Where did the two years go?

Around two years ago I noticed that the Secretary General recruitment had gone public on the aTalent webpage and I promptly asked about it from a person in the office. I hadn’t really thought about applying to the position and I was mostly just curious what was the situation. The person told me that the recruitment team was looking for more applicants – and continued by saying that I should seriously think about applying.

Within a few days, making an application felt like the right thing to do, especially after a series of discussions with my friends and relatives and furthermore introspection. Now I’m looking at the screen making this very blogpost about the life of a Secretary General, or should I say the Executive Director as it is from August onwards.

Don’t get me wrong – I did hesitate and second guess myself when applying. Just some of the things to mention would be that I had never worked in the office, neither as a board member or in the secretariat – how on earth could I qualify when I didn’t know the roles even on the basic level? Secretary General is also the secretary of the Representative Council – hadn’t been a member there either. Lastly, I had not even graduated.

I had done a lot of stuff at KY in many positions as a volunteer. Luckily after a bit of pushing from my friends I finally did the application, and after almost two years working here I can say that my background as a volunteer has been an asset. Lots of the general viewpoints have been met with a pair of fresh eyes. The office and the position itself do the rest – you truly get immersed in this and learn the organization as knowing how things are done is the true core of the job.

The position of Secretary General definitely isn’t the easiest one, regardless of your background. The office and the volunteering scene is filled with motivated, young people and they unquestionably have passion and strong opinions about KY. Frankly put, the opinions differ and clashes happen. This is where the Secretary General comes in – the Secretary General is the last step together with the chairman taking the hit while trying to be the intermediators and letting things cool down. Sometimes you fail in this. Sometimes the critique and comments feel undeserved. But each and every time it has been tough but rewarding when these things eventually sort out.

The people you work with are also the greatest motivation and strength of this position. Every single one of the people you work with are motivated. The fact that they work or volunteer for KY is already a testament for their will. They are young, filled with ideas and visions that I couldn’t even dream of and when trust is given to them and the base to succeed is stable, they more often than not surprise you positively. And herein comes the Secretary General to play – my job is to make sure that everyone has the best possible circumstances to channel their passion onwards within KY, be it in the office or as a whole.

On a number of occasions when I’ve mentioned that I work at KY as a Secretary General some have asked what do I actually do. They are even more surprised when they hear that I also get paid. Most of the day-to-day things consist of running businesses of the office, communicating, invoicing and financial operations, personnel affairs, different meetings and of course during the year some bigger events that need more preparation and work, such as the budgeting process, trainings and financial statements to mention a few. Ergo, what Secretary General is, is a generalist.

Personnel skills come in to play – that’s a must. I had some, and learned a lot more. Here’s where negotiation skills and tactfulness are valuable, including of course cooperation, nerves and calmness in situations such as stated above. You will also need organizational know how, as your opinion will be asked frequently on a multitude of subjects. The most important thing still is that you truly need to care about KY and the people within.

So what does one get in return from all this? To summarize: a lot. For starters, you get valuable supervisory experience at a young age which will help you regardless of what you do later on in your life. It’s been a privilege to lead a group of over 15 people over two secretariats and learn from everyone in them and about myself as well. Hopefully they have learned a bit from me as well. In addition, as aforementioned, you get the general grasp of a multitude of things. In the current working life, having general know-how and the ability to digest multiple subjects promptly is an invaluable skill to learn.

I finished my application two years ago with the words “after seven years at KY, it’s an honour to be a KY-active and to cherish the heritage of KY.” After adding two years to the seven as a Secretary General, I couldn’t say it better. I’d recommend you to disregard your hesitation and to apply.

The application period for Executive Director (former Secretary General) is on until 5.5. Check more information and apply here!