Interview with Mark Spiro, RBS student

RBS student and Independent Candidate for Counsillor of Camden shares why he has chosen to be actively involved in politics and reflects on what are strong leadership qualities.

Why did you choose to study at RBS?
I decided to join RBS because it was completely different to where I had been for the past year. Obviously the small class sizes and engaging classes were a good enough reason to switch, but I loved the community feel of the university and whole college.

The cooperation and advice that everyone at RBS have given me in helping me run for council has been more than I could ever ask for.

What triggered you to combine a political career with your studies?
The decision eventually came when a good friend of mine Alex Waksman sat me down and said ‘Mark, you have to do this. Don’t let the opportunity slip or the moment slide’. Next thing I know I’m designing logos!

How are you balancing your two lives – as both a politician and a RBS student?
At the moment this hasn’t been too hard. I barred myself from working on the campaign until after my exams. Literally straight after my last exam I went over to Staples and bought a massive White Board and got on the phones and started putting a team together. This coming fall semester I will resume all my studies as normal, keeping the campaign quite quiet, working behind the scenes on policy, strategy and fundraising. In January I will officially launch the campaign publicly, and embark on the campaign for five solid months…

How do you see your studies at RBS supporting your career and future prospects?
Without hesitation what I’m learning at RBS is going to dramatically help me and my career prospects when I’ve graduated. Even now with this campaign am I seeing it. I use the skills I’ve picked up in design management to help design logos, accounting has helped me keep track of my expenses and management has helped me put a winning team together.

In fact, I was talking to a current student about this recently and we agreed that we feel at a genuine advantage over our friends at other schools studying different subjected because what we learn is so valuable.

What do you see as the important qualities needed to foster a career in politics?
The first important quality is having a ‘can-do’ spirit and an enthusiasm that’s going to see promises on the campaign trail turn into results if elected. A common misconception about politics is that a candidate needs to have every answer to every scenario.

I don’t believe this to be fair to assume that from our politicians. What I do think is important, and what I hope to demonstrate, is how to effectively put a team together and how to collectively find an answer. It’s also important to have a varied and unique background…

What do you see as being strong leadership qualities?
The easiest thing about leadership is saying yes. It’s easy to keep people from moaning and complaining by telling them ‘yes’ to their demands. This trick is having to make ruthless decisions and knowing when to say no. The real function of leadership is to create more leaders, and let it grow rather than containing that power to yourself. At the end of the day it boils down to who has the best team…

Who has inspired you to be in politics and why?
I never met my grandfather (on my mother’s side) but have known for as long as I can remember that he ‘always had time for everyone’. This ties in with my feeling that many people are left behind and being squeezed out by the system, and simply forgotten. It’s those words that have encouraged me to roll up my selves and get involved, giving a voice to as many people who want to be heard.
What future do you dream of?
I dream of a future where barriers are broken down, be them racial, social or otherwise, and we as a people work towards making a divided Kingdom more united. Our future is up to us, our canvass to paint and our grass to cut, that’s what’s most inspiring, knowing that regardless of our history, we can make things right in the future. There will be hiccups along the way, but we can’t afford to walk into walls, we’ve got to run into them full speed if we’re to bring them down.

As a future Alumni of RBS and Regent’s College, would you like to keep actively involved with the college and future students? If so, how would you like to get involved?
RBS has one of the most versatile student bodies of any university in the country. Being able to draw on these different backgrounds is an invaluable resource and I want to learn from anyone who has information to share about how to make Hampstead, Camden, and then eventually London a better, safer and more prosperous place for all.

In February I start a speaking tour, going around schools and other venues in London making my case for real change and how youth can be a driving force of that change. I would love to address RBS students on the tour, and will help out the College and alumni in any way I can.