Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Diffusion of Yearly Thoughts - A "LOVE" filled @STOCKHOLM?

OK! I will try to reflect on how and why I joined the Communications team during the term 2010-11 at AIESEC Stockholm, my experiences, what I gained from it, my opinions on the communications team and what kind of things assume(d) the mainstream at the LC. Mmmmmm ... let’s dig deep …

All seems to be a mere stone-throw away. So many things occurred; some motivating, some challenging, some special, some mind-blowing, some magical and some nearly mythical. It is ruthless to be selective and highlight only some of them. Where to start? Big, big dilemma! For me, it started midway through my Masters. Having spent significant time in Sweden and having adopted a professional mindset like the Swedish mainstream, I joined AIESEC pursuing certain professional goals. I wanted an internship in a high profile company. It became my foremost belief that becoming part of the AIESEC family was essential to my pursuit, only realizing ahead that one could achieve such an objective without becoming a member. Nonetheless, there were no regrets at the time. I became part of the Communications Team in which plenty of ideas used to be discussed and many goals were set. Sources of motivations came from Par Fridholm, the VP (Communications) at the time while support came from Niru, Gen and Santha (and of course, Myself! :)). Over a span of the term, the team ended up with three members with Gen and Santha dropping out fairly soon. This happening did not hinder progress. Rather, motivations and confidence were yet elevated. Outlined objectives started to be achieved and this pretty much remained the course throughout the entire term. The Communications department at LC Stockholm started exhibiting characteristics of an outstanding Center of Excellence. In saying so, the story remains abstract. However, I will attempt to convey some special moments that I went through at the LC.

Moment 1: Unique Memory with Dedication - "COMMUNICATION SAGA"
The Communications team had a responsibility to promote communication (internal, external, online etc). Although the genes that comprise the AIESEC structure advocate that communication is effortless at all levels of the hierarchy, it remained evident that there were certain hidden elements that obstructed easy communication within members. However, it remained hard to figure out what were these elements. As a norm at AIESEC Stockholm, midway through the term, each team at the LC was required to showcase productions according to their respective functional and professional DNA. When this opportunity was presented to communications, it created a unanimous opportunity to address this problem with the entire LC crew present in the first LC meeting after the X-Mas and New Year break. With the communications team present with only two members (Sarmad & Niru) on the “Day of Judgment”, the LC crew was entertained like never before with talks, reflections, observations, actions, movements, demonstrations and content, compelling CONTENT! Post reactions were productive, pleasing, emotional and exuberant. Speaking strictly within the parameters of internal communications, I considered it remained a great memory and will possibly remain a benchmark for the communications team, as far as the very essence of communication is concerned. This humorous, entertaining yet meaningful episode created harmony and forged lubrication within the realms of communication at the LC. The entire production was dedicated to the ruling VP (Comm) at the time – Lucky him who became the envy of many J.

The presentation came at a very crucial moment. The LC was going to participate in the second conference of the year, UNITE in Copenhagen which was supposedly an international conference. Consequently, people went there in high spirits and showed what LC Stockholm was made up of.
Moment 2: Eruption of the crazy "OC! OC! OC! … OY! OY! OY!"
After mid-January, a broadcast message was circulated to all LCs across Sweden informing that opportunities were available to be part of the Organizing Committee in the second conference of the year, UNITE. Though at a short notice, I seized the opportunity and travelled all the way to Copenhagen to work with people I had never met before. So many nationalities were present prior to the actual kick start of UNITE. The most incredible aspect was that despite so many variations, all had one objective in mind, that of making the conference a memorable outcome. The OC embraced energetic members. This was important as it was to be taken for granted that these members were not going to get much sleep as they were the ones responsible to execute the off-show activities and preparing subsequent formalities in time for delegates that partook in the conference. Becoming the focal point of sheer heavy workload, members were motivated, confident and energetic. They were supportive and helpful with each other which eased the workflow – fabulous teamwork! It went on for three days (plus) and OC members started to assume zombie-like appearances. However, these feelings were instantly overshadowed at the reunion held at the official dinner when massive acknowledgement was given to the OC for the way the rather “memorable” conference had shaped out. This fused the OC even more which lead to several strong acquaintances amongst OC members even after the conference. It was truly memorable. I would recommend AIESECers to try OC stuff at least once. It is a once in a lifetime experience.

