Life as the Independent Chairman of Asset
Now that the time has come to start searching for my successor, it is time to look back at my year as Independent Chairman of Asset. I want to give you an insight in what a board year as Independent Chairman entails! But first, let me introduce myself. My name is Joshua Stassen and I am 22 years old. I have now finished my study Business Economics at Tilburg University and am the current Independent Chairman of Asset.
Why did you choose a board year as Independent Chairman at Asset?
In my second year as a Business Economics student, I became active at Asset | Strategy & Logistics and Asset | Accounting and Finance. I didn’t really know at the time what master I wanted to do or in which type of company I wanted to work. I learned a lot through my committee work and visiting the career events from both departments. Besides the formal events, I gained a lot of friends through the social activities that Asset organises as well. My favorite was of course the COdE cantus, were I also met other members from other departments. The fact that I had a lot of social events, met new people, could also develop myself and could figure out what I wanted to do in the future, were for me the reasons why I like Asset so much. And since Asset did a lot for me, I felt that it was time to ‘give’ something back.
I figured out that I wanted to prepare myself for a management position in the future. My ambition was (and still is!) to become a CEO of a large multinational. Combined with some of my personal traits, I decided that the role of chairman suited me the best. As Independent Chairman you are responsible for the whole of Asset. The organization itself consists of 6000 members, 825 active members and 49 board members. You are responsible, together with your board, for the second biggest study organisation of Europe! I thought that this would provide meaningful experience, whilst still having a ‘student life’. As Independent Chairman you are allowed to go to all activities organised within Asset, so I thought it would be nice to get to know as many people from different departments.
What do you do as Independent Chairman?
Foremost, I am responsible for the internal coordination, the strategy and the policy of the association. My board consists of all the chairmans of every department and the chairman of MAK supported by Asset. Every Tuesday morning we have a General Board meeting where we discuss topics like dealing with COVID-19, improvements for the association or updates from the different Facility Wide Organs, FWOs. During the day, I also take some time to talk to everyone who is at their rooms in Esplanade. I am responsible for the internal cohesion, so in this way I can spot the problems early on. Besides this, I am just a chatterbox!
I also represent the association externally. As Independent Chairman, you have a seat within TiGeAk. TiGeAk represents all (study) associations connected to Tilburg University. Topics usually concern things that are useful for all associations, like the usage of our offices on campus during COVID-19 or the construction of a brand new building which houses all associations. Besides this, I have different meetings with the university staff. Every month I have a meeting with Jeroen Kuilman, who is the vice-dean of TiSEM. In this way, we can keep each other informed about Asset and TiSEM. Since this year, I have had meetings with Wim van de Donk (Rector Magnificus and Chairman of the Executive Board of Tilburg University). This is to keep short lines of communication to act upon problems of students or the associations. But, there is a lot of room to pick up the projects that you like! For example I got the opportunity to ask Wopke Hoekstra some questions before the Dutch Elections in March.
What have you achieved this year?
I think that our cooperation at the moment with Student Career Services and TiSEM is going very well. During the year, Asset works together with them on different things like the Master Experience Days. This year, we introduced new partnerships between Asset, TiSEM and prominent companies. Achmea was the first signing within this setup and hopefully there are more to come!
Another thing that was important this year was the effect of COVID-19 on students. We monitored different topics together with the university and provided feedback on for example exams and studyplaces. Next to this, we also looked into student well-being which in collaboration with the university has gotten its own page on the TiU website which is updated with tips to deal with COVID-19. I also provided the municipality with some input on how to structure the ‘Preventieakkoord’ which deals with the safety and health prevention of the inhabitants of Tilburg.
Isn’t it strange to do a board year alone without a board?
This is a question that I hear often! Being independent doesn’t mean that you do not have a board. The General Board is ‘my board’. However, I consider all 48 other board members ‘my board’. In the end, I need every single one of them. However, during the year you will bond with everyone and I really like that they want you to come to their activities. I think that this is a good indicator that you will not be alone during your year, rather the opposite!
What have you learned this year?
Before this year started, I was some sort of a micro-manager. Due to remote working and the size of the organization I knew that I had to let go of some things and trust my fellow board members. I hoped that leaving them to come up with ideas themselves and having more freedom would increase their motivation and ownership, instead of constantly telling them what to do. Due to COVID-19, I am also a bit more appreciative of the smaller things. Normally I would try to improve and grow the organization (still am), but due to measures it was impossible to organise things the way we used to do. Seeing smaller groups of students enjoying events due to the effort of my other board members, sort of brought everything back to the core values of the association. And from there on, I started to approach our strategic plans in a different way.
If this article sparked your interest and you want to know more about the life as an Independent Chairman feel free to contact me!