Lauren Hinton was president of the Queen Margaret Union from July 2014 to June 2015. Now that her term has come to an end, we caught up with her for a few final questions.
So you’ve just come to the end of your term as president. How have you found the experience?
I have had an absolute blast. I have been so lucky to work with some absolutely amazing people and see how their involvement in the QMU has increased their confidence. I have learnt so much both in terms of handy transferable skills, and myself as a person. Plucking up the courage to run in the election has been the best decision I have ever made.
Was it what you expected it to be?
Not in every sense. I was not expecting to be quite so involved in decisions on the commercial side of the Union. It is great to see that truly every aspect of the QMU operation is with student involvement and it was a great chance to learn about how a business operates. I think every President has a completely different experience and indeed way of dealing with what comes about. It is hard to predict in July what will come your way.
What were some of the highlights?
The 125th Anniversary was brilliant. Getting a chance to see how the QMU has changed but remained the same in so many ways was fascinating. Being part of a team planning Freshers’ Week and indeed putting together a plan for a brand new club night was amazing fun. It is terrifying at times as you feel a huge amount of responsibility and really want to pull it off but we had a great team. Also, the changes to Scran were really fun to implement and to see it successful is brilliant.
And the low points? There must have been some!
I think the low points seem to come about in relation to finances. It is hard to have to limit the amazing ideas conjured up by our enthusiastic volunteers. There are so many things we can be doing for the student experience but often if there is financial risk we shy away. Having to focus so much time on improving profits in commercial areas is frustrating but the more these can succeed the more money and effort we can put in to the non-profit making campaigns and experiences.
How has the QMU changed over the past few years?
I think the QMU is gradually changing with the way the student population changes but it is important going forward that we constantly review and adapt. I think over the last few years we have unfortunately had to put our focus on trying to fix our commercial areas whereas in the past it seemed less competitive and we could put on a larger array of events.
What are your hopes for the future of the QMU?
I hope firstly that the QMU can find itself in a position where the student officers have more of a chance to see their ideas become a reality and there is less of a fear of trying things out – we need our commercial areas to be stronger in order to achieve this position. I hope it continues to be involved in campus campaigns and remains a place where people always feel comfortable to get involved.
What advice would you give to your successor, and to anyone wanting to get involved in student leadership roles?
To anyone interested getting involved in student roles – just do it. No one expects you to know everything straight away but it is amazing how much you can make a difference and gain amazing experience. Max is going to be fab and has a great board of management behind him. There are going to be some tough calls to make this year and my advice would be to keep an open mind and a positive attitude. I have no doubt he will.
What’s next for you, and can we still expect to see you at Magic the odd Friday night?
I am applying for jobs in communications and/or events in the higher education sector at the moment. We shall see how that goes. And obviously, I will definitely be at Magic on occasion with a glass of wine in hand. I am going to miss everyone! And I genuinely do not think I could survive without the odd visit to Scran!
Good luck Lauren!
[Cat Acheson – @cat_acheson]