“I am 100 percent positive God is calling me to do this,” Jenkins said. “There’s no doubt in my mind.”
Jenkins hasn’t been tapped for an ordinary undertaking. A finance executive by trade, Jenkins was hired as the new CEO of World Vision effective the start of fiscal 2010 on Oct. 1.
He will replace Dean Hirsch and end a search process that Jenkins was aware of as a nine-year World Vision Canada board member. He said it was not a position he was actively seeking in citing God’s hand in the selection process.
“I did not apply, I was approached by the firm the search committee was using,” Jenkins said in a telephone interview with Everyday Christian. “Secondly, I had been praying for about three years telling God that I thought I could handle a bigger platform to make a little more impact.”
Adding with a chuckle, “This was maybe a little bigger than what I had in mind. It’s more than I could ever imagine.”
Jenkins brings a lifetime worth of finance and management experience to the position. He is wrapping up his tenure as managing director of Calgary-based Tri-West Capital Partners, an independent private equity firm. He has also served as CEO of technology research firm Westaim Corporation and Canadian Airlines.
“It will be very different,” Jenkins said. “There’s no question that what I’ve learned and experienced over the last 30 years will have some application. (World Vision) is a large complex international organization so there is some business discipline involved.
“The biggest difference that is clear in my mind is that World Vision is a ministry first. I see it very much as an instrument of God and an institution to reach out and serve the world’s poorest children.”
While on the World Vision board Jenkins, 52, helped lead three major fundraising drives related to HIV/AIDS in Zambia and microfinance in Ethiopia. Fostering local economic development successes in the developing world requires patience and persistence, Jenkins said.
“Maintaining the dignity of the people we’re helping is one of the best ways to lead to success,” Jenkins said.
“You can’t go in and say, ‘Here are ideas from the United States and Europe we’re going to use.’ It’s very important to let the community take the lead to achieve buy-in. The sustainability part comes in when we have a development program for 10 to 15 years that produces results. For these projects to be successful ultimately World Vision has to leave and the community is in charge of itself.”
Like many charities, World Vision has seen its donations slip during the recession. Jenkins sees greater efficiency amid the decreased income stream a necessity.
“Our commitment to do development in every community possible doesn’t change,” Jenkins said. “We want to bridge the difference with more efficiency wherever possible. Our people are focused on what needs to be done. We are thankful for their service and for the relationships we have with our donors. We have a very loyal base of child sponsors around the world.”
That loyalty and his personal faith are what Jenkins is confident will support him in moving the organization forward.
“The search committee had two objectives,” Jenkins said.
“One is for God to give discernment for the best person to lead the next phase of growth and development. The other is to find someone to be obedient to God’s calling in their own life.
“When most people, myself included, look at that you assume there is someone better than you to fill that position. I am humbled. Apart from God I can’t do this job.”
World Vision International: http://www.wvi.org/