Chief Executive Officer


Organisational Overview

Since 1935, the goal of the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA) has been to guide, encourage and support the zoos, aquariums and like‑minded organisations of the world in animal care and welfare, environmental education and global conservation.

WAZA is the global alliance of regional associations, national federations, zoos and aquariums, dedicated to the care and conservation of animals and their habitats around the world. The membership consists of nearly 400 leading institutions and organisations around the world, and this number continues to grow.

WAZA promotes cooperation between leading zoos, aquariums, national and regional associations, as well as with leading wildlife experts, academies, and universities. WAZA provides support for species‑conservation management and husbandry of animals in human care, while encouraging the highest standards in member institutions. WAZA has formed partnerships with leading international conservation organisations, committing its members to tackle global issues such as the illegal wildlife trade, coral‑reef restoration, marine litter, sustainable palm oil and climate change.

Our Vision

WAZA’s vision is a world where zoos and aquariums maximise their conservation impact. Zoos and aquariums are at the fore‑front of conservation efforts and comprise the largest global conservation network.

Background to the Role

WAZA now seeks to appoint a CEO who, reporting to the WAZA council, will have oversight of all activities and be responsible for its financial wellbeing. The broad objectives for WAZA’s CEO are as follows:

◼ To provide support and assistance to the President, Council and Committees.
◼ To lead and support the Council and WAZA in the development and delivery of strategies, policies and work programmes, which advance the reputation and impact of WAZA.
◼ To advance WAZA’s public profile with critical decision makers.
◼ To service the needs of members, including regional and national zoos and aquariums associations.
◼ To manage the day to day secretariat operations, including staff management, budget and finances.

The Role

Support and assistance to the President, Council and Committees

◼ Lead staff and Council in creating and implementing WAZA’s next five-year Strategic Plan, ensuring that the plan is achievable and sustainable. Strike the right balance between member service and public leadership so that to the fullest extent possible, all WAZA members value and are invigorated by their participation in WAZA.
◼ To provide support to the President, Council and Committees, carrying out support and liaison activities as directed by Committee Chairs.
◼ To submit routine and ad hoc reports (including budget and finances report) to the President, Council and General Assembly of WAZA and to generally keep Council informed of extraordinary events and developments.

◼ To work with the President to an agreed annual work plan, including undertaking travel as agreed.

◼ To be responsible to Council and Committees for implementing decisions and guidelines as directed by the President of WAZA and in relation to the Council or General Assembly.
Strategy and Policy Development
◼ To assist with framing strategy and policy – anticipating major issues and challenges for the global zoo and aquarium community in business and mission areas including animal health and welfare.
◼ To ensure strategy and policy decisions are referred to appropriate Committees, including Marketing, Veterinary, Ethics, Welfare, Conservation, Inter-region Conservation Co-operation, Aquarium, and Finance.

Advocacy and profile for Zoos and Aquariums

◼ Propel WAZA into a visible and authoritative global voice on behalf of leading institutions and wildlife;
◼ Promote members’ contributions, collectively and individually, to animal welfare, conservation, and species survival.
◼ Effectively and assertively challenge inaccurate portrayals of zoos and aquariums and work to own the public narrative about animals in managed care.
◼ Lobby governments, international institutions and businesses to further the mission and pursue the vision of WAZA.
◼ Organise and manage relations with other international bodies including participation at conferences that may link WAZA with other organisations, through the Programme Committee.
◼ Manage PR activities, issuing statements or responding to media enquiries as appropriate within guidelines determined by the President and Council. Make presentations to stakeholder groups to promote the interests of WAZA.
◼ Implement/co-ordinate all marketing activities of WAZA, including maintenance of the web site and the publication of conference proceedings, magazines, brochures, leaflets etc. in conjunction with chairs of appropriate Committees.

Membership services

◼ Service the needs of members and build membership of individuals, institutions, regional associations and associates. Establish and maintain good relationships with these bodies.
◼ Facilitate an active and cordial relationship amongst all regions, contributing to the preparation and organisation of WAZA annual and additional WAZA meetings, or as directed.
◼ Demonstrate nimbleness to respond quickly and with informed expertise as unanticipated challenges arise at member institutions.

Operations of the Association

◼ Direct and manage the Executive Office, supervising financial administration and office personnel in line with WAZA business plans and strategies, and ensuring membership services and databases are well run.
◼ Prepare proposals relating to investments, co-operation and project contracts, etc.
◼ Raise funds for the organisation in line with strategy and policy.

