CEO of a Global Company: a Living Proof of How AIESEC is a Lifetime Experience

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You might or might not know that most members during their AIESEC journey acquire many skills and develop their leadership capacity. 

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But do you know what happens next? What about after their AIESEC journey? What do AIESECers do after the end of their AIESEC journey?

Simply out, they start reaping the rewards of all the hard work. 

This blog presents a living proof of how the AIESEC experience helped establish a global company

Our guest is Abhishek Goel, ex-local AIESEC president in Mumbai, India, and the Co-founder & CEO of a global company, Cactus Communications.

What are the lessons he learned from AIESEC? How did he manage to build and lead a global company? These are the questions we will answer in this blog.

To find out more about this amazing person’s journey and success story, continue reading.

Hi Abhishek, it’s nice to have you here! Our readers can’t wait to know about your fantastic journey! What could you tell us about yourself? 

Hello. Thanks for the amazing introduction! It’s a pleasure to be here. My name is Abhishek Goel, from Mumbai, India. I’m the Co-founder & CEO of Cactus Communications and an AIESEC alumnus. 

I joined AIESEC 24 years ago and progressed through the ranks of AIESEC; my roles in AIESEC included exchange team member, president of an event organizing committee, marketing vice president, local committee president and then an international exchange to the national office of AIESEC in Japan.. 

What are the two main lessons you’ve learned in your AIESEC journey that made you well-prepared for a CEO position?

The AIESEC journey was one of the best I ever had, it thoroughly helped me unshackle my conditioning and prepared me for the future. There are many valuable lessons that I have learnt through it.

The first lesson I learned was when I joined AIESEC, as a member. I learned to be responsible. I started, like everyone else, as a member. I was assigned to various tasks and projects. And by applying myself fully, I learnt to be responsible.  

That’s when I realized I was doing something meaningful. That moment I understood the true meaning of responsibility; to have a higher calling. Whatever tasks I was handed, I gave it 100%. 

 The second lesson I’ve learned was that no matter what role I held: a member, a manager, or a president, I had to act as a leader– leadership isn’t entitled by a position.

Responsibility and – leadership were the two most important lessons I’ve learned in my AIESEC experience. They prepared me to be a better CEO and leader.

When did you feel the real impact of leadership in your life? 

Understanding the impact of leadership was a path broken down into 3 milestones:

1st milestone

I took my first step towards the path of leadership and change when I applied to be the organizing committee president for a local conference. 

2nd milestone

A few months later, my AIESEC journey was near an end, at least that’s what I thought. I was in a dilemma; I had to choose between being comfortable or brave– to apply for the following role or not to apply (end my experience). But I decided to be brave, face my fears and do what frightened me the most; to apply for a vice president of marketing position and continue the journey I started.

And that was the game-changer for me. Unexpectedly, I got accepted. It was a moment of realization that there’s nothing impossible; thereafter, I started conquering my fears and did whatever I felt afraid of or considered impossible. One of the best takeaways as a marketing vice president was learning how to learn through failure and perseverance.

To sum up, in one sentence, my takeaway from that experience is “I learned what it means to be counted on.”

3rd milestone

When I thought my journey had ended, life never ceased shooting me with blessings; that time, it was the gift of a lifetime, the opportunity to lead and impact over 50 members. I was elected as a president of my local committee, AIESEC in Mumbai. 

Although I’d already had 2 leadership experiences, being the president of a local committee was a totally different ball game. I’ve come a long way to understand the true meaning of leadership, thanks to that experience. 

It taught me that leadership was a combination of total selflessness and authenticity; I had to be resilient in failures and let go of inhibitions. When my team felt unmotivated, I had to motivate them, although it wasn’t something that came naturally to me. How did I motivate them? The answer to that is “leading by example.”

How was the idea of building a global company born?

In 2001, I went to an AIESEC exchange program in Japan. That’s when I met a Japanese professor at the University of Tokyo who needed support in editing his research paper. I declined his request considering the fact that I was not a SME in his area of research. Upon his insistence I agreed to take up and to my surprise he liked the edits we made to his paper. A realization dawned. Non-English-speaking researchers trying to get published in prestigious international publications are at a disadvantage. We could help them overcome the language barrier by providing English editing services for researchers in Japan. This is how the idea for CACTUS was born. For the first 5 years our entire marketing and most of our customer service team comprised of AIESEC interns from different countries.

Briefly, what makes AIESEC special? And how did it inspire you? 

I was made to realise at an early stage of my AIESEC journey that “What you put into AIESEC is what you get out of AIESEC”

What stood out the most about AIESEC was its leadership culture, a culture of high ownership. Taking ownership means that every member is accountable for the results of their actions; the organization becomes a part of who they are. AIESEC for all and all for AIESEC; togetherness and high ownership are what make AIESEC special.

As a result, I’ve recruited more than 150 AIESEC interns to my company as I wanted to create a similar culture, one with high ownership.

What would be your advice to our young readers? 

Don’t focus on one thing. You’re still too young to make such a big decision. Instead, try as many things as possible. Don’t limit your vision to one thing; be open to life’s opportunities. Most importantly don’t eliminate things on the basis of biases and pre concieved notions. I advise you to read Range by David Epstein where it talks about being multi interested and trying many things. Another thing to keep in mind is that the more you invest in something, the more you get, whether it’s school, work, or AIESEC. Finally, and most importantly, know who you are and what your purpose in life is.

Conclusion | Create Your Inspirational Story |

Success isn’t easy, but with the right people, place, and effort, it’s possible. AIESEC is the right place. AIESEC has the right people. AIESEC empowers you to make efforts and achieve great things.

What are you waiting for to be a part of it and create the next inspirational story? Maybe your story will be written here one day, who knows! 

For that to happen, apply today and become a part of AIESEC.


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