Claudia - Deputy President (Finance & Services)

Claudia (Deputy President Finance & Services)

Hey, I’m Claudia! I was elected by YOU to represent all students at Imperial and work towards improving our student experience.

Quick Facts: I'm a Civil Engineering student. I was part of the committee for the City & Guilds College Union (CGCU), a sub-union of Imperial that looks specifically after the engineering student’s needs. I love sport and play Hockey and Lacrosse. You can usually find me at my desk in the Union, in 568, or running about on a sport pitch!

With 5 Officer Trustees (OTs) elected, we each champion a different aspect of student experience, helping us cover as many student viewpoints and areas as possible. I’m in charge of Finance & Services – this mainly includes helping clubs, societies and projects (CSPs) manage their finances and plan events, looking after the Union finances, and working with the Union Commercial Services and College Campus Services to make improvements that benefit students. As well as the day-to day affairs, I focus on longer term projects, delivering my manifesto points and picking up projects I identify throughout the year as important to the student body.

This page contains info on:

I shall be updating this page as often as I can, keeping you in the know about what is going on!

 

Keep up-to-date with what I'm doing for YOU!

This year one of our joint OT goals is communication! We want to keep you updated with what work we are doing to make your uni experiences easier and more enjoyable. We know no single stream of communication works for everyone, so we’re trying to get our messages out in as many formats as possible (some may question are we bonkers for trying to keep all these streams going haha)!

To find out more about what I’m up to, as well as more about what my actual role involves:

 

Or, you can read my Felix articles and interviews: Newspaper profits redirected, Meat Free Mondays TrialFelix interview all the OTs, Will Mondays forever be meatless?

Or, read my Union news articles: Make the Summer Ball Yours!, Be Part of the Union Shop Makeover!, Competition Time: Free Summer Ball Tickets!

Or, read my Union Council reports, detailing the progress of all the projects I’m working on: 26th Oct 18, 13th Nov 18, 11th Dec 18, 22nd Jan 19, 12 Feb 19, 12 March 19, 14 May 19.

Or, follow my campaigns: Stop Funding Hate, Meat Free Monday, Greening Imperial Week.

Have questions? Need help? Want to tell me your thoughts on our services? Get in touch! Find me in person (Union Office, Level 2 of Beit Quad), by phone (020 7594 8060), or by email. I cannot guarantee I’ll always be available at short notice however, but our reception desk can always help you arrange a time to see me or pass on any missed calls.

 

It's a full-time job, so what do I actually do?

It’s a busy job; a combination of reactive work dealing with club problems, student-wide issues raised, and College announcements, and proactive work focusing on projects to improve student experience, as well as making it more inclusive. While technically only a 9am-5pm job, you’ll often find all the OTs working over-time, ensuring projects are completed for you to our best possible ability, rather than just the quality a 9-5 job would allow, as well as sorting out club issues that pop up at all hours of the day!

Working with students, volunteers, College staff and Union staff over the year, I have many goals and projects, derived from my manifesto as well as student issues I’ve noticed since starting the role. These are my main projects each term, however there will be extra ones I've picked up as I go, which are detailed in the next section.

Autumn '18:  click to find out more details!

Spring '19:  click to find out more details!

Summer '19:  click to find out more details!

On top of all these projects, there's also the day-to-day work I do:

  • Working with College Campus Services to make general improvements around College for you
  • Writing reports, papers and communication pieces for meetings and the general student body
  • Overseeing  CSP finance: meeting with clubs over event budgets, risk assessments, etc
  • Approving your eActivities transactions and processing refunds
  • Approving Union bank payments
  • Signing contracts (mainly your CSP sponsorship agreements)
  • And of course…responding to your emails!

