Oct 29, 2009

Developing Globally-Minded Leaders

I just came from our review board, where we interviewed exchange participant candidates. After asking gruelling questions to assess these candidates on their cultural awareness, leadership abilities, AIESEC knowledge and expectations, they all passed. We were impressed by their experiences, their cultural sensitivity and their motivations for going on an AIESEC internship abroad.

As I was driving one of my fellow panelists home, we talked about some common qualities that all AIESEC members possess. It's that sensitivity, that global awareness, that sense of social responsibility, that strong work ethic, that entrepreneurial spirit and that desire to always be learning and growing that makes AIESECers so special. The opportunities to develop yourself through local leadership opportunities, international internships and conferences are great, but what makes those three things so special are the members of AIESEC who make them happen. The real benefit is the network and community that you are a part of.

Ever since Western Regional Conference (WRC) something has felt different. And now I've realized what it is. Now more than ever, I've reached a point in my personal development, where I have learned enough about AIESEC and leadership that I can focus mostly on developing others to be leaders in AIESEC.

In the words of Jack Welch "Before you are a leader, success is all about growing yourself. When you become a leader, success is about growing others"

I've never felt so much like a leader. Before I joined AIESEC I didn't even see myself as having leadership potential. Now I'm the face of AIESEC Victoria.

Earlier today, my friend took a photo of a slide that listed the names of the local committes that were present at WRC
and tagged all the local committee presidents to the name of their local committees. At first I just smiled. And then I realized how cool that was to have your name attached to something like that. It's really cool to be an LCP. You're a brand ambassador of your LC. And I find that exciting.

What I find more exciting is getting to learn even more about leadership as I help to develop the next generation of leaders in AIESEC Victoria. Our new members are awesome! And so are our new Exchange Participants!

Oct 26, 2009

Western Regional Conference

It finally came! And everything came together awesomely. The venue was perfect, the OC was on top of everything, the faci team was immensely entertaining and informative, the chair was inspiring, and the delegates had spirit like I had never seen before.

We danced. We cheered. We networked and connected with other students from all over Western Canada. We thought critically over the different challenges and obstacles we and others have had to face. The new members had a great introduction to AIESEC while us more experienced members got more advanced training. We exchanged ideas as a region. We celebrated over a lovely banquet. We wrote sugar cubes. We said our goodbyes and so long's until the next conference.

Sounds like your typical AIESEC conference, but it wasn't this time. At least not for me…

Never have I felt so present and so energetic at a conference before. 12 conferences in my 2 years in AIESEC and one would think that I would be sick of conferences by now. So far from the truth.

There is something so special about hosting a conference. There's nothing like getting to open your arms and say "welcome to our beautiful city" to over 140 people coming from as far south as Seattle and as far East as Winnipeg. Actually we had one faci from Toronto and two MC members from Toronto as well. It is also fantastic not having to travel to get to a conference.

There was so much work put into this conference, but it was so worth it. While I wasn't part of the organizing committee, I had an unofficial position of project management trainer/OCP (Organizing Committee President) coach/ cheerleader /delivery girl. We always talk about how hard the OC works to plan and run a conference, but I had no idea until this year. Their hard work has paid off exponentially. Not only did everyone have a great time and learned lots but I can already see the difference in our local committee. And I'm sure the conference experience has helped the other LC's (local committees) that attended as well. We have so many motivated, capable and bright new leaders to pass the torch on to now. I'm so excited to see our LC grow. Out of all the hard decisions I have had to make as an LCP, bidding on this conference was most likely the best decision we have made!

We got a second shot of motivation right after the conference with an LC visit from our MC coach. It was super-fast but we now have loads of fantastic advice to bring up our performance. And that visit just made my job a lot easier. Now to sit back and relax, coach and connect with my executive team and do some succession planning (which hosting WRC has also made easier). I hope lots of LC's bid on next year's regional conferences. The only risk is wanting to host another one!

Oct 13, 2009

Learning to Sell

Friday night, six of us from AIESEC Victoria headed over to Vancouver. After waiting in chaotic line-ups due to Thanksgiving and a ferry accident, we finally made it over.

Saturday was National Sales Day in Vancouver. After two great events on Toronto and Montreal, the event came to Vancity. It was led by a National Committee Member and three alumni. The day was packed with energy, excitement and lots of sales tips I had never heard about. We can't wait to bring back everything we learned this weekend to our AIESEC Victoria. And that's starting this week with a marketing blitz.

While our marketers are busy picking up the phone, the organizing committee of Western Regional Conference is even busier putting together last-minute preparations for the conference this weekend. It's gonna be amazing! www.aiesec.ca/wrc2009

Oct 4, 2009

International Congress

Finally, I have found the time to write about my experience at International Congress 2009. I wish I could have written on IC each day, but our internet connection there was very poor. So here’s a recap of the entire experience.
What a conference! 10 Days. 107 countries, 500+ people gathering at the Palace of the Golden Horses in Kuala Lumpur Malaysia.

Here are the highlights:

The Palace of the Golden Horses. We stayed at “6 star hotel”. And at a very affordable rate too. The palace was beautiful.

