Student leaders from across the UK descended on De Montfort University (DMU) this week for a unique two-day training course from De Montfort Students’ Union (DSU).
Sabbatical officers from up and down the country – including all five full-time members of DSU’s own Officer Team – attended Students’ Union Leadership Training (SULT) on Tuesday and Wednesday to develop their skills as trustees; the people who determine the strategic direction of a students’ union.
The training, led by DSU’s Student Voice team, covered skills from managing risks related to budgets to identifying key performance indicators (KPIs) plus the different ‘hats’ each officer wears throughout their term as a trustee, representative, activist and their role-specific portfolio.
Mary Ojo, VP Education at Queen Mary Students’ Union in London, said: “This is the first time I’ve been to any training like this, and I can genuinely say it’s been really helpful.
“This is my first year as an officer, and it has been really useful for preparing me for my role as a trustee. I understand the ‘hats’ are quite different, but if I feed everything I’ve learnt back into my trustee role I think I can make such a difference at a university level.
“We also set our goals for the year as bronze, silver and gold targets as well as deciding how we can measure our success. I can’t wait to get back and put everything I’ve learnt into action.
“I’d definitely recommend the training to any new officer, especially so early on in the year.”
The trustees also tested their engineering skills with a classic ice-breaker activity on Tuesday morning...
Rafael Garcia-Krailing, President of University of Northampton Students’ Union, said: “I had one month of really intense training when I started my role, which has really helped me prepare, but what I gain most from these events is networking with the other officers.
“The training itself has been really methodical, and I thought it was facilitated really well. I think it should be noted how hard [DSU’s] Officer Team have worked to make people feel welcome, and the staff for facilitating the whole event.”
Ahtesham Mahmood, President of DSU, said: “SULT is a fantastic service that DSU provides, and we are one of the only organisations to cater for such a massive part of an officer’s role; being a trustee.
“This training is imperative to enable us all to be successful leaders, and to be key players in the board room, as well as an effective voice for our student members.
“We are not just one-year, one-time leaders; this training helps us create a strong chain of people all driving towards enhancing the student experience.
“There is one exercise that really sticks in my mind, about identifying skills – we were broken down into groups and encouraged to discuss the value added by each person in the group. That really helped me see what my strengths and weaknesses are and showed how I can develop those areas further.
“It was also really good to meet so many student officers from across the UK, learn from them, and also understand the challenges that they face.”
To find out more about the governance of DSU, including the make-up of our Trustee Board, click here.
The sabbatical officers also showed off their new-found 'trustee hats', as well as representative, activist, and portfolio headgear.