 

Projects and Progress: the details

Autumn '18:

  •  Status: Completed  Introduce breakfast to FiveSixEight
    • After rounds of taste testing over Summer 2018, a menu was selected
    • On the 24th September 2018, breakfast was soft launched
    • On the 1st October 2018, breakfast was full launched
    • Next Steps: Review Breakfast
  •  Status: Completed  Work with Greening Imperial on the College sustainability
    • I sit on the Greening Imperial Committee (a group of interested College staff members, mainly from the Grantham Institute, who are working with the rest of College to make changes on campus to improve our overall sustainability), as the Union representative.
    • In Autumn 2018, Greening Imperial have introduced many changes, including:
      • Banning single-use plastic cups in College main outlets - saving 850,000 cups a year!
      • Substituting plastic cultery for wooden
      • Introducing a coffee cup levy
      • Allowing food to be served in your own tupperware, at portion-controlled meal outlets
    • Next Steps: Meat Free Monday Campaign, starting to look at our bins and labels for recycling, and seeing what else Greening Imperial can improve!
  •  Status: Completed  Improve DPFS communications
    • Social Media:
      • Twitter frequently used to share relevant news articles and my day-to-day activities
      • Instagram used to promote campaigns and also any new changes on campus relevant to my work
      • Facebook used to promote any campaigns I am involved with, or any articles/blogs I have written
      • Constituent Unions (CUs) used to spread the word of campaigns
    • eActivities Training Hub:
      • New page added on 'Refunds', including infographic
    • Union Website:
      • Created 2 campaigns pages - Stop Funding Hate & Meat Free Monday
      • Shall continue to try to keep this page up-to-date
    • Next Steps: Shall continue to create more infographics and webpages to explain my work and union processes clearer, for example by creating a Union Finance Infographic.
  •  Status: Completed  Assess DPFS workload to see if it is the most effective use of DPFS time for students
    • I noticed a lot of my time this term was taken up with administration processes, such as eActivities approvals, refunds, contract signing, sending off bank payments, changing passwords on email accounts for club committee members, or re-activating club emails.
    • To track how much I did each week, I began to keep a log of all these tasks, as well as asking why did these tasks fall with me?
    • From this, I established a lot of this admin was with me just because it had been in the past for so long, no one knew exactly why. I also established that a lot of the admin could be redirected to the appropriate teams (as in the case of refunds), eliminated by the new version of eActivities being coded currently, or given to another staff member (who would have to be hired).
    • For the moment, most of these admin roles will sit with me for the rest of my year, but change when the new DPFS comes in
    • During this time, I have also looked at my job description, comparing it to both what I do and what I think I should do in the role. Combined with conversations with Rob (President), this has lead to a role review and suggested ammendments.
    • Next Steps: Hope people run for my role next year! [Please do send me a message if you're interested and I'll tell you more about the role!]
  •  Status: Completed  Improve the CSP sponsorship process
    • Coming into the role, I was bombarded with sponsorship contracts in all sorts of formats, signed in various orders, and sent to my dpfs email account where they would get lost amongst the other 100 emails I receive a day. These contracts then needed to be printed, signed, scanned in and emailed back, as well as filed in the OT office.
    • To fix the first issue, I created a separate email for the contracts to be sent (csp.sponsorship@imperial.ac.uk), created an auto reply establishing the time line of return, and updated the eActivities Training Hub page requesting they be sent in PDF format with the subject me club & company names. Although this seems small, this cut down a lot of my time searching for contracts or names.
    • I next got permission to create the digital signatures and stamps needed for signing, uploading them into Adobe Reader so I could open PDFs, sign and save them into folders on my hardrive, and email them back - cutting down on a lot of printing and scanning, while also saving a LOT of trees!
    • With over 250 contracts already signed this year, this has improved turn around time greatly, however, project work or a club crisis could stop me getting around to signing contracts for a few weeks, slowing things down. To prevent this happening anymore, I have regularly booked out a time in my calander to specifically sign contracts, which has also helped a lot in the past few weeks of term.
    • Next Steps [only if I have time]: Refresh the contract template to make it one simple page for clubs to fill in + create an infographic to explain the sponsorship contract timeline clearer instead of a block of text.
  • Projects continued on into next term

