The Society Nominating Committee is responsible for developing a slate of candidates for open positions on the Board of Directors, the Board of Trustees, the Senate, and standing committee chairs-elect. The committee puts out a call for nominations each fall, solicits feedback on the nominees, and provides a slate to the membership as outlined in the Society Bylaws and Election Manual. The committee also develops and maintains the formal Election Manual. The Nominating Committee is not responsible for leadership pipeline development, finding mentors for nominees, or nominee development plans.
Members of the committee serve for a period of two fiscal years on a rotating basis, that is, half of the committee is new each year so they can be paired with a returning member “buddy.” While serving on the committee, an individual cannot be nominated for an office the committee will be slating, except for the position of Nominating Committee Chair-Elect. Historically these members came from the 10 regions, but with the dissolution of regions the members are chosen through a general call for interest, similar to other committees.
Since this committee helps shape the future of SWE, skills that are useful include time management, tact, professionalism, and the ability to maintain confidentiality. Other skills include knowledge of SWE bylaws, procedures and the Strategic Plan, as well as understanding the SWE Leadership Competency Model.
Between February to September, the role typically requires 1-2 phone calls per month. During these months the committee works on process improvement and determining the most useful methods to solicit from and about nominees so that nominees can be evaluated for the positions against the position requirements and the SWE Leadership Competency Model.
Between October and January, role responsibilities change slightly with phone calls increasing to 1-3 times per week. Members of the Nominating Committee need to be active participants by attending teleconferences, participating in online and email discussions, and being prepared for meetings by reading relevant documentation and reviewing recorded nominee interviews. During the slating process, members must be able to present unbiased candidate pros and cons, not be an advocate for specific nominees.
It is understood that committee members may not be able to make every meeting, so it is important to provide input via email in advance of any meetings they will miss. While most meetings are done virtually, funding for any in person meetings, if deemed necessary, would be provided.
Nominating Committee Documents
- Society Leadership Position Descriptions
- Election Manual
- Call for Nominations and Nomination Form
- Nomination Application Appendix Example
- Nominee Self-Evaluation Questionnaire Example
- Call for Feedback Example
- Nominee Interview Questions - Interview questions are customized each year by the Nominating Committee and vary by position and the needs of the society. Potential questions are kept confidential due to the ever-changing nature of the process and to avoid any advantage to some potential nominees over others.
- Sample Slate Announcement
- Petition for Additional Candidate for Election and Package Example
- Candidate Vitae and Statement Instructions Example
- Ballot Instructions Example
- Teller Report Example
General Process Questions
It is the job of the Committee to present a slate of candidates for all open positions on the SWE ballot. These include the SWE Board of Directors (Society Officers and Directors), Senate Leadership and Senators, Board of Trustees, and Standing Committee Chair-elects. Leadership position terms are staggered such that each year the specific number of positions being filled may change.
More than one candidate for each position is optional, at the discretion of the Nominating Committee, with the exception of President-elect which shall remain uncontested. This is because this position requires extensive travel and support from the President-elect’s personal and professional network (family and company), such that it is best that notice be provided as early as possible that someone will be slated to fill this position. Based on all available data points, the Committee prepares a slate based on what is best for SWE, which may or may not include contested elections.
SWE continues to support diversity at all levels of the organization, including Society-level leadership. While reviewing nominees, the Nominating Committee reviews diversity as a whole – this includes but is not limited to demographic diversity (race/ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, etc.), experiential diversity (engineering discipline, industry, and other affinities and abilities), and cognitive diversity (how people approach problems and think about things). SWE leadership as a whole (not just the Nominating Committee) is working to encourage and sponsor diverse candidates for leadership positions, as well as mentoring upcoming diverse candidates to ensure they have access to SWE experiences that will prepare them for a future Society leadership position. In addition, all experiences now qualify, including within companies or other non-profits (not SWE alone) – this helps broaden the candidate pool and promote diversity and inclusion.
The SWE Leadership Competency Model identifies the critical knowledge, skills, and abilities required of current and future SWE leaders. The competency model is used to vet potential candidates. It currently includes six important competencies: Business Acumen; Communication; Coaching, Mentoring, and Sponsorship; Diversity and Inclusion; Leadership Abilities; and Self-Management and Development. Full details on the SWE Leadership Competency Model can be found on the SWE website at https://swe.org/learning/leadership-competency-model/.
The suggested timeline for the election process can be found in the SWE Election Manual, which is available on the Nominating Committee SWE webpage, https://swe.org/about-swe/governance/committees/nominating-committee/.
A brief summary of the election process follows:
- 1August/September: Call for nominations
- 1September/October: Request feedback on nominees from members and references
- 1October: Nominee interviews
- 1October thru December: Nominating Committee vetting
- 1January: Notification of candidates and nominees
- 2February 1: Slate announced
- 2February 1 to March 1: Petition process
- 2April 1: Ballots sent to members
- 1April: Call for new Nominating Committee members
1Timing determined by Nominating Committee and SWE leadership to achieve dates identified per the bylaws. Timing may vary slightly from year to year.
2Per SWE’s bylaws the slate must be announced to membership by February 1, members can petition to be added between February 1 and March 1, and ballots must be sent to members by April 1.
