AIESEC from inside: an interview with our MCP

AIESEC changes it’s executive boards every year, at national and at local level. Every year we have a new president and a new group of vice presidents who are responsible for guiding the organization during their one year term. In order to understand the organization better, we are bringing today the view from our current MCP (member’s comittee president),  Dyego Oliveira.

Born in Brazil, Dyego is now a citizen of the world, having visited, worked and impacted diverse cultures and environments over the last few years and the president of AIESEC in Switzerland for the term of 2016/17.

Tell us how a bit about your AIESEC journey

I started my journey in the organization in 2010,  hosting some exchange participants in my house, because I wanted to meet new cultures without leaving my home. I received people from Chile, the USA and in december 2011 I felt the eager to get out myself, so I went for a Global Volunteer in Egypt, in a project named “Where it all begins”. I went back to my homecity, finished my studies and by that time I decided to go abroad again, so I went for another volunteering project in Paraguay, in a communication project. I left there feeling a better person, in the way of giving value to life and things I had: There, I used to see people with big problems and disabilities, and still they were everyday welcoming me to the NGO with a big smile.

Two years later I went to India, for a Global Talent and there I faced some challenges, starting by the fact I was fired one week after I had started working. So there I was, on the other side of the world, unemployed and what I though was: “Let’s be Solution Oriented”. So I spoke to AIESEC back home and AIESEC in India and we were able to find another opportunity for me. After some months I found the opportunity to work at a new AIESEC committee that was opening in Paris. So I applied, got accepted to work as Marketing VP and one week later I was flying to Paris. It was really challenging, but still we were able to promote a great number of exchanges on our very first year, even more than some older committees. In November 2014 I got the chance to visit AIESEC in Switzerland, so in 2015 I applied for the national executive board (MC) and got accepted. Not satisfied with all the work we were doing, I decided to apply for another term on the organization, this time as MCP. I wanted to bring visibility to AIESEC in Switzerland, make it present in the Global Plennary and show the world that, even though we are in a very structured and stable country, we still have space to promote a lot of exchanges here.

How do you think that a working experience abroad (GT) shaped who you are today? How did you see your impact inside the company you worked in?

The experience taught me to become a more dettached person. I’ve always been very scared of losing people and things, but living abroad showed me that this is a natural and normal thing. It made me understand people, understand different cultures and that people have different points of view, so I learned to listen, respect, not judge them.  It increased my curiosity to understand what is going on in the world, it made me a more tolerant person as well as more analytical and capable of making more racional decisions. A Global Talent is longer right? It is different from a Global Volunteer, when you have only six weeks to live it all, it is very intense. When you have more time, you can take more time to adapt, to meet people and connect to them.

How do you evaluate AIESEC in Switzerland’s work with partners nowadays and what evolutions you see as natural for the next terms?

Well, there was a time when we would have up to 40 partners and nowadays we have around six. The partnerships were very much affected by problems with value delivery and quality of the experiences we were giving to our stakeholders. For me, quantity and quality are not opposites: you can deliver 1000 great experiences or 3 bad ones. I always defended and worked for quality experiences, given that it is fundamental to guarantee sustainability to the organization on the long term.

Switzerland is a great country, good economy and education and many big companies are not interested in AIESEC because of our international recruitment (it can be done online, without the work from a third party), so I think it is important for us to review the value preposition of our product for our country. We have to understand better our maket to develop better strategies. Global Entrepreneur is a product with great potential in the country, but it still has to be developed in terms of accomodation and visa issues. I also think that we must look at more data, to understand better what went well and what went wrong and improve on it.

Why do you think that AIESEC is important in Switzerland and why do you think it is important for us to be inserted in the second sector?

Well, I believe that AIESEC develops leadership by bringing people to work in challenging environments, with challenging job descriptions, where the exchange participant has to adapt quick, be agile and a fast learner. Switzerland, as a society, as a country is a place where talking about leadership is not so easy. Diversity here is not the largest and bringing foreigners to work here contributes to show to Swiss people how people with different backgrounds can add value to their companies and they can all learn from each other.


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An exchange journey to India!

This week we are bringing an exchange story shared by Calliope Karavgoustis, a 23 years old AIESEC member who has decided to chellenge herself and volunteer abroad in Baroda, India, on July 2016.
What motivated you to go? I was already a member of AIESEC and I wanted to experience our products. Furthermore, I love traveling and at that time I really needed a break to discover another reality, I wanted to explore something completely new, meet new people, be in another environment. I also wanted to challenge myself by going to a country that is completely different than what I knew and India was fascinating me. Also, I knew that by going with AIESEC it would be easier to be integrated and take the best out of it. Finally, combining the discovery of a new country with a volunteering project seemed to be the best option in order to feel “useful” and to interact with the local community.

