By Choo Ruizhi
Our next interview is with Lim Ni Min, a Year 2 Business major who is running for the position of Honorary Financial Secretary in this year’s 14th MC Elections.
The position of Honorary Financial Secretary (Hon Fin Sec) is not a position that has traditionally attracted much attention, or controversy. To many, it is largely an administrative role, an unexciting but stable appointment that would guarantee you almost automatic entry into the USP Management Committee (MC).
But Ni Min would beg to differ. “The role of the Financial Secretary is not just an administrative one. Most people have that misconception because the nature of the job is more behind-the-scenes. It isn’t as visible as something like event planning.”
The position is by no means easy, with the three broad fields of financial administration, marketing and sponsorships to manage. Each area furthermore demands different sets of skills from the Hon Fin Sec. From making the accounts balance, to continually sourcing for new USC merchandise, to getting sponsorships from external companies, the role is as challenging as it is unsung and unseen.
So why run for such a challenging appointment?
“I was actually ready to take a step back, having been quite involved in the USC social-cultural committee in my previous semesters,” admitted Ni Min. “I had already been involved in planning and organizing events like Chinese New Year, Halloween, and Buaya Buayee. Working as a member of the Freshmen Orientation Programme (FOP) Committee and helping to organize Scholaris also gave me many opportunities to involve myself in the USP community.”
It was only through the encouragement of friends she had worked with in the past that led her to reevaluate her decision, along with other considerations: “I wasn’t supposed to run for this position, but my friends asked me to think about it again. And I guess as an accountancy major, the role of the Financial Secretary is also compatible with what I will do in the future as well. Working in these different committees also helped me to grow and develop as a person.”
Running on the theme of “Integration”, Ni Min believes that much remains to be done, in terms of integrating the roles of different groups within the USP community, as well as in terms of the physical spaces within and around Cinnamon College.
It may seem puzzling that the Financial Secretary of the MC speaks of areas as diverse as the management of spaces to the engagement of USP alumni, but Ni Min is quick to point out that the Financial Secretary needs to have an opinion on everything.
“Everything goes into the budget, so if the MC is in danger of exceeding their budgets, there needs to be someone who steps in to let them know as well. Effectively, the Financial Secretary needs to manage the finances carefully and prudently. This also extends to the issue of the spaces within USP as well,” she said.
Beyond Integration, Ni Min also seeks to focus on improving efficiency in the various financial processes within the USC: “I don’t like to waste time, so I am seeking to streamline and make things easier and more understandable for everyone.”
She cites the proposed changes to the MC structure as an example. “In the past, with established committees dedicated to specific events, everyone knew the forms and deadlines that were required after some time. With the advent of more ground-up initiatives, the challenge will be to quickly familiarize new committees to what is required of them, in areas such as financial administration issues. I think it would help everyone to make these things as idiot-proof and simple as possible.”
Indeed, the idea of more ground-up initiatives remains an ambiguous issue. It is no different for someone running for the position of Financial Secretary. Asked about how money will be allocated to these Ground-Up Initiatives, Ni Min acknowledges that much remains to be clarified and refined.
“At this stage, many things remain on the level of ideas. I have discussed these things with other members of the MC on a conceptual level, but honestly we don’t know what the actual plans are yet with regard to these Initiatives. Ultimately though, I think my job involves making it a less painful administrative process for people applying to the MC for funding, for their initiatives,” she said.
Returning to more tangible and achievable objectives, Ni Min stresses the importance of continuity in her initiatives. “I don’t believe in creating change just for the sake of change.” In this respect, she seeks to continue many of the schemes that had been set into motion by the 13th MC, such as participatory budgeting. “New initiatives need time to pan out, so I see my job as giving them the space and time to do so.”
That said, she is positive about drawing USP alumni into closer alignment with the current USP community via the formalization of the Alumni Society. Citing the difficulty of maintaining long-term relationships with corporate sponsors, Ni Min believes that appealing to the USP alumni and collaborating more closely with them may be a possible avenue to widen this pool.
“I don’t have all the skills, but what I do have is a clear objective: efficiency.” Meet Lim Ni Min, this year’s Honorary Financial Secretary hopeful. It’s not an easy job. It doesn’t even receive the kind of prestige and/or controversy FOP Directors (or those running for the post) do. But here is someone who has stepped up to the challenge. Do give Ni Min a thought – or maybe even a vote.