Updated: Jan 22, 2020
It’s that time of year again at Mohawk College – nomination period for the MSA Board of Directors (elected positions). Students who are interested in being part of the MSA Board of Directors can run for one of the five following positions:
Director, Stoney Creek
Vice President, External Advocacy
Vice President, Finance
Vice President, Internal Advocacy
Nominations for these positions are open until Jan. 31. If you’re interested in running for one of these positions, you may want to know a little bit about what each one entails on a day-to-day basis. With that said, the MSA is kicking off a new blog post series ‘A-Day-in-The-Life’. Each blog post in this series will provide readers with an inside look a what each of these current positions looks like on a day-to-day basis for the current Board Member.
Let’s start with the Vice President, Finance – Gregory McNeish.
Most people would typically run when they hear or see numbers, but not McNeish. He can help students mitigate their fear of numbers, while also working to be able to tell the MSA’s financial story.
Gregory McNeish is the current Vice President, Finance at the MSA.
How would you describe your role at the MSA?
“The role of the VP Finance at the MSA is to interpret the work that’s done by our finance team and be able to take the numbers, everything that’s been prepared as far as financial statements and where the MSA stands as a corporation and be able to explain that to everyone else. Tell the story, the story that’s in the numbers.”
How do you personally work to achieve the requirements of your job on a day-to-day basis?
“I make sure I stay in contact with the Finance team, with the management team – particularly the Executive Director, and keeping up with emails daily – things along those lines. As well, I think it’s really important to keep an eye and an ear out at all times for opportunities to improve the operations we have.”
Other positions on the MSA Board of Directors seem to be more catered to directly interacting with students, how do you ensure you’re actively communicating with students and letting them know you’re available when they need help?
“That was something coming into the role that I put a lot of thought into – how do I not become disjointed from what everyone else is doing? Especially coming into the role having been a Fennell Director initially, where it was very clear how I was going to be involved with students and then moving into the finance role where it’s not clear. That’s something Sheldon and I talked about when I was taking on the role.”
“Mental health is a big thing in the school in general and the college is undergoing a big review of services. We as the MSA have now incorporated the Empower Me program to, on our end, improve the mental health services available to students. It’s a hugely important thing, and one of the biggest stressors that can lead to students being in crisis is financial concerns – college is expensive, life is expensive! One thing I’ve taken on as a big project through the year with the blessing and direction of the President of course is to work with the college on financial literacy, so education opportunities for students and looking at the affordability of college in general, and using that kind of financial lens and applying it to situations that directly apply with students.”
“So, I meet with a lot of students about financial concerns and make myself available in that way.”
Can students book appointments specifically to talk to you?
“They’re certainly able to. I’m definitely not an expert so if students have specific financial questions whether it’s something about their personal finances or to do with school, the Financial Aid Office is the place to go, and there’s the MoMoney service that does all the education stuff. So, those services are available and they’re wonderful.”
“One of the strengths I think the MSA has is that we can be the touch-point where students can figure out how to connect with the 300 different departments and services that exist within the college.”
What does a typical MSA VP Finance shift look like for you?
“I don’t think I have a typical shift.”
“A typical day will often consist of checking emails and I’ll usually have a game plan as the month goes by of recurring sorts of tasks – that could be various reports, budget meetings, every month the finance team puts together a big snapshot of where we are as a corporation so reviewing all of that and building that story. That takes up a lot of the office hours and everything else is all the things that get in the way of that really simple game plan. Which is why I think it’s important to have a really simple game plan because you’re always going to have bumps in the road.”
“But staying up with emails is important, communication is a hallmark of teamwork, and teamwork makes the dream work. I think a lot of it is I make the effort to engage with staff members and try to get a sense of what it is that everyone is working on.”
McNeish also stressed the importance of making human connections with people while on the job: “Make human communications with people – it’s so easy to think of people as their roles rather than thinking of people as people. I think we’re guilty of that in general in society, and it’s a damaging thing, so making human connections is very important in building that sense of family.”
How do you manage your job while also managing your student life?
“I don’t find it problematic at all, I guess a big thing, particularly with the Finance role, is that usually you’re not dealing with situations where things have to be done right now. So, you’ve got some flexibility especially if you stay on top of things. Then you’re not really working with really tight deadlines so that when school does have tight deadlines you’re able to shift it off a little bit.”
“As a team, we’re very good at communicating, I always make sure that I communicate to the President when I’ve got a busier workload with school and I won’t be in the office as much. The team, in general, is just really great at working with that flexibility as it is always stressed that we’re students first and the MSA is second. But I haven’t had any kind of issue – I actually saw my GPA go up after joining the MSA.”
Click here for more information, including the job description and requirements, if you’re interested in running for the Vice President, Finance position.
Written by: Paige Petrovsky
Some comments have been edited for clarity.