A month in the life of a National President

A month in the life of a National President

Posted By admin |01 May 2016
A month in the life of a National President

So what is it really like to be National President? What do we actually do? Well it's been a busy month, so I thought I'd share some of the highlights:

On 8-10 April, myself and six of the national board team travelled to Eindhoven in the Netherlands for our NOM2NOM weekend with our national twinning partners. This was a fantastic opportunity for the national board team to get to know their counter-parts and share best practice (you can read Abdulkader's blog here). For me the close relationship with my fellow national presidents from Switzerland, the Netherlands and Belgium is really important to be able to talk to those sharing the same experiences you are going through and also to liaise about international issues we'll be discussing when we represent our countries at the JCI EUropean Conference in Finland in June.

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The NOM2NOM Presidents: Jeroen from the Netherlands, myself, Sarah from Belgium and Martin from Switzerland

The next weekend I hopped on a train up to Edinburgh for the JCI Scotland national conference. JCI UK also has a very close relationship with JCI Scotland and JCI Ireland. There are several twinning relationships between the nations, lots of hanging out together at international conferences and the national presidents and other members each attending each other's conferences/conventions. It was great to see six other members and senators of JCI UK there. The weekend was packed with fantastic workshops, keynote speakers and speaking competitions and culminated in a black tie gala with ceilidh. It was during the gala that I and Brian Smyth, the national president of JCI Ireland, made our friendship speeches to Patrick Hughes, the national president of JCI Scotland. You make quite a few speeches as national president, but this one was a bit different, being a somewhat teasing take on the friendship. I was therefore quite nervous to get the balance right between humour without crossing the line too far! Patrick still seems to be speaking to me so hopefully the speech hit the right note (or else he's biding his time until he gets to return the favour at the JCI UK National Convention in November).

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Delivering the friendship speech at the Scottish National Convention

Last week was another huge learning experience for me as we had our first National Council meeting of the year. I had to chair the meeting using the JCI UK Constitution and Roberts Rules of Order, a parliamentary procedures system which is designed to allow everyone to be heard and votes to be taken democratically. Although I've sat in many meetings as both a local president and national board member where Roberts Rules have been used, it's a bit of a different experience controlling the meeting yourself. In the afternoon, we heard from Kaspar Ilves, our international Vice President, who taught us about strategic partnerships, something his home organisation of JCI Estonia is particularly good at. The knowledge sharing continued as Yorkshire Regional Group Chair, Phil and JCI Canary Wharf President, Andy (with special guest appearance by JCI Swindon President, Faisal) shared the benefits of using meetup.com as a platform for reaching potential new members.

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My tools for chairing the JCI UK National Council meeting

On Sunday, I sat down with the local presidents to talk about how their year is going so far. This is one of my favourite parts of being national president. Our local chambers are the most important part of JCI UK, so I love hearing about the projects and events they are running and facilitating finding solutions to make those chambers even better through discussion and sharing of ideas.

Other activities throughout the month included:

  • Numerous conversations with National Board members
  • Writing up a report on the recent World President visit for JCI HQ
  • Meetings in person and via Skype in preparation for our upcoming Public Speaking and Training Academies
  • Creating my first ever video blog! Not easy for someone who isn't the most technology savvy
  • Lots of e-mails with local presidents, members, potential members, senators, head office, other national presidents and partners
  • Skype meeting with our appointed Vice President from the JCI International Board of Directors
  • Representing JCI at the Worshipful Company of World Traders Tacitus Debate which is supported by a partner of JCI London, the London Chamber of Commerce Commercial Education Trust

I hope that has given an insight into some of what I get up to as National President.  If you have any questions, please drop me a line: sarah.beckwith@jciuk.org.uk