Moment 3: The Impeccable, Dramatic, Astounding Episode
Boy! This is the hardest one, and the best one! It was the month of April, theoretically when bootstraps are tightened at AIESEC to carry out aggressive campaigning for the subsequent term, recruiting new members, defining the new Executive Board and plenty of other formalities. It was during this time that I developed certain acquaintances. Many mouths utter AIESEC is all to do about professionalism, developing leadership skills or developing tomorrow’s leaders. The counter side also exists where people mingle and know other cultures by interacting with them. For me, it was rather different. This phase allowed me to learn more about aspects of people and also about myself. It allowed me to evaluate myself, assess myself, MAYBE even re-assess myself and unearth my shortcomings. It should be clear that by dealing earthly matters as such allow one to be stronger, acquire greater prowess and strive towards excellence (VERY AIESEC LIKE!). However, some experiences take longer time to illustrate results. I am pretty sure this IMPECCABLE, DRAMATIC, ASTOUNDING experience is another one of those situations where I look ahead into time into the unseen and explore the unknown. The days from April 11-15 will truly remain very important for me as things were shaping out better than I had expected. I was achieving academic goals, professional goals and social goals in such a short time frame. It would be great to undergo the very same experience again. I, personally, would classify this experience as the pinnacle of my AIESEC life. So much happened during these 5 days that it is impossible to depict all happenings here.

Rounding off? ….. NOT YET! ….. What’s with LC Stockholm?
While being at AIESEC, one can undergo many life changing experiences. People say one can develop professionally while others say they gain a great networking opportunity to develop acquaintances. Very true! To exercise this effortlessly, I believe there are certain shortcomings at LC Stockholm that require immediate attention. With new leadership on board, expectations are potentially higher. Given the fact that AIESEC Stockholm comprises of two EB members at the moment and more members are on the verge of becoming part of the founding LC of AIESEC, it is important that there is harmony, union, bonding and collective thinking within all the people who will hold the responsibility to run the LC next term, members included!

A very prominent shortcoming last term was the lack of communication and interaction between the EB and the members. Moreover, the lack of interaction between members and members! No measures were taken to eliminate this inadequacy. It was pretty much down to self-initiative to overlook this problem. Keeping in mind I owe my loyalties to LC Stockholm, I have a number of recommendations for the next group of AIESECers to keep in mind.
1. Be Abrupt: Do not think about what you want to do and what you want to say, whether you should do a certain thing or you should say a certain thing ….. Just Do It and Just Say it!
2. Interact & Communicate: Though a hierarchy exists in the LC in the technical sense, in reality, there is no hierarchy. Do not be afraid to step up, deliver your thought and smile about it when you do so. At least you will get appreciation from someone!
3. Avoid Personal Branding: It is important to think in the collective sense and pursue objectives that work in favor of everyone. Give everyone an opportunity because that’s why people join AIESEC. Once this is implemented, everyone will be branded anyway - Branding in the Making, so to speak!
4. Adopt a Recognition System: As we know, acts and works done at AIESEC are considered professional. However, the reality is that it is voluntary work after all in which certain people put in a lot of effort. The EB should acknowledge their efforts by actions, by words or by recognition through something tangible. This will instill further faith and most likely, members will double their efforts to work even better.

5. Participate in Conferences: Extremely important for all newbies! This is your chance to acquaint with people from other LCs. Though ties tend to remain weak due to the spatial distance in the post-conference life, it still boosts a lot of confidence and lead to some friendships that can be lasting. Maybe you can cash some friendship later!

6. Challenge Convention: Try to do something unconventional, something different, be a change maker! You may not get appreciation from all but you will certainly gain self-satisfaction and get a chance to influence others.

7. Network, Network, Network: Very important to enter new circles. Do not think about what kind of people there are in the circle you are eyeing. Go in there, speak with them, you will get a chance to understand where you stand, a chance to assess yourself and carry out corrective measures if needed.

8. Be Omni-Present: Try to understand what other teams other than your own do, their operations, their tasks etc. This will not only broaden your vision but will allow you to learn more. Moreover, it will allow you to interact with other AIESECers and prepare you to step up against big audiences.

9. Please! Change the Roll-Call: Perhaps I need not say more! The song used to practice the roll-call is “STUPID” in itself, not to mention its title, “THE STUPID DANCE”, which require urgent remodeling. Plzzzzzz Hawra & Co., LISTEN TO MY PLEA! :D

As I sign off, I would want to take this opportunity and thank everyone I met at AIESEC, especially Par and Niru, who have been a tremendous support and have been truly awesome throughout. Thanks to all the EB as well, especially Filippa who has been so energetic all around. Many thanks to all the other acquaintances as well! I hope we can meet on other better occasions in the near future. So long!

Besos y abrazos desde Madrid!