Spring '19:

  •  Status: Completed  Launch a Meat Free Monday trial across four campuses
    • This January, the Meat Free Monday trial was launched!
    • It was student campaign created from a combination of ideas that came from different undergraduate societies (VegSoc, ESoc, and APES), PhD students, and Masters student groups, with the help of many volunteers, Environment & Ethics Officer, Greening Imperial, College Catering and the Union.
    • It took place in over 35 outlets across 4 campuses, including all College and Union outlets plus Pieminister and Silwood catering.
    • With stalls and events occurring weekly, flyers and posters being handed out, and a webpage full of information, we tried to inform you as much as possible why we did Meat Free Monday. There was a buzz online, as well as articles written by you in Felix, but overall the decision came down to the online survey results and instagram polls you voted on.
    • With 523 people taking part in the survey (69.9% of which stated they were meat eaters), 57.7% of you wished for it to continue, while 40.0% did not and the remainder were impartial. However, the Instagram polls of 200 voters swung the other way, with 53.9% wishing for it not to continue. With no clear winner, it was hard to decide whether to turn the Meat Free Monday trial into a permanent campaign or not. What did stand out in the survey, was the demand for more information about the environmental sustainability of the food options, as 84.7% of students considered the impact of their diet on the environment. Furthermore, talking to students highlighted concerns about the lack of options regularly on campus for vegetarian and vegan dishes, as well as a lack of healthy dishes that had a wide variety.
    • With all this information, the College Catering service and I have decided not to continue Meat Free Monday, but instead to shift the focus for the remainder of the year to providing a wider range of healthier options (meat and plant based) on campus! Some changes are already being made, such as the introduction of the new salad bar in the Senior Common Room (SCR). More info on this decision can be found here.
    • Next Steps: Work with College Catering on all the new initiatives such as the Plant-based cafe and 24-hour vending.
  •  Status: Completed  24-hour Vending
    • Aim to introduce 24-hour vending machines to campus which contain healthy, hot meals and snacks, to help you power through those late-night study sessions
    • A survey was carried out by Design Engineering students to see if there was a demand for late-night food or vending amongst students, with the results supporting this intitial project idea.
    • College Catering and I taste-tested a selection of vendors and finalised the vendors and locations of the machines
    • A self-service afro-carribean hot meals vending machine and microwave set called Yum Chop! is now installed in the library cafe, as of the 1st May, and is accessible 24hrs a day
    • A self-service coffee machine is now installed in the library cafe, as of mid-March, and is accessible 24hrs a day
    • A self-service pizza cooking vending machine will be installed outside Huxley Building on the walkway next to the other vending machines. This will happen at some point during Summer Term.
    • Next Steps: None
  •  Status: Completed  Plant-based Cafe on campus
    • The Student Experience Survey, as well as the feedback survey from College Catering and data collected during the Meat Free Monday trial, shows that students care about eating good quality, healthy, affordable food.
    • It has also been highlighted that there is a lack of vegan options on campus.
    • College Catering have decided to launch a plant-based, sustainable café - a place where you can relax while enjoying fresh, healthy, and, most importantly, delicious meals.
    • Inspiration for food options, new service structures, and café layouts was gathered by College Catering and I, in preparation for this café, with new dishes being trialled in the other outlets to gain student feedback.
    • Café opened on the 29th April in the JCR, replacing Pieminister. Café serves hot and cold vegan dishes, sandwiches, sushi and protein salad pots, as well as vegan snacks and drinks.
    • Next Steps: Look into placing Pieminister Pies in other outlets and see what other dietary requirements are lacking catering on campus.
  •  Status: Cancelled  Review the breakfast trial in FiveSixEight
    • At the start of Spring term, purely due to cost-cutting reasons, breakfast opening hours changed from 8-11.30am to 9.30-11.30am, and the menu reduced.
    • Unfortunately, due to lack of demand, our breakfast service ceased to continue from the 18th Feb 2019.
  •  Status: Completed  Planning Spring Carnival
    • Joint with the Beit Venues team, three potential theme ideas were created
    • Due to the lack of time in turn-around, I consulted the 30 students at the Clubs, Societies and Projects Board (CSPB) on their thoughts on start time and themes. The general outcome was that all themes were decent, however one stood out particularly: 'Secret Garden'
    • A poll posted on Facebook allowed students to pick the signature cocktail of the night, 'Tanqueray on the Beach'
  •  Status: Completed  Greening Imperial Week
    • Assisted the Ethics and Environment Officer in organizing the 'Greening Imperial Week' with Greening Imperial and Ethos Gym, which ran 4th-8th March.
    • Greening Imperial Week was a union-led showcase of what Greening Imperial have done so far on campus, as well as raising awareness of small adjustments you can make to your daily routines to help the environment. 
  • Projects continued on into next term

