Being a team player and reliable communication are vital to the success of every member of the SEDS-USA staff and board. However, there are specific tasks each board member will work on, and certain attributes that naturally go along with these tasks. Aligning your skills and experience with a specific board position can help ensure the right fit when applying, and enable you to better represent yourself when running for election.
What follows are my thoughts as Chair of the Board of Directors on each position and what it takes to be successful.
At-Large Board Member
In the past, the big idea has always been we want YOU to have big ideas. At this point, however, we have a backlog of amazing projects that we don’t have the manpower to get to, so it’s important that you can start and complete projects without heavy oversight. Some of these projects include new competitions, the creation of an industry jobs board, and an annual SEDS hackathon. We are open to new projects, but will prioritize projects with the highest impact.
The Council of Chapters (CoC) Chair runs and manages the CoC, and stays in contact with chapters to ensure SEDS-USA properly supports them. The CoC also acts as the “voice of the chapters” in Board of Directors (BoD) meetings. All BoD members think in terms of what’s best for chapters, but the CoC Chair’s position allows her unique insight. It’s important the CoC Chair is happy to help chapters and engages with them on a consistent basis. SEDS has grown by 50% in the past year, and we are on track to add at least another 20 chapters this coming year. The CoC Chair needs to be ready to handle a growing chapter base.
As Secretary, you must be reliable and organized. You are required to take notes at board meetings, and this currently amounts to once a week. Google Drive is likely the most important tool SEDS-USA uses, and while simple, it is of utmost importance that it is well maintained and organized. Over the past few months, we’ve given the Secretary responsibility akin to a project manager. The secretary manages the Kanban Board (an online board that separates tasks by current, soon, and future) and ensures it stays up-to-date with tasks. The Secretary doesn’t prioritize or order tasks, but does ensure board members always have a current task.
We use the accounting software Xero and handle more than $100,000 in revenue annually. For Treasurer, you should really be studying accounting, or have a strong desire to learn accounting. We also plan to apply for grants this coming year, so previous grant writing experience is a bonus, though by no means required.
The Vice-Chair maintains our relationships with sponsoring companies, other organizations, and the Board of Advisors. A large part of this is to “sell SEDS” to companies to sponsor us, and build up our current relationships with other organizations. You will create the sponsorship prospectus and engage with our company contacts to ensure SpaceVision is funded along with our other projects and competitions.
So you want my position? Good luck 😉 . At any one time, there will be ten different things you and the board could be doing; you need to know how to prioritize and complete tasks. A large part of the position is a mix between At-Large and Vice-Chair, where you’re working on new projects for SEDS and helping with sponsorship. You’ll also handle personnel and other issues that affect SEDS-USA. You must have a strong vision for how you want SEDS to evolve over the next couple of years, and know how to accomplish that vision. Basically, you need to be a well-rounded leader to excel as Chair.
Some of the tasks listed are likely things you’ve never done. We have documentation and are happy to support you along the way. Very few people come into SEDS leadership knowing exactly how to do their job, it’s through willingness to learn and the support of others that we are all successful. Best of luck running for the Board of Directors!