Life as the Independent Chairman of Asset
Now that the spring has started and the final exams are slowly approaching it is time to look forward to the next academic year and look back to what we have achieved in the past year. In this article I will look back at all that has happened during my board year as Independent Chairman of Asset to give you an insight in what this board year entails.
But first, let me introduce myself. I am Lasse Blazejewski, 23 years old, studied Business Economics at Tilburg University and I am the current Independent Chairman of Asset.
To start of, I will explain a bit why I decided to apply for the position of Independent Chairman. I started my bachelor Business Economics in 2014 and after a year I decided to start doing committee work at Asset. After some years of doing committee work at different departments of Asset and completing my bachelor, I started doing an internship. During this period I realized that I still wanted to develop myself further with regard to management and negotiating skills. But next to the things I learned during my internship I wanted to develop my social skills and have a fun year. I came to the conclusion that a board year would suit that need better than just starting with pursuing a master’s degree.
I started talking with friends and I quickly came to the conclusion that I was interested in the position of Independent Chairman, because it seemed to fit all the learning goals I had. I planned in a coffee meeting with Lina Segers, the acting chairman of Asset at that time, to get more insight in the position and after that meeting I was confident that this position was what I was looking for. During the end of May I got the final word from my predecessor that I was chosen as the candidate Independent Chairman of Asset. And thus my board year began.
During the first month I was introduced to Asset and the different organs that board members use to decide upon a variety of matters. Despite the fact that I had been a committee member at various departments within Asset, I was still a bit surprised about everything that board members have to do and all the faculty wide organs that Asset haves. But aside from getting to know the organisation I got the chance to meet a ton of new people! Asset has 44 board members and getting to know all of them through the announcement drinks in June is a lot of fun. But aside from the board members at Asset I also got to know a lot of active members and board members from other associations during this period.
But after all the announcements of the departments it was time for the announcement of the General Board of Asset. The General Board of Asset consists of all the chairmen of the Asset departments and the Independent Chairman. I already got to know the other chairmen of the departments during the preceding weeks, but this announcement day really was a nice day of bonding and the announcement party itself was one to be remembered.
The other months of the summer were used to get to know the organization better, but also to write the policy for the coming year. Besides developing the policy with the general board, the Independent Chairman also has to keep track on the policy and make sure that all the projects run smoothly and meet certain deadlines. During sessions with the General Board we developed plans to improve the organization which would be presented during the General Members Meeting in September. Besides developing the policy with the general board, the Independent Chairman also has to keep track on the policy and make sure that all the projects run smoothly and meet certain deadlines. After some very nice and quite relaxing months, the summer came to an end and it was time to say goodbye to our predecessors.
After the summer came to an end the time came that my fellow board members and I would stand on our own. I heard a lot of stories from preceding board members that September can be a very hectic month, and it definitely was. Even though I saw myself as a person who can cope with stress, September was indeed quite hectic. Finishing the policy, preparing the General Member’s Meeting and a ton of micromanaging on top of a large amount of informal activities was a cocktail for one of the most challenging months of my board year. But looking back I can say that I learned to cope with management stress a lot better than before.
But luckily September wasn’t only stressful, it was a fun period as well. Saying goodbye to all the preceding board members during the constitution drinks was very nice, but during September it was also time to kick-off the Asset lustrum: Decalogue! In September we had two activities: a kick-off party and our lustrum gala. Especially the gala was an event to remember. Having a fancy dinner with my predecessors and partying afterwards with a ton of members while enjoying some nice gin & tonics was quite amazing. But the absolute highlight of the lustrum was in November when we organized the lustrum COdE Cantus to end our lustrum. For this event we booked the Koepelhal in Tilburg, one of the largest venues in the city, and filled it with over 1000 students. I had the honor to kick-off the cantus by announcing all the departments that were present at the COdE. Hearing hundreds of people yell when their department was announced was an amazing experience and still gives me goosebumps to this day. Apart from this, a ton of alumni were present which made the evening even more special than it already was. All in all this evening was an amazing experience that I will cherish for a long time to come!
