Leaving the EES

After more than fifteen wonderful years working for the Egypt Exploration Society, as Director for the last four-and–a-half, I have decided to step down with effect from October this year. My last official engagement will be the Annual General Meeting on 15 October.

QUS15 Chris visits Quesna 2-4-15 (8) ED ED

I’m off! (Thanks to Geoffrey Tassie for the photo).

The Society has changed a great deal in the last few years, and I like to think I will be leaving it in good shape. More importantly though, I will be leaving it in the very capable hands of the Trustees and staff and, of course, of my successor, who will be appointed in the next few weeks.

This has been a big decision for me, one I have arrived at after a great deal of thinking over the course of several months. But it is the right one for lots of reasons.

A new challenge

I was appointed to lead the Society on a certain journey because I had the skills required. That journey is now complete, and it is time for the Society to embark on a new phase.

The EES would never have existed without the passion and enthusiasm of its founders, and their ability to inspire the same feelings in others. Its achievements are the result of the commitment of its archaeologists, staff, supporters and others. In the same way, the EES needs a Director who is bursting with ideas and energy. That was how I felt a few years ago when I began the job, but it’s impossible to sustain that level of energy forever, and it’s time for a new challenge.

That challenge is ready and waiting in fact. I’ll be leaving the EES to focus on the various pieces of work (a book or two, more media work etc.) and organizations (including the International Association of Egyptologists) to which I have committed in recent years but which, while they are complementary to my EES role, I have been unable to pursue to the extent that I would like. The challenge will be to tackle a few of these projects as a freelancer while exploring a few new possibilities as well.

The next EES

As I mentioned above, the EES is about to embark on the next phase of its history. My role as Director was to create the busy, dynamic, modern and eminently supportable organisation we all wanted the EES to be. In the last few years my colleagues and I have:

  • Overhauled the way we support fieldwork in Egypt
  • Modernised our publications and communications, especially online
  • Dramatically improved out activities in Egypt and support for Egyptian colleagues
  • Raised awareness of the Society and its work through the media and online
  • Professionalised our research facilities – the archive and library in particular
  • Professionalised our systems and processes and improved efficiency

Just about all of this has been undertaken with a view to making the Society more supportable and/or financially sustainable. However the financial situation remains very challenging, and having explored all the possibilities we had wanted to explore, and fixed a number of problems behind the scenes, it is now time for us to look at alternative means of ensuring the Society can continue to deliver its mission “to explore ancient Egyptian sites and monuments, to create a lasting record of the remains, to generate enthusiasm for, and increase knowledge and understanding of, Egypt’s past and to raise awareness of the importance of protecting its heritage.”

A fond farewell

I was 22 years old when I became Librarian and Membership Secretary at the EES, just three months after finishing my Master’s degree in Egyptology at the University of Birmingham. It was my first and so far only real job. Doughty Mews has been a home of sorts for almost half my life since then. It’s been a wonderful experience, richly rewarding in far more ways than I could ever have imagined. I arrived as an aspiring Egyptologist and leave as an experienced charity CEO. I have enormous affection for the Society and would not be leaving if I did not think that it had a very bright future ahead of it. I will of course continue to be a loyal subscriber and have every confidence that I will be able to enjoy my membership just as much as I did when I was a student. Knowing the Society’s supporters as well as I do, I am sure they will all want to continue supporting the organisation through the transition to the next phase. Lastly, I’d like to thank those supporters. Although I have thoroughly enjoyed my work for the EES I cannot pretend that every single day has been a walk in the park… There have been frustrations, disappointments and difficult characters to deal with, but these things have always been outweighed by a near-constant stream of smiles, messages of support and positive comments about the work the Society is doing. The EES would not exist without its supporters and it has been an absolute privilege to work for an organisation which inspires people around the world to offer that support. It keeps us going, and propels us forward, spiritually, emotionally, and financially(!). Thank you.

