“Last June, I turned 29. While I am still young and have my whole life ahead of me, it is the last year in my twenties. This moment gives me an excellent opportunity to reflect on my previous decade. It has been an enriching, impactful decade full of personal growth. This year also marks my last year in an active role in AIESEC, which I accompanied for more than 7 years. 

This organization gave me so much and makes a difference for young leaders worldwide. The least I can do to show appreciation to this organization is to share with you what I call the 5 Ps.

 Each P highlights one aspect that makes this organization so unique.

These 5 Ps are the allure of this organization. If you dream of a lifetime experience in your 20s, then here are the lessons I learned.

What makes this organization so unique?

1) Greater Purpose

“AIESEC is an organization that has existed for over 70 years for a purpose. You might be wondering what is the purpose? 7 students founded AIESEC after the second world war with the dream of building cross-cultural understanding across nations. They hoped to change the world, one person at a time. Over decades, AIESEC has become the most prominent youth-run organization in the world. It is now spanning across 100+ countries and describes its purpose in the following way: 

We strive to achieve peace and fulfillment of humankind’s potential.

“AIESEC aims to be an ambassador for a peaceful global society. A society where everyone can express and develop themselves to their fullest potential. We do it through investing in youth as the key to unlock a better future with the development of leadership qualities and skills.”

I am proud to have been a part of this organization for 7 years.”

2) Small Projects, great impact

When talking about projects, I am referring to the means we utilize to achieve our purpose. We intend to enable young people to develop their leadership skills. We do this through learning from practical experiences in challenging environments through social and professional projects abroad. In addition, we engage our membership enabling their growth by providing these opportunities. And by leading teams, developing leaders, and building projects for cross-cultural exchange.

It was inspiring to witness AIESECers and exchange participants’ growth trajectory in the last 7 years. I was lucky to support young leaders’ development through my engagement in my previous and current roles.

3) AIESEC is People

The third P, the most important one to answer “what makes AIESEC special,” is, People! There is a common saying I like to refer, namely:

‘There is no power for change greater than a community discovering what it cares about.’ 

An organization as ambitious as AIESEC with a significant purpose requires one thing. It requires a growth-minded community that works for a better tomorrow. I would like to call the power of ‘who’, The people we develop as leaders to empower others, be solution-oriented, be self-aware, and be a world citizen. These skills are further enhanced through our AIESEC values. 

I had the chance to meet and work with unique, ambitious, and inspiring young leaders across the globe. There weren’t only many Linked In connections I made; they were friends, mentors, coaches, and role models. They’ve always pushed me to do my best. I’ve worked hand in hand with them for a stronger AIESEC, making a positive impact; through our work. AIESECers are strong-willed, open-minded, willing to learn, and are constantly striving for excellence. I am proud to call myself an AIESECer. I can dearly endorse being part of this network and organization as volunteers or partners. What AIESEC creates and represents through its amazing young talents is something exceptional.

4) Partnerships matter

Change is always built on supporters, partners, or followers. No one can change the world or make an impact by themselves. The best partnerships aren’t dependent on a mere common goal. Instead, it’s dependent on a shared path of equality, desire, and passion. Since the beginning, we have been lucky to have partners that share our vision and goals. These partners share their expertise, opportunities. They helped us in transforming our projects and ambitions into reality. 

It is incredible how much support we get in what we do. We get help from our alumni to allied governmental institutions. It has always been a pleasure, personally and professionally, working together with partners. I am glad the future generations will have the opportunity to work hand in hand with the existing and new partners to create young leaders.

5) Execute with full Passion

‘My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style.’ I’ve always loved that quote from Maya Angelou since I was young. 

It lets me envision what kind of life I want to live, and who I’d like to become. Finally, guiding you to the last P, the one that shaped me the most, PASSION!

This organization blessed me with great gifts. These gifts are: finding and transmitting my passion, embracing a purpose, and pursuing it with everything I have. AIESEC is an organization that gives chances to young talents and encourages them to take chances on themselves. The sheer willingness to achieve, passion, and dedication that young people have are an inspiration. If you are driven, looking for mental clarity, and wish to discover what you truly want in life, AIESEC is the place for that. It’s a place for aspiring young leaders like YOU.

With this, I conclude my 5 Ps of what makes AIESEC a unique organization. It is a great youth organization and deserves all the support and talent it can get!

Final thoughts

After sharing what I believe makes AIESEC a great organization, my last week within AIESEC has come to an end. It has been 7 years of intense learning, 1000+ hours of workshops, more than 30 teams I was either privileged to lead or consult and partners I could work with to create value together. I worked in multiple countries, helping AIESEC all across the globe. Doing all of that while still in my 20s was an incredible experience I am proud of.

This organization helped me in many ways. It helped me discover my strengths and find the path I wish to take in life. Most importantly, it helped me equip myself with everything needed to take on the journey ahead of me. 

AIESEC develops leaders, and I am proud to say I am one of them. I’ve enabled many people to become leaders and left a lasting positive impact on this organization. 

Thank you, AIESEC, and thank you, AIESEC in Germany! I wish this organization and all its aspiring leaders the best for the future. I will always be a proud AIESECer standing up for a better tomorrow, developing young leaders, and giving a voice to youth.

About Denis:

Since 2014 Denis Waniek has been a part of AIESEC. He has been through many different roles. From local work in the local committee Bochum to national consultant roles, to a social project in Brazil, following an organizational development role in the US at the New York office, Denis has been able to get to know AIESEC from many different perspectives. Since 2020, Denis has filled the role on the National Board for Business Development & Public Relations in Germany. In his term, Denis launched new projects such as Youth Leadership Day & Youth Career Day. Professionally he works now in the IT industry to drive digital transformation.. As an alumnus, he will be part of the executive board of Alumni in Germany from next year on.

As a passionate advocate for transformative development, Denis is particularly committed to discovering and unleashing the potential of young leaders and organizations. If you want to learn more about his journey, Denis is one click away 😉

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