picture of Russell Coff
Russell Coff
University of Wisconsin-Madison

Executive Director Search Prospectus


Dear SMS Member,

I am saddened to report that, after twelve years of helping the SMS to thrive and grow as our Executive Director, Niko Pelka has decided to move on. He has given us ample notice to allow time for the search, deliberation and vetting to find an excellent replacement. In addition, he is working closely with us to manage the transition in an orderly and efficient manner. We anticipate that he will ease out of his role as a new person comes up to speed.

We are also fortunate to have excellent and highly capable SMS staff in Chicago who are committed to assuring that the transition goes smoothly. They are adept at managing SMS’ day to day operations. They are very involved in the search process to help assure that the transition goes smoothly. As such, we do not expect any disruption of our normal operations.

I am tremendously grateful for Niko’s past and present service to SMS. Niko was recruited as the first fulltime Executive Director by our founder, Dan Schendel, in 2006. He has since guided the Society through substantial growth as well as implementing significant expansions of services to our members. We have moved from one journal to three; from about 2100 members to 3000; from one conference each year to three or more; from no extensions on our annual conference to often quite a few; from  seven nascent interest groups to twelve thriving interest groups and two communities; from no grant programs to two ongoing annual grant programs. These visible manifestations probably pale next to his contribution in professionalizing our operations.

As an SMS member, I would like to ask your help in this transition. In particular, you may be able to help us to generate a diverse pool of qualified candidates. We have retained  Ted Marchese, an executive search consultant with AGB Search. Please forward nominations to him at Your help in getting the announcement to anyone who you feel might be a qualified and interested candidate would be much appreciated.

The search committee, a subset of the SMS board with representation from the office staff, is committed to seek input from our stakeholders in this process and we value your engagement. We welcome your input and please do bring any important issues or concerns to our attention.

Please join me in thanking Niko for all of his many contributions.



Russell Coff

President, Strategic Management Society