Celebrating ambition transcending gender

There are many theories and interpretations on what causes women to be disadvantaged and unequally represented especially regarding work, but also in other fields of life; A glass ceiling is an invisible obstacle that prevents a woman from advancing in her career, while a discriminatory practice that keeps women at the bottom of the job scale is called a sticky floor. The majority of decision makers are men, both in business and politics. Wage gaps exist even in the most gender equal societies of the world. Women often face many unfair obstacles that make it harder for them to advance their careers, ranging from the pressure of staying home taking care of the children to belittling attitudes that force women to prove that they’re just as capable as their male colleagues.

If you take a look at the “Women’s First” , a list of achievements by women, it’s hard to find areas where women were truly first, and not just first after men. It is quite disheartening that very often to achieve something as a woman is to do something that has already been done by a man. From the standpoint of professional achievement, women have to face being constantly compared to men.

 

Yet, there are women who managed to defy this fate seemingly against all odds. Take for example Marie Curie. Yes, she was the first woman to receive the Nobel prize, but she was also the first ever person to receive a Nobel prize in two different fields, both chemistry and physics. She is one of the most influential scientists of the 20th century. Frances Perkins was the first woman to be appointed to the U.S. cabinet and helped pave way for the participation of women in work life. But Perkins was also shaping policies that influenced the lives of millions of men. She was working for the whole society, both men and women. The one small step for man taken by Armstrong was enabled by the in-flight software developed by Margaret Hamilton, a pioneer in software engineering, and her team. When looking at the young self-made entrepreneurial generation of today of Alaa Murabit, Divya Nag, and the like, one can only guess what they will accomplish in the span of their whole career.

Margaret_Hamilton Margaret Hamilton and the code her team wrote for the Apollo project.

This International women’s day, we celebrate ambitious women; those who broke off from sticky floors, who shattered the glass ceilings with a smash, and who didn’t ask for a permission to excel. Women who are successful in what they do both as women – and just purely as exceptional people.

 

AIESEC has been recognized as one of the most freedom-centered democratic workplaces for 10 consecutive years by WorldBlu. AIESEC’s youth empowerment defies gender norms, through numerous projects focusing on the Sustainable Development Goal 5, and through both young women and men that are represented in the top levels of the organization. They were all chosen for their roles not because or despite their gender, but because they were the best people for the job. AIESEC doesn’t discriminate based on gender.

Everyone should have the opportunity to explore their passions, and strive to become the best version of themselves, no matter their gender. So go for the career that you want, whether that is to defy the prevalent norm, or not, and don’t let others’ expectations hold you back. Dare to believe that you are good enough for it.

The Value of Purpose-Driven Leaders

The world doesn’t need more profit-driven leaders, but purpose-driven leaders who can solve real world issues.

“The key challenge for business is how do we get more purpose-driven leaders that realise they are there to make a difference in the world”, said Bill George of Harvard Business School at The World Economic Forum, which took place in Davos again this year.

dbpix-george-blog480“The pressures are greater today than they’ve ever been on CEOs to produce short-term results but it’s really not about that. It’ about having a company that’s going to solve actual social problems through the work the company does and that requires a company with commitment to purpose throughout the entire organisation.”

In a highly globalised world we live in today facing numerous challenges, purpose is what unites people to work towards a common future. To have purpose is to give meaning to the goals we are striving to achieve together. Purposeful and meaningful work is becoming more and more important worldwide. According to Youth Speak, the global millennial insight survey, young people rated meaningful work as the 2nd most important factor in the first 5 years of their career.

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Additionally, 72% of Youth Speak‘s 25,000 youth respondents across over 100 countries believe that it is important for companies to positively impact society. Although the definition of “positive impact” varies, data shows that Generation Y demands companies to have meaningful contribution to society and not solely generate profit without purpose.

Many companies worldwide recognize the significance of meaningful contribution to issues that affect society today. A PR Newswire article highlights the findings of the global research, which was launched at The World Economic Forum by Ernst & Young and Oxford. One of the findings states “Corporate leaders see the organization’s role evolving to address global challenges, taking an active role in creating well-being and value for and with a wider set of stakeholders.”

However, the findings also show that while businesses recognize the importance of purpose for driving core strategies and operations, they also “acknowledge there is a gap between this recognition and the policy and practice in their organizations.” (source)

Therefore, we are back to the question posed by Mr. Bill George of Harvard Business School:

How do we get more purpose-driven leaders who can act on the purpose?

