Would you take on the challenge of leading and managing a company at twenty years of age?

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At twenty years of age, living and studying either in Australia or overseas, would you put your studies on hold to have the opportunity to lead and manage an organisation in Australia for a year?  Last week that is what 12 university students did.

Based out of Sydney, AIESEC is the organisation they want to lead for the next year. What the acronym means is less important than what this organisation stands for.  AIESEC, which began as an initiative to bridge cultural divides following World War II has grown to be a global movement fostering youth leadership development.  Today, with 100,000 members drawn from 2,400 universities in 124 countries and territories, AIESEC generates income through their Global Internship Program which offers paid management and technical internships. Each internship involves working on diverse business projects in organisations that span most industry and government sectors. Internship duration varies from 6 weeks to 18 months.

Back to last week. I had the pleasure of guiding the leadership Group responsible for selecting the Management Committee (Leadership Team) that will lead AIESEC in Australia for one year commencing in July this year.  The selection process is as rigorous as any organisation would use to select people at this level. In brief, a written application is submitted, the application is reviewed, with preferred candidates progressing to the next round, part of which involves an in-depth interview conducted by an eight member panel of their peers.

Here is where you see the power of this organisation; the aspiring leaders interviewed were not only from Australia, they were from countries around the world. What struck me was the similar leadership qualities in each candidate displayed. These are some of the stand outs:

  • Self -Aware – strengths and areas for improvement at both the behavioural and skill levels;
  • Open and candid;
  • Clear vision of AIESEC’s future as well as their own;
  • Purposeful goals;
  • Meaningful embrace of diversity in its various forms;
  • Strong Values system – clear personal values that are strongly aligned to those of AIESEC;
  • Articulate and powerful communicators;
  • Ability to think globally and act locally;
  • Adaptable;
  • Committed to lifelong learning.

Remember these applicants are all in their early twenties. The question for all of us is how do we stack up on these attributes?

I have not just seen these qualities this year, I have seen them every year for the last 17 years  as Viventé prtovides its services to AIESEC in Australia on a pro-bono basis, providing coaching and guidance to the Management Committee on a range of strategic organisational and leadership development priorities.

I cannot fail to be impressed on two fronts; the quality of candidates each year, the careers AIESECers, as they are known, follow once they leave AIESEC.  Some the 100,000 plus Alumni I remain in contact with are working in their own businesses, working for Top 500 companies or working with agencies around the world to find solutions to the global challenges the world is facing.

As someone who can see the sunset of their career, albeit a very distant horizon, I am confident our future is assured in the safe hands of these emerging leaders.

If you are inspired to find out more about the Global Internship Program contact AIESEC http://www.aiesecaustralia.org/about/contact-us or talk with us.


Until next week.