Interview with Alexandre Valenscak, President of the EDHEC International BBA Student Committee 2019-2020
The Student Committee or Bureau Des Elèves (BDE) plays an essential role in student association life at EDHEC. In 2019-2020, the SENSE Student Committee - led by Alexandre Valenscak, a second year student on the EDHEC International BBA – was elected. In this interview, Alexandre talks about his year as President of the BDE, in a demanding, but all above all exciting position that enhances the holder’s employability.
Can you give us a recap on the role of the EDHEC Student Committee?
The Student Committee’s role is to manage student association life both on and off EDHEC’s campuses. It involves offering events throughout the year that bring students and associations together, such as gatherings on campus, trips, road safety initiatives, evening events, etc.
What’s your role as Student Committee President?
My role was to manage the Student Committee team. This year’s team comprised 42 students on the second year of the EDHEC International BBA. I was lucky to have a Committee that helped and supported me a lot. The Student Committee has to manage a provisional budget of around €300,000 for organising up to 12 events during the year. One of our tasks is to find the funds underpinning this budget through financial partnerships with companies. I was also in charge of relations with other associations and their presidents. Along with the Committee, we co-ordinated our events with those programmed by all the other associations.
Being the president means advancing hand in hand with EDHEC’s teams, particularly with the Director of Student Engagement and Diversity, Mr Caron. EDHEC’s teams support us every day with our projects and help us to resolve certain issues.
What events have you enjoyed organising most?
The ski trip was a very interesting project to organise, and to go on as well of course! It involved organising the whole trip from A to Z for 200 people to Val Thorens.
In order to do this, I was able to count on all the Student Committee’s various sections, namely the travel section which did a fantastic job, the events section, the corporate partnerships section, the communications section, the entertainment section and the inté section.
The inté section was created by the SENSE Student Committee. Each year, the Student Committee has to create a new innovative section. And this year, we wanted to focus our strategy on integrating new students, particularly those not belonging to any association. Over 40% of EDHEC students are involved in association life, a figure that is constantly increasing. We wanted to help integrate all students. Hence the creation of this inté section – signifying ‘integration’, ‘international’, and ‘intellectual’. The inté section offered numerous events on our campuses in pursuit of this objective this year, as well as road safety actions or a superb eloquence competition, which was unfortunately cancelled due to covid-19.
I particularly enjoyed organising the Parrain-Marraine evening. It’s an important, traditional event in the life of an EDHEC student. It’s a big evening at the start of the year for first- and second-year BBA students. The event provides the opportunity for students to meet their “mentor” for the year. The “mentor” is a second-year student who assists a first-year student in discovering the School and association life. The event takes place in mid-September and we had as many as 600 participants in all.
It’s exciting because the tasks involved in managing the event range from creating the project to looking for financing, while also handling the communication aspects, hiring contractors for security, drinks, catering, etc., ordering wristbands for entry to the event, checking up on the sound and, lastly, ensuring that everything goes well on D-day and solving any last-minute problems. In short, it involves making sure that everything goes swimmingly. It’s very demanding!
How do you go about obtaining funding from companies?
We make contact with companies for the first time in June/July to prepare the year ahead, following the election. The treasurer draws up a provisional budget, for which we then have to find the funding through financial and logistical partners that will support us during our term of office.
We were assisted by Mister Student, a company set up two years ago that works with Student Committees. They helped us make contact with partners. We concluded a partnership with Chevignon and with a specialist events firm, I See You, which helped us to devise most of our events and put us into contact with contractors. Pumpkin was our payment solution and we also forged partnerships with McDonald’s, the Lille Chamber of Commerce and Industry, WonderBox and Heetch among others.
The experience of searching for partnerships really complements our classes. It’s particularly useful when we’re looking for an internship and during the internship. It’s pretty interesting!
You handled the organisation of campaigns for Student Committee candidates for 2020-2021 in the middle of the health crisis. How did that go?
The year obviously ended on a bitter note. All association events had to be cancelled and our second trip was also shelved. And unfortunately, the evening handover event between the old and the new Student Committee did not take place. So I worked hand in hand with the Student Committee candidates and Mr Monsieur Caron, in order to find solutions for running the campaigns.
How to organise Student Committee campaigns at distance? The candidates’ presentation and campaign activities are usually organised on our campuses, so it was a new challenge, but one we adapted to. The two candidate lists were very creative and it was great to work with them. We all came up with ideas!
All the Student Committee campaigns were organised online. In view of the confinement situation, we needed to innovate to get the class year involved, as students were expecting a lot from these campaigns. Despite the difficult conditions, the campaigns went off well.
These events taught us to work differently, to offer students activities and gatherings that are always entertaining despite the context, and it worked well! Recently, the actions of the Office have been dedicated to inventing the student life of tomorrow, so that EDHEC students can always be offered intense and rich experiences, also in 2020-2021. This continuity is at the heart of the strategy of the next BDE.
What was the thing that most marked you during your presidency?
The election of our Student Committee was obviously a big event for all the team. We did an enormous amount of work on it. A campaign officially lasts a month, but in reality it’s two or three months of work on the ground to handle preparations, recruitment, etc. You’re thinking about it all the time! The results took place live in EDHEC’s main amphitheatre which seats 700. It was impressive.
I am above all very proud of the SENSE Student Committee, which did a great job, particularly in the conditions we had to deal with this year. The students were delighted and that was our greatest source of satisfaction. The Student Committee works for students and student association life.
What have you got out of your experience as President of the SENSE Student Committee?
I like to have responsibilities, take things in hand and develop projects. And this was really the case, as the Student Committee has a sizeable budget and we cater to all EDHEC International BBA class years. From a human standpoint, it was clearly a first step towards working life! As President, you manage a team of 40 people and you need to be in contact with them on a daily basis and work with them.
You also need to know how to listen to everyone’s feedback, suggest ideas, conduct weekly updates, and it really demands a lot of organisation. The human aspect is probably the biggest challenge! My goal was really to be present on a day-to-day basis and make sure everyone felt good and implicated in the project.
I was lucky to be able to count on a team of 42 people this year, who were really implicated in the Student Committee and were also able to count on each other. It was a really interesting experience.
The EFFECT Student Committee has been elected for 2020. How can students join it?
Following the reform that took place this February, and in contrast to how it worked this year, students will be able to join the Student Committee from the first year of the EDHEC International BBA starting in the new academic year. The SENSE Student Committee was the last one to originate from a list.
The Student Committee is set to become an association with recruitment possible from the first year, rather than from a list of candidates compiled during the first year that become the Student Committee in the second year.
The reform looks very promising!