De Montfort Students’ Union (DSU) said goodbye to a valued member of our staff team last Friday on what he called an ‘extremely exciting time’ for the union.
Max Mcloughlin is moving from his position of CEO to take up the same role at Aston Students’ Union in Birmingham after four and a half years at DSU.
“You know, I’ve absolutely loved it here. Working with such great officers and such great staff members has been a privilege.”
And Max knows a thing or two about working in students’ unions. After spending a year as the Student Activities officer at Warwick Students’ Union, he had originally headed into the world of commercial marketing – but decided it wasn’t for him.
“I worked at Lloyd’s Pharmacy in their marketing department – I designed the planograms for each store about where the different products would go on the shelves. I was responsible for painkillers,” he said.
“But there was just something that wasn’t quite right, and I missed the people aspect of the students’ union so I got back in.”
After spells at the University of Leicester Students’ Union, University of Birmingham Guild of Students and University of Derby Students’ Union, Max arrived on the De Montfort University (DMU) campus in 2012.
“One of the best moments I’ve had [at DSU] was when I started here,” he explained. “We always got a little bit of an increase in the block grant [from the university] and then about three years ago myself and the President at the time, Ian Warrington, had a meeting with the university’s executive board.
“We gave a presentation to them about why we should receive an extra £250,000 and I still remember that entire hour as if it happened yesterday. At the end of the presentation they said ‘well done, you’ve got the money’ and for me that was a pivotal moment. The extra money was a game changer in terms of what we could do.
“We might forget just how tight money was three or four years ago and how much extra DSU is able to do now, which is just phenomenal.”
The process to recruit a new CEO will now be led by DSU President Dan Winney. But what advice does Max have for the officer team?
“I think that Dan has got the potential to be a really good President. I think we are all hoping and wanting him to take that step up from [VP Student] Activities. It’s a path well-trodden and there is a lot of history and legacy behind that move, but I think he is ready to take that step up and lead DSU fantastically well.
“As for Keira she is absolutely brilliant. We all absolutely love her to bits and I think that The Big Support Survey that we’ve put out at the moment could be a really defining moment for Keira and making sure she really delivers on that.
“In terms of the new guys – Mike, Augustus and Ahtesham – I think at the moment they have got so many different ideas it’s all about narrowing it down a little bit and focusing on one or two big things that they want to do this year.
“I always say to the officer team at the start of the year that you can split your year up into thirds; you spend a third of your time dealing with ‘stuff’ from the previous year, a third of your time dealing with ‘stuff’ that just comes up, and if you’re lucky you get a third of your year to deliver on your manifesto.
“I feel a little bit guilty – especially for Dan – because he had some really great ideas for this year but one of the main things he’s got to do now is recruit a new CEO and so for him this is his ‘I didn’t know this was coming but this is something I’ve got to do’ moment.
“I am hoping that this doesn’t become a distraction to him and the rest of the officer team in what they want to achieve.”
Max will now move to Aston – closer to his family home in Birmingham – where he has grand plans to work with their officer team in delivering ‘wins’ for students.
“That’s why I got back into SUs,” he said. “Sometimes it sounds a bit naff, but it’s the best thing in the world to see a first-year student come in and they’re all a little bit sheepish and a little bit nervous, and then three years later they could be your boss because they’ve run for students’ union office. That is a fantastic journey to see other people go on.
“Now I head to Aston. It’s a lot closer to home, it’s a smaller university and it’s a smaller students’ union, just based on the outskirts of the city centre in Birmingham.
“The union has got some fantastic staff and some fantastic officers but they just need a little bit of encouragement. It’s a project and I can’t wait to get my teeth into it.
“I think their election turnout is five per cent, whereas here it’s one in five students at DMU. It’s taken us a while to get to there so there’s an absolute journey we must go on at Aston but I think it’s one that both the SU and the university are ready for.
“I feel privileged that they want me to be the person they want to lead that kind of stuff.”
Current and past officers and staff alike joined together last Friday to bid farewell to Max after four and a half years at the helm at DSU.
Dan Winney, President of DSU, said: “Max always had a great sense of calm about him, which in the hectic world of a students’ union was well received by all.
“He was a great leader and I have learnt a lot from him over the past 14 months. All at DSU wish him well – and we look forward to seeing him back for the opening of #YourNewDSU early next year!”