 

Summer '19:

  •  Status: Ongoing  h-bar Food
    • On 8th February, College announced that they would be ceasing to provide evening bar food to compliment the Union's drinks service on the 15th Feb. Through heavy pressure from the Union, this deadline was extended to the 1st March.
    • This cut was seen as unacceptable by the Union and the student body and we worked to pressurise College to change their stance, including lobbying the Head of Campus Services and the Provost. College have been firm with their decision not to continue evening bar food in h-bar, so the Union have been working on picking up this service ourselves instead, to ensure PG students do not get permanently impacted
    • Working with the GSU and the h-bar managers, we have designed and are currently testing a new menu for h-bar.
    • We have negotiated with College to be allowed to use some of their kitchen equipment, as College own the whole kitchen in h-bar. Unfortunately, we are not able to use the dishwashers, so we have sourced a sustainable set of recyclable disposables to serve food on and are looking into providing clearly labelled bins in h-bar for these to be put into, as environmental impact must be a key thought
    • In the next few weeks we are finalising plans, holding a tasting session for key stakeholders, and then having a soft launch, before a full launch the week after
    • Next steps: Launch the menu!
  •  Status: Ongoing  Reynolds Bar
    • On the 3rd April, Dan (ICSMSU President) and I held a large focus group at Reynolds Bar that was open to anyone interested. Approx 150 people showed up to provide thoughts and feedback verbally, as well as writing on the ideas boards placed around the walls.
    • The main areas the comments focused on were the space, the current offering in Reynolds, the confusion and frustration over processes, and lack of communication.
    • Since then, I have fed back and discussed all the feedback with the Head of Commercial Services and together we have created a plan which has been communicated out to all ICSM students via the ICSMSU weekly newsletter
    • Some noticeable changes include food items being trialled during Reynolds events, starting with the Fiesta Bop! on the 3rd May, and the suggestion boxes placed in the bar and library for people to provide their ideas or feedback easily.
    • Conversations have also begun with College about opening their cafe all year round (instead of just the conventional UG term times), the food on offer in the cafe, the upkeep of the space, and the possibilty of pitching to senior College staff about getting some money to invest in a redevelopment of the cafe seating space. Currently, Reynolds Bar borrows the College's kitchen in the cafe to make food. We are also looking into whether we can borrow more kitchen equipment or if we can expand what we place in there.
  •  Status: Ongoing  Focus on the Union's sustainability in terms of single-use disposable plastics and recycling
    • Last term, I looked at all the plastic we use in the Union and identified that single-use plastic cups were a good focus point.
    • Currently, we use 350,000 cups a year, which definitely isn't good for the environment. But with license laws, health and safety reasons, and logistics, finding a suitable alternative is hard.
    • Having done a lot of online research, contacted different venues and suppliers, and visited LSE and the Natural History Museum, I can conclude reuseable plastic cups that can be recycled at end-of-use are the best option for our bars, if we choose to replace the single-use ones at all (LSE bars decided it's not feasible for them).
    • A supplier has been identified which creates suitable reuseable plastic cups and prints designs in eco-friendly ink.
    • Next Steps: Working out how could reuseable plastic cups be implemented, will it work, and what extras need to be done such as improvements to our education on recycling. I will be consulting various customers, bar staff and bar managers over the next term to try and create a system that works.
  •  Status: Ongoing  Great Exhibition Road Festival
    • Research about reuseable plastic pint cups for the Union's bars has been applied to the Great Exhibition Road Festival
    • Reuseable cups are to be implented in our pop-up bar during the 29th-30th June.
