14 Nov 2017
Decision was accompanied by some high drama


Note to subscribers:

This is a special issue of Global Fund Observer. It contains just one article, this one,
on the selection of a new executive director for the Global Fund.


Peter Sands

Peter Sands will be the next executive director of the Global Fund. The decision was made by the Board on 14 November at its 38th meeting in Geneva, Switzerland. The decision comes five years less a day after Mark Dybul was selected to be the executive director in 2012. Dybul’s term ended on 31 May 2017. Since then, Marijke Wijnroks has been serving as Interim Executive Director.

The selection of Sands was accompanied by some high drama. On 10 November, Sands wrote an email to the Board leadership saying he was withdrawing from the competition “for personal reasons.” On 13 November, Sands wrote another email saying that he had changed his mind and that he wanted back in. On the morning of 14 November, the Board decided that Sands would be considered as one of the four shortlisted candidates. A few hours later, the Global Fund announced that Sands had been selected for the position.

The announcement did not say when Sands would start as the new E.D.

Peter Sands is currently Chairman of the World Bank’s International Working Group on Financing Pandemic Preparedness. He is also a Research Fellow at Harvard University, in both the Harvard Global Health Institute and the Mossavar-Rahmani Center for Business and Government, where he works on research projects in global health and financial regulation.

Sands is also lead non-executive director of the Board of the U.K. Department of Health. From July 2015 to December 2016, Sands was Chair of the International Commission on a Global Health Risk Framework for the Future under the auspices of the National Academy of Medicine.

Peter Sands is probably best known as a former Chief Executive of Standard Chartered Bank, a position he held from 2006 to 2015. Sands joined the bank as Group Finance Director in May 2002. In a news release, the Global Fund said that under Sand’s leadership, “Standard Chartered successfully navigated the turbulence of the global financial crisis in 2007-2009, continuing to support clients and counterparties throughout the worst of the financial stresses and without drawing on government support of any kind.”

“Peter Sands brings exceptional management and finance experience, and a heart for global health,” said Aida Kurtović, Chair of the Board. “At a time when we face complex challenges, his ability to mobilize resources while managing transformational change is exactly what we need. We expect him to take the Global Fund to the next level.”

Sands began his career at a consultant at the managing consulting firm McKinsey & Company. He was with McKinsey from 1988 to 2002. From December 2007 to June 2011, Sands was on the board of Global Business Coalition on HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (now GBC Health) in Washington, D.C.

Born in the U.K., Sands was educated in Malaysia, the U.K., Canada and the U.S. Sands has a Master’s in Public Administration from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government.

“I am deeply honored to join this extraordinary partnership,” Sands is quoted as saying in the Fund’s news release. “Infectious diseases today represent one of the most serious risks facing humankind. If we work together to mobilize funds, build strong health systems and establish effective community responses we will be able to end epidemics, promote prosperity and increase our global health security.”

At the Board meeting, the voting was conducted according to a process established by the Board at its 36th meeting in November 2016. The process consisted of repeated cycles of weighted voting where Board members were asked to rank the candidates by order of preference, and where, which each cycle, the candidate with the least number of votes was removed from consideration. After the third cycle of voting, Sands was declared the winner. 

The selection of Peter Sands was the final step in a lengthy recruitment process coordinated by the Executive Director Nomination Committee (EDNC). In June, the EDNC undertook an extensive advertising and outreach campaign, with the assistance of the executive search firm Russell Reynolds Associates. The campaign resulted in a pool of 109 candidates. The EDNC selected 11 candidates for a first round of interviews, which the EDNC conducted on 25-26 September. Eight candidates were invited to a second round of interviews, also conducted by the EDNC, on 9-10 October.

Peter Sands was one of four candidates shortlisted by the EDNC. The other three were: Simon Bland, the current director of the UNAIDS office in New York; Frannie Leautier, formerly a senior vice president at the African Development Bank; and Anil Soni, head of global infectious diseases at Mylan, a global pharmaceutical company, and former chief executive of the Clinton Health Access Initiative.

The names of the shortlisted candidates were made public on 23 October, on the eve of a Board Retreat. At the retreat (on 24-25 October), the shortlisted candidates made presentations and were interviewed by the full Board. The candidates also had informal meetings with Board members and alternates. Observers were not present.

The current competition was the second attempt to find a replacement for Dybul. The first effort was launched in November 2016, but was abandoned by the Board on 27 February 2017 because of concerns about the process. A very tight timeline, and the fact that the names of the shortlisted candidates were leaked before the Fund had planned to release them, were key factors in the decision to launch a new search. (See GFO articles here and here.)

Peter Sands will become the Global Fund’s fourth executive director. Richard Feachem, the first E.D., served from April 2002 until March 2007. His successor, Michel Kazatchkine, served from April 2007 to March 2012. Dybul was E.D. from February 2013 to May 2017. (From February 2012 to January 2013, the Global Fund had no executive director, but had a General Manager, Gabriel Jaramillo, performing the same functions.)

The Global Fund’s news release announcing the appointment is available here.

Read this article in French. Lire l'article en français.

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