The Candidate

For this pivotal role, WAZA will search broadly for a leader and spokesperson who embraces the WAZA mission. The CEO must relish the challenge of attending to and earning the trust of a complex and diverse membership who rightfully share organisational authority and have high expectations for both service and leadership, as well as gaining the trust of partners.

Experience working closely with or reporting to an engaged Board of Directors is preferred. Candidates may come from outside the zoo or aquarium world but must demonstrate a real commitment to zoos and aquariums and to wildlife conservation, as expressed in their professional or personal lives. International experience is preferred, and a global outlook is essential.

Essential experience

Business and Strategic Management

◼ Track record of providing visionary leadership and effective management of a talented and diverse organisation, ideally one providing services to members.
◼ Proven business acumen. Discipline and focus in setting clear priorities, meeting or exceeding goals, delegating effectively, and running a fiscally sound operation.
◼ Proven success in designing and delivering a strategy, ideally with an international structure and cultural complexity.
◼ Understanding of the dynamics of an international membership organisation. Determination to circulate widely – to listen, educate, and work towards common purpose – coupled with the ability to act decisively in the absence of complete consensus.

External/Internal Communication

◼ Exceptional communication skills and a capacity to inspire and motivate people.
◼ Proven success as an ambassador raising the positive profile of an organisation with the credibility to advocate, influence and negotiate at the highest levels across the globe.
◼ Influential experience as a spokesperson representing an issue or organisation to broad audiences, including media. Public presence along with approachability.
◼ A skilled political touch and an exceptional ability to develop and manage trusted and appropriate relationships and partnerships with government, institutions, and industry and not get too drawn to one area of focus.
◼ Ability to represent the WAZA community in a crisis, with support from external relations staff.
Resource and Budget Management
◼ Significant experience of financial management; devising, formulating, resourcing and leading on high level strategy.
◼ Financially astute; able to understand the balance between managing members and commercial priorities.

People Management

◼ Proven leadership experience of small-medium sized teams and established track record of working successfully with Boards.
◼ An inherent ability to draw people together, emotionally intelligent and able to persuade others to take measured risks.
◼ Experience building productive partnerships and strategic alliances and of creating and developing networks.

Behaviour and Values

◼ Understated confidence.
◼ Respectfulness, honesty and integrity.
◼ Nurturing by nature, with a willingness to coach and encourage fellow colleagues.
◼ Thoughtful and reflective.
◼ Generous in nature.

A background of working in a zoological, wildlife or otherwise relevant environment is desirable, as is experience of working within a membership-based organisation. Candidates must be fluent in English and having other languages would be desirable. WAZA seeks to be a diverse organisation encouraging this multi-national identity and the CEO will need to be able to communicate effectively across international borders and cultures. Whilst the head office is based in Barcelona, the role will require extensive international travel.

Additional Details
Location: Barcelona and Worldwide
Must be eligible to work in Spain Salary €90,000 + relocation assistance
Reporting to WAZA worldwide Council

How to Apply

Closing date for applications: Friday 21st February

WAZA has engaged the services of Berwick Partners, to whom applications should be sent. Following a long list meeting with the Search Committee, successful candidates will be invited for preliminary interview with Berwick Partners. Thereafter, successful candidates will be invited to WAZA final interview, which is due to be held on 28th and 29th March in the Netherlands.

The preferred method of application is online at
If you are unable to apply online please email your application to
All applications will receive an automated response.
All candidates are also requested to complete an online Equal Opportunities Monitoring Form which will be found at the end of the application process.
For detailed information on how we process your personal data, please review our privacy policy on our website
In line with GDPR, we ask that you do NOT send us any information that can identify children or any of your Sensitive Personal Data (racial or ethnic origin, political opinions, religious or philosophical beliefs, trade union membership, data concerning health or sex life and sexual orientation, genetic and / or biometric data) in your CV and application documentation. Following this notice, any inclusion of your Sensitive Personal Data in your CV/application documentation will be understood by us as your express consent to process this information going forward. Please also remember to not mention anyone’s information or details (e.g. referees) who have not previously agreed to their inclusion.
If you have any queries or would like more information in regard to this document, please contact:

Christina Hargreaves

 Consultant – Not for Profit

D: +44 (0)20 7529 1122