What were the main challenges for you? Everything was completely new to me and it was hard in the beginning to adapt to all that. It was challenging to figure out what behavior would be the most suitable. Everyone was looking at me since I was a foreigner and it was weird and a bit uncomfortable in the beginning. However I got used to it and once I started talking to people, most of them were really friendly.
Another challenge was that things don’t always go the way they should and when it is in a different environment, you need to adapt and be resilient to find solutions. My project changed somehow during my stay and I had to adapt to it, but in the end it turned out well.
Another challenging element was basically that I didn’t know anyone and I had to  “find my place”, make new friends, etc. But step by step and after the first days, I felt more comfortable and I had met already some very nice people.

How did AIESEC helpe you? AIESEC was very helpful especially during the first days because they helped me feeling more integrated and it was easier to understand their culture by being with them. Since we are the same age it’s also more convenient to spend time together. And they are used to welcome EPs, which makes everything more natural. Another good thing was that before leaving I could ask them lots of questions to get ready and feel more reassured.
During the whole stay, AIESEC Baroda invited us (the Exchange Participants) to any event they had and for any inquiry, I knew I could ask any of them, they were always ready to help.

In general, my stay was very enriching. Everyday I was discovering new things, learning a lot by myself as well as from others, I met amazing people, I could integrate the community and have a better overview of how is life in India. It was also a great journey for myself because I was put in a challenging environment that made me grow a lot!

AIESEC seen from an AIESECer

Hello, readers! Today we are sharing with you the story of one of AIESEC in Switzerland’s Exchange Participant, Nina Bianchi!
Nina went to India to work as a volunteer and you can find out more about her Leadership DeVelopment journey with AIESEC here:

“I’m Nina, 21 years old. I went on an Global Volunteer exchange in Kolkata, India, in August 2015 (so I was 19 then). I was already a member of AIESEC, and I had just started my term as LCVP (Local Committee Vice President).

I decided to go abroad to volunteer with AIESEC because I had some time in the summer, and I wanted to do something different than just travel or work here in Switzerland. For me, it was an opportunity to discover a new culture I was very curious about, and to do that from the “inside”, from a different point of view than a tourist. As an AIESECer, I also wanted to live the kind experiences we offer, so that I would be even more motivated to work for it and allow others to live it as well.

During my exchange, the main challenge for me was definitely the cultural differences, especially the work culture. Since I was working and living with Indians, I had to adapt a lot my habits and my way of thinking and working. It took me a week or two to get used to it and be able to work without getting frustrated or uncomfortable. But I would definitely say that I learned a lot from it and became much more easy-going and adaptable in my work in general, even once I was back in Switzerland. 
AIESEC in Kolkata really did everything to make my experience as smooth and rich as possible. I saw them a lot, they made me visit the city and their favorite places, and I got the opportunity to attend a lot of events from the Local Committee there, which was very interesting for me as an AIESEC member. They were also very available to answer my questions and concerns and to make sure that the communication with the school I was volunteering in was going well. 
I would definitely say that this exchange allowed me to develop myself, both on a personal level and in my professional experience there. Working and living in such a challenging environment definitely made me learn a lot on myself and the way I engage with others, whatever their culture and background can be.
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Youth and Entrepreneurship: New ideas for new business

Every year, the School of Management of Fribourg releases the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM), as a way to explore and assess the role of entrepreneurship in national economic growth. It was first released in 1999 and ever since, the data analysis, conclusions and forecasts on Entrepreneurship in Switzerland can be accessed by anyone. The last report was released in 2016 and it brings attention to some interesting facts on the current reality of this field (check out the 2015/16 report here).

For instance, Switzerland shows high perception of capabilities along with a low fear of failure and still only 40% of the interviewed participants see entrepreneurship as a good career choice. Besides, the report brings out the fact that, although the country presents a low rate of discontinued business ideas, 50.2% of those were due to Swiss bureaucracy.

Another important fact brought by the report is the low rate of founding activity among 18-24 year olds in the country. The article points out some hypotheses that could explain the low rate of young entrepreneurs in Switzerland, such as lack of self confidence and unwilling to leave their comfort zone, which would be working as an employee. Maybe if entrepreneurial incentives and trainings were introduced earlier in education, this situation would be changed.

Even though main entrepreneurial initiatives don’t currently come from youth, having young people in this business sector can bring great results: New business work well with new ideas. By working with AIESEC and recruiting young talents from abroad for your startup, you can contribute to making entrepreneurship more attractive for Swiss youth, as well as having access to new and creative ideas!

For more informations about working with AIESEC, register here at .