Balakgie leaves a stronger, more influential ETA
Carla Balakgie, Chief Executive Officer of the Electronic Transactions Association, resigned to become CEO at the National Automatic Merchandising Association. Her legacy is populated by a long list of accomplishments that leaves the organization, and her successor, well situated to meet the challenges of the rapidly evolving payments industry.
"When Carla joined the ETA we were run by volunteers," ETA President Richard (Rick) Pylant told The Green Sheet. "It was a daunting task to bring all that internally. Now we have a very strong operating entity that is self sufficient.
"We can go forward with her legacy in place. She has built an organization with the people in place who can step in while we are going on with our search process."
Pylant praised Balakgie for building the ETA's influence in national and state government and making the ETA a leader in industry education.
Balakgie will remain with the ETA until mid-November, Pylant said. ETA Deputy Director Pamela Furneaux will fill in for Balakgie during the board's search for a new CEO.
ETA directors will soon hire a search firm to look for and assess potential applicants for the CEO position. "We will have a candidate ASAP," Pylant said. He confirmed Furneaux is a candidate for the job.
When Balakgie joined the ETA in May 2003, the 13-year-old organization presented her with significant challenges. In her first two months on the job, Balakgie managed the ETA's move from its old headquarters in Kansas City, Mo., to new headquarters in Washington, D.C. She also hired new staff and revamped operations.
She told The Green Sheet at the time, "ETA had grown and evolved in its developmental cycle to where the [leadership] wanted to do things differently - to bring a new level of resources, including the management approach and the move to Washington with increased access to government and other agencies. They were ready to move to the next level."
Balakgie's additional accomplishments include:
About the ETA's evolution during her tenure, Balakgie said, "The transition was fundamental. Our education component with programs such as the ETA University (both live and online) was very important.
"The Certified Payments Professional program as a measurement of knowledge was a huge building block.
"The government relations function at the federal level, state level and at the grass roots through our Voice of Payments portal has been very successful, as we've become an influential resource and player in Washington."
Despite its efforts in Washington, the payments industry has been hammered by recent regulatory legislation such as the IRS 1099-K merchant reporting requirement and cuts in debit interchange fees.
"The only disappointment is that there was regulation at all," Balakgie said when asked about recent legislative developments. "Any time the government intervenes in a market, I don't think it is a good thing."
Balakgie said she expects to remain close to the payments industry through her new role as a leader in the vending industry. "I think with my contacts in the payments industry, I will have the ability to facilitate a win-win situation and growth on both sides," she said.
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