NomCom 2022 Generic Expertise

IESG Summary of Candidates' Desired Expertise

This note describes the expertise desired in the candidates selected to fill the positions of the IESG members whose terms will expire during the first IETF Meeting in 2020.

Under the Nominations Committee (NomCom) procedures defined in RFC 7437/BCP 10, the IESG is responsible for providing a summary of the expertise desired of the candidates selected for open IESG positions. This information is included below, and is suitable for publication to the community with the NomCom request for nominations.

We realize that this is a long list of desires, and that no one person will be able meet all of the expertise for a specific position. We trust that the NomCom will weigh all of these qualities and choose IESG members who represent the best possible balance of them.


IESG members are the managers of the IETF standards process. They must understand the way the IETF works, recognize where the organization needs to evolve, be good at working with other people, be able to inspire and encourage other people to work together as volunteers, and have sound technical judgment about IETF technology and its relationship to technology developed elsewhere.

Area Directors (ADs) select the Working Group (WG) Chairs, and then work with them to manage IETF WGs. Consequently, IESG members should possess sufficient interpersonal and management skills to manage 15 to 30 part-time people. Most ADs are also responsible for the management of one or more directorates or review teams. The ability to identify good leaders and technical experts, and then recruit them for IETF work and leadership at all levels is important.

ADs are also expected to understand where there is a need to change either IETF processes or IETF's overall role, as the Internet and the industry around it evolves.

An ideal IESG member has made significant technical contributions in more than one IETF Area. The Area Director role includes significant people management, for which prior experience chairing a working group will be useful – although other people-management experience may be a reasonable substitute. Similarly, the ability to review and usefully provide feedback on technical documents is a necessary skill for IESG members, for which serving on an area directorate or area review team would provide useful experience; active participation in working groups and other, non-IETF technical review activities can also be helpful in building such skills. Breadth of technical ability and the facility to quickly grasp concepts outside of their strongest areas are more important than specific technical expertise. Experience from a broad range of backgrounds across the entire IESG is desirable.

An AD need not be the ultimate expert and authority in any technical area. The abilities to manage, to guide and judge consensus, to know who the subject-matter experts are and to seek their advice, and to mentor other IETF participants to take the technical lead is at least as important as their own technical abilities. Although the split varies from area-to-area, ADs can expect to spend approximately 30% of their time on management tasks, with the remainder being technical in nature.

An AD should be able to personally review every Internet-Draft that they sponsor. For other Internet-Drafts an AD needs to be satisfied that adequate review has taken place, though many ADs personally review these documents as well. After the 2015 reorganization of IETF areas and IESG procedures, assignments of ADs to specific working groups are more flexible than they were previously, and can accommodate the expertise available in the IESG as a whole.

It is very helpful for an IESG member to have a good working knowledge of the IETF document process as well as WG creation and chartering process. This knowledge is most likely to be found in experienced WG Chairs, but may also be found in authors of multiple documents. It is very helpful for an IESG member to have experience attending multiple IETF meetings, creating WG session agendas, supervising WG sessions, and helping to arrange interim WG meetings.

IESG members must have strong oral and written communications skills. They must have a proven track record of leading and contributing to the consensus of diverse groups. They must be able to prioritize their work, and must reliably follow through and finish the important work items in a timely manner.

An IESG member should be able to guide WGs to follow their charters and nurture new talent to fulfill IETF leadership roles in the future.

The ADs are responsible for ensuring review of errata; they may delegate the review or perform it personally. An AD should be able to process the errata, which will often require to identify and reach out to relevant subject-matter experts, for documents that do not have an associated Working Group.

Basic IESG activities can consume significant time during a typical non-meeting week. Enough time must be allocated to manage approximately 10 to 15 working groups, to read on the order of 500 pages of internet-drafts every two weeks, and to follow up on document processing tasks. Many ADs allocate 15 hours or more per week to such tasks. Some ADs have been able to combine significant other responsibilities with an AD role and/or delegate work to area directorates, while others put a larger proportion of their hours into AD responsibilities. A personal commitment is critical.

The time commitment varies by Area and by month, with the most intense periods immediately before and during IETF meetings. ADs during their first year tend to spend more time per week on AD work. Practices vary widely between IESG members, however. Most IESG members also participate in additional IETF leadership activities, further increasing the time commitment for those individuals. ADs may need to interact with external groups such as other standards development organizations (SDOs), which may require additional travel. We have also found IESG member attendance at most IETF meetings to be imperative, typically arriving one or two days early and leaving one day later (for pre/post meeting activities). IESG members also attend one, and sometimes two, IESG retreats per year, as well as occasional workshops and interim meetings. An IESG member should ideally also be comfortable with working, and developing professional relationships, in a virtual environment.

Because of the time and travel commitments, and awkwardly timed conference calls, IESG members have found that good personal motivation and family and sponsor support are important factors in making the role successful for them.

Last modified 5 months ago Last modified on 08/07/22 10:13:10