AIESEC, the world’s largest youth-led organisation, believes the answer lies in providing young people with practical leadership experiences. By engaging in a challenging environment designed to test them, push them and shape them, young people are given the chance to try and the freedom to fail. Members of AIESEC are given the chance to engage and learn across different cultures and geographies–enabling young people to connect with different types of living and working while contributing to the development of their peers. In turn, enabling the young person to connect with issues that matter to them while being considerate of the global nature of many of today’s issues and make more sustainable decisions.

Learning by doing leaves the most powerful impact and allows first-hand discovery of what you are good at, what you are not good at and what really matters to you. Self-awareness developed by learning through trial and error is a first step to realizing your own potential and your unique contribution to the world.

So do you know how can you contribute?

We need leaders who see the bigger picture and understand the importance of creating meaningful contributions to building a better world. The development of more purpose-driven leaders is a step towards building a more sustainable future and you have a chance to become one of these purposeful leaders. How will you move our world forward?

We’d love to hear your thoughts – Tweet us your opinions of the leadership needed today @AIESEC #purposeleadership

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The Race to Improving the World Beyond 2015

Did you know there are only 500 days left until the end of the Millennium Development Goals?

As 2015 is slowly approaching, the world is closely watching to witness the accomplishments of the 8 MDGs, set by the United Nations back in the year 2000.

So where are we now? How much did we achieve?

“The world has reduced extreme poverty by half, efforts in the fight against malaria and tuberculosis have shown results, access to an improved drinking water source became a reality for 2.3 billion people”, etc. says The Millennium Development Goals Report 2014.

Let’s take a closer look at the goals and progress reports from this video:

1. Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger – 700 million people have been lifted out of poverty, but 1 in 5 still live on less than 1.25 dollars per day in developing countries. And although the world has reduced extreme poverty in half, 842 million people around the world still suffer from chronic hunger.

2. Achieve universal primary education – The number of children with no access to primary school education decreased from 102 million in 2000 to 58 million in 2012. While the amount has significantly decreased, the number of out-of-school children is still alarming.

3. Reduce child mortalityUnder-5 mortality rate was reduced almost by 50%, but a lot more needs to be achieved if we want to achieve 2/3 reduction.

4. Improve maternal health – Maternal mortality ratio is down 45% since 1990. However, every day about 800 women die from causes related to pregnancy and childbirth.

5. Ensure environmental sustainability – Since 2012, 2.3 billion more have access to improved drinking water, but 748 million still use water from an unimproved source.

For more statistics, take a look at:

 

While we ought to celebrate our achievements and recognize the progress we’ve made, we shouldn’t forget how far the world is from where we want it to be. Working on these issues is not priority only now or only until 2015, but every day.

How can we contribute to this?

On August 19th 2014, 700 young people from 124 countries and territories gathered at the Global Youth to Business Forum, an event bringing together top young leaders and experts, business and thought leaders, with the aim of generating new, actionable ideas that will impact the world and its future.

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They spent the whole day discussing the topics ranging from Diversity and Inclusion, Technology and Innovation to Climate Change, Sustainability and Changing Education. Together, they have come up with action steps that could help improve each of those areas and move the world forward. Stay tuned for our report to find out about the solutions youth and business co-created together!

Don’t forget that we have only 500 days left until MDGs. At the same time, let’s not forget that impact is a daily responsibility. This is why AIESEC offers volunteer internships that help tackle social topics such as cultural understanding, education and literacy, social entrepreneurship, environment, health and lifestyle and many others. For more information, please visit: http://globalcitizen.aiesec.org

This is how we contribute to making an impact every day and helping move this world forward. Share with us:

How will you contribute to bringing the world closer to the vision of 2015? 

 

Entrepreneurship 101 with Intel

We live in times of a changing, knowledge-based economy. Leaving the industrial age behind, we entered the age of information. Nowadays, job markets require different set of skills; the so-called 21st century skills, such as critical thinking, collaboration, problem solving, team work and many more. The concepts of “intrapreneurship” and “entrepreneurship” have become highly appreciated. But even though the world has changed, education has not followed. There is a huge gap between the knowledge and skills formal education provides and the knowledge and skills needed to succeed in today’s business world.

Intel wants to follow up on the change.

Michał Dżoga, Head of Corporate Affairs (CEE Region) says, “At Intel, we believe that everything we do should matter to society.” That is why at the Europe Youth to Business Forum, Intel ran a workshop with 100 young leaders about the importance of entrepreneurship, start-ups and innovation.

