Sunday, January 14, 2007

An Interview with Josh Bowman, VP Admin 2003/2004

Josh Bowman ran for office back in 2003 when the AMS elections still allowed slates. He ran with the Student Progressive Action Network (SPAN) the first year it was created (under this name). He was instrumental in laying the groundworks for the Bike Coop, the Food Coop Sprouts, and the recycling system in the student residences. It's been two years since he graduated, but I tracked him down for an interview.

GE: Which skills served you best?

JB: The skills that served me best as VP Admin were: diplomacy, a willingness to
be extroverted and socialize, an understanding of clubs and club dynamics,
an open-mindedness on both political and social issues, the ability to
negotiate, conflict resolution, and knowledge, or the desire to learn more.
You should know at least the fundamentals about conservative budgetting,
sustainability/environmentalism, clubs/resource groups, and building

GE: What skills did you wish you'd had, in order to be a better VP Admin?

JB: There were times when I could have been more diplomatic. There were also
times where I could have been better researched. I think I did a great job,
under the circumstances, but I know that I learned by making a lot of
mistakes. The best thing you have in that position is staff support. Hire
good people for SAC; not just your friends. Work with the staff that's
already existing to support you; they're your greatest allies.

GE: What was the biggest challenge you faced as VP Admin?

JB: Internal change. If you change the mechanics of the system itself, you will
do something lasting. Unfortunately, that is nearly impossible. Tradition is
often the reason things don't change, and it takes real vision to make
anything last. As VP Admin, you can make permanent changes to the SUB
itself, but what you want to try to do is change how the rules work, for the
betterment of students. Throwing a great first week is fine, but it doesn't
last. Changing the way the rules and system work means that future student
execs will be impacted, as will years of students. Working in a mixed-slate
exec, this is what I found the most challenging.

GE: What would you identify as the biggest issue for an incoming AMS VP

JB: I've been away for a while, and issues are always changing. The biggest
issue for VP Admin is probably dealing appropriately with all the delicate
politics of the clubs and resource groups. There is a lot of history with
clubs and resource groups, and you have to know about that history, and know
when to tread lightly. It's a juggling act. When do you take a stand, when
do you remain neutral. Being in a position like this means negotiating the
demands of your supporters and friends, as well as other lobbying students,
with doing what's ultimately right for the student society and students, no
matter what your politics are. It means willing to do the best thing, even
if it means that you lose friends or political allies.

GE: What advice would you give the incoming VP Admin?

JB: Learn to work with people. Learn who you can trust and who you can't. Be
willing to take stands and stick to them, when you're certain they're right.
Be willing to change your opinion when necessary. Be open-minded. Learn to
trust and be trusted. As a manager, be willing to work harder and longer
hours than your staff. Work with your exec, and find where you can all meet
on issues, and where you have to agree to disagree. Learn to negotiate, and
learn everything you can about the job and the position. Don't forget who
you're doing this for; it's not you, and it's not your friends. Try not to
let it destroy you; after all, it's only student politics.

GE: Thanks Josh!