Takeaways From Montréal: 5 Days at AIESEC Canada’s National Congress 2017



Written by: Jennifer Lui


Over the course of my university career, one organization that has always been a constant in my life is

AIESEC, the world’s largest youth-run non-profit organization. During my five years of involvement, I

have always appreciated the organization’s ambition to develop business and leadership skills in every

young person, regardless of their area of academic pursuit.


In the past year, I’ve had the incredible opportunity to work with and lead a team of SFU students in

organizing a 5-day national conference happening this May for AIESEC Canada. In order to gain a greater

understanding of the logistics, dynamics, and execution of such a large-scale event, my team and I flew

over to Montréal for New Years to shadow the national conference preceding ours: AIESEC Canada’s

National Congress 2017.


Every year, National Congress brings together 300+ youth from 29 universities together for a 5-day

conference that features skills-based workshops, strategic planning sessions, and a chance to connect

with youth leaders from across the country. This past December, AIESEC SFU sent a delegation of 12

students, a quarter of which were Communications students.


While most of the students were attending sessions and participating in insightful conversations about

the relevance of Canadian youth to the UN Sustainable Development Goals, I spent my time with the

organizing team to learn some best practices in events management to bring back. Here are three of

many takeaways:


1. Increasing Facetime with Delegates

During the conference, a few members of the organizing team made a visible effort to connect with the

delegates casually. By making frequent small talk and breaking down the usual “wall” between

delegates and organizers, more constructive feedback was received and it resulted in higher overall

conference satisfaction.


2. Setting a Communications Hierarchy

This conference was executed by teams of facilitators, organizers, volunteers, executives, and partners…

each with their own pre-existing set of communications protocol. At first, there was quite a bit of

confusion due to these varying processes. Though they were resolved later, this emphasized the

importance of hashing out new collective expectations with everyone to prevent future issues.


3. Developing Long-Term Relationships

Throughout the event, it was evident that the organizing team had built a strong working relationship

with the conference venue, who had hosted another conference before. Not only did this aid in the

smooth management of emergency situations, but it also strengthened the foundation for future AIESEC

events to return.


Although these three takeaways were key learning points for myself, there was so much more that I

gained. The conference was an incredible opportunity to meet university students that I wouldn’t have

the chance otherwise to connect with, as well as to discuss planning strategies with the organizing team.


Now back in BC, my team and I are excited to implement these bringbacks and ensure that the national

conference we are planning (AIESEC Canada’s National Leadership Development Conference) is

delivered with the same—if not higher—level of excellence.