Hard data proves that the entrepreneurship culture in Europe is weaker than anywhere else. This could be associated with the difference in perception the USA and Europe have regarding the outlook on failure when starting your own company. In the USA, failure is accepted as part of the natural process of learning and growing. Most of what you learn as an entrepreneur is by trial and error. In Europe however, people tend to be too cautious in their desire not to fail, which prevents them from taking healthy risks necessary for the success of their company.

Michał Dżoga asked the delegates at the workshop a powerful question – How often do students start a company straight after college and succeed without previous experience?

It happens all the time!

When starting up, it is important to remember that you don’t have to have absolutely everything in the beginning, because that’s very hard to achieve. The idea is to start and constantly add to what you have. As Michał said “There are more interesting ideas than good companies on the market.“

Another tip to keep in mind about entrepreneurship is that idea is small part of the investment; implementation is everything. In a science project, an idea is worth a lot. But since globalisation influences start-ups, someone else may be doing your project already. That’s why it is important to start as early as possible, with good mentoring and guidance.

At Europe Y2B Forum, Michał Dżoga also revealed the secret of Intel’s success “We really believe in what we are doing. People who were there in the beginning are still with the company. What Intel is most proud of is Moore’s law, named after its co-founder Gordon Moore, which states that the number of transistors on a chip will double approximately every two years. The company uses this as a guiding principle for growth and advancement. Intel has the legacy to foster innovation and leadership, which are embedded in the DNA of the company.“

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As part of this legacy, Intel is organising the Intel Business Challenge, an event which brings together the best engineers and scientists from around the world to present how they plan to make the world a better place through innovations and entrepreneurial skills! But the Intel Business Challenge is not only about the competition, but more about the platform that will help you fine tune your idea and gain mentorship and guidance from entrepreneurs all over the world.

Find out more at intelchallenge.eu. Apply, become an entrepreneur and make the world a better place!

Solving Youth Unemployment in Europe

“There are 26.2 million people unemployed in the EU today – an increase of more than 9 million people from 2008. This trend has significant economic, political and social consequences for Europe. The challenge for European leaders is to solve this puzzle and to help citizens find sustainable and long-term employment opportunities.”

(www.iiea.com – The Institute of International and European Affairs)

Sustainable and long-term employment opportunities do not include just generating new job posts, but also educating and preparing youth to be ready for responsibilities these job posts bring. Nowadays Millennials complain about the lack of open job posts, while businesses argue that Gen Y lack the needed skill sets.

Who is right and who is wrong?

Rather than taking one side, let us consider the fact that there is a gap in expectation setting from both sides: what young people want from their employers vs. companies’ expectations from their employees and the type of employee they would be more likely to hire. Imagine what would happen if we aligned supply and demand – the kind of the jobs young people are looking for and developing the set of characteristics young people need to perform in their dream jobs.

What is also often disputed when talking about youth unemployment is the mindset young people born as Gen Y share – they are ambitious but not humble; they expect excellent conditions from the get go; they are not prepared to start from scratch and work up the ranks, rather demanding everything right now. How can we make sure young people understand what is needed in order to land their dream job? How can we shift the current mindset?

As often happens, challenges arise from more than one source; it is the combination of everything mentioned above. On one hand, the education young people are acquiring is leaving them unprepared to deal with today’s job market reality. They lack practical knowledge, skills and strategic thinking, which are usually not acquired through formal education. And on the other hand, employers seek young people who are ready to dedicate themselves to work, learn and advance but who nevertheless have some previous experience or at least certain set of characteristics and skills. Do we as young people know what these characteristics are? And are we developing them?

On April 7th in Warsaw, Poland, Europe Youth to Business Forum will gather all stakeholders important in solving the issue of youth unemployment – young people, educators, government and business. They will have the opportunity to discuss and generate ideas on how collaboration can lead to solving this challenge in the region.

Join us on livestream (bit.ly/EuropeY2BF) and contribute to flipping the switch on youth unemployment in Europe!

Social entrepreneurship – a modern solution for #firstworldproblems

“Every generation has the chance to shape the world. But the challenges faced today are more complex than ever before.” (Why we do what we do)

Generation Y lives in a time of 21st century leadership, which calls for forward, outside-the-box thinking; for innovation and creativity. Resources alone are not enough anymore, as Sharad Vivek Sagar said – “If money could have changed the world, money would have changed the world.” That is why social entrepreneurship plays a vital role today. Social entrepreneurship is “the process of pursuing innovative solutions to social problems. More specifically, social entrepreneurs adopt a mission to create and sustain social value” (Gregory Dees, The Meaning of Social Entrepreneurship). With new, unconventional ideas and transformational solutions, they set out to tackle world’s burning problems that fall under domain of Millennium Development Goals and encompass fields such as poverty alleviation, education, health and environment. One of the popular and successful examples is non-profit organization Charity Water, founded by Scott Harrison, whose mission is to get clean drinking water to people in developing countries.

