A board year at Asset | Accounting & Finance – Stijn van de Laar, Chairman

Next to being a student I wanted to do something more than study, go out and do sports, I joined Asset | Accounting & Finance and started with an informal committee, namely Faces Online to familiarize myself with the association. In the second semester I joined a formal committee, the Finance Expedition as well because I enjoyed working within this association. It was an easy choice when I was called after that year with the question if I wanted to become a member of the board. After obtaining my bachelor’s degree I could start.

The transition period is a fun and especially educational period. You arrive in a new setting, which of course takes some getting used to. My predecessor Krijn involved me in all affairs and meetings right from the beginning. Since you will have to learn the tricks of the trade it is important that you ask many questions. Especially by asking questions you will understand why certain decisions are made or how you can tackle a problem correctly. Furthermore, during the summer you and your board will write the policy for the upcoming year. During the General Members Assembly the policy is assessed but it is also a test for yourself. As a Chairman you must present the policy and therefore be prepared for critical questions that can be asked.

“Personal development within the board is very important and you, as chairman, can play a major role in this.”

Each Monday I lead the board meeting from A&F. In this meeting we discuss what happened in the past week and what the plans are for the upcoming week. This will be one of the few moments the entire board discusses matters together. Since many topics will be discussed during this meeting, keeping an overview and maintaining structure is important. As a chairman, you must be aware of all developments within the board and the association. In addition, personal development within the board is very important and you, as chairman, can play a major role in this. Holding personal conversations with all board members throughout the year is a good way to see how they develop and improve their skills. It is great to see how this progress results in better collaboration and therefore in a better operating association as well.

Within the association members are almost always the most important stakeholders and these members drop by the rooms every day. Therefore, I think it is important to have a chat with them to know how they are doing. This contributes to a relaxed and informal atmosphere within the association. Moreover, you are also aware of what is going on within the association.

The social aspect of your board year is certainly a big plus. In a very short time you will get to know many people and soon your agenda will be full of activities. You get a whole network of people from the association and other boards but of course you will also have to maintain the relationship with your circle of friends and family. Managing your time will be difficult sometimes. However, with good a planning you have enough time for yourself and I also try to exercise as much as possible.

“By challenging myself with taking this step I was able to learn a lot and develop myself in various areas.”

Finally, there are many external parties that A&F has to deal with as an association. The most important one is Asset and its six other departments. As a Chairman of A&F you are a board member of the General Board of Asset as well. This is a separate board, but is built bottom-up. This means that the departments determine the policy and this is coordinated by Asset. It is my job as a Chairman to keep an eye on this and I also represent the opinion of A&F during the weekly General Board Meeting on Tuesday morning. Furthermore, every chairman of the General Board of Asset has a portfolio. Given my affinity with the financial sector, I have taken on the Finance portfolio and am therefore the Treasurer. This means that I am responsible for the bookkeeping and financial matters regarding Asset. I also lead the Treasurer Meeting within Asset. All treasurers of the Asset departments join this meeting and the financial matters within Asset will be discussed.

You will also regularly meet with people who hold high positions within the departments of Accountancy and Finance at Tilburg University. Furthermore, you will represent A&F in the Financiële Associatie Nederland (FAN), which is a collaboration between the five largest financial study associations in the Netherlands. The Chairmen of the four other associations meet to discuss problems and share best practices.

As a Chairman you are the face of the association and this requires a lot of confidence. In the beginning I thought this function would be too much work and seemed out of my comfort zone. However, by challenging myself with taking this step I was able to learn a lot and develop myself in various areas. In this way I have become more critical, including on myself, am not afraid to ask many questions and have a better idea of where I want to work. A board year is more than just an addition to your CV.

If you want to know more about my board year, don’t hesitate to visit room E1.07 to ask your questions while enjoying a cup of coffee!