Our Q&A with the two Treasurer candidates for 2016/17 !
If you were elected Treasurer in 2016/17, what is one key policy you would seek to implement during your term?
I want to continue a push to ensure greater transparency amongst key leadership and spending decisions between committee and students to increase confidence and engagement between students and the LSS. Currently students have a right to inspect the financial reports of the LSS, but many I’ve spoken to have no idea how to go about this or where to start. I want to, as a starting point, make this process clearly explained so students, should they wish to, are completely aware of the financial position of the LSS so they are able to bring forward concerns or ideas about the direction of the Society.
I think doing this would be a great step would also entertain the idea of allowing some committee meetings to be open to students to observe to increase this transparency and help put forward any such concerns or ideas. This indirectly would also help ensure accountability in budgeting and spending of all other portfolios, which is why I’m very keen to bring it in.
Another thing I want to do in order to promote this is to include a detailed role description of each Committee Member on the MULSS website so students who might not be aware of what someone does can be made aware and be able to put forward concerns in the rare instance that they think someone isn’t fulfilling their duties.
These things benefit the entire JD cohort and the LSS.
The main policy I want to implement is in regards to the budgeting processes and procedures of the LSS. This year, the budgeting processes were greatly improved by the current LSS Treasurer, Laura Elliott – having put in place a solid budgeting template for all the LSS portfolios.
I would like to further build on Laura’s work and do what she didn’t get a chance to do this year. I’d like to develop a comprehensive projected budget figure for the main expenditures of each portfolio. Previously, the trend was to use the prior year figure as the budget amount – however, many costs can change from year to year and this can cause discrepancies in predicted and actual expenditure. I would aim to achieve this by meeting with the Directors of each portfolio over the summer and carefully planning out and researching their main expenditures to determine more accurate and realistic figures. With a more accurate amount for what expenditure will actually be for the year, it will be easier for the LSS to allocate funds and commit to new initiatives, thus allowing for a greater benefit to be provided to the JD cohort.
Furthermore, a policy that ties in with this overarching policy is that I would like increase the accountability of the individual portfolios for managing their budgets. This can be done by having each individual portfolio budget table accessible for view via Google Docs for each Director. Through having a more accurate, real-time tracking of expenditures (month-to-month) so portfolios know what they can and cannot spend, it will ensure that the portfolios will be better able to stick to their budgets. This will also reduce the time spent in meetings with each portfolio during the semester, when portfolios need to know about what funds are available in their budgets.
The role of Treasurer requires familiarity with accounting and financial management. What key experience, training or qualifications do you have that make you an ideal candidate.
I’ve always been good with numbers. I majored in Accounting and Finance in my undergraduate Commerce degree over the road at The Spot before making my way to the JD. I have a wealth of knowledge and experience regarding both accounting and financial management, proven when I worked at KPMG for their Summer Vacationer Program and rotated throughout their Tax and Audit divisions. I understand that Quickbooks is the accounting software used currently, which I’ve had training on and used throughout my VCE Accounting subject and throughout many undergraduate subjects. I also have an irrational fondness of Microsoft Excel which I believe is an extremely powerful tool which can assist in the Treasurer role and know I can utilise it to my strengths.
Moreover I was the Sports Officer for the Activities Portfolio this year so I have had some involvement with the LSS and understand many aspects of how it runs despite not having been involved at committee meetings. Some of the ideas I had for the role I’ve been able to bring in and help shape, such as introducing the Footy Tipping competition. I know what to expect and how much work is involved and I’ve had experience in working under stressful conditions for the times when the workload will be huge. I’ve chosen to run for Treasurer because I truly want to and I think these skills and experiences make me the best candidate for the role.
I have a Bachelor of Commerce from Monash University (Clayton), where I developed experience in using accounting and financial tools. Additionally, I worked for a mid-tier Accounting firm in the final year of my undergraduate degree where I was able to gain practical experience in using MYOB and other accounting programs. Also, last semester, I worked for a start-up which required me to monitor and track payments to the business through their online payment system. Lastly, I have developed significant skills in management consulting through the different student consulting organisations I have worked for in my time as a university student. I worked at Impetus Consulting Group at Monash and have been doing work this year for 180 Degrees Consulting, which has developed my business and financial advisory skills – something which I believe is very important to the role of Treasurer.
The Treasurer’s role includes ensuring the MULSS Committee remains financially responsible and accountable throughout its term. Imagine an elected Committee Member approaches you for approval to spend money beyond their budget. How would you respond?
I’d be hesitant to allow spending above the budgeted amount. From a management perspective, it’s important to maintain fiscal responsibility to ensure spending is efficient, so I’d stress this beforehand. It’s extremely important that on top of the amount initially budgeted, a buffer is planned for to allow for these kinds of circumstances. If this happened, I’d be happy to assist the Committee Member with budgeting around it or other methods of resource allocation.
Obviously there are unforeseen and extraordinary circumstances where approval of additional funds is required. I would make sure I look at all the reasons why that member went over budget, and why they wish to get approval for more spending and discuss this with other members of the Leadership Team for another opinion. But unless absolutely necessary and the Leadership Team agrees, I would ask them to re-evaluate their budget and try to find the additional money from what they initially budgeted for.
At the beginning of this year, I worked with the current Treasurer, and a couple of other members of the elected committee to determine how we could best utilize the LSS’ funds for the creation of new initiatives. Through comparing the predicted annual revenues of the LSS to the predicted expenditure (based on the previous year’s expenditure), we ascertained that we would have a surplus of funds which could be allocated to the creation of new initiatives (ongoing and also one-off initiatives), whilst also ensuring a savings buffer figure for any potential increases in expenditure or unforeseen decreases in revenue. We determined that it would be best to separate a portion of the surplus each year for one-off initiatives (accumulated in a savings pool) and another portion to new ongoing initiatives.
This is important because it leads into how I would advise a committee member on spending money which is not within their budget. If an elected committee member was to approach me in this type of scenario, I would assess whether there was enough room in the new initiatives budget. I would then make an analysis of whether it could be justified that this extra expenditure should be appropriated for as a new initiative. Following this, I’d take my analysis to the committee to advise them on whether or not to approve the appropriation for additional funds.
Don't forget to have your say!
Voting will be both:
Voting will be both:
- In Person: from Monday 12 - Friday 16 September, 1-2pm at the MLS ground floor west entrance; and
- Online: from Monday 12 September - Friday 16 September 2pm (see the MULSS website for the link) - THE ONLINE VOTING FORM IS NOW LIVE HERE!