A Q&A into the roles of the EngSoc Executive

Thomas Debensky - VP Academic
Posted on: May 27, 2019

Hey readers! For the first exec article of the term, since the Engineering Society Executive election is happening right now, we decided to do a little Q&A of our own and ask each executive a few questions about their role.

What is one thing you didn’t expect from this role when you started?

Mariko: That I would receive so many friend requests from people I don’t know. It’s okay though, keep em coming.

Andrew: I had expected that I would spend much more time in my position on the internal responsibilities of my role, however, was surprised to learn just how much there was to work on in the external engineering community. It’s unfortunately a lot of information that becomes difficult to filter for our community.

Emma: I didn’t expect to have to intervene with my directors and commissioners as much as I did. As VP Student Life last term, I had to manage 5 commissioners and 53 directors, so I shouldn’t have had the expectation that everything would run perfectly. But having to basically run an event like FYELC by myself after knowing there were issues months beforehand with communication and dependability of others failing was very frustrating. Luckily, most of the people I worked with were gems.

Thomas: As VP Academic, one aspect of being an exec I didn’t think about is how much work I do that’s not exclusive to my portfolio. A lot of time is spent with tasks in common with other exec, such as running EngSoc class rep elections, being a spokesperson for EngSoc at an open-house, or even making the exec and comm board outside of the Orfice. It all assists running the society and bonding with exec a bit so I’m content with helping with it.

Michelle: I got elected in 1B without having much experience in EngSoc, so basically every part of my role was unexpected. No matter how good the transition docs and meetings are, you won’t know the role until you’re in it.

What is the most enjoyable part of your position?

Mariko: Getting access to important people to help advocate for issues that affect students. I bother a lot of faculty members regularly.

Andrew: I’d say it’s tied between working with people of different backgrounds and experiences from across the country and seeing delegates from our school go out and become motivated to do more within our own community.

Emma: Realizing goals that I have. I know most people are sick of me talking about data by now, but I love what I’ve been able to do with it. I organized the massive EngSoc data survey in the fall, and it took a lot of work. I put in the time to do research on what needed to be assessed, investigated other examples on campus of how surveys were run, worked with students in fine tuning the questions, and even got it approved by the UW ethics committee. All of this was to make a survey which would better assess why students were and, as importantly, why they weren’t coming to events. This all concluded with a report, which just came out last week and you should read! It’s at bit.ly/2VW9xOx if you have a few mins.

Thomas: Wrapping up an investigation. Often you get tasked with looking into items (sometimes that other people should have done ages ago) related to academics and co-ops, issues that directly affect you and your constituents. Being able to communicate with the proper channels to find clarity and concrete information to help figure out a solution, or at the very least an assessment, is incredibly satisfying.

Michelle: Sponsorship presentations! I love watching student teams present the things they’re working on and passionate about. Very cool stuff!

What is one piece of advice you would recommend for an incoming executive in your role?

Mariko: Be afraid to make mistakes and don’t stress over what others think of you!

Andrew: Manage your expectations and don’t take things too personally. The politics (both legitimate and not) at the national level can be frustrating. Focus on how your representation can impact the key contributors to your own school.

Emma: Make sure you’re being inclusive when planning your events. I tried helping make policy for this actually, you might have seen it at WJGM, but this was to allow for more inclusive event-running. There was a lot of Christian-normative planning of events previously, and major religious holidays were being ignored, which then led to conflicts such as food-heavy events run on days of fasting. So if board doesn’t go through with this, make sure to be aware of this, and implement a calendar of important religious holidays that can be used as reference when planning events.

Thomas: Start your initiatives early. Unless you can do it yourself or you can pester people with in-person meetings, items that you want done quick are going to stay in the email slowlane for a while. Emails may get passed around contacts, rested on for a few days or weeks at each checkpoint, and will go sometimes a couple of months before getting resolved. So if you want to run for VP Academic, make sure you’re organized and proactive.

Michelle: Take it easy and stay in school.

The Engineering Society Executive election for ‘A’ Society is currently ongoing. The campaigning period finishes at the end of May, so make sure you know who’s running and what they’re running for. For more information on the candidates, go to bit.ly/EngSocVoteS19. Voting is from June 1st to 5th on vote.feds.ca.

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