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Issue 03:07:01

Industry Update

Trade Association News

California Legislature Fights Fraud But Pulls Punches

Hypercom Closing The Horizon Group


Knowledge is Power
Tectonic Events To Rearrange Payments Landscape - Part III
By Bob Carr

The New Opportunity Equation
By Michelle Graff


Street SmartsSM
Partnerships for Success - Part I
By Ed Freedman

What Every ISO Should Know about Loyalty
By Warren Zunino and David Randolph

How Patriot Act Affects Rules of Risk Prevention
By David H. Press

Company Profiles


New Products

Software Stops Identity Theft Before It Starts


Find the Might to Try as You Must

Never, Ever Forget To Ask For The Sale!



Resource Guide


She Knows How to Manage

Starting any new job is a journey full of emotions, unknowns and questions that only the passing of time will answer: optimism about a new undertaking, meeting coworkers for the first time, perhaps a little trepidation about how successful you will be in your new position.

Imagine, though, if that new job is head of a trade organization in a new location halfway across the country, and your job duties right off the bat include hiring a staff and setting up the offices - all within 60 days.

Energy, previous experience, confidence tempered with enough awareness to acknowledge you have a lot to learn, flexibility and a sense of humor are all helpful qualities in situations like this. Carla Balakgie will use each one of them as she takes the reins as the first full-time Executive Director of the newly reorganized Electronic Transactions Association.

In conversation, Balakgie (pronounced "buh-LAH-chee") comes across as both capable and approachable. The enthusiasm she feels for her new position is conveyed loud and clear - she knows she has her work cut out for her, improving on the association's existing base and learning all about the industry ETA serves. There is no doubt she's up for the challenge.

Balakgie has an extensive background in association management and what she describes as a "passion for mission-based organizations." Her experience includes 20 years serving in various capacities for professional and trade associations, including the National Association of College and University Business Officers, where her duties included serving as Senior Vice President, and at the American Society of Association Executives Foundation ("an association for people who work for associations," she laughs), where she has served on the boards of the association and its Foundation, is finishing a term as Fellows Chairman and will continue as one of 200 lifelong Fellows.

While the combination of her fresh perspective and experience will definitely contribute to steering ETA in a new direction, Balakgie is quick to stress that she is not leading the organization on her own. "I have a very visible role, but this is not about me. My role is to guide the organization, to help it develop and reach its potential," she says.

"There is a big trust factor for people related to the transition. They want to know what this change is going to mean.

"ETA had grown and evolved in its developmental cycle to where the [leadership] wanted to do things differently - to bring in 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. I was hired to build on the superb foundation that was already in place. I will be enabling this organization to succeed."

Balakgie knows her role will evolve, too, as the immediate operational requirements - such as orchestrating the transition, ordering computers and interviewing potential employees - are met and the new association gets off the ground and up and running. Then she can work on getting to know all about ETA, its members and what they all do for a living. The doors to the new ETA office opened officially July 1, 2003, but Balakgie was hard at work for two months before that making sure the move from Kansas City, Mo., where the association had been based, went as planned. "We're at the corner of 16th and L, three blocks and a park away from the White House," she says.

She'll be working with a staff of five, once they're all hired, who will handle membership, marketing, education, communications and operational duties. Production of ETA's magazine, Transaction Trends, and two annual conferences will be outsourced, but Balakgie says ETA will retain control of content and style of the publication and events.

There are no major changes in store for ETA as Balakgie gets acquainted with the members and gets a feel for the payment industry, she says. "My first priority will be to ensure that the level of products and services remains steady and the things that members value will not only remain but improve.

"One of the things ETA does well as a trade association is to provide opportunities for networking. When I was hired, it was stressed to me that we need to continue to enable people to come together to meet and do business. What we do best is put on a good business-to-business trade show. That's essential in an industry that is changing continually. The trade shows are the heart and soul of what we do."

On Balakgie's immediate agenda is a strategic planning meeting of the ETA board in July. Her learning curve includes familiarizing herself with various issues in the industry and concerns among members. One issue she already has heard about is the opinion of some that not enough independent agents can participate in ETA. She says she will be looking further into how to reach out to more people in the industry and create an association that more accurately reflects the people working in it.

"I have heard discussions and talked with people about this at ETA in Las Vegas and at the Northeast Acquirers Association meeting in Atlantic City. It's an important strategic issue to be able to include this important constituency. The leaders of ETA understand and feel a sense of priority around this issue.

"There have been initial efforts to address this concern through the creation of the ETAU (ETA University), the exploration of regional association structures and the formation of an ad hoc ISO Advisory Committee to help the leadership better understand the needs of small ISOs and ICs."

Coming up with additional answers to concerns raised about this and other points will have to wait until the July meeting, Balakgie says.

Beyond that, Balakgie says ETA's long-term plans will include advocacy for the payment industry through the development of better relations with industry, governmental and regulatory agencies, part of the reasoning behind the move to Washington, D.C. She has been in Washington for 20 years. She's tapped into various networks and communities there and she feels strongly that getting out and meeting and greeting is an integral part of her job - in her hometown and across the country.

Balakgie attended the NEAA conference in June and also will attend other regional conferences scheduled this summer, such as the Midwest and Southeast Acquirers Associations meetings. She's also looking forward to ETA's Midyear Meeting in Boca Raton, Fla., coming up in September.

The educational component of ETA University is also a particularly important focus for Balakgie, she says. The more people know, the better able they are to do their jobs.

"There is a strong symbiotic relationship between all facets of the industry and education," she says. "Through ETAU, we want to develop, expand and raise the level of education and information. When there is a level of knowledge and professional standards, people are better able to run their businesses."

She envisions expanding the course offerings to give more people better access to vertical information, thereby broadening their professional scopes.

"ETAU consists of five schools, and people need to know why this is important," she says. "Education can help develop and lead to self-regulation. It allows all ships to rise."

Balakgie would like the ETAU curriculum to include a distance learning tool to "offer quick, flexible approaches to reach people who maybe can't take advantage of classes offered" in the traditional settings.

Getting to know the people who make up ETA's membership is another important item on Balakgie's to-do list. "The members and volunteers have knowledge and experience to share," she says. "They're such an important human resource."

She says that in between all the operational tasks she's been completing, she has managed to spend a little time working with a few of ETA's volunteer committees, getting to know some of the members - and learning.

"I'm very excited about the opportunity to help the organization realize its next stage. This is a dynamic industry, consumer driven and technology enabled. Part of the reason I took this position is that there is a lot of activity and a lot of growth inherent in it. Some might see this as chaos, but I welcome it!

"I consider association management to be both running a business and a way of making a contribution, of giving something back.

"Even though my experience is not necessarily a tie-in with the mission of the ETA, I think my skills as a person will guide me. My career has been in association management. When you work for a trade association, you immerse yourself in the industry you serve. I expect the staff and myself to be knowledgeable and immersed.

"Trade associations exist to serve the industry and their memberships. We can never lose sight of that."

Electronic Transactions Association

1101 16th Street, N.W., Suite 402

Washington, DC 20036

Phone: 800-695-5509

Fax: 202-828-2639

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