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
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
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.