Chairman of the Board: My Experiences
Over the course of the past 9 months, I have had the amazing opportunity to be the Chairman of the Board of Asset | International Business & Management. In this blogpost, I will tell you more about what has made this such a great experience for me and I will try to give you an insight into what my function looks like.
First, I will shortly introduce myself to the people that do not know me yet. My name is Stijn Wijsman, I am 22 years old and originally from Berkel en Rodenrijs, a village in the province of South-Holland that can best be described as a suburb of Rotterdam. After having been on exchange to Hong Kong in the fall semester of 2018 and graduating from my bachelor in June 2019, I started my board year at Asset | IB&M in July 2019.
My path at Asset | International Business & Management
When I started the bachelor in International Business Administration in September 2016, I got introduced to Asset | IB&M by one of my TOP-mentors, who was Chairman of the board at that time. I became pretty enthusiastic from the stories he told about the association and decided to join a committee. During the first two years of my studies, I was active in several committees, ranging from very informal to very formal and from not so much work to a whole lot of it. After my exchange, I became active again in one of the more formal committees of the association.
Before my exchange, I had already thought about potentially doing a board year one day, but I never really thought it through. During the last semester of my bachelor, my thoughts about applying became more serious. I felt that I wanted to develop myself further, both professionally and personally, before starting a master program. Hence, I decided to apply and looking back at the past 9 months, I can definitely say this was a very good decision!
After a summer full of elaborate conveyance with my predecessor and writing policy together with the new board of 2019-2020, I was officially voted to become Chairman during our Department Members Meeting of September. In that very same week, I had the opportunity to speak to a group of more than 500 new students of the bachelor International Business Administration and tell them my experiences with the program and I got to present our association to the group of new master students of the MSc. International Management. The weeks that followed filled itself with a lot of meetings to get to know everyone and set up new committees as well as new projects.
As soon as the different projects and committees started, time began to fly. Before I knew it, the board and I were looking back at multiple successful events like the International Career Event, the Future-of-Marketing Event that we co-organized and the Consultancy Days Tilburg, but also at countless great parties and informal events with each other, members and other boards.
Next to representing the association on several events, meeting with different committees and people on a continuous basis and making a lot of fun, running the association comes with a lot of daily affairs that have to be dealt with. It is hard to explain what this exactly entails. One of my predecessors once compared the association with a company and I believe this indeed is the easiest way to explain: basically, we have 6 full-time ‘managers’ (the board), who coordinate almost 150 part-time ‘employees’ (the members) who all spend around 2-10 hours organizing various activities together with the rest of their ‘team’ (the committees). As in any company, money flows in through various ways (e.g. sponsoring by companies, membership fees, companies that pay to join events) and money flows out, ranging from small amounts like promotion for a specific event or the costs attached to a monthly drink to big investments like new computers or big expenses related to study trips. Next to coordinating the active members and expenses, the board decides on and executes the policy and strategy of the association, just like in a company.
It is important to know that Asset | International Business & Management is part of a bigger whole: Asset Tilburg. Asset (Association for Students Studying Economics and management in Tilburg) is an overarching association that serves students of the whole faculty. You might ask yourself: why is that important to know? Well, since this overarching association needs coordination and guidance as well, the chairmen of the different departments all take place in a second board next to their ‘own’ board: the General Board of Asset Tilburg.
In this general board, you will not only represent the opinion and interests of your department, you will also be responsible for one of the following seven portfolios:
- Finance Portfolio (Treasurer of the Board)
- Administration Portfolio (Secretary of the Board)
- Public Relations Portfolio (Public Relations Coordinator of the Board)
- Acquisitions Portfolio (Acquisition Coordinator of the Board)
- Events Portfolio (Events Coordinator of the Board)
- Media Portfolio (Media Coordinator of the Board)
- Project Portfolio (Project Coordinator of the Board)
Depending on the portfolio, you will spend anywhere in between approximately 30 and 60 percent of your time on tasks related to the General Board. As Events Coordinator of the General Board, I am responsible for the coordination of formal events like Food For Thought and the Business Night, I am responsible for the alumni contacts and I function as the linking pin between the full-time board of the EBT and Asset Tilburg. Next to this role, I hold the position of Vice-Chairman, which means I often function as the sparring partner of the Independent Chairman. Besides that, I join him to a part of his meetings and I function as his standard replacement when absent.
