18 July 2012

USU Board Induction 101

Day 1: Getting ready for a Strategy Session
During the first week of the winter holidays, the new Board of Directors and senior staff of the USU packed up and bunkered down at a super secret rural location (…otherwise known as Coogee) for three days to plan, discuss, strategize, and bond together in preparation for the upcoming Board term of 2012-2013. As this was my first ever Board induction, I had no idea what to expect, but words of wisdom from second year Directors such as “really intense”, “a massive learning experience” but also “the most fun you’ll have as a Board Director” left me intrigued and excited about what would be in store.

Sure enough, as soon as induction started I reevaluated my definition of what I had previously thought was “really intense”. Each day was jam packed 9am-5pm with sessions where us new directors were intensively schooled on the inner workings of the USU, which areas of the student experience were provided by the different departments, and outlined in detail our roles and duties and Board directors to facilitate, provide guidance and direction to the entire organization. We also were fortunate enough to hear from former USU Presidents Adam Spencer (Adam Spencer!!!) and Dom Hogan Doran, whose candid and inspiring regaling of their first-hand experiences working on the Union Board provided us with plenty of food for thought and ideas on how to create the best possible culture and environment between the Board, the staff, and the student members.

For me personally, I found Board induction to be an incredible, somewhat daunting, but overwhelmingly exciting experience. As I came into induction, I thought I had a pretty good understanding of the Union and how it operated, but after the first day I was floored by the new realization of just how much the Union provides for us as students in a myriad of ways and how complex and intricate the organization is. I also found Retreat to be a steep learning curve, especially the financial component (the last time I sat a maths exam was in year 11 and I got 17%…) however the finance intensive sessions conducted by our CEO Andrew Woodward definitely opened my eyes to the world of finance and I’ve found I quite enjoy reading balance sheets now that I actually know how to understand them! 

As I have been a Board Director for all of 3 weeks, I can say with conviction Board induction has been the “most fun I’ve had” so far. In particular I have really appreciated getting to know the senior staff better. These staff have been here and will continue to be here for years longer than myself and the other student Directors, and having the opportunity to learn from their institutional experience and expertise was truly invaluable. Finally, my favourite part of induction was definitely our brainstorming session. Fuelled by caffeine and lollies, the staff and student Directors holed up in a room for 2 hours and threw out as many sky-is-the-limit, no-holds-barred ideas as we could as to how we could make our Union provide the best possible student experience for all of us and for students for years to come. And between you and me, the ideas were truly extraordinary.

Bring on 2012-2013! 

Hannah Morris 
Board Director

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