Wanting to stand for the next executive?

Apr 2, 2023 | News

Words of wisdom from the current officeholders.

The AGM will be coming up in May so we thought it timely to interview all 4 office-bearers about their roles so that others wishing to stand for the executive have a good understanding of what the roles entail. This month we are publishing interviews with the president and vice-president and next month the secretary and treasurer.

Interview with Paul Gale-Baker, current president

As President, are you just a figurehead for Sustainable Macleod?

Not at all, in fact, the job is complex and demanding.

What are the main things you do?

The position requires me to take a leadership role and be proactive on behalf of Sustainable Macleod. Above all, I have to ensure that Sustainable Macleod operates legally and in accord with its purpose.

Just some of the key activities are:

  • ensuring the Rules and Policies are followed
  • chairing committee and general meetings
  • representing Sustainable Macleod at meetings of the local Council and other groups when issues concerning the community arise or when invited to events
  • maintaining a good relationship with Macleod College on whose land the community garden sits
  • answering numerous phone calls and emails from members and other individuals and organisations
  • drafting policy in response to members’ wishes
  • attending as many Sustainable Macleod events as possible

What are some of the other things you do?

There are plenty of those and they are all important. They include, for example:

  • maintaining connection with other community groups
  • spending time with members at the Community Garden and in other settings
  • listening to members and committees about their needs
  • attending to any issues between members
  • checking that issues and problems raised are followed through

What attributes does a person need to be able to do the job?

Above all, the President needs to be committed to the job, and a staunch advocate for all of the aims of Sustainable Macleod. Beyond that, they need:

  • a willingness to deal with difficult issues and conflict appropriately
  • a thorough understanding of the Rules and what it means to be incorporated
  • an ability to network with other community groups
  • an openness to ideas
  • an ability to work productively with the committee and sub-committees
  • a willingness to treat the role seriously
  • picking up any jobs that need to be done when there isn’t a volunteer
  • good writing skills come in handy too

How much time does it take?

I would say that 6 – 10 hours a week.

Is that typical?

Where other factors come into play, this could easily double, for example, when larger events are on or when problems arise. These occasions can mean a doubling of the time spent.

What would your advice be for anyone considering standing for President?

To volunteer for a committee or two and gain some experience, and then stand for the executive as a committee member to learn the ropes and to be sure you have sufficient experience to take on the role. Above all, I would point out that while the work can be demanding, it is incredibly rewarding. If you approach it with enthusiasm and commitment, it will pay you back many times over.

Interview with Marsha Merory, current vice-president

As vice-president, are you just a figurehead for Sustainable Macleod?

No. While the responsibilities are not as many as those of the president there is a range of duties and responsibilities.

What are the main things you do?

As vice-president, you are part of the executive and therefore attend the monthly executive meetings, and extra meetings when scheduled, and would be required to chair this meeting and also the general meetings, should the president be unavailable.The vice-president also works on and discusses policy issues, helps draft policy and emails, and deals with suggestions and queries from members to the executive. An important part of the job is promoting our sustainable aims in the wider community. The vice-president along with the other members of the executive is responsible for maintaining the good governance of Sustainable Macleod as we are an incorporated association regulated by Consumer Affairs of Victoria.

I feel the vice president should participate in as many of the varied programs and activities of Sustainable Macleod as possible eg vegie swap, seedling distribution, workshops, the community garden, relationships with outside agencies like BANSIC, relationships with Sustainable Macleod members and welcoming new members, intergenerational gatherings, the community garden, and children’s activities. This is a way of connecting with the membership and hearing what they want.

What are some of the other things you do?

As a signatory to the bank account, I need to approve expenditure in the banking app. I read and respond to lots of emails and give feedback on a wide variety of issues. I represent the executive on the garden committee.

What attributes does a person need to be able to do the job?

A willingness to put your hand up and participate in the activities which most interest you but also maintaining an awareness of the range of activities that are carried out by Sustainable Macleod.
Tolerance of differing views is important as is recognising that this means that not everyone can have their way all the time. The ability to see a task through is very important, and being timely and aware of deadlines. Familiarity with the Rule of Incorporation under which we operate is essential as is the ability to work collegially with the executive and Sustainable Macleod members.

How much time does it take?

It really depends on what comes up – meetings are maybe 3 and 1/2 hours per month, occasionally more in the lead-up to important events or issues, emails – maybe 4 hours per month. Those 2 things are a given but additionally, I spend time on policy and procedures. This has been time-consuming this year but all governance issues will be resolved before the AGM so there will be less to do in the future.

As to what I do in addition, 3 hours at least every 2nd week at the community garden, meetings of the garden committee of which I’m a member maybe 1 hour per month, proofreading the newsletter 1-2 hours per month, and I attend the vegie swap, and many other Sustainable Macleod activities where volunteers are needed.

Is that typical?

Apart from the executive meetings and the discussions and emails that need attention, I don’t think there is a typical amount of time as it depends on which activities you become involved in, but it involves more than just the meetings and emails.

What would your advice be for anyone considering standing for Vice President?

Part of the role of the vice-president is to shadow the president and learn that role. In some organisations the role is really an apprenticeship for the presidency. For example, in my Rotary group, both the past president and the president-elect sit on the committee with the president, treasurer, and secretary to ensure that the organisation has continuity and that new members have an opportunity to learn the role before stepping into it. It’s ok to learn on the job but it would be very difficult if you had no previous experience of being either a committee member or a member of other committees which interact with the executive.

It is essential to attend the general meetings regularly and be familiar with the thoughts and concerns of the membership.You also need to understand and support all the purposes of Sustainable Macleod and participate in a wide range of events. It’s definitely worth it; it’s satisfying and fun becoming more deeply involved with members and programs and furthering the aims of Sustainable Macleod.