In the beginning of April young liberals from across Europe will meet in Berlin for the LYMEC Spring Congress. The congress is not just any congress, as it will also elect the new Bureau who will take care of the day to day business of our organisation in the coming two years.
But what does bureau members actually do? The questions become more and more frequent as the congress moves closer and people are considering whether to run or not. Of course a lot can be read from our bureau reports, which I can only recommend you to check out as well, but here is a bit more detailed version of the everyday tasks we perform.
Having served as both bureau member (campaign officer), vice president and now as president, I believe I have a pretty good overview of what we do, and I hope this blog post will give people a better idea of what is required as Bureau member from my point of view.
I hope this blog post will give people a better idea of what is required as Bureau member
For those who are not familiar with the composition of the LYMEC Bureau, let me just outline it: it consists of seven members in total: president, vice president, treasurer and four officers/regular bureau members. The officers have a portfolio which is decided within the bureau after the elections. Currently we have a digital officer, a trainings officer, a policy officer and a campaign officer. Some of the titles are reoccurring while others change. I.e. the digital officer was a position created by the current bureau, as we wanted to strengthen this aspect of our organisation.
As we do not get to see each other that often physically (on average the Bureau gets together 6 times a year for in person bureau meetings) most of our work is done online. We are in contact with each other on a daily basis on WhatsApp and email and have a monthly Skype meeting.
As officer/regular bureau member you are responsible for your own designated area as well as for taking part in the day to day work which involves all of us. Such work could be: drafting or giving inputs on press releases based on the content of our policy book, writing applications to our donors, drafting programs for events, contacting potential speakers and writing reports to donors after an event has taken place. All of our work is done as a team and in cooperation with our secretary general. Moreover, all members of the Bureau serve as the contact points for specific member organisations, so each member has several organisations where they are responsible for contacting the organisation and reminding them of upcoming deadlines etc.
All of our work is done as a team and in cooperation with our secretary general
The tasks of the treasurer are of course very specific, such as overseeing the finances, the internal and external audits and the reporting. The treasurer also has regional responsibilities and takes part in the daily work mentioned above depending on his/her availability.
As vice president your tasks are of a more ad hoc nature. You will help out with the day to day work mentioned above, and also have regional responsibilities, and join or steer projects along the way or step in and give a hand if a bureau member is overloaded with work. I.e. in this mandate the vice president has been responsible for setting up the alumni network together with the president and treasurer, planning the celebration of our big 40-year anniversary and rethinking our visual identity together with the campaign officer, just to mention some concrete examples. The vice president is also the LYMEC representative in the ALDE Party Council meetings and supports the president in representing LYMEC.
The position as president is very much of an administrative nature. You oversee the work of the entire Bureau and have the overall responsibility of our organisation. This is done in very close cooperation with the secretary general. To be honest, I do not think there is anyone I am in more contact with than the secretary general. Typically it starts in the morning discussing what is on the agenda for today – are there political developments we should respond to? During lunch I check written material such as press releases/social media updates, calls for events etc. and typically the days end with a status check of what has been done and if anything is left for me to fix in the evening.
As president you also have specific tasks such as representing LYMEC in the ALDE Party Bureau (lobbying for our positions and taking note of developments and events that might also affect or be of interest to LYMEC), conducting interviews with candidates for the position as assistant (which changes every six months) together with the secretary general and of course responding to requests from our members and from external stakeholders such as lobbyists or other political youth organisations.
In my work as president, I rely a lot on my experience as campaign officer and vice president. Through the years I have really gotten to know each corner of our organisation and our members. This has prepared me to take on the overall responsibility of our organisation with confidence, and also given me a good network both within and outside our liberal family to utilize when needed.
Through the years I have really gotten to know each corner of our organisation and our members
I hope this have given a better picture of what we do in the Bureau, the nature of our work and consequently what it takes to be a good bureau member from my point of view. As a summary, I would say you have to be dedicated, have enough time and flexibility (if something political is happening, our statement or social media updates need to go out asap!). You also have to be able to put your own political opinion aside, as our campaigns or press releases are never about our own personal opinion but based on what our member organisations have adopted in the policy book. Does it sounds like a lot? Well to be honest it is, and part of me does also look forward to getting more free time (while I at the same time know I will miss it a lot), but it is not that you have to give 100% 365 days a year. We work as a team and cover for each other when work, studies or national politics requires a bureau member´s attention. If you think of running, I can only encourage you to do so, and I promise that all the administrative work is worth it. We also get to meet cool people, visit members (one of my favourites!) and attend events all over Europe, but this is only possible because we give top priority and spend a lot of time and effort on the administrative side of things.
Sissel van Run-Kvist
Sissel is the president of LYMEC