Global Village. First day of the conference. In two hours I had visited booths of 107 countries. Incredible. The Canada booth was awesome. It was covered with maple cookies, maple candies, Canada flag pins, hand-cut paper snowflakes, cut-outs of beavers and more. And we were dressed in our finest Canadiana hockey gear as our traditional costumes.

Opening Plenary. 3 minutes per country. 107 countries went up on stage one by one to present a skit, dance, video or whatever they felt like. So cool.

The Chair. Arthur Josephson. Director of Western Europe and North America from a few years ago. Now he’s a leadership consultant and is doing amazing things to better the world. He did an amazing job of guiding us through the conference, helping us connect with our personal passion, motivating us to achieve our goals and helping us get the most out of this conference.

AIESEC International (AI). That 12-person team working out of Rotterdam, Netherlands led our sessions and were absolutely amazing. Before this conference, I always felt that AI was that distant group of incredibly talented people setting this global direction that didn’t really apply to me and my LC. I was wrong. They are still a group of incredibly talented people that have also gone through similar AIESEC experiences—they’ve just been in AIESEC a little longer. But everything they do applies to our LC’s. And they keep the LC perspective to heart. Our LC’s are the people there who are doing the work—creating these life-changing experiences to produce the next generation of global leaders. I really understand the role my LC has in our global network now. And it is also very cool to have our past MCP Emily and past MCRVP Ontario, Carolyne on AI.

The Congress Committee (CC). We love the C.C. we do. This incredible team of people from around the world was there to organize the conference and help us delegates out throughout the entire 10-day journey. It was also awesome to have 3 Canadians on the C.C. Being on the C.C. is also another awesome opportunity that you can do in AIESEC that not enough people tell you about. You go at least a month in advance. Food and accommodation is usually provided. You get to work with an international team to put on an international conference. Next year’s IC is in India.
Partner Launches. It was great getting to see our Global Partners get up on stage, tell us how they use AIESEC’s Global Internship Program as part of their HR strategy, tell us how their company and AIESEC are similar, and hear about some of the amazing jobs our alumni have done in their companies.

Youth 2 Business Forum. The first ever. Three tracks: sustainability, entrepreneurship, and labour mobility and diversity. The morning consisted of workshops from organizations. The afternoon consisted of speakers and open space conversations. I joined a conversation about entrepreneurship in the non-profit sector—a topic I am particularly passionate about. It was nice to connect with delegates and externals with the same passion and to hear about their opinions and experiences. The final part consisted of a panel of AIESECers and AIESEC alumni, and dialogues between delegates and externals about AIESEC’s role in business and society.

Generation 2010. 5 years ago the AIESEC International team set out some very ambitious targets for us. We found out that we’re on track to making it there.

Workshops. How AI managed to make sessions that were relevant and clearly understood by delegates from over 100 different countries is astonishing. How AI managed to make sessions that were relevant, motivating and applicable to every local committee in the network is even more amazing. I understand our global direction, I am better equipped to bring my LC in the right direction, and I have taken my leadership development up another notch. But what makes the sessions so powerful and successful, is the collective intelligence from people in over 100 countries. Being in a discussion circle with 9 people each from a different country is the coolest thing ever.

Country Meetings. Here’s a typical day’s worth of country meetings. Breakfast – Brazil, First half of lunch – Australia, Second half of Lunch – Korea, Dinner – meeting with a global exchange partner, Free time – Spain and Greece, End of Day – UAE. During these meetings, the MC VP Exchanges would talk, while the LCP’s would break off and talk about exchanges between their LC’s our just share information on our LC’s.

Making Connections. By now you’re probably thinking that the sessions and the meetings are amazing. But the best part of the conference is what happens outside of the conference. It’s the conversations you have and the connections you make in between sessions, at the end of the day, at meals or on the post-study tour. No matter where you come from in the world, everyone at this conference has had very similar experiences in AIESEC. Before you meet, you already have a lot in common.

The final banquet. The last night of the conference and we were all dressed up. Delegates of the nearby Alumni Congress came to see the banquet. We had this incredible multi-course Chinese wedding dinner. In between courses, AI gave out the awards. AIESEC Canada won the regional achievement award for Western Europe and North America. It was so exciting! The results that were submitted counted for back when I was a Vice President and becoming an LCP. It felt wonderful to be one of many who had worked hard to help AIESEC Canada to achieve the award. The other UBS Award winners were: Russia, Egypt, Kenya, Mexico. AIESEC India won the Global Achievement Award.

The Post-study tour. 3 days in Langkawi. There were about 60 of us from the conference. We took a bus from the hotel after the conference ended and arrived in Langkawi the next morning. We went island hopping the first day. Our first island had a beautiful freshwater lake in the middle. I have never swam in clearer water. Our second island was a feeding ground for eagles. We saw a dozen eagles swoop down to catch fish in front of us. And the final island had a beautiful beach. That evening we had a Malaysian dinner and were entertained by traditional Malaysian dancers. On our final day we learned to paint batik, visited a zoo with many animals we had never seen before, went souvenir shopping and saw some more beautiful beaches.

What happens next. It’s been a month since I have gotten back in IC and I still wish I was back there. I feel so fortunate to have had such a wonderful experience. I’m doing my best to share my new knowledge and experience with other AIESECers back home. And I’m really excited to help our newly recruited EP’s find their internships. I can’t wait to experience AIESEC abroad next year.