Q&A At Kira – John MacDonald, Chief Executive Officer
John MacDonald MBA, Chief Executive Officer
I was invited by Kira Community Services to interview their new CEO and to find out about the man behind the desk. So on Friday, I sat down with John to interview him and to find out how the transition from Board Member to CEO is going.
As I entered John’s office, I was treated to a traditional rendition of the hit song ‘500 miles’ by the Proclaimers, played by John himself on his bagpipes. There wasn’t a dry eye in the building.
Tell me a little about yourself. Who is John ‘Angus’ MacDonald?
I was born in Scotland and immigrated to Australia in 1971 with my parents I was four years old. Prior to becoming involved with Kira Community Services, I spent thirty years in the mining and resources industry. I have been part of the Kira team since October 2016 when I joined the Kira Board. I identified the core values and mission statement that Kira has aligned with my own, and I was attracted to the organisation.
*With reference to the Angus part of the question. My theory was that it was related to the group AC/DC because they had an Angus who also came from Scotland. Sadly, this turned out not to be the case. He was actually named after his dad’s brother. *
Prior to working in the disability / Not for Profit (NFP) sector, you worked in the resources industry. How have you found the shift to a different sector, and what triggered you to make the move?
That’s a big question. I am getting older and I thought there’s more that I can do. There was something for me that was more worthwhile in life.
Before your current role as CEO, you were a Board member for Kira. What initially attracted you to Kira in the role of Board member?
If I am really honest with you it was about giving back and my ability to be able to give back to the community. It was also an opportunity to be with people who had the same shared vision that I had when I was on the Kira Board.
Congratulations on the recent news about your appointment as CEO after acting as interim CEO for a period of time. How do you feel?
I think CEO should stand for ‘Customer Experience Officer’. For me, it’s about the member’s experience. My role is to make sure that our members get the best. I am a very approachable CEO who is very hands on in this role.
What do you bring to the role of CEO at Kira?
Hopefully a lot of fun! But seriously, in this position I need to be that single point of clarity. I need to be supportive, a guide and a mentor, I also need to be the one to enact the vision that Kira Community Services has, as well as ensuring our place within the disability sector.
What do you love about working in the disability sector?
The small wins, the little wins that come from the goals that we as an organisation have set and achieved.
What has been your biggest challenge since taking on the role?
We are mainly focused on the transition to the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS). We are focused on making sure this process moving forward will be as smooth and seamless as possible for our members.
And what has been your most rewarding achievement?
I am rewarded every day. But I feel that my biggest achievement is yet to come. I’m always looking to achieve more than I did today, and I am constantly striving to improve myself all the time.
What do you think sets Kira Community Services apart from other disability service providers?
For me, Kira is about family. Kira was built on family. It has old family values.
In a few sentences, what is your vision / what are your key goals for Kira, moving forward?
To be the best.
To move forward into the NDIS.
To provide good service.
To maintain the family values and family culture that built Kira. And to challenge us to be better.
Strategically, I would like to see us grow and be more prominent within the Northern corridor here in Perth WA.
Where do you see Kira heading in the future as an NFP and essentially within the new NDIS landscape?
I would like to see Kira become a well-known name in our community.
When someone says Kira Community Services, they know who Kira are and what we stand for within the disability sector.
What do you see as being the future demands/issues of the disability sector?
How do you do more with less?
The dollars and cents issue. We have to change the language from dollar and cents. We deal with people and skills and social concepts. Money for me doesn’t equate into it.
Gainful employment for people with a disability is an issue I am passionate about. What do you believe businesses could do more of to support people with disability to enter and stay in the workforce?
Businesses need to step up and start employing people with disability.
They also need to change their business models around that person. The person doesn’t fit the business, the business fits the person.
And lastly, can you tell me one interesting or quirky thing about yourself?
I play the bagpipes in a kilt.
My thanks to John for giving up his time and chatting with me. John presented as a CEO focused on the needs of people with disability. He and the team at Kira are looking at a range of new projects and ideas to support people in the community within the NDIS world.
About Nick McAllister: Nick McAllister lives in Burns Beach and was diagnosed with autism in his 40’s. A screenwriter, avid blogger and ABC open contributor, he’s currently looking for a publisher for his novel. You can read more from Nick here.