The Audit Commission will have a new Commissioner after being elected at Spring Agora 2020, which will take place online this year because of the coronavirus crisis. One of the candidates for that position is Thomas Meekel, member of AEGEE-Leiden since 2015, Subcommissioner of the Audit Commission since 2020, Subcommissioner of the Network Commission during the period 2018-19 and non-formal trainer on Fundraising. We interviewed him about his programme and objectives for this year.
Hello, Thomas and thank you for your time to be interviewed. To start off, could you tell us a bit about yourself and your career in AEGEE?
Hi, I am Thomas Meekel from AEGEE-Leiden. I am currently doing a master’s degree in criminal law and next year I will do another one in forensic criminology. I have been a member of AEGEE for almost five years and most people in Leiden know me for my terrible puns and my ability to lose my AEGEE clothes somewhere in Europe. Besides that, a lot of people know me from my role in the travel committee. Together with this team I have organised a lot of trips for our members to Ukraine, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Ireland and many other European countries.
By seeing your background we notice your `world´ is audit. May we know what attracts you to it?
Auditing is just one of many subjects that fascinate me! I took courses in financing and bookkeeping in high school and during my bachelor’s degree, and I noticed that I really enjoyed crunching numbers. That is why I applied for the position of treasurer on the board of AEGEE-Leiden. During the board year I got some real experience with bookkeeping, fundraising, and the process of being audited. Afterwards, I wanted to use these new skills at a local level, so I became the treasurer for a few projects, gave some training in fundraising, and was elected for our Audit Committee. After an amazing NYE this year I decided to take my knowledge and skills to the European level. This is why I joined the AC as subcommissioner this year and it is the reason why I am applying for the position of commissioner for the upcoming Agora.
You have been a very active member in the last years, also at a local level (Board Member of your local, President of the Travel Committee 2018-2019, etc.). What are the main lessons you learnt from all those experiences and in which sense have they helped you get where you are now?
The biggest eye-opener for me was seeing how ridiculously easy it is to make some ideas come true by just going for it. If you have enough motivation for a plan, you just need some time and ask the right people in order to actually get it done. This is especially true for activities and events within AEGEE, where you can find a lot of people that are willing to work together and make an event happen. A personal example is the idea we have had to create a Harry Potter-themed weekend. With a lot of time and hard work we actually created something magical! We managed to get a castle as a location for this event, hosted a memorable Sorting Hat ceremony, organised an intense game of Quidditch and much more. Our members did really enjoy this event, but organising such a great event was even more fulfilling to me. Organising all different kinds of events has made me be more eager to pursue my goals and make them come true.
In your programme you speak of making the Audit Commission more visible in the network. How do you intend to carry out that task if you are elected?
When I was at the fair during Agora Salerno I hoped to find someone of the Audit Commission to talk to, because I had some interest in joining it. Unfortunately, there was no one there. That is why I want to make sure that the Audit Commission is always represented during these fairs, even online ones. These fairs provide an easily accessible platform for everybody to learn more about everything the AC does. Besides the fair, our Facebook page can always benefit from some more activity. We also have good communication with the boards of all locals, especially with the treasurers thereof.
In what sense are you going to keep offering help to locals if you are elected?
In any way we can be of help! We have a lot of experienced members in our team. Most locals face the same difficulties as other locals, so a lot is gained by sharing best practices. To give some more concrete examples about how we could help locals: making recommendations on how to do financial management, how internal audits within an antenna could be structured and to provide training in finance-related topics. Currently we are also requesting information from locals regarding tax obligations and when they have to give insight into their financial records to third parties. Once we have this information confirmed by multiple locals in that area, other locals (especially new ones) can come to us for information on these topics.
To conclude, what are your next objectives in case you are not elected as Commissioner?
In that case I will continue with my work as a subcommissioner of the Audit Commission, and possibly apply again at Agora Moscow.