With the recent COVID-19 pandemic, the world has adjusted daily office routines to working from home. The members from the board have also changed their daily activities with companies and members from the association. I was wondering how they are coping with doing their duties from home so we conducted an interview. In this interview the 5 members of the board answered a question each on how VSAE is handling the situation.
How is the board handling the current situation?
The board is handling the situation quite well I believe. Even though this isn’t the board year we expected, we try very hard to do the work at home. Every day at 16:30 sharp, we have a zoom meeting and talk about the things we’ve done that day. Sometimes, those meetings turn into a MIBO (Dutch word for afternoon drinks), but a board year should also be fun right! We are working really hard to reschedule our events to later this year, so we will keep our members definitely posted on that!
How is this affecting relations with companies?
I think in general, this pandemic has certainly not hurt our relations with companies. Of course, the business side has suffered a bit. However, we have thought of new things we can offer companies and are working hard to put these into action. For example, an online training platform will appear soon on careers4quants.
We have contacted companies who promoted events that they now have to cancel with us, as well as the companies that are participating in our own events. We are in close contact with all of them and we have gotten very understanding responses so far.
As far as the relations themselves are concerned, I think these have only gotten better. Naut and I quickly analysed the situation and decided to put most commercial affairs on hold, to give companies some time to recover from the shock. In this time we wrote a temporary acquisition plan, set up a new platform on careers4quants and prepared emails we can send when the companies recover. Most importantly, we sent out personal emails to our main sponsors and companies we are in close contact with, asking about their health and telling them we want to help where we can. This has given us good contact with some companies, and might even help us later this year or in the long run. In other words: Never waste a good crisis!
Do you think this pandemic can affect graduates from this year getting a job?
Yes definitely. Since there's a crisis at most companies, except for the traders of course, they need to cut their cost and for some that even means letting people go. Therefore they aren't as excited to hire people. We hope that we, Econometricians and Actuaries, are still in demand. If you think about it, who doesn't want some quantitative skilled people in their workforce?
A different approach to handling this period, is to start a second Master's degree. Since the job market will be more difficult to enter, it is the perfect way to keep studying and preparing yourself even more. And, of course, one more year of VSAE events ;)
Does VSAE have close contact with UvA regarding the situation for students in our association?
As soon as the threat of corona rose the board got in touch with the Head of the Faculty, the FEB, Hans van Dissel. He is the brother of Jaap van Dissel, the director of the Dutch Health department, the RIVM. He gave us, and other association, advise concerning Corona. At least once a week he would give updates on the recent developments. The advice was mostly on events, not as much on students and the course itself. All communication concerning students is directly communicated with students themselves.
What advice has he given?
Sadly, most advise was on when and how to cancel events. A good example is the Econometric game. At the beginning he participated in the thought process of making it corona-suitable. Later, however, he called us for an emergency meeting to tell us it would be smart to cancel the event, even though at that point we couldn't foresee the current situation.
What are the visible consequences this pandemic has for the association?
I believe that in the long run the pandemic will not have any effect for our association. In the long run, the VSAE will still be able to provide events for all of its members. However, the pandemic will have visible consequences in the short run for the VSAE. The most visible effect that is that the events planned during this period cannot continue as and when they were planned. However the good news is that this does not mean that all of these events will not take place anymore. We are exploring all the possibilities to postpone as much of the events as possible to later this year. This means that, with the condition of it being safe, you can still enjoy all of your favourite VSAE events. When deciding to plan an event to later this year our first priority is of course your health and safety. Therefore we will always follow the guidelines of the government and RIVM in order to plan our events.
If you still have questions to the board regarding the situation you can contact them at