What It Takes To Lead The SU

What It Takes To Lead The SU

Nominations are open! Elections are coming! And we’ll soon be finding out who our new sabbatical officers are!

Are you thinking of running? Whether it’s as President or Vice President of your campus, the role in itself is a big role. You campaign to be elected, and then carry out the things you put on your manifesto. Yes, you might be challenged and you might have to make sacrifices, but you also develop new and existing skills that will really help you out in life after university.

So, with all that being said, we asked our current sabs what it takes to lead the SU. Here’s what they said:

What skills do you need to run as a sabb?

I don’t think there are any specific skills that anyone needs. I think you just have to be personable, you have to get on with people. This job involves engaging with a lot of different people on many different levels and waves, but I don’t think there’s any specific skillset you have to have to run. Anyone can do this job. – Dan

Listening skills, communication skills, LEADERSHIP and be a team player. The more the merrier, but don't worry if you feel like you are lacking some, the beauty of the role is that it is okay for you to learn by making mistakes. – Ludo

Have you had to make any personal sacrifices?

Not necessarily. I think one thing everyone always tells you when you run for this job is that this job is very much a lifestyle and I think that is fundamental. You have to be willing to accept that there are times when this becomes your life, so like through freshers, it is very full on, and you have to accept that there might be long days. Past that you have very good benefits, that counteract that. I think, it’s just like any full-time job with a leadership element to it: you have to accept that it is your job. It’s not like being an everyday student, where you can roll out of bed midday if you wanted to. You have a lot of people relying on you to do things, so you have to remember that constantly. – Dan

I mean honestly, this job is really what you want to make out of it. What you put in is what you get in return. It's definitely not your 9-5 office job, you could treat it as such but that wouldn't be very fulfilling. If you are passionate about student life and student politics I say you get some slippers to keep in your office and get comfortable because you will be there for tiiime. If you are not passionate, then why are you running?  - Ludo

What challenges have you faced in your time as a Sabb?

I think you face a few. I mean, I’m not going to lie. Obviously, you come into a role where you’re handed a lot of responsibility and I don’t think anyone who comes into this role probably has prior experience of doing it. If you do, it’s very helpful obviously, but I think you face the challenges in learning what it is to be a leader in an organisation like this. Being a leader with responsibilities that a sabb has, obviously, you become a trustee of the union, which comes at a lot more responsibility than probably most people have had in their lives and it can be a challenge to adapt to that. – Dan

The representation side of things has been the most challenging, inspiring, self-developmental part of the job. I have learned so much about myself and my values when it came to put everyone else's needs first. Having represented people from so many different cultures has been so educational and mind-blowing. Westminster being so diverse and multicultural, I can definitely say I feel like I have travelled around the world in the past two years of office and have taken away something from every single conversation I have had. – Ludo

What skills have you developed in your time as a sabb?

So many to list. I think, once you’ve done this job, you develop to a point that is beyond what most people leaving university will have got. So, you develop to the point where you’ve had the responsibility of being the strategic oversight of the organisation, and it’s not a small organisation at its core; there are a lot of things involved; a lot of finances involved, so you learn a lot about financial procedures, about budgeting, all that sort of stuff and you learn a lot about working with different people, so working with both students, working with staff members, working with senior staff members, both in the university and the union, working with external bodies, there’s so many different people that you work with on a day-to-day basis, that you learn how to engage different people and different personalities. And I would say, probably most importantly, you develop the skills in yourself that you can recognise things that weren’t necessarily there before. So I think you do leave with such a good skillset that gives you good stead to go into any leadership position anywhere else. – Dan

I have learned to speak the advocacy language. When I first came in, my being very passionate about the issues I was campaigning on made it really difficult to get my points across. I learned so much about leadership and responsibilities that come with it. Mobilising and empowering the student body is another one, the most fulfilling I would say to be able to give people the tools to go away and succeed on their own.  – Ludo

Now you know what it takes to lead the SU, do you have what it takes?

Visit the elections page


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