Companies traditionally turn to outsiders as a last resort, usually when the pipeline of inside candidates has run dry.
That’s not to suggest any art market candidates to succeed Rebecca Davies as chief executive of LAPADA were incapable (we can only guess who they might be).
But when organisations are dealing with powerful disruptive forces – in LAPADA’s case, tightening regulation and an urgent need to attract new and younger buyers who expect to browse and transact using digital technology – they need leaders equipped with cross-industry skills, contacts and perspectives.
So we shouldn’t be too surprised at LAPADA’s choice of former Tatler publisher Patricia Stevenson, whose commercial, events and digital experience is good news for the body’s 500-plus members.
LAPADA hasn’t looked too far outside the art market, in fairness. Stevenson knows the lie of the dealer land through Tatler’s past sponsorship of art and antiques fairs. One who has dealt with her describes a “driven” person and “tough negotiator”.
How she adapts from fast-moving fashion publishing to the slower pace of trade body diplomacy and attending to the needs of micro businesses, remains to be seen.
But of all the plusses in Stevenson’s CV, perhaps the most vital is that she is a proven saleswoman and marketer. Her appointment underscores LAPADA’s continuing ambitions in this regard for its members, who have many reasons to give a hearty welcome to the industry’s newest ‘outsider’.