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20 thoughts on “Leaving the EES

  1. Essam Nagy

    Sorry to see you leaving Chris, after the great and hard work we did last a few years.
    I enjoyed work with you. I was very happy always to see your enthusiasm and challenge . In every stage to rise the EES name and profile.
    You was keen to keep EES in the same line to achieve its missions. You made the change to EES specially in Egypt. As I always mentions I’m not happy for your dissection now in this stage. But I wish you a very good Luck.

    1. Dear Essam, I’m very touched by your message, thank you! It has been a pleasure and a privilege to work with you. I have enjoyed my visits to Egypt in the last few years enormously, not least because I have come to expect that you would have good news for me about a new development in the EES’ activities, and/or because we would be working on something new and exciting. I like to think we have succeeded in improving the EES profile and activities enormously and that is really down to your hard work and talent, and we can all be very grateful to you for that! I will miss working for the EES, especially in Cairo, but I am partly leaving to find new ways to carry on with the work in Egypt that I am passionate about. I will see you soon!

  2. Clearly you have been an inspiration and energetic leader of the EES. You will be missed by many, I am sure, All good fortune for your future activities and we will all watch your onward journey with great interest and anticipation.
    Keith Grenville, Patron: The Egyptian Society of South Africa.

  3. Rawda Abdelhady

    Sorry to hear that. Although I met you once, it was a great pleasure to see the man who I always hear about, watch his lectures, and follow his activities by the internet. You are an inspiring archaeologist. Hope to see u again and again in Egypt and learn from u 🙂

    1. hi Rawda, it was a pleasure to meet you in Alexandria! Thank you so much for your kind words, it is such an honour and privilege to have been able to work in Egypt and it makes me very proud to think that I have been able to make any contribution in the field of archaeology there. Thank you and I hope to see you again soon insh’allah!

      1. Rawda Abdelhady

        Indeed you made many contributions in the field of archaeology in Egypt. Hope to see you next September in the Thebes Conference.

  4. Charlie Herzer

    Chris,
    Wishing you the best of luck in your new ventures. Sincere thanks for your kind help in providing access and copies of the excavation negatives of the Society’s work at Abydos early last century. It was an enormous help. I have just completed my book, The Osireion at Abydos A Subterranean Temple: The Birth House of Isis – A Reconstruction and Analysis of the Decoration Program, in which many of those negatives will appear (with proper credits, of course)! Stay in touch.

    Warmest Regards,
    Charlie

    1. Hi Charlie, thanks for getting in touch and for your kind words, much appreciated! I’m delighted to hear your book is complete and I’m really looking forward to seeing it – do please let me know when it’s available! As you may know we (EES, it will probably take me a while to stop saying ‘we’…) will be publishing a new version of Prof Rosalie David’s ‘Temple Ritual at Abydos’ volume on the Sety temple complete with as many of the Calverley & Broome illustrations as possible later this year – which will make for a nice complement to your book! It was a great pleasure to be able to help in a small way with your research – answering queries from scholars like you has been one of the most enjoyable aspects of my work for the last fifteen years, so thank YOU!

  5. Hussein Bassir

    We will miss you, Chris. You have done a great job with the EES. I was lucky to meet with you twice when I was the head of the Grand Egyptian Museum and recently at the Giza Pyramids area. I wish you the best.

    Good luck and best wishes as ever,

    Hussein Bassir

    1. Thank you Dr Hussein! It was a great privilege to meet you at the GEM and, more recently, in Giza and I feel sure that we will meet again! Best wishes for all your work, and see you again soon insh’allah! Chris

  6. Susan Kirk

    Dear Chris

    Sorry to hear you are departing the EES but good luck in your new venture.
    Of course, I am sure the EES will always be with you in spirit wherever you are.

    Take care
    Sue
    Sue Kirk
    AEMES

    1. Lovely to hear from you Sue, thanks for getting in touch and for your kind words! My time at the EES – 16 years – has given me an awful lot and I will keep a great many lessons learned and happy memories with me for a long time yet I’m sure. Very best wishes to you and all at AEMES! Chris

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