“No two Executive Committees are the same, and the plans you make and the situations you go through are unique.”
– Kaumadi Jayaweera, circa 2020.
First, I must tell you that in this article I will not dive into an immaculate account of my trials and tribulations of 12 months as a Vice President of Public Relations, or dish out the intricate details behind the mechanism with which the 19/20 ExCo of Gavel UoC managed to hold the Club in one piece for a whole year.
Somewhere around August last year (I think) I was presented with the passwords to all the social media accounts and the email account of Gavel UoC, and I was advised to use them wisely and responsibly. I knew what kind of content had been posted on each social media account by the previous VPPRs, and even before the installation, I had drafted a PR plan which I was eagerly waiting to follow in the following 12 months. Without getting into whether that plan was followed or not, let me reminisce instead of some of the things I came to learn over the past year as a member of the 19/20 ExCo of Gavel UoC.
In order to make it easy on my poor brain that has been much clogged by quarantine-mush, I’ll proceed in point form.
According to popular understanding, a Gavel Club’s Executive Committee is created when a group of individuals have been appointed and installed to the respective roles and told what to do for the next 12 months to keep the Club ‘running’. However, in my experience, I would like to refer to an ExCo more as a ‘concept’ than a group of individuals, the existence of which is based not on the presence of a group of people who fill the roles, but on the collective effort of the said individuals to ‘create’ an ExCo. In other words, I believe that you won’t be an ‘ExCo’ without actively participating in ‘creating’ an ExCo every single day of your term. The moment you stop trying to improve or to move on to do something bigger, the moment you decide to sit back and relax thinking that your ‘job’ is done and that everything is ‘under control’, you might lose the sense of being an ExCo. You might as well be just a group of people, maybe a group of friends, until you collectively create an ExCo.
At the beginning of your term you will come across an interesting guidebook called the “Club Leadership Manual”, and in the case of PR there’s a manual called the “Publicity and Promotion Handbook”. In addition to this, your predecessor will hand you down the necessary tips, documents, details, and contacts necessary to do your job, and you will receive a few rules and guidelines you must abide by. But, in my humble opinion, being a good and efficient ExCo member is something you must figure out for yourself. No two Executive Committees are the same, and the plans you make and the situations you go through are unique. In the best-case scenario, it will take only a few weeks for you to get a grip on it and fit in. Or you might feel that you know what you’re doing, but suddenly lose the sense of it all. Or it might take you all 12 months of your term to figure it out. In the worst-case scenario, you will never make proper sense of it. Nobody can tell you what it is like to be an ExCo member, or teach you how to be one or do your job. You must figure it out yourself.
Every year, with every new ExCo that has come to serve our Club, Gaveliers with unique and unmatched talent and potential have brought in phenomenal changes and improvements to the Club. However, as I have witnessed for 12 months, the unique talents and potential of people can be put to use for the benefit of the club, only if they are facilitated through space and opportunities. Every year the nine members of the ExCo are selected from of a large group of Gaveliers who are willing to sacrifice their time, energy, experience and skills for the Club, and it is a duty of the ExCo to be creative and make space for all its members to give what they can to the Club. This not only makes all ExCo members feel useful and satisfied, but it also makes their overall duty much easier.
You must go easy on yourself. While it is understood that being an ExCo member of the Gavel Club is a duty that must be taken very seriously, I think that it is also important for members to check in on themselves and avoid burnout. As much as you feel the need to outdo yourself with every new project that comes your way, extreme stress and burnout will only make you and others in the ExCo go through a tough time, and I don’t think even the Club members would enjoy working with an ExCo that is constantly on the edge and frustrated. I believe taking some time off to relax and sort out your workload not only makes you efficient, but it also helps you with keeping your sanity intact.
To wrap this up, here’s a metaphor that will help me in explaining what it’s like to be an ExCo of a Gavel Club. Imagine the Club with all its members as a huge extended family, with several generations that consist of grandfathers and grandmothers, aunties and uncles, nieces and nephews and more toddlers than you can care to count. You’re somewhere in the second generation- the group that keeps an eye on the oldies while being held accountable by them for the wellbeing of the whole family, while taking care of the newbies and making sure they fit well into the value system of the family. You are the group that has to solve all the issues that arise within the family, and you’re expected to be the abled and responsible representatives of it. There will be moments when you’re exhausted, excited or exasperated. Moments when you know you’re doing a great job of taking care of everyone and everything, and moments when you wonder whether you’re doing a good job. You have a lot to live up to, which include the expectations of yourself and others, and above all you are supposed to shed blood, sweat and tears for the wellbeing of the family and all its members. You’ve got to satisfy a lot of people, take care of more people than you think is possible, keep the system together, and make sure you don’t screw up too much.