To contact the Nominating Committee, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
All members whose dues are current as of March 1 are eligible to vote in the election. Electronic ballots are emailed to each voting member by April 1. Instructions for receiving a paper ballot are found within that email as well. In order to be counted, all ballots must be returned by the date indicated.
For Potential Nominees
Limited feedback is provided verbally to all nominees and candidates at their request via dialogue where the candidate is able to ask clarifying questions. The feedback is not meant to provide recommendations on nominee development plans or assist in finding a mentor. It is only meant to provide limited feedback on what was reviewed by the Nominating Committee. Confidentiality on the source of the information is maintained.
If a nominee is not slated that does not mean they are not qualified. It means that the Nominating Committee has chosen the best candidates that fit the needs of the positions for the Society at this time. While it can be discouraging not to be slated, the Nominating Committee encourages nominees to review the feedback given, seek constructive feedback from mentors, and continue to develop as a leader in order to apply again when ready.
In FY20 the process was changed to only allow self-nominations. Some individuals are encouraged by a mentor or friend to apply. However, the official process is only for self-nominations.
The interview is a great way for nominees to highlight their leadership competencies and provide details about the examples provided in their statement. The interview is conducted by the Nominating Committee Chair and Chair-Elect. Other members of the Committee are invited but are in listen-only mode. The interview is recorded so the Committee can reference it. The interview lasts from 30-60 minutes and has a series of behavioral (get to know people) questions and specific questions for the position people are applying for (for example, fiduciary experience for Treasurer or Board of Trustees). It is important that nominees provide specific examples from their experiences that highlight their unique skills with respect to the SWE Leadership Competency Model and the positions for which they are nominated.
In order to learn more about the candidate’s experience and leadership the Nominating Committee ask for feedback from others. The committee encourages the nominee to forward the feedback form to co-workers, managers, or members from other non-profit/community volunteering. This allows the committee to understand the nominee’s unique skills and experiences that the committee may not see just from the nominees SWE experience. For example, a nominee may have done very tactical work for the Society but may do very strategic work for their company or other non-profit.
To set yourself up for a leadership position, become familiar with the SWE Leadership Competency Model and gain experience aligned to the strategic plan that will help push the SWE mission forward. This experience can be gained at work, SWE, school, and in your community. Each position on the Board of Directors, Senate, Board of Trustees, and Committees have unique qualifications that can be found in the position descriptions available on the SWE web site. In addition, there are minimum qualifications for certain roles specified in the SWE Bylaws (i.e. the SWE President/President-elect must have served two years on the Board of Directors).
SWE Policy on Campaigning and Endorsement of Candidates can be found on the SWE website at https://swe.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/B2014a_Policy-on-Campaigning-and-Endorsement-of-Canidates-9.11.2019.pdf.
Yes! SWE appreciates leadership from other areas because it fosters diversity of thought. The Nominating Committee’s advice is to look at the SWE Leadership Competency Model and align the skills the nominee has gained in their workplace and/or other organizations. This is a straightforward approach to ensure that leadership skills tie back to qualifications for a SWE leadership role.
Candidates should align their statement and resume to highlight the leadership competencies gained from work, SWE, school, and community that make them the best candidate for the role. Everyone is unique so it’s good to showcase what the candidate will bring to the role using specific examples.
No. The role of the Society Nominating Committee is to slate the best qualified candidate or candidates for a given vacancy to build the overall best slate to serve the interests of the Society. The Committee does not need to have any personal experience with candidates to assess their abilities – they need to determine the slate based on the materials presented and what is best for SWE.
For Potential Nominating Committee Members
The call for Nominating Committee members is included in the annual call for non-elected Society leaders – interest should be expressed by filling out the short application. Nominating Committee members serve a two-year term with staggered terms. Each year the Nominating Committee proposes at least five new members to the Board of Directors for their approval. The Committee ensures it is diverse, while also ensuring representation from the following areas: former Board of Directors member; former Board of Trustees member; former Committee leader; former Senate member and/or leader; and Collegiate/recent graduate (within five years of graduation at time of committee call). As with all positions, the candidates are vetted using the SWE Leadership Competency Model and reviewing applicable skills and experiences.
The following are the skills/competencies desired for Nominating Committee members:
- Recent leadership experience at the Society level required
- Interest in shaping the future of SWE
- Knowledge of SWE bylaws, procedures and the Strategic Plan, as well as the SWE Leadership Competency Model
- Ability to use discretion – The nature of meetings, discussions and email communications are highly confidential and must not be shared outside of the Nominating Committee
- Although not required, experience vetting and hiring via work, school, SWE, and other organizations is helpful as this is the main task of the committee
- A diversity and inclusion mindset
Based on the different points of the timeline, the time required for Nominating Committee members varies throughout the year. The timeline when candidates are being reviewed (typically October through December) is the most time intensive with members doing many hours (approx. 15 hours per month) of review of nominee materials outside of regular committee meetings and then participating in several committee calls (approx. 10 hours per month). Outside of this 3-month part of the timeline, committee members can expect to participate in a monthly conference call and do some communications via email. Depending on the year, there may also be face to face meetings conducted at the summer SWE leader meetings and the We Annual Conference in the fall.