Talking about the informal side of a board year, people often ask me if the position as Independent Chairman of Asset can be lonely, but I believe the opposite is true. Ever since the first announcement in June I have felt more than welcome to visit other departments. And during the first semester I joined a ton of activities from departments that I was not a member of before. During these activities I had a great time and met a ton of new people, and I will definitely be joining a lot more informal activities of all departments during this semester!
Aside from the informal events the autumn was a steep learning curve for me. From the hectic month of September onwards, I started to get the hang of my own planning, managing the other board members and leading discussions both internally as externally. One big topic this year was, and is, the integration with MAK Mentorship System. MAK organizes study support with regard to tutorships and crash courses, besides being responsible for university related operations like recruiting the TOP-mentors for TiSEM. The preceding board members of Asset and MAK decided, in collaboration with the university, that both organisations should be integrated. During my year the integration had to be formalized, and although it was a challenging process at times we made some large steps towards one integrated organization.
Besides being responsible for large internal projects, like the integration with MAK, the Independent Chairman also has a lot of external tasks. For a large part the Independent Chairman is one of the key spokespersons for the university. This entails meetings with part of the Management Team of TiSEM, Career Services, Marketing & Recruitment and also the Executive Board of Tilburg University. Especially meeting the first time with the Rector Magnificus of the university, Emile Aarts, in September was a cool moment. Having all these meetings with all these different parts of the university requires you to know all the ins-and-outs of your own organization and key developments at the university. But most of all these meetings make sure the average week of an Independent Chairman is very diverse.
Aside from meeting with the university, the Independent Chairman also takes place in a variety of overarching collaborative bodies like TiGeAk and SEBO. TiGeAk is a collaborative body between study associations, the sports association, parties like Unipartners, and the TOP-week in which a variety of university-wide matters are discussed. Being involved in these issues and letting the opinion of Asset be heard on these matters is a nice variety to the tasks of an IC.
SEBO is the national collaborative organ for economic study associations. In these meetings you discuss a variety of issues that are applicable for study associations like Asset. For example, moving towards e-books, collaborating with universities and internationalisation are large topics. Taking part in these national meetings, which usually take place in Utrecht, is another nice twist to the tasks of an IC
After some challenging and fun months it was time to say goodbye to Asset for a few weeks and take a well deserved christmas holiday.
After a few relaxing weeks of holiday it was time to start again and the Asset ski trip was one of the first things to happen in January. Even though I never skied before, I decided to join the trip, and what a trip it was! We went to a place called Sauze D’Oulx with over 40 people and even though not everybody knew each other, it became a close group of friends throughout the week. After taking a few lessons it was really nice to ski down the mountains with friends while enjoying some sunshine and party afterwards in apres-ski bars. Despite my lack of ski-skills this was definitely a week to remember!
After coming back from the Asset ski-trip, it was time to say goodbye to the semi-annual switching board members. Of course, the constitution drinks were very nice, but it was also a wake-up call that the board year is already more than halfway! The months before really flew by and it was time to look forward to the coming months and set deadlines on projects that we wanted to finish before our successors will start in June.
After the ski-trip it was time for the lustrum of SBIT! As I mentioned earlier, one of the nice things of being an Independent Chairman is the fact that you can pretty much join any activity of a department. With the lustrum of SBIT I joined the kick-off party, the reception and their secret activity. Even though I did not know many members beside the board, I had a great time partying and met a lot of new people. And with the lustrums of Economics, Accounting & Finance and Econometrics on their way, there are still plenty of informal opportunities to meet a lot of new people and have a great time.
After the lustrum of SBIT it was already time for another holiday, carnival! Of course kicking it off with our own party was very nice. The weeks after the holiday flew by and now I am writing this article about my life as an Independent Chairman. It feels weird to be looking for a successor when you have the feeling that you only just started, but that is how a board year works. It is a great way of developing yourself in a short period of time for things that you do not learn in your academic curriculum.
But the year is not over yet! There still are some nice projects to be tackled and some cool parties to enjoy, but I do look forward to sharing these experiences with my successor!
If this article sparked an interest in you and you want to know more about the life as an Independent Chairman feel free to contact me and we can talk about it while drinking a nice cup of coffee!
You can find more information about the application process via this link.