Science, technology and innovation dominate today’s life, creating a networked society and facilitating communication and exchange of ideas. In this global environment, STI have stimulated self-learning or autodidacticism and increased awareness about #firstworldproblems. This can be seen in the number of start ups, organizations, projects, forums etc. – which aim to tackle existing challenges. Since we live in an age of information, opportunities, and resources, what we need to do is connect innovation and entrepreneurial spirit with resources, to come up with an impactful solution.

Hilde Schwab, Chair and Co-Founder of Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship says: “All citizens – especially the younger generation – need to feel empowered and incentivized to apply their talents and creativity to generate more inclusive, sustainable growth. Governments alone cannot solve social problems, nor can the private sector, despite their respective resources and capabilities. But we can all collaborate…”

We in AIESEC believe that social entrepreneurship and pursuing innovative solutions to social problems, can help generate new jobs, increase income and tackle political, social and population challenges. That is why on March 31st 2014 in Mexico City, Americas Youth to Business Forum will host youth leaders, international speakers, fellow leaders and business to discuss and come up with action plan on how social entrepreneurship can drive momentum and ensure the sustainable growth of the region.

Join us on our official Facebook channel www.facebook.com/GlobalY2B on March 31st and become a virtual delegate of Americas Y2B Forum!

Why do we need entrepreneurial leadership?

“Since its inception, IE Business School has embraced the entrepreneurial spirit as a core value, and is now an international reference in the field of entrepreneurship” (entrepreneurship.ie.edu). What AIESEC and IE Business School have in common is the commitment towards developing young leaders and entrepreneurs who are not afraid of change and challenging the status quo. And why entrepreneurial leadership?

1. Ownership, pro-activeness and taking responsibility

Entrepreneurship goes hand in hand with concepts such as ownership and leadership.
Ownership implies knowing who you are, taking responsibility and owning up to your own actions. Mr. Balvinder Singh Powar, an Associate Professor at IE Business School, believes in the power of self empowerment and pro-activeness in achieving your goals. He invites people to start from themselves and “Be the change you want to see in the world.” (Gandhi)

Taking responsibility for your decisions and actions is hard enough, but taking responsibility for something more than yourself – for other people, a project, vision or a dream is a true challenge. “Pressure makes diamonds” and great leaders often emerge when success or failure depends on what they (don’t) do. Entrepreneurial leaders focus on putting their personal and professional experience, leadership skills and values to practice.

2. Team management and motivation

People are those who drive change and leaders are those who inspire people to take action. That is why it’s important for entrepreneurs and leaders to be people-oriented and possess communication, motivation and mediation skills. When the growth of each team member is your responsibility, knowing how to listen, support and show empathy makes a difference.

Also, recognizing people’s interests and abilities and being able to develop them, sometimes distinguishes a good leader from a great one. When you “listen” to people’s affinities and allow them to fully participate, they feel included; they step up wishing to meet the expectations and exceed them; they put in effort and make a statement. The project you are working on is no longer yours, his or hers.

It is shared achievement.

Team management and motivation are crucial for entrepreneurial leaders because the cornerstone of a successful enterprise is building strong and effective teams.

3. Innovation and change management

The answer to this is simple – “…to meet the challenges of each new age means discarding old, sometimes well-loved methods” (Kazuo Ishiguro). In order to keep up with the swift pace of changes in the world, we need forward, creative thinking and innovative ideas. The man would have never landed on the moon had he not taken risks and fostered innovative thinking. Investopedia.com says that “The entrepreneur is commonly seen as a business leader and innovator of new ideas and business processes.” Entrepreneurs don’t chase opportunities, they create them.

Since we have answered the question: Why entrepreneurial leadership, let us wonder for a moment – Why do we need entrepreneurial leaders?

Because the sky is no longer the limit. Boundaries are being pushed every day, breakthroughs are more common than ever and still, challenges emerge with each day. We need innovation and forward thinking, embodied in entrepreneurial leadership, in order to keep moving forward.

At Youth to Business Forum Top Leaders Edition Mr. Balvinder Singh Powar, an Associate Professor at IE Business School held a workshop Leadership Journeys: Be the Change, Dream Big – From Moon Landing To Commercial Space. Stay tuned for the output of the Forum!