In the regular feature The President EM interviews the leader of different student organizations. In this edition of this feature we’ve spoken with Esther Vermaat from Antibarbari.
Name: Esther Vermaat
Study: recently stopped studying a pre-master in Sociology
President of: Rotterdam Student Football Club Antibarbari. This year, the club is celebrating its 25th anniversary. It has more than 500 members (also international students) divided over 16 men’s teams and 6 women’s teams.
President since: August 2015 Motto: ‘Upfront with a heart of gold’
How did you become president?
“I was already a member of an Antibarbari sub-committee, whose president was dismissed at one point. I was then pushed forward to take on the role. The board thought that I had done such a good job that they asked me to be president of Antibarbari.”
Did you think twice before accepting the position?
“Just for a moment because I was supposed to start a transition year, which is quite tough. I tried to combine the two, but that proved too much.”
“So I quit the study, despite the fact that I really liked it. You have to make a choice. I already have an MBO and HBO diploma. Certificates are nice, but I only really started to learn a lot from doing board work. In the end, it’s all about what you do.”
“Not for a second.”
And your parents were also on board with your decision?
“Yes. I’ve come a long way and I’ve already completed a few things. They already knew that it might not work out this year. I talked to my dad about it. I wanted to quit my studies because I wasn’t happy, and he was just proud that I dared to make that decision.”
So being the president of Antibarbari takes up a lot of time?
“Something like 35 hours per week. In any case, I am always at the club on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays. The board meets once a week and I have a lot of external appointments.”
Do you also play football yourself?
”Yes, in the ladies’ 5th team. This is my fourth season at Antibarbari.”
Did you know what you were letting yourself in for?
“Not at all! And, fortunately, there is a long training period and we have a system whereby you can seek advice from former board members. I use that a lot. You can’t come up with everything from scratch yourself, and we’ve only been working together as a board for just one year.”
What kind of president are you?
“I’m very direct; I like to get to the point and don’t beat around the bush. It took a while for some of the other board members to get used to that. For me, it’s all about communication; right from the start, I planned in sessions in which the members could give each other points for
improvement. They also have the possibility to give each other compliments. These sessions help to prevent irritations and create a positive
vibe. In any case, they have really helped me to develop.”
Did the others appreciate those communication sessions?
“Haha, not straight away they didn’t, but after a few sessions they started to like it.”
After just a year of being president, are there still things you can improve on?
“Well, as president you’re constantly pushing people to make sure things get done. Sometimes I forget to push myself.”
You’re the third female in a row to be president of Antibarbari. Is that a coincidence?
”For one reason or another, for some jobs it’s easier to find women to take on the role than men. I have no idea why that is.”
What do you want to do after this?
“Thanks to this year of being president, I want to go in a totally different direction. I would really like to work in consultancy or something to do with HR.”