Jodi Campbell is the Executive Director of the Athabasca University Students Union. From BCs Lloydminster area, he moved to Edmonton in 2002. He graduated in 2006 after learning about business. He started working for MacEwan University as a Consultant/Advisor for the School of Business. He became the General Manager of the MacEwan University Students Union in 2013. In early 2017, he began work with AUSU as its executive director.
What work did you do before coming to AUSU?
Before coming to AUSU I was the General Manager for the Students Association of MacEwan University (SAMU). I spent a total of eleven years working at MacEwan with seven years spent with the School of Business as a Program Consultant/Advisor and four with the Students Association. After graduating from the school of business at MacEwan in 2005/2006, I started working for them and I managed two of their business diplomas. It was a great experience and something that really kick-started my career in post-secondary.
How did you find AUSU? Why did you choose it?
In many ways, AUSU found me. This past March I received an email from a search firm promoting the opportunity here at AUSU to become the next executive director and, after a series of interviews with the executive team, I was selected. At the time, the opportunity at AUSU was very similar to the one I had at SAMU in the way that the organization was about to embark on an incredible journey of change and growth. There was no question that AUSU was the right place for me, as I saw the vision being set out by the executive council right away and what it would take to execute it and establish AUSU as a leader in the student organization industry.
How has onboarding been for you?
Its been an amazing 3 months so far. We’ve accomplished so much in such a short period of time since I started. The learning curve has been a big one to familiarize myself with everything AUSU, but at the same time a familiar one. Much of what we have been working on to establish structure and consistency at AUSU has been identical to the work I completed at SAMU. I owe a huge thanks to the AUSU execs, and especially our president (Shawna Wasylyshyn) for walking me through the transition. So far, it’s been great and I look forward to seeing where we go in the years to come.
What is your favorite pastime?
My wife and I love to travel. Were big fans of the ocean and mountains, so Whistler, BC has been a favorite stop for us. I highly recommend it as a Canadian getaway. The other one for me personally would be sports in general. I’m a coach at heart and love golf, rugby, hockey, I could go on. I love them all.
You coach a golf team. Tell us about that.
Thats correct. I am the head coach for the MacEwan University Griffins mens and womens golf teams. Its a passion of mine away from AUSU. Were just about to start our season as the team competes from the end of August to mid-October every year. We have 8 men and 4 women that make up the team and we play up to seven tournaments every year. We have seen a great deal of success as a team and are currently ranked 6th in the Canadian College Athletics Association (CCAA). At the 2016 national championships we were the best team west of Toronto, so I guess thats an accomplishment, right? In Alberta, we have played in 16 provincial championship events since we started the team (8 mens and 8 womens) and we’ve won 10 of them. I don’t get to brag about the team very often, so I thought I would throw that in there.
Also, does coaching a golf team translate into a similar skill set in terms of being an executive director?
Absolutely. I have a coaching style of management that has translated into success in business as well. I could go on all day speaking to the connections between being the executive director and team leadership, team building, organizational behavior, strategic planning, team culture and on and on. At the heart of being the AUSU executive director or a golf coach is creating an environment where everyone in the organization (or on the team) can maximize their potential. This applies whether it’s the students council, executive council, the AUSU staff, or the student athletes on my team. Team success and individual success are directly related and you cant have one without the other.
As the executive director, what tasks and responsibilities come with the position?
Great question. The ED role in a student led organization is quite vast. I wont bore you too much with the day-to-day activities, however, the core responsibilities include governance support for council and the executives, representing AUSU internally at AU and externally to our partners and fellow students unions, HR functions, administration activities, financial management of the organization, and overall organizational leadership. I am also proud to say that I also get to play a role in the success of The Voice Magazine as its Editor in Chief. I guess that would be the nutshell version of my role. On paper it looks like three and a half pages of tasks and responsibilities, so it’s a large role and I love every bit of it.
Looking ahead for 2017/18, what are your hopes for the position and the organization?
Like I said earlier, AUSU is experiencing a great deal of growth as an organization. You might say that Athabasca University and AUSU are mirroring each other right now, as the University is also experiencing the same type of growth as they look to stabilize the university under the leadership of Dr. Neil Fassina. Like any organization, you have to start at the ground and work your way up. Currently, we are finalizing our new bylaws, establishing a 3-year strategic plan including a new operational plan, reviewing our staff structure roles and responsibilities, giving The Voice Magazine a much-needed online face lift (stay tuned for this later this fall), as well as enhancing our advocacy presence at all levels of government and the University. This growth will definitely put AUSU on the map and establish AUSU as a leader in the online education environment. I’m thrilled to be a part of it.
Any final thoughts?
Well, maybe a couple: I love to whistle, and I’m not talking random whistling, I’m talking about full start-to-finish songs. I’ve been married for 22 years to my lovely wife Shawna. I’m a better than average juggler. I love going to movies, I’m a huge Harry Potter fan. And I’m dying inside because of the fact we have to wait till 2019 before we see the end of Game of Thrones!
Scott Douglas Jacobsen is the AUSU VPFA. He works with various organizations, and runs In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, and In-Sight Publishing.