also offers the award-winning program, SENSE (Schools Excelling through National Skills Education), which offers administrative standards and curriculum guidelines for the qualification of entry-level, advanced, and expert welders in high schools and colleges.

    Industry & Technical Publications:

  • AWS addresses emerging industry topics and promotes relevant professional discourse through the dissemination of scholarly journals, technical publications, quarterly magazines, and other peer-reviewed publications.
  • AWS publishes more than 300 technical books for the welding industry, including one of the world's most widely used standards, D1.1/D1.1M, Structural Welding Code – Steel.
  • AWS has also developed approximately 200 codes, specifications, recommended practices, and guides that are approved by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI).

In addition to these certification, programming and research areas, AWS also operates a foundation which supports research and education in welding and related technologies. Every year the Foundation awards over $1M in scholarships to students and professionals and supports educational institutions through grant programs which allow these academic partners to expand their facilities. Through these grants, the Foundation takes a proactive approach to addressing the welder workforce shortage and help facilitate programs aimed at relieving the critical shortage of welders.


Working in close partnership with the Board of Directors, The Executive Director & Chief Executive Officer (“CEO”) is responsible for the overall leadership and operational management of AWS.  S/he will work collaboratively with the staff and key stakeholders to build upon the organization’s rich legacy and address the evolving needs of the welding and related joining disciplines professional community. The Executive Director & CEO will ensure that AWS provides a robust and relevant value proposition and fosters a dynamic culture of member engagement, performance, innovation, communication and service.  Further, s/he will serve as the chief spokesperson for the welding profession before a vast audience globally including members, peer organizations, business, academia, government and the media.

Specifically, the Executive Director and CEO is responsible for the following:

  • Strategic Direction. Develops and implements a long-range strategic plan in conjunction with the Board, ensuring member value, relevancy, and a strong future for AWS.  Provides visionary leadership in achieving the values, vision, and mission of the organization and drives successful implementation of the AWS’s operational plans to ensure strategic goals are achieved.
  • Board Relations. Builds and maintains strong, collaborative, and transparent relationship with AWS’s highly engaged Board of Directors. Maintains consistent communication with the Board, benchmarking progress toward achieving key targets of the organization’s operational and strategic plans.
  • Competency and Learning. Curates and implements best in class resources and tools to ensure a comprehensive learning environment for students and professionals at all levels of their careers. Develops innovative programs and certifications to help members transform and grow in their profession. Sustains and grows participation in certification programs executed each year by AWS.
  • Staff Leadership.  Leads a professional team of approximately 135 staff, who demonstrate a commitment to excellent member service and delivery of high-quality relevant resources, publications, educational programs, research, and events.  Effectively recruits, develops, and engages a strong, motivated staff who deliver exceptional results and drive member value. Builds a culture of customer service, performance and accountability.
  • Membership Development. Provides visionary leadership to ensure a clear understanding what members value and develops cutting edge programming and services addressing the latest trends and technological advancements that are shaping the welding industry. Ensures the organization is positioned to engage and attract the next generation members, both domestically and internationally. 
  • External Relationships.   Enhances AWS’s visibility by representing the organization with members and leaders in the welding industry. Forges strong working relationships with a wide-range of constituencies, including academia, public and private sectors, to build and support partnerships and coalitions consistent with AWS’s overall mission.  Positions AWS as a thought leader before relevant audiences and media to maximize visibility of the profession and the organization.
  • Revenue Generation. Develops and implements a revenue generation strategy that ensures delivery of current and new value-added member services. Identifies new differentiated certifications, services and products to address emerging industry trends. 
  • Financial and Operational Oversight. Develops and executes a balanced annual budget that is aligned to the strategic goals of the organization, ideally with strong reserves to invest in important innovations.  Ensures AWS’s long-term sustainability through the implementation of sound financial practices. Provides fiscal management and oversight of the organization’s Foundation.


The AWS board is seeking leaders of high ethical integrity with the relevant experience, background and leadership competencies to advance the organization’s mission and implement its long-range strategic plan.  S/he will bring a highly diverse skillset with visionary leadership and energy to elevate this already stellar organization. S/he must have a minimum of 10 years of relevant senior executive leadership experience in an organization of comparable size, complexity, and scope.  The Executive Director & CEO must be a results-driven and charismatic “servant leader” who will advance the organization’s priority objectives for global membership growth.

Specific experience and qualifications will include:

  • Deep understanding and passion for the welding profession and manufacturing, and a desire to advance the mission of AWS to address the evolving interests of the members and make a positive impact on the industry.  
  • Outstanding managerial skills, including the ability to build, engage and retain a high performing and skilled diverse team; leveraging the strengths and contributions of the staff to create an agile culture of that evolves and grows with the industry.
  • Track record for effectively leading the development and execution of a strategic plan in conjunction with a Board of Directors, engaging diverse stakeholders to achieve consensus on organizational priorities.  Ability to maintain a transparent relationship with a highly engaged Board, with consistent and timely communication on the organization’s progress toward goals and objectives.
  • Outstanding relationship building skills, critical for building and sustaining relationships with members, the business community, academic institutions, and other stakeholders. The empathy and disposition to forge relationships with professionals at all levels of an organization.
  • Gravitas and presence to serve as the primary spokesperson for AWS, its membership, and the broader profession.  Stellar interpersonal and communications skills, with ability to elevate awareness for key issues impacting the welding industry
  • Successful leadership of an innovative organization, capable of generating new sources of revenue, while managing an operating budget in a cost constrained environment.  An entrepreneurial leader who fosters an innovative culture that generates new ideas and solutions to pressing opportunities and challenges facing the membership.  
  • Proven management, business, and financial acumen within an organization of similar or larger scale and complexity.
  • A global perspective, key to expanding membership and engaging multi-cultural, international audiences.  


Master’s degree is strongly preferred; Bachelor’s degree required.


A competitive compensation package will be made available to the qualified candidate.



Korn/Ferry shall provide equal employment opportunity to all qualified candidates, and will refer candidates without regard to race, color, religion, national origin, sex, age, disability, veteran status or any other legally protected basis.