Teamwork: how does an exec foster it?

Emerson Csorba - Thu Nov 24, 2011

One of the big things that I have learned in the first six months of being SU Vice-President (Academic) is that the executives must be workhorses. That is expected, and when you love your job, it’s not a problem. But the one thing that has struck me is how individual the VPA portfolio can be. There is only so much “powering through” that one person can do, until this individual burns out. You need a team, and this is something that I learned through the Undergraduate Research Symposium.

Growing up, I played baseball and soccer, so I’m familiar with team environments. But up until September, there was very little teamwork within the VPA portfolio. Although the URS Team (the organizers of the symposium) was created in the early summer, we did not really start meeting consistently until September. A few members of that team did not seem happy with the lack of prep for the symposium. So getting a little nervous, I picked up the pace significantly over the next two months. I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again: without the URS Team members, there is no symposium. Period. They kicked me into gear, and they succeeded in every respect when crucial tasks were delegated to them.

I really have to question whether it is healthy to be an executive that works 75 hours per week and gets most work done without the help of others. In my opinion, that’s unhealthy. It seems to be a common view of SU executives, but I assume that it turns a lot of talented students away from ever running for an executive position.

You need a team around you.

With the symposium, we had the URS Team. Then the SU Marketing Department got going in early September. Then 30 professors jumped in around early October. Then the Office of Advancement and Alumni Affairs entered the equation in mid-October. Over time, we had 100+ people working on the event, and everyone was needed!

The AcaDream Team is getting off the ground in the Winter semester. They will become the new team I rely on. With student attributes, we’re involving every faculty association through consultation. For Students’ Council, I plan on leading a Council Communication Teams project, where Students’ Council divides into four teams that attempt to speak to hundreds of students around campus every month. Although I feel that talking to 100+ students each week myself is attainable, that pales in comparison to what a team of 30 students could do. If each councillor spoke to 100 students every month, that would equate to 3000 students reached every month by all of Council. Multiply that by 5 months, and we've reached 15 000 students. Of course, some of those students might be consulted multiple times, and the discussions might only last two minutes. However, even if just a few thousand are reached, concerns and questions can be heard.

In summation, I can say that the VPA portfolio could use more teamwork. This teamwork seems to have been relatively absent in the past, but I think that the culture is gradually changing. Stronger teams mean increased productivity, more friendships, more fun and a much healthier environment overall.

If you are interested in serving on the AcaDream Team, or would like to know what it is, please contact me at!