A few questions to Francesco Bonadiman on what it means to be the President of the Board.
Why have you applied for this position?
Simply paraphrasing my “motivation” from the Elections 2017 campaign, almost two years ago I decided to apply for the position of President because I really wanted to “continue the impressive development” our community had gone through in the previous 300+ days. Back then indeed, I had already served for a whole year as Marketing & Communications Officer, I was extremely aligned with Borce’s (former President) vision and strategy, and felt that was the perfect chance “to take the lead of our young environment and drive it to a further step”.
I also decided to run for the Presidency because I felt I was not ready to “let it go”: the community was still too young, immature, and the number of candidates really willing to passionately lead such a Foundation was quite little. I felt my job there wasn’t done, yet.
How does your typical week look like?
It’s difficult to define a typical week in the Alumni Board. The only sort-of-stable thing is our 1h-weekly call, generally on Tuesday evening. In this call, we go through all the open points, discuss the latest happenings and plan the upcoming weeks and months. Being the President means you are involved in (or, at least, aligned with) every single thing happening within the community. Therefore,
there is an almost daily interaction with our brilliant Marketing & Communications Officer Tiziano on what to post, publish, schedule on our social media channels, and on more elaborated content to prepare (visuals, campaigns, articles, …);
I double-check and verify expenses and reimbursements after Alessandro, our meticulous Treasurer, processed them. Luckily this doesn’t happen too often and Ale does anyway the big part of the job. We also plan how to spend the budget for the coming months and exchange emails with accountants and auditors;
Bobo updates me on the developments from the Local communities, and we plan the next steps - then our amicable Events Officer takes the lead and interacts with the Local Teams, ensuring they deliver a fantastic local event;
we define with Sandip, our Secretary and talented anytime-is-needed developer, the next things to discuss at our Board meetings, the next initiatives to launch for our members, and the future developments of the website - by aligning with our Web Developer.
Next to all this, there are then tens of email exchanges with the different EIT Digital and external stakeholders, Node Directors and CLC Managers, CEO, web-developer, legal advisor, the EIT Headquarter and the broader EIT Alumni Board. My typical month generally consists of a number of evenings / weekends solely working for the Foundation, or travelling around Europe for events or Board meetings.
Depending on the time of the year, finally, there are specific events to take care of, such as the Graduation, the Conference, the Kickoff, the Partner Event, the Annual Meeting: all these usually require an extra amount of work, e.g. for preparing the slide decks, sending out newsletters, finding sponsors, arranging trips, writing reports, choosing the venue, scouting startups, etc.
Share some takeaways of your two-year journey!
This section is even more difficult! Despite the hundreds of weekly calls and the innumerable weekends of work, when I look back I can only be glad and proud of what we have achieved in these two years, and I have never regretted taking on this role. Over 70 events around the world, more than 1500 members registered on the website, a more and more tangible recognition from the ecosystem and external companies: these are just few of the wonderful results we have obtained.
But probably the most memorable takeaway for me was simply staring at people’s faces at our Annual Meeting 2018: you could really see how happy everyone looked, how grateful every participant was, and - by reading the after-event feedback - I can really feel that our members “love what the community is turning into”. This was also the main reason why I applied to be the President: I truly wanted to turn this community into “a network of young and senior professionals who - for different reasons and at different times - crossed their paths with EIT Digital”. Something cool and valuable, in which our members would take pride. And, slowly, but I think we are getting there.
Who should apply to this position, and why?
Joining the Alumni Board is probably one of the hardest, toughest, but surely most rewarding experiences you'll ever do, so I highly encourage everyone to challenge themselves and apply for a position in the Board. But whatever role you plan to apply for in the Alumni Board, be aware it is BOTH a strategic and operational position: nobody will manage your tasks other than you, and this is even more true when being the President.
Sure, the President is worth nothing without the right team, and I can’t stress enough how lucky and grateful I am to be working with such a dedicated, skilled, humble and devoted team: Tiziano, Alessandro, Bobo and Sandip.
At the same time, though, being the President of the Foundation feels like running a startup: by having a job next to it, you end up doing stuff almost 24/7, and you are fully responsible and accountable for everything related to it, from results to finance.
I am sure the person applying to be the next Alumni President needs to feel the same: someone who really wants to “run the show” and be on it at full speed for two years. Someone who owns (and wants to improve) leadership and public-relation skills, who is very result-driven and detail-oriented, used to work in teams and manage large-scale projects. But, above all, someone who deeply loves our community, and who would do every possible thing to make it survive and, hopefully, scale even more.