What qualities does a chairperson have?

Hi! I’m Micha, currently I am the chairman of Kraket, which is amazingly fun and an enormous honor. 

As chairperson, you get the privilege to speak to so many of our members and boards of other study associations. Speaking to them I noticed that many of them did not have any clue what a chairperson does. To be fair to them, I too find it difficult to describe what I’ve done in the last few months. Many weeks are so different, with so many different challenges, that I don’t even believe that describing a single week would help you get any idea about what the life of a chairperson is like. 

“I’ve learnt that there are (at least) four important concepts that every (potential) future chairperson should understand and will use regularly: initiative, managing relationships, decisiveness, and looking at the bigger picture.”

“Getting the job done” 

However, after some thinking I believe that I’ve found the best job description for the chairpersonship. In my opinion you’re responsible for “getting the job done”. This does not mean that you have to do most of the work or most of the tasks. It just means that you have to ensure that at the end of the day everything that needs to be done, gets done. It means that at the end of your board year, you can hand over a healthy, fun and active Kraket to the new board. In the case that you’re lucky enough to have amazing fellow board members, such as I do, it means that you have to create the conditions in which they can perform at their best, while setting out the strategy that you believe is the best for the future of Kraket. 

Certainly at the beginning of my board year, but also at some other points throughout the year, “getting the job done” felt impossible, or at least impossible for me. However much you hope through rigorous planning and discussion, that you can prevent all challenges, they’ll still arise and you’ll have to get together with the rest of the board to solve these issues. In these last few months I’ve learnt that there are (at least) four important concepts that every (potential) future chairperson should understand and will use regularly: initiative, managing relationships, decisiveness, and looking at the bigger picture. 


As chairperson you get to lead the weekly board meetings, while other board members usually send in their own meeting points, you’re in charge of creating the agenda and deciding what you’re discussing that week. Since you’re creating the agenda, you’re able to set the tone of the meeting and get to set the focus of that week. Being able to set the focus of that week is a powerful tool that can allow your board to solve big problems or create big improvements quickly. 

For example, if you’ve noticed that some of your board members are getting overworked, then it is up to you to initiate a plan to prevent this. When you hear that some students may not feel that they’re welcome at Kraket, then you have to set up a plan (together with the rest of your board) to solve this problem. When you’re seeing that some activities are not as popular as you were expecting, you have to start discussing why this may be the case. 

This ability to initiate things within Kraket does not just have to be used to solve (urgent) problems within Kraket, you also get to use it to make Kraket a better, more fun, or safe space. This year I’ve spent much of my time focussing on getting Kraket to take its social responsibility more seriously, by initiating steps regarding sustainability, inclusivity and safety. Any chairperson, together with the rest of their board, gets to decide what they want to focus on in their year, and being the chairperson you have to take the initiative that the things your board finds important gets done. 

Managing relationships 

The ability to initiate new ideas within, or outside, Kraket depends very much on the willingness of others to execute those ideas. Therefore it is important that you as chairperson retain a good working relationship with important stakeholders, such as faculty members of the School of Business and Economics, other chairpersons of other Econometrics study associations, the supervisory board, sustainability officers, committee members, and so many others. 

Making sure that these relevant stakeholders retain a positive image of Kraket is a challenging task. It requires that you as chairperson keep in contact with these stakeholders regularly, this may be at formal meetings or informal get-togethers. Often going to a “borrel” (drinks) just to see and speak to them, can be worth the time and effort, to make sure you, but most importantly Kraket, retains a good relationship with them. 

The most important relationships you have to manage are those with your fellow board members. I always try my best to keep up with them, as any problems they experience in their personal lives, but also in their duties as board members, can drastically affect their ability to perform their responsibilities. Since the start of the board year I’ve tried to create an environment where everyone is able to express their own feelings and where these feelings are acknowledged. I try to get a private meeting with each board member every week, which has allowed me to keep up to date with them. By having a private thirty-minute conversation every week, you’re able to address any concerns before they become large problems, saving a lot of time in the long run, but also keeping many of them feeling content. Managing relationships is a difficult responsibility, but something you can learn by just doing it. 


Being the chairperson of Kraket, it is expected that you’re able to think on your feet, and make decisions quickly, while taking in all relevant information. When a problem comes up during a (board) meeting, it should be solved, or at least a plan to solve it should be created, before the end of the meeting. As chairperson you do not get to make all the decisions yourself, they need to be made through consensus. However, when you allow problems to linger on, these problems become larger and more difficult to solve. This is something that you’d like to prevent. 

At the start of the year this was something that I struggled with. Because I wasn’t able to suggest decisions quickly, meetings took forever, and many challenges had to be solved at the last minute. The board meeting just before the introduction week took about eight hours. Eventually, I got used to the fact that sometimes we’d lack many of the facts. This sped up our board meetings, but also made me a better leader. 

“As chairperson you however rarely have your own area of expertise”

Looking at the big picture 

As chairperson you keep in constant contact with the rest of your board members, they all get to focus on their specific field(s), this means that in these specific areas they are the expert. Anne knows the most about our finances, and financial regulations we have to conform to, while Maarten could tell me exactly who may be interested in joining a committee. In most cases if you have a question about their specific field, you should ask them. 

As chairperson you however rarely have your own area of expertise, you’re responsible for “the big picture”. This sounds rather vague and in some sense it is. Being able to focus on the big picture, means that you have to focus on things that aren’t immediate challenges. This means that you have to not just focus on solving the problems that you just found, but also need to look into the future too. 

This can mean that you need to think about how the choices you make now, can impact Kraket in the future. You need to make sure that these simple decisions we make now, do not have a negative impact on Kraket in the future, while they may solve the problems of today. This can also mean that you want to ensure that decisions that one board member makes in their department, does not negatively impact some of the other departments. This is a challenging task, but easily achievable if you keep in touch with all the other board members regularly. 

Is this something for you? 

I consider these four pillars the most important duties as chairman, they are in their nature very different from what we’re learning during our study program, but extremely useful to learn and understand. This may be challenging and is definitely difficult in the beginning, but as I’m beginning to learn and understand these skills more, I’ve noticed how useful they are. 

Do you want to know more about being the chairperson of Kraket? You are always free to ask me any questions or drink a cup of coffee together. 

You could also read more about a week in the life as chairman experienced by my predecessors Tristan or Ivo. My direct predecessor Lotte has also written an article describing all of our tasks.

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