One of the best experiences I had in business school is that of student group leadership. With the conclusion of the Sake Dim Sum Party last Saturday, my tenure as a Chicago Asia Pacific Group co-chair has officially ended. I still have a few loose ends to tie up next quarter (including a visit by the CEO of JWT China!), but I'm basically done.
I must say that my experience with CAPG has been the most rewarding experience of all my business school endeavors. Yes, more than classes, TNDCs, poker games, ski trips, etc etc. Actually, the reason is quite simple: friends.
Some people in business school (such as p***y) think that student group co-chairs run the school and should do everything to enhance student life. Such motivation stems from love of power and also willingness to help respectively, which is great if it is the latter (I sincerely hope so!). Depending on your perspective, you could love the result or the process. I love the process.
So here's what I've learned from CAPG, all good for life:
1. Friendships. Not only did I make great friends with the co-chairs, I also made great friends with volunteers (thank you AW and TT, you guys are incredible). Having the chance to work closely with different people is great. And sometimes not so great, but hey... still got to know him or her!
2. Leadership. The best place to practice leadership is at a student organization. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise. You are dealing with different personalities, different type of events, different type of responsibilities, non-MBAs, the administration, budgets, etc. Yup, it's like a real business except that when you screw up, the administration comes to the rescue.
3. Network. Someone once commented that being a CAPG co-chair will limit your network in the Chinese population. Load of bull shit. Nothing will limit your network if you work for it. But being a co-chair does help the network with other co-chairs and also within your group.
4. Crisis management. I feel the rush when shit happens. Not that I want shit to happen, but those are times where everything is tested. And that is the essence of leadership: how can you turn crisis into opportunities? Either way, in such a protected environment as the GSB, it's the perfect place to practice crisis management!
5. Mentorship. I enjoy being mentored and mentoring. Giving something back to the community has been something that is missing from my resume because I prefer a more intimate form of mentorship.