Failing upwards?

The Cincinnati Symphony has made an… interesting choice in hiring a new executive director:

Trey Devey, 37, a Chicago businessman, was approved at a special board meeting this morning at Music Hall.

Devey will assume his new post on Jan. 20. He succeeds Steven Monder, who retired in June after holding the job for 31 years.

“His strategic thinking and problem solving skills truly differentiated him from other candidates,” said board chair Marvin Quin, retired chief financial officer of Ashland.

Devey is a strategy consultant for Boston Consulting Group, a global consulting firm with 66 offices in 38 countries. He holds an MBA from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, but orchestras are his passion, he says. ..

From 1997 to 2002, Devey was with the Syracuse Symphony, which has a $5.3 million operating budget, serving first as its development director and then its executive director. He is credited with balancing the budget, increasing the endowment and spearheading the orchestra’s return performance in Carnegie Hall after a 15-year hiatus.

As president of the now-defunct Florida Philharmonic Orchestra (2002-03), he launched an internal audit and identified a structural operating deficit. During his tenure, the organization sought Chapter 11 protection and he oversaw its eventual shutdown.

He was also briefly executive director of the Alabama Symphony Orchestra.

I hope that the CSO board regarded his tenure with the Florida Phil as a bug and not a feature.

To be fair, there’s lots of blame to spread around for what happened to that orchestra, and most of it pre-dated his tenure. But if my orchestra was looking for an executive director, I’d need a lot of really high-quality selling before I’d buy someone who folded up his last orchestra.


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