Having to divide your time and attention over two functions can be really challenging: not only is your time limited, you will sometimes also have to look at matters from multiple perspectives at the same time. Despite the fact that it can be challenging to combine both, I really like the fact that you are given the opportunity to execute not one, but two board functions at the same time. This enables you to diversify within your total portfolio of tasks and hence learn even more different things. For example: the chairman normally coordinates less committees within IB&M than the other board members, since you are often busy with other (General Board related) tasks, I wanted to experience coordinating committees as well, so I applied for a portfolio in which you also get to coordinate committees.
To be clear: you first need to apply and be selected for the role of Chairman before you apply for one of the different portfolios within the General Board, so this is not something you should think of right now. However, since both roles take up a big part of your time, I thought it would be interesting to also highlight this part of the ‘job’!
A day in the life of a chairman
Since the Chairman is normally the board member with the least recurring meetings and tasks, showing a weekly schedule to you is hard and does not necessarily make a lot of sense. However, I thought of what a ‘normal’ week for me could possibly look like and tried to paint a picture of that below. Obviously, a lot of the smaller tasks that I execute in between bigger meetings, such as responding to emails or working on personal projects, are not always incorporated in this example. Below the description of the several days, I will give you some explanation.
Morning: Board meeting.
Afternoon: Meeting with the Food For Thought Committee, meeting with Student Career Services together with the Independent Chairman and the Acquisition Coordinator.
Evening: Free time and/or sports and/or informal activity.
Morning: Board meeting of Asset General.
Afternoon: Meeting with the Business Night Committee, meeting with Independent Chairman to discuss the outcomes of the General Board Meeting.
Evening: Exchange Dinner.
Morning: Room Duty at Asset General: working on Asset related tasks.
Afternoon: Host a Food For Thought interview together with the committee and the interviewers, work on acquisition for the Business Night and Food For Thought.
Evening: Meeting with the alumni association: the VvTE.
Morning: Monthly meeting with the Vice-Dean of Education of TiSEM, TiSEM Career Services and the Independent Chairman, time to work on own tasks and projects.
Afternoon: Grab a coffee with one of our external stakeholders (e.g. student parties, alumni office, exchange office, international office), meet with the IM Trip Committee.
Evening: Monthly Drink.
Morning: Meeting with the Academic Director of IBA Program and/or the IM program, meeting with the Date Dinner Committee.
Afternoon: Weekly lunch with the board, finalizing left-over tasks of the week, write and send update of the Events portfolio, fill in agenda for the board meeting of next week.
Evening: Go home to my parents.
As you can see, a regular week brings all kinds of different meetings, tasks and events. Each Monday morning, we start of with a board meeting with the board of IB&M. In this meeting, we discuss current issues, we update each other about how the different committees are doing, we check the budget and our policy and we inform each other about any developments within Asset Tilburg. Every Tuesday morning, the board meeting of the General Board takes place. Here, we discuss the bigger topics within Asset that are relevant for all departments and update each other about our portfolios.
Because of my roles within the General Board, I regularly join meetings with important stakeholders of Asset Tilburg within the faculty, such as TiSEM Career Services and the Management Team of the Faculty. Also, I meet with the board of our alumni association, the VvTE (Vereniging van Tilburgse Economisten) once every two/three months. Lastly, I coordinate the meetings of the Food For Thought Committee and the Business Night Committee (together with the chairman of the EBT). Once every month, we host a Food For Thought event: interviews with top-level executives, politicians and entrepreneurs. Examples of guests we welcomed this year are Erwin Dito (CEO of McDonald’s the Netherlands), Albert Verlinde (Managing Director of Stage Entertainment the Netherlands) and Floris van Bommel (entrepreneur).
All in all, I am really happy that I made the decision to apply for a board year. It has provided me with countless valuable learning experiences, I got to know tons of interesting and nice people and I had so much fun at all the different events, both formal and informal, I was able to attend over the past 9 months!
I hope this article has given you somewhat of an insight in what it entails to be chairman of the board of Asset | International Business & Management. If you ever have any questions about my function, Asset | IB&M in general or anything I wrote in this article, do not hesitate to contact me via firstname.lastname@example.org.
Are you possibly interested in becoming my successor? Subscribe for our virtual board information session on Monday March 30 at 13:00 ‘o clock via: https://www.asset-ibm.nl/event/board_info_session/. Moreover, you can always shoot me a message to plan a (virtual) coffee to discuss my experiences in more detail and/or answer all questions you might have!