This coming Tuesday I will graduate from the University of NSW’s Australian Graduate School of Management with a Masters in Business Administration (MBA). It took me just over four and a half years to complete, while simultaneously balancing full-time community work and my growing family.
During an MBA significant time is spent debating all aspects of leadership. It provides me the opportunity to undertake deep reflection on my own leadership journey, style and areas for ongoing development (good leaders know there is always more to learn). My immediate reflection is that the MBA has enabled me to be a far better CEO than I would have been without it. It also highlighted just how much of my leadership development has been through and because of both volunteering and now working for the Jewish community.
These reflections solidified my long-held belief that if we want to sustain and ensure a pipeline of leadership talent to navigate our community’s future, we as a community need to continually invest in the development and evolving needs of our current and future leaders. After all, leadership is an ongoing and ever changing journey. Therefore, no one leadership course, program, day or presentation is ever going to be enough.
This is why JCA increasingly supports an array of leadership programs and opportunities to develop communal leaders in both professional and volunteer capacities. We need upcoming young and dynamic people to be passionate and committed leaders but to also be tooled with the skills and learnings to enhance their success.
When I joined the JCA Planning Department in 2013, I was fortunate to be involved in many emerging programs, which have supported our community to make a difference. I remember the start of LaunchPad – a then partnership program between JCA, Australian Jewish Funders (AJF) and Schusterman ROI. LaunchPad’s mission is to inspire change-makers and communal leaders to connect, think, create and lead – in the Australian Jewish community and beyond. Driven by Jewish values and a collaborative mindset, the program has created hubs and network opportunities for entrepreneurship, activism and collaboration that continue to grow and flourish.
Having just returned from the recent LaunchPad leadership retreat, I can say unequivocally that we are blessed with numerous passionate emerging leaders that can safely guide our organisations and community into the future.
While Launchpad remains pivotal to the development of many within our Jewish communal landscape, the Observership Program, founded in 2013, has taken the development of volunteer leadership to the next level. Originally modelled on a successful initiative in the United States, the Observership Program is targeted at 25-40-year-olds, and provides training and practical experience in not-for-profit board leadership. It establishes a network of passionate and motivated community future leaders. JCA was a founding partner and we continue to hold a number of seats for young community members interested in joining a not-for-profit board. The success has been evident with many Observers going on to officially join the boards they have sat on. Some of our JCA’s executive, like Rebecca Finkelstein (Chair of JCA Building and Capital) and Craig Blackstone (Chair of JCA Planning), started their journeys as Observers on JCA’s committees.
Cross-communal partnerships and integrating the concept and culture of philanthropy in our community is key to a sustainable model. The birth of the Philanthropy Fellowship three years ago created an opportunity for JCA and UIA, supported by AJF, to engage with young communal philanthropists looking to develop their giving journey. The Philanthropy Fellowship sees seasoned philanthropists mentoring and guiding younger givers – each at a different stage of their giving journey – to assess the landscape and see where they can make the most impact.
No community or organisation will ever thrive without capable leadership at the top. This is why in 2020 we proudly launched the JCA Frank Wolf Executive Leadership Development Program. The late Frank Wolf, who was a stalwart of JCA and our community, was passionate about mentoring and guiding people to grow and develop leadership capabilities. The program established in his honour is for senior management in communal organisations. This one-year intensive offers a deep dive into what authentic leadership requires. While each organisation has pipelines for professional growth and development, this provides a unique space for communal professionals to enhance their skills as a cohort.
Closing the circle, my personal communal leadership journey started when I was initially involved in the youth movements as a participant and then as a young adult, I joined the CSO in South Africa – our Community Security Group. CSG’s role developing our leaders continues here in Sydney and across Australia. Like me, many of those who join CSG receive invaluable training and mentoring, honing leadership skills from an early age.
As a community, we offer diverse opportunities, across various platforms for succession and success. While many are facilitated and funded through JCA, our member organisations are also committed to developing professional leadership among their staff and executives.
Embracing inclusion, diversity and engagement across the spectrum of our community is fundamental to our future success and longevity. To achieve this, we the leaders of today need to give space and opportunity to the leaders of tomorrow to get involved, to learn, develop and for their voices to be actively heard.
Finally, in accordance with the late Rabbi Sacks’ seven principles of Jewish leadership: “Leadership is stressful and emotionally demanding”! Therefore, to everyone who has stepped up to lead our community – young or old – THANK YOU. We can’t do this without you.
Alain Hasson is the CEO of JCA NSW.
For information on leadership opportunities contact the JCA office: (02) 9360 2344.