Customer Stories

The Graduate Union

The board of directors for this 113-year-old organisation that offers student housing and networking opportunities benefits from a streamlined, easy-to-use board management solution.


Industries: Education, Associations

Headquarters: Carlton, Victoria, Australia

Board Management Goals

  • Greater administrator control
  • A user-friendly solution
  • A solution with e-signature
  • A solution with a notes and annotations feature
  • A low-cost solution


  • Ease of use, functionality
  • Roles and Terms capability has enabled board to have a clearer understanding of resourcing its committees
  • Easier meeting preparation; late additions and updating materials are simplified

A Board That Aims for "Lasting Contributions"

A member-based association that was founded in 1911, The Graduate Union of the University of Melbourne supports graduates with a commitment to lifelong education and a passion for the exchange of ideas.

The Graduate Union owns and operates its own residential College, Graduate House. Students who are enrolled at any university can stay there, and the length of student stays can range from one night to several years. While at Graduate House, the aim is for students to pursue their studies, advance their careers through living and meeting with the best and brightest from around the world, and make lifelong friends.

“We provide opportunities for members to make lasting contributions,” said Greg Carter, The Graduate Union’s secretariat support officer who also functions as a Council administrator. “We want to be recognised as an organisation focused on supporting graduates through their studies and for life.”

It’s important for the Council to govern at a high level and live up to The Graduate Union’s strong legacy as well. “We’re proud of our history and our legacy of over 110 years of service to our members,” Greg said. “We’re also proud of our modern facilities, which provide accommodation, enable people to gather and meet.” 

Pursuing Better Board Meeting Preparation

Prior to purchasing OnBoard, Greg said the Council prepared for meetings via manual processes that included 120-page agendas. “It was time-consuming and difficult to manage because we had so many papers up in the air at one time,” Greg said. “I would also combine all the meeting papers into a pack using Adobe. Then, of course, if you had a late paper come in, you’d have to go through that whole process again.”

Greg added that the board would often put papers in a board packet that already had been covered in a previous meeting and didn’t need to be included in the next one.

He sought a portal that allowed for greater administrator control that was user-friendly and cost-effective, while also seeking two specific features: e-signatures, and notes/annotations.

“Some of our councillors have struggled a bit with the technology — and that would have been true for any technology, not just OnBoard,” Greg said, referring to the user-friendly component.

“OnBoard enables us to move forward in our governance and management. It facilitates decision-making and helps us to remain compliant. Because OnBoard is simple to use, reliable and comprehensive, it frees up our decision-makers to do what they do best, guide our association in its pathway to success for our members.”

— Greg Carter
Secretariat Support Officer
The Graduate Union

The Solution

When Greg went board-portal shopping, he looked at four providers, but chose OnBoard based upon several factors.

“Every one of them had features that were good,” Greg said, referring to the providers The Graduate Union considered. “What I liked about [OnBoard] was that it was a bit more streamlined, and it appeared [OnBoard] had gone through a sort of regeneration. It wasn’t just the original version of OnBoard. They actually did a complete rebuild of it. We’re a small association, and it got down to cost as well.”

The Graduate Union is still relatively new to OnBoard — the Council has held only a handful of meetings since implementing the solution — but Greg and the other councillors and committee members already have found plenty to like.

“OnBoard enables us to move forward in our governance and management,” he said. “It facilitates decision-making and helps us to remain compliant. Because OnBoard is simple to use, reliable and comprehensive, it frees up our decision-makers to do what they do best, guide our association in its pathway to success for our members.” 

Greg also appreciated OnBoard’s ability to enable him to easily move agenda items up or down. “We sort of do matters of decision first, then matters for discussion, and then matters for noting, he said. “Sometimes, they’ll flip from one of those categories depending on what the resolution might be.”

The Solution

The days of 120-page paper agendas are over at The Graduate Union. Greg loves every aspect of agenda building, from granular details to the big picture.

“OnBoard has streamlined that process for us, just being able to drag and drop the paper into the meeting agenda, even in its native format of [Microsoft] Word or PDF, it’s just saved a lot of time … and then building the [board] pack, of course, is so easy,” he said. “I like being able to publish the meeting agenda even before I’ve got all the papers finished so [the councillors] at least can look at the agenda. Then, once the papers are published, going through the annotations as well, that’s been good.”

Greg also said OnBoard’s roles and terms capability showed that some committee members should have already finished their time on the committee, according to the Council’s constitution.

The Graduate Union is using OnBoard for not only for the council, but the committees as well. “We’ve got four different committees that we run,” Greg said. “I look after one of those, and our general manager looks after the other three. It’s good that he and I do a lot of chatting about things. He’ll look at the way I’ve set something up, and he’ll put that in the committee meetings that he’s done … Being able to just copy the agenda to use that as the basis for your next meeting is really helpful.”

Greg shared one especially fun incident at a recent meeting. “I turned on the timing bar that goes along the agenda, and it was a bit of fun in a way,” he said. “[The councillors] laughed about it because the pressure was sort of on to keep going, but it worked really well, and kept us from spending too much time on a particular agenda item. The chair got to the end of the meeting, and it was right on time, and everyone gave a big clap for her.”

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