George is the president of Green Mary, an environmental and sustainability group that campaigns on issues such as Free Trade and Go Green.
As well as giving him a deeper appreciation for global and environmental issues, assuming a position of responsibility at Green Mary has helped George to develop his leadership skills.
Learning to listen to what society members’ want and letting them feel like they have shared ownership over what the society does is an important part of being a good society president and a good leader.
I’m the President of the Green Mary which is the environmental society at Queen Mary so anything to do with sustainability, climate change; green issues generally will come through us and we try and organise events for students to help to volunteer and just putting in and trying to help Queen Mary become more green. Last year we did a lot of stuff with Fairtrade. For Fairtrade Fortnight, for instance, we helped the university get Fairtrade status by getting the clothes in the shops to do Fairtrade cotton as well as the coffee and tea to be Fairtrade. We also put on a film called Bananas which exposed the exploitation of workers. Doing things like that can help (in a very small way) to make quite a big change.
Accept the responsibilities that come from taking a global perspective:
Taking a global perspective it can really help you to change the things you do in everyday life so buying Fairtrade products is something we can do. There are also things like reducing your intake of meat can help reduce your carbon footprint.
Possess the skills to influence, negotiate and lead:
Your job as a President is to delegate different tasks to people so that if you get like a new project in from some society or like some new event that’s coming up – your job as President is to manage what needs to be done and then choose who needs to do which part of it. Planning is a really difficult thing to do for Green Mary especially as there are so many different societies at the university and you need to plan well in advance for a lot of things, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t change things and there are going to be a lot of people that don’t like what you’re doing and want you get involved in other events that they’re interested in.
Respond appropriately to criticism:
You need be willing to take on advice and criticism from others and be able to say think that’s a better plan actually and not to have like the final say in everything because the society is nothing without ideas from new people and a constant flow of new ideas coming through.