So I just arrived home (almost a month ago) from NOGX West- a conference filled with rainbows, the Backstreet Boys, Transformers, guns, sheriff badges and plenty of high level strategic-triangle (strat-tri) discussions. And while it turned out to be a fun and truly valuable learning experience I have to admit I was more than ready to give up and come home before I even got to the hotel!
In about two days the facilitators (faci) managed to squeeze in 17 jam packed sessions with a bit of Exchange and Leadership (X+LR), some Communications (COMM) love, Canadian Cooperation, plenty of best case portfolio and LC practices sharing time, some practical skills for setting up partnerships, suggestions for structural adjustments and of course plenty of dancing (in fact we believe we must have set a record for the Canadian conference with the most dances– we exhausted the repertoires of all 13 delegates, 2 facis and 3 OC members)!
For me, one of the most challenging but rewarding sessions was one called ‘Selling our Product’. We had spent much of that morning talking about how the AIESEC experience is unique because of its opportunity for “the whole package” of Exchange + Leadership. Once that idea had been discussed at length and had plenty of time to sink in, the facis split us up into pairs and gave us a little slip of paper with a product and budget and we, as an ad agency, had to try to find a way to get the contract to advertise it for its company. I quickly discovered that my partner, like myself, was an arts student and had no idea how to go about writing up a proposal of this nature.
As we worked through it, however, we discovered that our background actually gave us a new perspective (on trying to create an ad campaign for selling dog food specifically). In the end when we presented it to Procter & Gamble aka the MC they liked our creative idea and we were hired! I think what I liked so much about this activity, other than the experience that I wouldn’t normally get working from both a Communications and Corporate Relations kind of perspective, was the realization that just because I don’t have the business background does not mean that I don’t have something to add to an organization like AIESEC. Although this conference was very small and COMM, TM and OGX focused, I think the great thing about any AIESEC conference is that you always get a look at the bigger picture and continue to build a skills set which increases your own functionality as well as confidence. At the same time you are getting to spend time with an amazing and diverse group of people who clearly have a passion for what they do and for the organization as a whole, which can only serve to increase yours. I left NOGX West not only with a head full of practical and theoretical knowledge to bring back to my portfolio and LC but also a renewed love for all things AIESEC!
Chaity’s story on how she got there!
So just to quickly explain, I had been looking forward to the conference for quite a while but for some reason I put off packing until around midnight the night before. I managed to get to sleep around 2 am and then woke up to a phone call around 5 am from a friend who had some time difference miscounting issues. Already the day wasn’t going quite as I had imaged, but I figured I better stay up and finish getting ready for my 10am flight. I gathered all my stuff together and walked outside just in time to miss my bus.
Luckily, I managed to get a ride to the skytrain while desperately scrambling to finish my half made breakfast. Unfortunately, as soon as I got on the skytrain, I realized that I was missing my boarding pass, delegate package and bus details to the airport! To add to my bad luck a man ran on to the skytrain and yelled “I have Swine Flu,” thus scaring an elderly lady who pulled the emergency alarm, which of course delayed me even further.
I finally made it to the airport and reprinted my boarding pass just in time to get through security and find my gate. Of course when I got there, I found out my flight was unexpectedly delayed for 45 minutes… And if all of that wasn’t bad enough when I finally did make it to Calgary, I couldn’t for the life of me find the shuttle bus terminal to the hotel. I asked five different people and they gave me five different sets of directions. Needless to say, by the end of the 45 minutes I spent searching for the bus, I managed to see quite a bit of the Calgary airport (and it’s surprisingly nice).
Finally, I found the bus terminal and went to call the hotel for pick up but discovered that the 1 button was defective on the phone and of course that was the number for my hotel. I went inside and opened up another phone box that looked exactly like the one outside and pick it up. A man answered saying something like “Airport Security, if this is a safety concern don’t move, we have everything on surveillance, we will be with you shortly…” so now I’m freaking out a bit, but I managed to squeak that I was sorry and had picked up the wrong phone by accident before running back outside. Finally, I managed to find a payphone to call the hotel directly and about 20 minutes later got picked up!
Of course as the Organizing Committee members were quick to point out, when I regaled them with my story, while waiting to check-in, (because of course check-in was put on hold by the hotel just when I arrived) it was not necessarily a bad omen for the conference itself but simply a result of the fact that it was Friday the 13th! I know I will certainly never take any superstition for granted again!