Up Close and Personal with David Balkin

October 21, 2010 by Odile Faludi - Maccabi NSW
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Odile Faludi talks with JCA leader David Balkin

David Balkin

What is your role within JCA?

For the last five years I have been JCA’s President. Before that I spent 12 years building JCA’s Planning function and being a member of the Allocations Committee. My current role includes overseeing the work of our six committees (Fundraising, Planning, Allocation, Status, Investment, Building & Capital) which is drawn together by our Executive which I chair. I am an ex-officio member of all of our sub-committees except the Allocations Committee. But in practice I only actively participate in the day-to-day activities of our Planning and Fundraising sub-committees. My other key role is to set the tone and build the culture of our organisation which is all about teamwork, collaboration, open debate and mutual respect.

What is the mission of the JCA?

JCA is the community’s fundraiser, planner and facilitator. This is our mantra and what we are. These three functions are totally intertwined. You cannot do the planning if you don’t have the resources. But you can’t raise the funds without the planning. The better you do one the better the others will be. It is all integrated. Our mission is to maintain Jewish continuity which is similar to Maccabi’s mission albeit that we seek to ensure continuity by building a more robust and sustainable community infrastructure to meet the wide set of needs our community has. Our fundraising and our planning activities are the means we have at our disposal to make our community’s infrastructure stronger. A successful JCA enables all the organisations under our umbrella to have a sustainable and predictable cashflow that enables them to employ quality people to do the work that their organisation and our community requires. That is why the NSW community, because of its JCA, is unique in Australia and possibly the world.

Why do you think Maccabi is an important part of JCA?

To my mind Maccabi is a very important part of our community’s future because of who its members are. Maccabi has 4,000 members in NSW alone and a lot of those members are only linked to the Jewish community through sport. As importantly, it has a very high percentage of younger members which together with it’s size makes it very pertinent to Jewish continuity. However, Maccabi must always retain it’s Jewish dimension and bring our Jewish values to life through and in our activities. If we do not, we will be no different from any other sporting organisation.

How long have you been a member of Maccabi Tennis?

I actually only joined Maccabi Tennis officially a year ago but I have been on several Maccabiahs which were great! The quality of their social tennis is extremely high. I am a member of four tennis clubs around Sydney so I have a reasonable basis for comparison. I will definitely be participating in the Maccabi Australia International Games, (MAIGS) which I am looking forward to. The international flavour will make it really interesting.

Are you a tough leader?

Depends what you mean by ‘tough’? If you mean sticking by our processes and operating within our values then I am what you describe. But if you mean not letting my people speak up, not having their say and not having their views considered on their merits then I am exactly the opposite. JCA is filled with successful commercially minded people who are still, or have been, very senior executives. However, my number one rule is that they must all work together and be part of one team. Our outstanding people accept and respect this imperative because they understand that the only way we can accomplish what we are seeking to achieve is to harness everyone’s unique strengths to create something that is bigger than anyone of us. There is plenty of room for outstanding individuals to excel and shine. Outstanding contributions are given plenty of recognition and individuals have a lot of autonomy. Everyone is able to have their say and indeed have an obligation to speak up if they have a contrary view. It’s not who is right, it’s what is right. As the leader, my role is to ensure that we balance all of these objectives with the need to make sound and timely decisions on difficult issues without taking up too much of everyone’s valuable time. It is my great privilege to lead such a superb team of dedicated people.

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