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Meet the Schusterman Fellows: Diego Ornique

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Over the course of 18 months, 24 outstanding Jewish professionals will engage in a customized professional development journey as part of the Schusterman Fellowship. The Fellows come from across the U.S., Europe, Israel and Australia, and they work inside and outside of the Jewish sector. As part of this blog series, we'll be bringing you short interviews with each of the Fellows in which they'll share a bit about themselves and their vision for the future. 

Meet Diego Ornique below!

Diego Ornique, from Matignon France, serves as the JDC-Europe Regional Director. Diego strives to strengthen and support Jewish communities throughout the region. He specializes in running programs in partnership with local communities and is passionate about the field of community development, leadership and caring for those in need.

Prior to this position, Diego served as the Area Director for Hungary, Bulgaria and former Yugoslavia. He was also responsible for overseeing and consulting on JDC regional initiatives for Central and Eastern European communities.

Diego was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Prior to joining JDC, he was the Associate Director of the Macabi Community Center in Buenos Aires and also worked as an organizational consultant. His fields of interest include philosophy and international development, and he was awarded a Diploma in Strategy and Innovation by the Said Business School at Oxford University. Diego is married and has two sons.

1. "Leadership" is a popular term these days, used in a variety of contexts. Tell us, what does leadership mean to you?

I would argue that leadership consists essentially of the rare ability to demonstrate, based on different circumstances, the following abilities and values:

1. Listening, bringing others voices to the table.

2. Showing resilience, agility and honoring diversity.

3. Providing guidance, inspiration and direction.

4. Being clear and responsible, whether that involves making decisions alone or empowering others to do so.

5. Being honest and modest, readily admitting mistakes and addressing their implications. Being aware of our own limitations and weaknesses.

6. Most importantly, never forgetting that the ultimate goal in a leadership journey is to become replaceable.

2. What are you most excited to gain from the Fellowship? What are you most looking forward to learning?

Learning from others: I am excited to learn from colleagues working in different fields and contexts.

Conceptual issues: I want to learn more about the implications of my work in a more uncertain and unpredictable contextual environment. I want to acquire tools aimed at achieving a better balance of the implicit tension between task-oriented vs. people-oriented styles of leadership.

Practical learning: I want to learn more specific tools and methodologies that will help me to lead people working in different geographies facing cultural, legal and political differences; improve my time management; and apply outcome oriented management.

3. How does your Jewish identity affect your leadership?

I look at the world in a particular way, as everyone does. My view of the world is built on many fragments of my Jewish identity, all of which define who I am and what I do. First, I operate in the context of Jewish communities and Jewish people; therefore my Jewish identity brings a unique sense of belonging and responsibility to what I do. I have also been personally inspired by Jewish role models who have helped to shape my leadership and Jewish values. They continue to shape my actions.

4. If you could be compensated for your work with something other than money, what would it be?

Since you’re asking, a perfect compensation package would include:

A top-level executive education program. For instance, an Executive MBA or an Executive Ms.

A $2000 gift card to buy work related books

An annual subscription to Harvard Business Review, Oxford Journal of Community Development, Stanford Social innovation review.

A private mentoring session with Marcelo Bielsa, Amos Oz or Pepe Mujica.

A semi-professional camcorder to shoot some of my trips with JDC.

5. Who is a leader, living or dead, who you admire most and why?

Definitely, Yitzhak Rabin.

I am thinking of him not only for his leadership in striving for peace but also for his ability to transform himself in service of larger goals. He was a military man, decorated for his achievements in war, who managed to change his own mind when it came to the need for peace. Looking forward, his legacy should inspire us to continue his journey.  

The Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation is proud to empower emerging leaders to explore their values, identity and new ways to strengthen their communities. We believe that as we work together to repair the world, it is important to share our diverse experiences and perspectives along the way. We encourage the expression of personal thoughts and reflections here on the Schusterman blog. Each post reflects solely the opinion of its author and does not necessarily represent the views of the Foundation, its partner organizations or all program participants.