    • This is to show the Union and College support the work by Greening Imperial, as well as the stance that places such as the Natural History Museum and V&A have taken against single-use disposable plastics.
    • Have worked with College to estimate how many cups need to be ordered, have secured funding, and currently waiting for the College design department to finish designing the cup.
    • Next Steps: Order cups
  •  Status: Ongoing  Help plan Summer Ball
    • The Summer Ball is an annual event held by the Union on the Queens Lawn, and in the surrounding buildings, which celebrates the start of summer. It is open to all students and runs from 8pm-2am, with an afterparty of dancing held in the Beit Bars from 1am-6am.
    • Theme - chosen by YOU, the theme this year is 'Red Carpet'. This was announced on Fri 1st Feb, at the launch party in 568.
    • Student consultation - have run a survey for 2 months about the Summer Ball in general as well as each component of the ball, run focus groups to discuss similar things, put up a poll to decide what food and drink vendors you want for the night, and currently have a cocktail submission form where you can submit your idea for the signature cocktail of the night and the winner will be selected by the student bar staff. All this feedback has helped shape what acts we get, which aspects to highlight, and what extras to provide
  •  Status: Ongoing  Create an infographic explaining the Union finances
    • Currently, you can view our Union's financial reports in the 'Annual Report', but unless you like reading through pages and pages of numbers this is not helpful, nor do you know what the different department spending actually translates to
    • I aim to be able to display our finances (income/costs/net) in a much easier fashion, so am researched how other Unions do this around the UK apart from through their Annual Report and discovered very few do
    • I have created my own semi-interactive webpage that explains this all in a way I think is useful to the student body (and partly learnt to code while doing so). I am currently finishing up the last bit of code before I will send out my webpage to our student trustees to test. Following this, if no bugs are found, I will launch to the public!
  •  Status: My part is complete  Safezone App
    • Working with College Security and ICT to see if it is possible to get an app which can deal with mass communication to students in a crisis, as well as locate students if they press a help button in an emergency on campus or externally.
    • I have provided feedback on the initial ideas of the project and app useage, and am no longer needed on the project until it is close to the test stage.
  •  Status: Ongoing  Health & Safety Committee Revamp
    • Health & Safety Committee is an internal sub-committee of the Finance & Risk Sub-committee of Trustee Board, which is chaired by DPFS and meets four times a year
    • We are reviewing all the policies and terms of reference for the committee in order to improve the effectiveness of the committee
    • A decision has been made, that in 2019/20 onwards, the committee will now be chaired by one of our external trustees, to increase the importance and effectiveness of the committee, and allow easier continuation between the years
  •  Status: Not yet started  Improve Processes
    • Before I handover to my successor, I'd like to improve processes some on the DPFS side, such as contracts and VAT exemptions, and others on student sides.

 

Projects VS My Manifesto

While I was elected to carry out my manifesto points, not all of them end up being plausible due to ideas/resources/finances, or other projects that are more important or impact more people take precedent. My projects listed above are my main focus this year, now I understand the role and my capabilities better. However, I don't want to completely forget about my manifesto points, so here are my updates so far:

Done? My Manifesto promises Progress
Put students at the heart of decisions, making students the decision makers of events and big changes
Expanded to also include more student consultation.
 
Breakfast - I served behind the bar every day for the first 2 weeks of the launch, collecting verbal feedback from everyone I served. Additonally, people emailed in, as well as filled out feedback forms. All this feedback will be used to review breakfast and sculpt a better offering more tailored to our student demands. 
 
