AMS Advisory Board struggles to fill seats and begin meeting

Since its creation, vacancies and other challenges have kept the AMS Advisory Board from fulfilling its primary function: advising.

As the AMS owns and operates several of its own businesses, the Advisory Board was created to advise the Council on long-term planning in the business side of the organization.

“We’re bringing in [an] outside perspective that [has] been connected to UBC and the AMS in some way in the past, with members that are dedicated and passionate about helping students,” said AMS President Chris Hakim.

There are two student seats and three professional seats on the Board. Although the goal of the Board is to provide the AMS with professional advice, Hakim said that the presence of the two student seats is still critical.

“We still want to keep that student theme of ensuring that students are taking part in all facets of the AMS, whether it be on AMS council or committees, but also the Advisory Board.”

Recent overhaul

Over the first few months of the winter 2018 term, the Advisory Board underwent an overhaul as the AMS implemented code changes in a reorganization of the Board that was designed to improve its productivity.

Some of these changes entailed clarifying remuneration for the Board members in code, implementing the two students, three professional members structure and removing language that described the Advisory Board as an “oversight” body in order to clarify its advisory role.

“A lot of the changes that we made to the structure of the Advisory Board revolved around a clarification of what the goals and objectives are of the Board,” said VP Administration Cole Evans, who was the chair of the HR Committee at the time and worked closely with then-AMS President Marium Hamid to implement these changes.

Since then, however, the Board has not met, despite initial hope that it would be up and running by the end of January 2019.

At the March 28, 2019 meeting of the HR Committee, Evans said that the Board would have its first meeting on April 2. That meeting never occurred because of the sudden resignation of one member. Another member has since followed suit.

According to Evans, the difficulty is in finding individuals with relevant backgrounds who are “enthusiastic to work with the AMS.” Sitting on the Board is a large commitment for people in management or professorial positions and the relevancy of people’s backgrounds is particularly important.

“[It has to be] something that we can apply to how the AMS functions, instead of just going out and grabbing somebody who has their MBA [and] just sitting them on the board,” said Evans.

The search continues

The HR Committee and the president’s office are currently working to fill the seats and get the Board running as soon as possible.

The president’s office is searching for candidates who would be interested in joining the Board. Once they’ve put a list together, Hakim will report back to the HR Committee and the committee will decide which candidates to put forward to Council, which will then make the decision whether or not to confirm the appointments.

The search so far has focused on finding candidates with backgrounds in human resources, organizational behaviour and finance.

“We generally try to look for professional members or a degree of expertise on the Advisory Board that we feel like hasn’t been built on the Board just yet,” said Hakim.

He also emphasized the insight that the Advisory Board can bring over the long-term to an organization whose leadership changes frequently.

“I want to make sure that … while AMS executives turn over on an annual basis, we still have members of our community that are passionate about students and bring a critical perspective in the AMS, that they're there to continue providing us advice on how we can best support students,” he said.