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Andrew Caddy 

Finance and Democracy Officer 2009-10

In my job I had to co-ordinate elections, recruit the first ever trustee board, organise general meetings, ensure that the Union’s finances were being responsibly managed and help the clubs and socs treasurers with their budgets.

Unless you’re a mature student (and if you are, then you should definitely think of standing - your experiences will benefit the union more than you can know) then you will be running a multi-million pound independent charity in your early twenties. If it’s anything like it was eight years ago, Students’ Union UCL will be a frustrating, brilliant, bureaucratic, and creative organisation that means something different to all of its members. Your opportunity as a Sabbatical Officer is to make your mark on the Union and champion the things about it that have meant the most to you whilst you’ve been studying and build on them for another generation of students to enjoy.   

If you don’t feel like you have all of the skills to do this yet then don’t worry. You will be given extensive training in charity governance, business management, public speaking and more, whilst being supported an excellent and dedicated team of full time staff.

I couldn’t recommend standing to be a Sabbatical Officer highly enough. It will be a whirlwind of a year, where you will feel constantly out of your depth, but where you will gain umpteen new skills that you will draw upon for the rest of your life.

Despite studying History of Art, I stood for a role which included Finance in the title and enjoyed learning about charity accounts so much that I’ve made a career out of it. In my day, the Finance and Democracy Officer used to sit on the College Finance Committee, which was chaired by the now Deputy-Director General of the BBC and ex-UCL English Literature student, Anne Bulford. She encouraged me to train as an accountant after leaving UCLU and gain a qualification that has enabled me to get a job at the Southbank Centre, where I now head up the Finance Business Partnering team. If it hadn’t been for the strategic business thinking and leadership that I was exposed to during my sabbatical year, I would have never thought of training to be an accountant, or be doing my current job.

What’s more, I made life long friends with students and staff that I met whilst working at UCLU. Working in a campaigning and very public organisation will bring each Sabb team new challenges that you can’t even think of now. I think our team bonded early on during the international orientation weekend where we ended up having to look after 200 american affiliate students who had just arrived in a country where the legal drinking age was three years younger than home - some of the things that happened in Phineas that night are burned into my memory. The beautiful thing about being part of a team is that you will rejoice in each others successes and be there for each other during the hard times.

And it is a hard job. Be ready for giving your life to the Union for a year. You should be prepared to work most evenings during the week and potentially holidays. If you’re elected then you should throw yourself at it. Go and see all the art societies’ shows. Go down to the boathouse to see the rowing club in action. Go to the debates and get involved in campaigns. I was constantly blown-over by the breadth of talent of the Union’s members.   

If you’re feeling inspired, consider become a student leader in 2018-19. Anyone who is currently a UCL student can stand for a full time sabbatical position and anyone who will be a student next year can take on a part time role. Find out more before 19 February.