Behind the scenes at TDF: Executive Director

With the beginning of 2015, a new year packed with exciting projects and ideas around LibreOffice and The Document Foundation, we continue our behind-the-scenes series, to share achievements in 2014 with our community and our generous donours, to whom we’d like to express our sincerest gratitude and thanks for their incredible and wonderful support and their invaluable contributions!

I’m Florian, and I live in the very southern part of Bavaria in Germany, 100 km southwest of Munich, near the border to Austria and Switzerland – a beautiful place to be. 😉

Today, I’d like to shed a light on my role as Executive Director, a fulltime position which I have held since last March. With TDF having grown over the past years in terms of contributions, projects, ideas, staff and donations, my role as Executive Director is, in a nutshell, to keep everything together and have “the show running”, working for the Board of Directors and with the Membership Committee,floeff2012_400x400 and all the other wonderful volunteers, contributors and staff members like Sophie, Italo, Christian, Robinson and Alex.

Having worked intensively on the statutes and the initial setup of TDF, the first part of my role is taking care of many administrative, legal and tax bits, removing that burden from the board to give them more time for strategy and other items. This work reaches from working closely with our accountant, tax advisor, payroll provider and legal counsel, to dealing with trademark requests, protection of domain names, checking and payment of invoices, and reviewing contracts and insurances, making proposals for the investment of our capital stock and other funds, and of course answering questions on details of the statutes and other parameters of the German “Stiftung”.

The second part of my role is handling the daily operations, which includes replying to and distribution of all sorts of inquiries and requests, be it formal letters, user inquiries and, together with other TDF spokespeople, a variety of press and media inquiries. The daily operations also involve monitoring the budget, organizing our internal file storage, preparing presentations for the annual board meetings, participating in and proposing agenda items for the biweekly phone conferences, handling our donation mechanisms, bank accounts and donation confirmations, monitoring deadlines and working on relations to our Advisory Board. When a new Board of Directors or Membership Committee is elected, or we have new staff members, I have the honour of introducing them to our internal workflow and our entity.

The most exciting part of my job surely is working with our staff in various projects, and the coordination of tasks, deadlines, priorities. As Executive Director, I am responsible for oversight of all budget items and projects TDF is carrying out. At the end of 2013 we have switched to Redmine for project management – started out of the infrastructure team’s needs, it has become an important tool for task and project handling in some non-development parts of LibreOffice. In addition to that, we are running weekly team calls with our staff members, have slots reserved for weekly one-on-one calls, and meet in IRC regularly to discuss current projects and challenges. Every once in a while we also have in-person meetings, mostly during LibreOffice Conferences and FOSDEM. Being responsible for that part of the foundation also involved handling tender processes, job openings and talking to candidates who apply for a job.

We do have a couple of recurring projects, like gradually improving our AskBot instance or writing our formal annual report, but there’s also individual items, like the certification program, the Android tender and the Bugzilla migration.

Should I find some spare time during the weekends, I also like hacking around on our infrastructure, especially our e-mail system and our Redmine instance, and try to join our admin phone calls and infra in-person meetings when possible. Having been a part of the German community for many years, I also try to regularly organize community meetings and phone conferences.

Last but not least, every once in a while I give a presentation, staff a booth at an event, and sometimes I even make it to a magazine or try to say some wise words in a podcast or a lecture. 😉