What motivated you to get involved on campus?

As long as I can remember, I’ve not been the type of person to do what I’m told. In elementary and high school, I found activities outside the classroom far more interesting, challenging and valuable to my learning and development than the core curriculum that I was told I should be focusing on. It was one thing to learn theory that someone thinks you should know and practice a bunch of canned problems. It was another thing entirely to take something very real, make a complete mess of it to learn how it works, and maybe, just maybe, be able to make it better. Getting involved at university was a natural progression of this attitude, but with a much wider range of opportunities and benefits than I had ever considered.

What was your favorite part about being involved beyond the classroom at your university?

Growth and practical learning. I remember a number of times in fourth year business classes where the professor was lecturing about a concept that I had never formally studied, but had encountered practically in a situation with the Students’ Society. Being able to immediately apply that practical situation to the concept made both the lessons I had learned in practice and in class more useful. They say this is the value of doing an MBA years after you graduate: a more in depth study of the concepts with direct focus on practical application while drawing from your years of business experience to apply your own context. To some degree, running programs for the Students’ Society (and later the whole organization) while studying undergraduate business brought a whole new level of context to the curriculum. It not only made it easier to remember come exam time, it gave me an outlet to test and experiment with the things I was learning and get the most from my education. That was definitely the most beneficial part of being involved. Then, of course, there was the impact of what we were doing. We worked really hard to leave a lasting mark on the university for the benefit of the students that would follow us. That was the true motivation; it drove everything we did and it gave us a very clear sense of purpose and pride.

What was your favorite part about being involved beyond the classroom at your university?

Growth and practical learning. I remember a number of times in fourth year business classes where the professor was lecturing about a concept that I had never formally studied, but had encountered practically in a situation with the Students’ Society. Being able to immediately apply that practical situation to the concept made both the lessons I had learned in practice and in class more useful. They say this is the value of doing an MBA years after you graduate: a more in depth study of the concepts with direct focus on practical application while drawing from your years of business experience to apply your own context. To some degree, running programs for the Students’ Society (and later the whole organization) while studying undergraduate business brought a whole new level of context to the curriculum. It not only made it easier to remember come exam time, it gave me an outlet to test and experiment with the things I was learning and get the most from my education. That was definitely the most beneficial part of being involved. Then, of course, there was the impact of what we were doing. We worked really hard to leave a lasting mark on the university for the benefit of the students that would follow us. That was the true motivation; it drove everything we did and it gave us a very clear sense of purpose and pride.

What would you consider to be your greatest accomplishment as a student executive?

For me, over my three years as a student executive, organizational stability was likely my most important achievement. When I joined as a first year rep, we were very small, we had no money and we ran a few events and sold some merch. Thanks to some incredibly intelligent, strategic and visionary presidents before me, we grew astronomically over my first three years. When I became president, the organization was virtually unrecognizable from the one we had been three years prior, and my main goal was to stabilize the organization for the future. Among these achievements, we updated a very out of date constitution to provide both structure and flexibility, we instituted an open and transparent elections procedure that allowed the president (for the first time in our knowledge) to be openly elected by all business students (not just the club presidents), and we revamped our services offerings to become more relevant and useful to our students. These things cemented in place the things we had created. It brought increased legitimacy to the organization and more exposure to the student body which continued to drive growth. There are a thousand other amazing things that we did, from building a professional calibre design and brand team, to expanding student services and philanthropy, but I’m still most proud of the organization we reinforced to be something with serious staying power. My proudest day was watching one of my most talented society managers, and dearest friends, be elected President by his peers just before my term was over. That’s when I knew we had made it and that everything would be just fine (no, even better) long after I’d left.

How has your extracurricular involvement helped you in your career?

Big picture analysis, 100%. It’s easy to get stuck in the weeds when you’re tracking down problems and it’s easier to paint yourself into a corner. My time as a students’ society executive made it painfully clear that how the pieces fit and work together is far more important than how any of the individual pieces actually work. The same applies to almost every business problem imaginable. When it comes to solving complex problems, I’ve got three years of top notch experience from my students’ society days that most people don’t generally get until much later in their careers. This is a huge advantage and makes you an easy stand out. Also, leading teams, working with people and being as diplomatic as humanly possible are also huge assets to have. As a society executive, you often have to work with faculty and University Student Unions and that generally involves at least a bit of diplomacy, a touch of assertiveness and certainly a lot of negotiation. Again, these are skills that most employers don’t expect in their new hires and they will definitely help you stand out

Do you have any advice for our current members?

Being a students’ society executive is one of the greatest opportunities for young leaders. There are very few opportunities in life where you get so much freedom to drive an entire organization and impact the lives of others with almost no valid work experience and relatively low consequences of failure. Even though it sometimes feels the world is about to collapse around you, it’s not. Memories are short in student politics and mistakes are just another part of the experience so long as you’re willing to learn from them. Your students’ society is, in essence, a giant sandbox, where you can build, create, test theories and grow as a leader, colleague, friend and person. The only failure is to not use it to your utmost advantage. Take risks and be ambitious. Build castles and knock them down. Do everything to learn anything you can. It may be years before your future employer gives you the freedom to shape an organization like you can right now with your students’ society. Take advantage of it!

I also remember the very clear sense of purpose that we had as an organization. Everything we did was driven by the desire to leave something better for the next generation of students: a stronger and more stable organization, more useful services, a better clubs eco-system and, yes, more and better parties. That sense of purpose can be somewhat elusive as you navigate through the early years of your career. It’s tough to go from feeling so driven, to exploring the unknowns of your ever-changing career. Rediscovering that same sense of purpose in your career is not an easy thing to do, nor does it come quickly. You have to re-prove your ability, make forward then back again, plan and change plans. You have to remember in the back of your mind that the same feeling of purpose is out there if you’re willing to do the hard work to find it. Some people find it earlier, some people find it later, and some never at all. But you have an advantage, because you already know what it feels like; you’re driven by that feeling every day. Soak that up. If you approach your career as the search for purpose, opportunities will unfold in some strange places you may have not previously thought to look. We’re always told to follow our passions and do what we love, but I advocate a slightly more broad approach. Do what gives you purpose. Remember how dedicated, driven and full of purpose you feel now with your students’ society, and then dedicate the rest of your life to finding that in every other aspect of your life. I couldn’t imagine a more rewarding life than that, and you’re already deeply in tune with the sole secret ingredient: the understanding, feeling and motivation of purpose.

We know business people are always working to expand their networks! What’s the best way to get in touch?

You can find me on LinkedIn!

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