Meat Free Monday - a campaign stemmed from many different groups of students views and intitatives, with the Union and College helping them achieve their aim to launch this campaign and raise awareness on the environmental impact of meat consumption.
 
Summer ball/Spring Carnival/Summer Carnvial - planning is just begining, however I wish to get students involved in polls and focus groups, helping make as many decisions as possible. There will only be a limited number of options to pick from, as we have to also consider what is logistically and financially plausible.
Infographic on how the Union income is spent on students Spring term project - Expanded to cover all income and expenditure of the Union, and explain the surplus.
Bring back bendy straws  
Reduce queues in Library Cafe and College Cafe College are revamping their outlets which has lead them trialling an express queue in library cafe.
Bring back SCR breakfast, or start it at the Union College shut breakfast in the Senior Common Room (SCR) due to it no longer being profitable, hence restarting it so soon after closure was not an option. Instead, breakfast was introduced in the Union (see Autumn Term Breakfast project).
Introduce an online ordering system for food
Have spoken to OrbisTech, the suppliers of the till software the Union uses, as well as talking to our systems team, an app would only be possible if I learn to code and make the app myself as OrbisTech currently doesn't have an ordering app, and our systems team are currently overloaded with projects and would only be able to code this in a few years time. OrbisTech are also unsure if they're software could be linked to an app successfully to take orders and also be able to send them to the kitchen.
[Note: I do not know how to code, so I may not have used the right technically language explaining this, but the gist is there.]
Focus on Union food quality and deals Expanded to Union and College food offerings.
Transport to Harlington on Mondays and Wednesdays With the same manifesto point as the Deputy President (Clubs & Socs) [DPCS], we agreed that DPCS would work on this, as he has more knowledge in the area. A coach system was successfully trialled in Autumn term, however has not happened yet in Spring term yet, due to the bus company going bust and the other companies not being anywhere as cheap!
Ensure students get home safe by introducing an end-of night Union minibus drop-off system With so many projects being picked up with College and the Union during Spring Term, I have not been able to fit all projects into my schedule, and this one had not developed enough to be carried on.
Improve minibus upkeep Currently talking with the Activities team and DPCS about our Minibus Policy and our fine system.
Negotiate with College to make more departmental spaces available to CSPs Discussing with DPCS, this seemed more appropriate for him to deliver.
Lunchtime drop-in sessions for CSPs It was realised that CSPs shouldn't be coming directly to DPCS and DPFS with problems, but should first see their management group chairs/treasurers. If there is still a query, then the quickest way to get in contact, was to email DPCS/DPFS and pick a time that suited them during the day. This made the demand for lunchtime sessions decrease greatly. Combined with College meeting schedules being out of my control, it was hard to organise being in every lunchtime, however I usually can still be found working at my desk at lunch if needed.
Useful, quality training, delivered at the right times for CSPs Discussing with DPCS, this seemed more appropriate for him to deliver, especially as he was revamping annual budgeting this year and had created his own new set of training.
Make the Union less dependent on student spending by increasing external income Beginning to look into, as something to be built into the future Union budgets and Business Plan.
Develop an online shop to sell global alumni/prospective students The Union online shop already ship products to a global community. However, this is not advertised well, and the website cannot always cope with purchases. A new version of the Union Online Shop is currently being built. This will allow for the ability to apply discounts or voucher codes, improve speed of service, reduce the number of occurances the website crashes during high demand periods, and also increase the modern look! Hopefully, this will increase our product demand amongst alumni and prospective families, increasing our external income!
Advertise facilities to the public during the holidays Currently looking to see if this is possible, as licensing argeements may restrict who we drive into our bars during the holidays.
Generate income from eActivities by licensing it to other Unions Our systems team is still building the new eActivities and Online Shop. However, keeping it modular so it could be licensed out to other services, not necessarily just Unions, is being kept in mind during the build.

 

Last Updated: 10/05/2019