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New CEO brings high hopes to OUSA

Tuesday, 3 March 2015 10:31pm

Debbie Downs image
New OUSA Chief Executive Officer Debbie Downs.

The new Chief Executive Officer of the Otago University Students’ Association (OUSA) Debbie Downs plans to further enrich the close working relationship between the University and OUSA.

Debbie has a long work history with the University, most recently as Operations Manager at the University of Otago College of Education.

She took up the OUSA role last week, and has been working to familiarise herself with the association, the student executive, and OUSA staff. She told the Bulletin Board more about herself and her goals for the OUSA.

Congratulations on your new position. How do you feel taking on this important role?
Very excited, its only day four so at the moment I’m just trying to learn as much as possible.

I understand you were operations manager at the University of Otago College of Education. Why did you want to make the move to OUSA?
I’ve worked at the University for a number of years in different roles, so I felt it was time for a change. The CEO role at OUSA presented an opportunity to be able to use my knowledge of the tertiary sector while taking on a completely different role. It really seemed like the perfect next step for me.

What do you see as the biggest challenges ahead for the OUSA?
OUSA faces many challenges, on many different fronts. From non-compulsory student membership to supporting students as a whole, while at the same time remaining relevant to students on an individual level. Both the Executive and staff of OUSA are very committed to the students at Otago and are extremely well positioned to meet these challenges.

What are your hopes for the organisation?
That it keeps on doing what it is doing! There has been a commitment to stakeholder engagement in recent years and that is the key to the successful running of events and raising our public image. We see a lot of negative media about students and their ‘out of class’ antics. At the end of the day, it is only a very small minority who take their youthful exuberance too far. OUSA has a key role in keeping the Otago ‘student experience’ alive and well, while at the same time creating a safe and supporting environment for students throughout their time at Otago.

What makes you excited about the role?
The role itself is very broad as I am involved with all parts of the organisation, and that suits me. It is also crazy busy, which I also enjoy.

What do you like to do in your spare time?
Spare time? Something I don’t have a lot of. When I’m not at work I enjoy just hanging out at home with my husband and three kids. We have a farmlet out on the Taieri; I really enjoy getting outside and working on the farm. I’m a country girl at heart so wide open spaces really appeal to me.

Who has been your biggest role model?
I don’t really have just one person that I can point too. I have many people I look up to for different reasons. People who face challenges and just get on with life anyway and follow their dreams really inspire me.