Past Sabbs: What skills did you gain from being a sabb?

Both running an Elections campaign and taking on the role of a Sabb give a huge range of skills. So, let’s find out what skills past Sabbs gained from their role.

Rohan Ashar: YUSU Activities Officer, 2022/23
The short answer – a lot. I would need a page to list all the skills that I gained (I guess that’s what my CV is for…)! One of the best things about being a Sabb and doing the role most suited to you (like me with Activities) is it gives you the opportunity to further develop skills that you started attaining when you were a student. Personally, that involved skills such as organisation, event production, social media promotion, and leading committees/meetings (amongst many more). Above anything, I would say that the role really tested and developed my time management abilities. It’s a busy job and there’s always loads of things that you can be doing as a Sabb, so I needed to learn how to prioritise tasks and designate my time effectively, which was challenging but I did get better at it!

The Sabb year was my first experience of working full-time in a professional office environment. I was therefore learning new skills constantly. Some of these were technical, like managing my inbox and using spreadsheets efficiently. Other important skills were more to do with people, like ensuring that I knew how to communicate professionally (whether that be in a board meeting or over email) and understanding how to work collaboratively with other members of staff who have their own capacity constraints too. Finally, Sabbs sit on the Trustee Board, which meant that I learnt a significant amount about how charities operate, and I also chaired the HR Trustee Board subcommittee which inevitably resulted in me gaining professional knowledge around what goes into running an organisation. There is plenty more that I could say!


Matt Johnstone: YUSU Academic Sabbatical Officer, 2020/21 and 2021/22
Being a Sabb is a job like no other. You’re in a unique position to influence policy and process in the Union and the wider University, and you can even find yourself feeding into local and national government decision-making. You sit on job interview panels, you chair meetings, and you do quite a lot of public speaking (even if you try and avoid it). Your entire job is stakeholder engagement, listening to the student body and lobbying for change in the Union, University, and beyond.


 Sophie Kelly: YUSU Activities Officer, 2021/22


Dominic Smithies: YUSU Community and Wellbeing Officer, 2016/17
I gained and developed so many. I think the ones that helped accelerate my career the most are centred around governance & leadership. Being on a Board and understanding organisation policies, budgets, strategic vision  (was so incredibly insightful and a part of the role I didn’t anticipate enjoying – or even really knew I was signing up for). Beyond that I think the confidence that I’ve built in doing public speaking for press opportunities, impromptu put-on-the-spot moments, long speeches, presenting in meetings or at conferences, etc. have been so helpful in my career.

I think a general skill that I also had to develop quite quickly was being confident in saying ‘no’ to things. Everyone will want you to focus on a whole host of issues – students and staff alike. You cannot do justice to everything in your remit. If everything is a priority, nothing is. To achieve impact in areas you care about, you have to make sacrifices. Being able to make those decisions and to prioritise will be valuable in whatever career you go into.

21st February 2024