Was it all worth it?

That is the question I get asked all the time. Was it worth doing a board year during the Covid-19 pandemic? And everytime I will answer the same: YES, of course it was! When I applied for treasurer during the spring of 2020, the prospect of corona was a lot different than it turned out to be. As I am writing this article, we are in one of the strongest lockdowns yet; we can only invite one guest each day, there is a curfew during the evening and my beloved gyms are still closed. However, I don’t want to reflect on the things that couldn’t but on the things that could. As this has been an amazing year for me. Written by: Stephan Sparreboom, Treasurer 2020-2021

Looking back at my agenda during the summer, I get really nostalgic as everything was new for me. We were busy getting to know each other, especially finding out how each one of us fit into this newly formed team of candidate board members. Even though I already used my Google agenda a lot, it was immediately clear that it would be nothing compared to a board year. I needed to plan almost every hour of my day with meetings and tasks I had to fulfill. One of the things that I needed to get used to the most was having to wake up at the same time each day. I am more of an evening person and being in time for work at 10.00 hours each morning didn’t always go easy. A lot of mornings I snoozed a couple of times too much and had to hurry up to be on time. Luckily, as of writing this piece, I have never been too late!

During the summer, the first thing a treasurer needs to learn is his bookkeeping system. Even though I have done an accounting course in my first year as a student, I practically had to start from scratch. In a relatively short amount of time I got to know all the ins and outs of our association’s finances. They say one of the reasons students do a board year is that they are done with learning hard skills during their studies and want to broaden themselves by extending their soft skills. However, I am not one of them. Applying the analytical skills I learned during my studies in a completely different working field has been one of the most valuable experiences during my time as a board member. 

At the end of summer, our real board year started. During the Cobo, the old board was discharged and from then on we were all on our own. This period was a lot of fun, since there were almost no corona infections. One of the highlights of this period was the Active Members Weekend. Due to the lockdown we hadn’t seen at least half of our members in a very long time. Now we got to meet them and have a very fun weekend in Tilburg, which reminded me a lot of life before all the restrictions. This was also the period in which I learned the most. Working more than 40 hours a week with the same people, this comes as no surprise. 

As a treasurer you don’t have a deadline for most of your tasks, however other people are depending on you for a lot of things. For example, paying out a declaration can wait, but then someone has to wait to get their money back for a long time. Being proactive with doing my tasks has been one of the most important things I have learned last year. I have always been someone who procrastinates until the last moment, but now that people are depending on me this couldn’t go on. Sometimes I did not do tasks in time, but one of the most beautiful things about having a board working very close with you, is them being able to say this to you and getting the opportunity to learn from this. Looking back, I have grown a lot as a person, both social and professionally. As a starting member of this association I thought the board always knew what they were doing and I really looked up to them. Now that I am in the position myself, it became clear that board members are also just people making it up as they go. It is however this process of constantly being busy and making things up as they come that makes you learn the most.

In my opinion the most beautiful thing about our association is that we connect econometricians with each other. I think I speak for a lot of people if I say that because of Astrics a lot of close friendships have been formed. Next to this you also get to learn many people at events & drinks because of the association. The pandemic made this a lot harder than before. However I am really proud of our board and all the active members for how we handled the situation. During these weird and uncertain times, numerous fun hybrid and online events were held. Writing this, the Actuary Day Tilburg comes to mind immediately. This event was originally planned for October, however only one week before it would take place the government came with new restrictions. What would be an unforgettable event at the Willem 2 Stadium, having cases from the most noteworthy actuarial firms and even dinner as a closing, was cancelled last minute. This was for me the biggest upset due to Corona during my board year. However the committee showed a lot of resilience. It became clear really fast that everyone still wanted to organise the event, even though it would be online. After having put in a lot of time and work for a year, while nothing could continue, there was still a lot of energy to organise the event such that it would be as big and impressive as before. Now that the Actuary Day Tilburg took place online only a couple weeks ago I can say that we succeeded and even surpassed our own expectations. The event was a big success, having most of the QFAS master-students attending and giving a lot of other students the opportunity to also get a view of the actuarial working field. The reactions we got from both companies and students about the event were purely positive. I think that for me receiving credit for all the hard work the committee and I did for this event is one of the best feelings I ever got.

Not only the members of our association made my year unforgettable, but also my fellow board members. Knowing them only vaguely beforehand, I can say for certain that we have become really good friends this year. Even though we didn’t always agree, the amount of respect we have for each other is what made me happy to go to work every day. There isn’t a day that goes by where we don’t joke around with each other, talk about our lives or generally I don’t want to be with my fellow boardies. Covid-19 times can be very lonely, but for me personally it hasn’t been lonely for a minute. No matter if we were together or sitting at home in a zoom meeting. We would always make sure to reach out to each other. Knowing these people will always have my back is something that I hold really valuable.

All in all I look back at an unforgettable year. Having developed myself in multiple ways and looking back at a very productive year in which we really made a difference. Hopefully Corona will be gone soon and I can enjoy all the fun events and people at this amazing association again. So i’d like to say it again: It was all worth it!!