The membership of EVE University fluctuates up and down as the rate of new players trying EVE Online changes. Our mission of helping players to understand and master the game appeals to those looking to overcome the notoriously steep learning curve. Currently, we're on an upswing in applications, because of the publicity generated by the recent massive battle in B-R5RB, and the huge spike in new players joining. We also purge members who go inactive and don't log in for a month, so our membership count represents a real number who are logging in regularly and engaging in corp activities. Currently, that count is rising again and approaching 2,100, making E-UNI a fairly sizable organization (though far smaller than some of the massive null sec entities).
E-UNI uses a decentralized approach to management, with more directors, managers and staff than most corporations in EVE Online. The reasoning for this is twofold. First, it spreads the work around, lightening the load for everyone. Second, it provides a persistent line of qualified succession as people leave to try other things, in EVE Online or in Real Life.
Our corp is a little different from others in EVE Online, as no one is expected to stay in E-UNI permanently. Most join to learn what they need, and then move on to another corp that suits their playstyle.
However, as we've relaxed our rules of engagement and expanded the diversity of learning options over the last couple of years, more UNIs are hanging around in our corp for longer periods of time. More are staying with the UNI to try a number of our different campuses (the main one in high sec Aldrat, our Low Sec Campus, Null Sec Campus, Wormhole Campus, Amarr Mining Campus or the Project Solitude team in that remote region), and then settle in with a group that they enjoy most.
Those who do stay in E-UNI, however, are expected to give back to the corp - by helping others learn the game, or by assisting with corporation administration. Many become formal or informal mentors and teachers, or join our personnel officers or other staff positions. We have a constant flow of new people progressing through the corp in some way - it makes E-UNI a unique group in EVE Online.
On Being a Director
I'm often asked, "What's it like to be a director of a large corp?"
I'm proud to serve as Teaching Director of E-UNI. I earned this post by working my way up through the corp over several years, and now I am able to contribute to policy setting and planning. The UNI management team is an outstanding group of people - open to ideas, and all dedicated to the value of our mission: help players understand EVE Online better, and have more fun in the game. It's something we all enjoy doing.
Like everything in life, however, there are positives and negatives about being a corp director.
- Visibility: being a director means you really get to know what's going on, all the time. For example, when someone finds a war target's POS in a wormhole, you are part of the planning of its ultimate destruction, before anyone else knows about it. This is a lot of fun - most of the time (see below).
- Influence: being a director means you get to help shape the direction of the entire group. While E-UNI is more open than most in taking input from the membership, the directors are the ones who shape actual policy. Ultimately, final decisions are made by our beloved CEO, Azmodeus Valar, though his style is more consensus-building than command and control.
- Resources: being a director means you get access to corporate resources. We can tap our supply of people, ISK and equipment to do things, quickly and effectively. E-UNI is remarkably open about providing access to corporate resources to our directors - I have access to a considerable amount of really cool stuff. This requires a lot of trust, but it also means we can respond quickly to new opportunities, as they present themselves. That flexibility provides real value for our members.
- Teamwork: being a director means you are part of a team. When I had to diminish my online time for a few months to work on a substantial Real Life work project, I counted on my team to take up the slack in my absence. This they certainly did, keeping our calendar full of classes, lectures and events. It's always great to work with reliable people who will back you up.
- Notoriety: I freely admit that I enjoy the in-game recognition that comes automatically with being a director in a large corp. It's nice to be known, and I see it in the eager replies I get whenever I say hello in corp chat. It's ego gratifying, to be sure.
- Visibility: being a director means you really get to know what's going on, all the time - including internal disagreements. 98 percent of our discussions about corporate policy and direction are completely hidden from the general membership, and for good reason. Directors want to be able to exchange ideas and debate freely. Sometimes this produces some very passionate exchanges, which can get a little uncomfortable. It's a necessary part of the governing process, though it's not always enjoyable.
- Drama: this is the part of being a director that I dislike the most, but it is an inescapable part of the job. Whenever you have more than 2,000 people gathered together in a single endeavor, from a widely diverse set of backgrounds, conflict is inevitable. Sometimes it's because of a simple personality mismatch, or a genuine misunderstanding. Sometimes it is someone escalating a disagreement to an exaggerated level. Every once in a while, it's someone with narcissistic tendencies making trouble solely because they have an erroneously disproportionate understanding of their actual value in the Universe. Fortunately, we have learned how to diffuse most of these situations. In most corps in EVE Online, directors deal with drama by simply kicking the offending party out, with prejudice. In E-UNI, we are more tolerant of dissent - sometimes ridiculously so - and try to ameliorate disagreements through discussion and negotiation. Unfortunately, even this "velvet glove" approach fails sometimes, and we have no choice but to "counsel someone into a more suitable alternative". The more infamous ones get added to our official rogues gallery.
- Mail: oh, how I hate the e-mail beast, and how poor are my efforts to slay it. It's a never ending battle. After my recent hiatus, I dreaded trying to catch up with the substantial backlog, which I am only now beginning to overcome. And it's not just in-game EVE mail, but forum private messages, my UNI Google mail, Skype messages, and now my blog mail, too. I used to think that winning EVE Online meant having billions of ISK and an unblemished PvP record - now I'm starting to wonder if it is really an empty inbox.
- The corporate interface: for those who have never seen it, you cannot imagine how unbelievably horriterribad the user interface to corporate functions are in the EVE Online client. It's clear that it was designed for much smaller corps, for example, with little capability for managing large numbers. (I can't imagine how the Goonswarm directors manage - it must be a nightmare.) I've gotten used to most of it, though some parts still completely befuddle me, even after several years of practice. Our former CEO, Kelduum Revaan, was a master of the corporate interface, and as part of CSM7, he provided CCP with pages of necessary fixes and improvement ideas. I hear rumors that devs are now reworking corporate role definitions and management, which would go a long way towards making this functionality behave more intuitively. I want to hear something about this at Fanfest. Hope springs eternal.
So, is being a director worth the effort?
On the whole, it has been so for me, at least. Yes, there is work and some drudgery involved, as well as frustration from time to time. But overall, the positives far outweigh the negatives.
I see it almost every day: people playing EVE Online who tell us that we made a difference. They tell us that they would have given up and left the game, if we had not been there to lend them a hand and show them around. And I see it in the level of participation in our classes, lectures, events and fleets - which is on the upswing.
Being a corporate director isn't that glamorous, really - but it is satisfying, certainly.
Fly safe! o7