So it has now been about 5 active years of AIESEC until left my last active (operational) role some weeks ago. So what has AIESEC actually given me in this time? Actually quite a lot – otherwise I would not have stayed for 5 years I guess. 😉
The Start of It All
I started in November 2006 in Hamburg, Germany actually rather looking for a way to promote international experiences to my fellow co-students but getting more than I had bargained for! I started as a member of the Talent Management Team (HR) and Local Information Manager. I loved the athmosphere of living in a very international team (just 2 Germans in a group of 10) and saw the different facets of working in a multicultural team.
As the job of the Information Manager I was also responsible for the local IT and saw that not everybody sees computers with the same perspective and knowledge. 😉
But my time in AIESEC really took off when I went to my I year internship in Brazil. I worked in a programming internship in a company with 6 people with different levels of English – which made it a cool challenge to even get better at Portuguese! I still love that language and the working athmosphere at that place back then. They were fun people and I still learned a lot 🙂
Team Management, Training, Information Management and Coaching
But at some point I figured out that only working with computers is not all that I want to do for a job – after already having figured out that just social work is not going to cut it for me either when I was in Africa. So what better than combining the two?!
I also became active in AIESEC in Brazil and helped to build up Information Management as a functional area in the Organisation. It has to be supporting strategy (so I learned how to work more strategically), create a learning and development value for the members involved and obviously it had to bring results.
There were also around 15 (national and local) conferences that year that I attended as a trainer, facilitator and partially organizer. Since I had already been abroad I could tell a bit about the cultural shock and what you encounter as stereotypes and prejudices – but also the ones that you find in yourself! Really an interesting perspective to teach it right from the other side (not as before to Internationals arriving in Germany as I had done with ICJA after my stay in Africa). This also gave me an incredible network later on.
I learned a lot about the art of facilitating and handling bigger groups in workshops, transmitting ideas and passion and letting people strive for more.
Most importantly I saw that you can change things no matter of which position you are in. What matters is your attitude, your vision, your passion and your desire to make the world a better place.
I also joined the support team for the global intranet then, providing yet a more global perspective – for an intranet that has to fit to 50.000 people around the world in 110 different countries and cultures! I was responsible for 2 new members (one from Jordan, one from Malaysia) and they became the 2 best performing members in my area the term after. In this time my network became really global! But what really boosted it was organizing the AIESEC International Congress 2008 for all National Boards, external Partners and Alumni (about 1100 people in this case) and celebrating 60 years of AIESEC in São Paulo, Brazil at the end of my stay. We worked as a team with 55 people from 27 different countries for about 9 intense weeks and it still feels like a family even now (3 years later)!
I also still had the honor to also represent AIESEC Germany and exchange ideas with people working on Information Management globally at the AIESEC International Congress 2009 in Malaysia – this time as a delegate! We also started a campaign there to support the Millenium Development Goals and let the world know about what you did to support it right there on the spot!
Back in Germany
After coming back to Germany I continued in AIESEC – and also joined the National Information Systems Team and introduced Information Management there. The Management area of all levels of AIESEC changes every year – so a lot of knowledge has to be passed on and you finish the job essentially just at the point where you know how to REALLY do it. But that is the steep learning curve for each member – you learn a lot in a very limited amount of time (but you should also document it – hence Knowledge Management)!
I also learned and reflected a lot while being part of the core organizing team of the National Leadership Development Seminar of AIESEC in Germany – which actually is a very international conference with participants from as far as Afghanistan, China, Mexico and Kenya!
Leadership can be seen in so many facets and you have to find the aspects that matter most to you – but also know about the others! You can try it out in practice in AIESEC and receive a lot of constructive feedback fast!
By the way: AIESEC in Germany was back then an organisation with around 2400 members and 47 different local entities – and even bigger today! – Talk about working in a big company in the management level already! 😉
Later on I also still helped to build up the area of Communications in Germany – and had several people I coached and supported on Communications and Strategic Social Media usage in particular as well as managed the official Social Media Channels on Facebook and Twitter.
I was also the chair for several strategic Planning Weekends for local Executive Boards where you have to shape the strategy, but also the future culture of a Local Committee. I have never been in an Executive Board myself nor been the main final responsible of a conference so far (although I surely did not feel afraid to do so) and yet made some contribution to the organisation!
Now I am going to be a chair in other conferences – hosting the plenaries, providing teambuilding for trainers and organizers and being responsible for the overall conference mood.Cya soon