Lucia Liang, VP Finance: “I’ve been able to make a lot of tangible changes for students”
In this series of stories, members of the current AMS Executive team share a bit about themselves, their role in the AMS, and their experience in the position. So far, we’ve heard from the VP External Affairs, and the VP AUA. Today, Lucia Liang talks about all things VP Finance.
Lucia studies in the faculty of Arts and hopes to one day be working in the fashion industry. She has grown up in a family very involved in the finance world, which is one of the major reasons she ran for the role of VP Finance in the first place.
My role is the vice president of finance, meaning I interact with every single financial transaction that happens in the AMS. For example, I need to ensure that when the clubs’ money is deposited into the AMS account, the money is secure and has backup documents to prevent fraud. I’m also in charge of the finances on the business side. Every day, I sign a pile of cheques for them which gives me a good idea about how much they are spending each month. So, if I see a potential fault, I can say ‘wait I don’t know what’s going on,’ and I follow up with Keith, our Managing Director, to say ‘hey are we doing something different with our restaurants?’
Transparency is really important in this portfolio. A huge part of my job is writing the AMS Financial Reports that provide an overview of the society’s financial standing including contributions and expenses relative to its budget. I create four reports in a year with about 30 pages each. I also break things down to simpler terms so that all stakeholders can understand them better. I also publish them on the AMS website for everyone to read.”
I was the AUS VP Finance last year, so I was dipped into finance already, and I’m really interested in it. My family is huge in finance and business, so that had a lot of influence on me growing up. Also, with my future goals in my future career…this ties right into exactly what I want to do.
This job can make real action for students fast. One example is the e-transfer system that we created this year. Students can now receive money at home. They don’t actually have to come to the AMS to pick up money under $500 – that’s huge! A lot of students live off-campus, but still want to participate in their club so by making these changes, they can actually feel and experience it.
As VP finance, I’ve been able to make a lot of tangible changes that help with student affordability, which is also why I love this job. I’m in charge of the students’ funds, financial help to assist students, clubs, and constituencies with innovative projects. For example, we have the sustainability project fund or the impact grant. My team organizes committees to review the hundreds of applications we receive and allocate the proper funding to the best students’ initiatives.
This year, I found out that often we don’t hit the maximum number of people who can apply for subsidies (extra help for those students who are experiencing genuine financial hardship) and they don’t even know about it. I felt that was the case for most of our subsidies like the U-Pass, AMS subsidy or the opt-out options for the health and dental plan.
So, I decided to give more visibility to these subsidies and I worked really closely with the Graduate Student Society (GSS) and UBC enrollment services. We sent out emails to all students saying, ‘this is the timeline that opting out is available,’ so students can opt-out of some fees. To opt-out, you need to meet certain requirements, so students who opt out are genuinely in need.
I wish that more people applied so we can help more people, and we can fund people who are in deficit or are not aware of the help the AMS can provide.
Overall, I think this has been a really great job and a great experience.
Tags: ams executive, campus life, finance, services, student fees, student finances, students