The Role of the President
This is a full-time, paid sabbatical position, with paid handover commencing on 1st June 2020. The Officer will take over formal responsibility for the role on 1st July 2020, with the role ending on 30th June 2021.
The President is the Chief Executive of the Association, the lead representative of postgraduates to the University and an ex-officio member of University Council.
The President is also a Trustee of the KPA and the Chair of the Board of Trustees. Each role comes with a specific set of responsibilities that the President is required to undertake.
As Chief Executive, the President is the line manager to the two most senior staff at the KPA (KPA Co- Ordinator and Clubhouse and Entertainments Manager) as well as being responsible for directing the activities of the other officers.
They are responsible for the day to day activities of the association, except where those responsibilities are delegated to other members of staff.
As Chief Executive, the president is expected to report to the trustee board regularly on their work and is jointly responsible (with the Vice-President) for the implementation of policies and budgets as approved by the Board of Trustees.
As a representative of postgraduates, the President is responsible for articulating the needs, thoughts and concerns of postgraduate students to the University through various channels. The most central of these is the University Council where the president acts as a governor of Keele University. In this role the President attends as a Governor (with specific expertise in students) rather than as CEO/Chair/President of the KPA. The President will also attend a number of other University committees and represent students through consultation events and written contributions.
As Chair of the Board of Trustees, the President is responsible for ensuring the effective governance of the charity and scrutiny of its activities. Where these activities are the responsibility of the President in their role as CEO, the President will be accountable to the rest of the trustee board.
If you want to know more, or are interested in running for this position, it is recommended that you get in touch with a member of the current committee to discuss this role.
Being a Charity Trustee...
As a charity trustee, your duties are to follow these six different guidelines:
1. Ensure your charity is carrying out it's purposes for the public benefit.
2. Comply with your charity's governing document and the law.
3. Act in your charity's best interest.
4. Ensure your charity is accountable.
5. Manage your charity's resources responsibly.
6. Act with reasonable care and skill.
For more detailed guidance on what it takes to be a charity trustee, click the below button:
A Day in the Life of the KPA President...
“My name is Katie and I have been your elected President since July 2019. We wanted to give you some up to date information on what to expect from a role in an elected officer position at the KPA.
I always try to be the first in the office - it makes it easier to get your emails done before the day starts! Sometimes your inbox might look empty, other days you might receive a whole lot more. Either way, always be organised. If that is one thing I have learnt, make sure you are on top of your emails and always prioritise.
Daily this job can differ. Remember, you are line manager to 4 people (KPA coordinator, KPA Clubhouse Bar and Entertainments Manager, Vice President and Secretary.) I was elected to this position with no prior experience of being a manager. Do not worry if you haven’t - there are plenty of training opportunities to take advantage of. Although this training is not necessarily mandatory, I would fully recommend undertaking effective people manager training and it’s free as a member of university staff. As well as this, you are essentially the head of a charity, chief exec to be precise. This is more than a sabbatical role and requires a great level of organisation. Whilst you don’t have to know accountancy, it is good to keep on top of finances. Alison, our coordinator gave me fantastic support when I stepped into position, as did the University finance team. It is good to keep an eye on it, but you are not expected to be a fully trained accountant (nor are chief execs!)
Whilst being KPA President feels like being the face of the KPA, this is not always true. There are days when I can’t get to our regular events, which I would love to be at, but cannot always get there due to time constraints, workloads and a fully scheduled diary. This is not something to worry about, you have other members of staff that can keep the pressure off. Myself and Currie have always balanced our time out, so that Currie can get to social events in my absence. It is not something to feel guilty about as running a charity in the background can be hard work.
You are also a trustee! My role as a Trustee has provided me with some brilliant insights and the skills I have acquired from this will be fantastic for the future. It also provides a unique experience, compared to many young people who haven’t been given that kind of oversight. You are required to make some rather big decisions on the charity, the future of the organisation and essentially the working and structure of the KPA. These are all things that are very beneficial to any CV and have provided me with life long examples of areas of risk, how to mitigate risk and how to spend money wisely. Oh also, I chair the meeting - so another unique experience is being the Chair of the board of trustees. This has built my confidence no end - as someone who used to be a complete nervous wreck in a room full of people, who blushed bright red when she spoke ever, this has provided me with an arena to practise my public speaking and organise others. I now feel super confident in these sorts of situations and is something I will take with me in my future.
One thing that was super helpful for me was the fact that I had spent many years prior to my election working at the Clubhouse. Whilst this isn’t a requirement, it has helped me to understand Clubhouse finances and built on already established relationships with staff members. As a President, it is important that if you don’t already know what is going on at the Clubhouse, go and find out. This might even be just going for regular 1-1s with the Clubhouse manager, or even offering to spend a day there, watching how things are run. As President, I chair finance meetings at the Clubhouse, so it is always good to get the full picture of what is going on before chairing any meeting.
Communicating with students is another part of my job. I regularly meet with students who have queries and concerns, but sometimes it is nice to just meet for coffee and a chat. This has made me feel like I am closer to the student body and have the capabilities of broadcasting concerns at all levels. I always try to remain as transparent as possible, by communicating monthly on my work through the postgraduate mailing list. This also allows postgraduates to get in contact if they have any questions or queries!
I sit on committees at varying levels in the University. I have meetings regularly with the senior management team to voice concerns or to update them on postgraduate matters. I also have regular meetings with professional services staff and with KeeleSU. I also sit on the University Senate and Council. Whilst these seem like major roles, once you begin to settle in and understand each meeting, you gain the ability to question and contribute. These are all fantastic attributes to have for future job prospects!
Whilst the job sometimes seems very tricky and demanding, one thing I would say is that it is REWARDING. Being a student and going into the role of running a charity with no experience is tough enough in itself. It is the learning experience gained that has really helped me to understand my role. This learning experience is priceless and I would not have been able to gain it anywhere else. If the role doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you, and this one changed me in ways I didn’t think possible. My confidence has bolstered, I can now talk to a room of 100 people, I can say how I feel about things, I can challenge and question, and I can do my utmost to offer support for my membership as I now have a voice. The KPA presidency, whilst challenging, has been the job role I needed to bring me out of my shell and I imagine it will provide that opportunity for many more to come.”
Current President Keele Postgraduate Association