Rena Ding

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Position you are running for: President

What do you believe are the main concerns for students in SAF right now? How would you like to approach fixing them?

With an increasingly competitive business environment, I believe all students have two underlying concerns; academic success and future job prospects. However, everyone prioritizes different aspects of development under those umbrellas, and it is difficult to have those aspects flourish under the lack of expansion in our current service channels. Given our resources, AFSA can facilitate the decision making process for students by delivering relevant events and services benefitting all years in finding their unique professional path—all while supporting the social, physical, and mental aspects of health. I also believe there is room for improvement in our relationship with the SAF faculty, where we can address student concerns and develop the necessary connections to link those students to resources that can help them achieve their goals. Through tackling these issues, I am optimistic that the future will support our individual passions and by doing so, we can simultaneously strengthen our pride in our school and as a community.

Why are you running for this position? (experience, background & motivation)

Over the past two years, I have connected with students and alumni from SAF who inspire me to strive for excellence on all fronts—as an inquisitive learner, an aspiring professional, and an empathetic friend. Likewise, I hope to support our diverse community with the same compassion. My commitment to the association has helped me develop an understanding of the growth potential AFSA has. I have produced tangible results as Vice President of Administration & Knowledge Management in the past, leveraging the student feedback received through surveys as a guiding point. For example, in response to the students’ need for additional seating arrangements in the SAF lounge, my team successfully coordinated the installation of new study tables and chairs along the windows, in addition to other acquisitions throughout the year (e.g. a new fridge, additional whiteboard space, power bars). Although my role as Vice President over the last year has been targeted around implementing physical assets for student use and assisting with daily tasks of the organization, I hope to expand my skillset to contribute to the bigger picture, ensuring students gain the maximum value from AFSA.

Place your platform for your position here:

The SAF community is comprised of well-rounded individuals who each have unique aspirations and passions—some following the CPA or CFA path, and others extending beyond traditional accounting and finance roles, integrating characteristics from both professions with their distinct interests. It is my belief that neither of these groups should find themselves disadvantaged or unprepared to venture into these fields due to a lack of aid offered at the school. As such, my platform plans to propel AFSA on a pathway with one major underlying theme; support.

First, it’s important to note that AFSA has made a larger push in recent years towards helping students explore more diverse career paths using our speaker series and networking events. With refinements to the existing Internal Services initiatives, we can channel greater focus into providing more insight within the entrepreneurship, consulting, data analytics fields, and more. This can be done with advanced workshops, technical interviews tailored for different jobs, and enhanced outreach for alumni relations. Exposure to a diverse portfolio of business-related fields can ultimately help students break into these industries through the co-op process or post-graduation.

Second, I look to maintain an active relationship with the school. By working in close proximity with SAF, we can strengthen the relationship between students and faculty through regular communication about overarching issues such as the opportunities available to us, as well as mental health. The role of AFSA President acts as the bridge to discuss key issues with our current SAF director, allowing us to make actionable decisions in the best interests of students beyond the classroom. Further correspondence will also benefit our ability to improve our Education, Internal Services, and External offerings. By sustaining a direct channel to the professors who lead the more challenging courses, we expand our ability to help students academically.

Third, I want to focus on increasing the effectiveness of our value-adding projects as an association. My past involvement as Vice President of Administration & Knowledge Management enabled me to actively review two years’ worth of feedback, critiques, and comments on AFSA’s ability to service its students. I have closely observed and assessed the effect a successful event can have on our students, and noted areas where we have fallen short. Through further review of our post-event/initiative results, we tap into a source of internal and external data that allow us to learn from our previous inefficiencies. Implementation of improved feedback strategies (such as pre-term questionnaires and updated surveys) will build the foundation for success moving forward. As such, dwindling upper-year engagement has always been a point of concern for AFSA, and we should continue making a push for inclusivity.

Already, I see the merging of our committees as a positive attempt to improve turnaround time in creating value for the student body. Seeking additional sponsorship is a huge avenue for us to delve into over the next year, and the union of our Corporate Relations and External committees broadens the breadth of our potential in endowing more student-run initiatives. Such ventures include smoother funding for our case competition subsidy program (AFSA Goes for Gold), and backing the large collection of business clubs in SAF who contribute to bettering the experiences our students have access to.

Furthermore, the previous divide between our outreach committees sometimes meant individuals were unaware that certain AFSA events were being held until after its conclusion. With the merge of Marketing and Communication, I hope to improve some of our more traditional functions such as scheduling promotions sooner and quicker, while taking into account the school’s scheduling for exams and events. Moreover, completing the transition to the new AFSA website will help us brand the platform as a hub for student activity and news, aiming to become the go-to spot for information. I wish to bring regular updates to the site with meeting minutes and announcements that will help us target a larger scope of people, while increasing our transparency in spending structure.

Keeping this in mind, I also understand that it takes time for progress to occur, and one year in the role of President may make it difficult to implement sustainable changes that define who we are as a community. However, I ask the SAF student body to put their faith in my vision, and my ability to commit, adapt, and act. Should I have the opportunity to continue the long-time legacy of those devoted to the association in the past (myself included), I entertain the possibilities of fulfilling our potential as a guiding resource to the student body—one that drives AFSA to become one of the strongest student governments in Canada.