Context and History III: Standing for the ANZMAC Executive (2010)

2010! A second shot at the title based purely on the idea that if you’re the only candidate who pitches an interesting platform and everyone else runs a bio, it has to be to your advantage. This time there was some minimal campaigning that consisted of e-mailing a few contacts and saying “Pass the word”. The word was passed, and yet, the vote fell short.

ANZMAC elections are interesting experiences for me because I have a background in State and Federal political campaigning, and I’m a former student union political hack (plus, I do research political marketing). The results weren’t as predictable as I’d thought from the outset – this election was a bit of a fishing mission for me to indicate a clear interest in being a delegate, and then to campaign properly in 2011 for the election. Once again, I didn’t have the numbers for the popular vote (although I have a lot of popular support, and my voter base is wonderfully vocal about it).

The new twist the tale was my appointment to the Executive as a co-opted member for 12 months (some Executive mod-cons, no voting rights) to manage the website. As an appointed delegate, I serve at the Executive’s request for the task of managing the ANZMAC website.What this also means for me is that I am now the institution, and where I was once the renegade voice, I’m the establishment. So it’s time to deliver on promise for what I’d said I’d do if I had the opportunity.  As John Cena put it “My time is NOW”.

Lessons learned…
The Learning Curve was far flatter this time around. With the experience of the first run at the office, I had the distinct advantage of making new and interesting tactical choices. Here’s my take out from the 2010 election

  • There are problems in the voting process that come from the eligibility criteria of membership of the Association via conference registration. I registered in the middle of the year as a member through the online sign up, paid my fees, and didn’t receive a ballot. Given I was one of four non-conference memberships, that wasn’t exactly a landslide, but it was still evident that there’s work to be done in unifying the membership back end.
  • Low voter turnout was predictable, and over time, should become curable. One of the major disconnects in the process is the eligibility requirement of attendance at the previous conference combined with a known 30% churn rate of non-returning delegates. Voter turn out may actually be higher than predicted once you factor the other drop-off ratesThere are still a few areas of uncertainty
    • The nomination process is still having problems, although that’s cleaned up considerably since it’s now one single process of nomination and statement.
    • The voting still looks like a preferential system or run-off, and still appears to be a first past the post system. Confusion as to how the results are generated is an easily patched problem

Why did I stand in 2010?
I had my reasons for standing for office.

  • I believe in ANZMAC. It’s why I stood in 2007, put the rent cheques on the line for sponsorship, and keep picking myself up, dusting myself off and stepping back into the battle. ANZMAC is important, and when you believe in an organisation, what matters is the success of the organization. Personal ambition and ego take a back seat
  • This is a terrible time to be a volunteer based conference management committee. Global financial crisis, sponsorship money drying up, and a whole lot of confusion as to the value of conference papers as research outputs.
  • I wanted to offer something different from the usual list of candidates with senior academic titles (Senior Lecturer title notwithstanding), long publication histories and candidature statements that mention past achievements rather than future goals; and
  • As with 2007, I still talk big. I’ve been an outspoken critic of ANZMAC, and either I shut up, or I put my hand up to take the workload. I’ve been a critic of the website, and now it’s my responsibility

What did I hope to achieve?
This time, I hoped to win. I wanted to win. In a way, I did win. Being co-opted to the Executive was a victory insofar as I can meet my personal goals for standing for office by delivering a damn good year of work for the Executive.  

Election Profile
This was the platform statement I submitted instead of a classic profile of what I’d published and what grants I’d received.

($) Dr Stephen Dann. Senior Lecturer. Textbook Author. Former joint record holder of the most number of ANZMAC papers at a single conference. Track Sponsor. Room sponsor. Sponsorship researcher. Personal Branding advocate. Ad-hoc ANZMAC reviewer. Post-hoc ANZMAC reviewer. Post hoc ergo propter hoc. The kind of person needed to give ANZMAC a new lease of life in the new dawn of the Excellence in Research for Australia (ERA) initiative and Australian Universities Quality Agency audit era.
A man of short sentences and shorter attention span
Your ANZMAC delegate
Your voting choice
Formal profile information available from

I did get complimented by the ANZMAC president on breaking the traditional format, and for putting forward a profile that indicated you could do more with the 100 word limit than reproduce a scale model of your CV. Next election, campaign promises and running mates (and voting instructions) will be suggested to the candidates based purely on the fact that I completely broke the expectations for the statements.

Will I stand again?
Yes. I will be contesting the 2011 elections based on both my performance in 2010, and on a campaign platform of future actions.