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Curious of what it is like to Chair the planning of an ISES event? Get the scoop from the chairs of our previous Summits - Rosie (Canada), Alex (Norway), and Hilman (Indonesia)
After the incredible success of our 2015 International Student Energy Summit, our sights are now set on the bidding process to award the host of the 2017 International Student Energy Summit.
We often get asked “What’s it REALLY like to host this event?” so we decided to have a little fun and ask the Chairs of the 2011, 2013 and 2015 events to share their insights on what it was like to lead the planning of these Summits.
Allow me to introduce you to our rockstar former chairs:
We asked each of the chairs a set of questions to give you a sense of all aspects of planning the event!
Question 1: What made you want to host the International Student Energy Summit?
Rosie: The opportunity to bring together an inspired group of students and energy leaders on a vitally important conversation. To be part of a movement that I knew would continue to grow and influence energy decision-makers all around the world.
Alexander: We were three petroleum engineering students that had the same experience that basically started the ISES movement. We had participated in several conferences where students were put in the back row to spectate the event. In addition, the conferences usually just focused on just a small topic of the total energy picuture, not providing the full picture. ISES had the complete opposite concept, a concept that I really wanted to be a part of.
Hilman: This might sound a bit philosophical, but I just can’t deny that it was all purely driven by the spirit of showing my country’s potential to the world and the fact that millions of people here, they live without access to the electrification and clean energy means.
There was this one interesting story at the time I chose to apply. I met a family who live in the remote coastal area during the time of my visit in Southern Java. I remember that I did a casual interview with them, and shockingly enough, none of them even knew about the climate change and how the rest of the world was focused on it. Certainly, they knew nothing about the kind of jeopardy they could be into due to to the issue. And the hardest part was to realize that they could be victims of a danger they really have nothing to do with.
Question 2: What was your biggest fear or hesitation when you were considering becoming the chair of the Summit?
Rosie: Raising the money. It seems daunting at first, but then you realize that when you are passionate about something then anything is possible. Not to mention you will have a team of people behind you who are also passionate and committed to making the summit financially viable.
Alexander: Cancellation of the event due to improper planning based on typical risks such as poor recruitment, insufficient funding, failed marketing etc.
Hilman: Of course, all of the academic obligations as a student and some self-doubt kind of questions such as “Can I handle the enormous pressure of working for the next 18 months?”
Question 3: What was the most rewarding aspect of hosting the summit for you?
Rosie: Hearing delegates feedback and praise for what they had just experienced. Having delegates tell you that the summit inspired them to pursue a career in energy and/or start their own projects. Knowing that the great transition our world must undergo is safe in the hands of those who aren't afraid to take action. The rewards continue to pay themselves when two, three, four years down the line you cross paths with a delegate and they tell you about the summit being a turning point in their experience as students, and being thankful that the Student Energy platform exists to help them achieve their goals.
Alexander: We basically faced all our fears struggeling with recruitment in the early stages, not reaching our sponsorship targets within set deadlines, not able to book the speakers we wanted and struggeling to reach out to students across the world. I'm not going to lie and say it was easy but the hard work really paid off in the end. We managed to recruit an amazing team, raise more than enough funds to the run the event, bring together an amazing program and most importantly reach out to hundreds of students across the world. The overall experience running through those phases was the most rewarding aspect of hosting the summit.
Hilman: Getting to know people from various walks of life and the chance of introducing Indonesia to them. Nothing beats the feeling of having these two things happen in tandem while hosting the summit!
Question 4: What were some of the challenges and roadblocks you ran into while planning your event?
Rosie: A mentor used to tell me often during the summit planning process: "Rosie, if this were easy, everybody would be doing it!" Planning a summit will undoubtedly be challenging, but it is through the challenges that you push your personal boundaries and grow. Our challenges included winning the support of our host university, building and maintaining a student team that could take on the massive amount of work planning a summit entails and ensuring that we had sufficient financial support from sponsors.
Alexander: Not being able to find the correct people to the proper positions within the organization, not being able to raise sufficient funds to run the event within given deadlines, not being able to create book the speakers we wanted within deadlines and not being able to gain the interest international delegates.
Hilman: Putting everything together from the classes, tons of labs, my social life and ISES planning, the challenge of fund-raising experience (the emotional ups and downs of handling “yes” and “no” answers), and crazy constant travel between Jakarta (the capital of Indonesia) and Bandung for months.
Question 5: If you could go back and talk to yourself just before you had submitted a bid to host the event, what would you say to yourself?
Rosie: What you are doing is already an extraordinary step in contributing to the global energy transition. Take pride in that! The seeds you have sown in your university and your community will undoubtedly have returns. And you will make some of your lifelong best friends through this experience! Lastly, remember then when the going gets tough, the tough get going. If things don't go as planned, then smile, sit up straight and dive into how you can make things better next time around. Planning the summit is meant to be fun so don't forget to do that too!
Alexander: Enjoy the crunching (late) hours. You will miss them in the future!
Hilman: Never be TOO terrified to believe in something and make it happen, even if you're going in it alone. Never second-guess yourself in everything you do. Experience and feel everything more, be more present in every moment you find yourself involved in, you’re going to want and expect these memories so badly.
Question 6: What is your advice for anyone thinking about taking on the role of hosting and planning the 2017 International Student Energy Summit?
Rosie: Prepare for a great adventure! Wear comfortable shoes and drink lots of water :) Jk. Planning the summit will make you laugh, cry, sing, dance, scream, shout, think, decide, dream. Enjoy the ride because believe it or not it will all happen very quickly! Before you know it, you'll be welcoming hundreds of students from all over the world and striding onto that stage to give opening remarks!
And think big. Really. Pretend like you have no constraints and imagine the craziest things you think could to achieve the student energy mission. To educate, unite and inspire. Lastly and very practically, every planning team should have a "safety video" - ie a funny video that everyone watches to loosen up and relax when times are rough. Please enjoy Mr. Antoine Dobon who kept the 2011 team in very good spirits
Alexander: The overall experience is just amazing. It is like riding a roller coster blind-folded filled with ups and downs. All working days are different filled with challenges that are both painful and rewarding at the same time. You'll learn new things about yourself. Things you simply can't learn from any other job or school program. You'll make new friends for life and you will motivate hundreds of students interested in the energy picture. Perhaps even motivate the future Nobel Laureate. If you are keen on taking on an amazing challenge I highly recommend you to apply for hosting the next ISES.
Hilman: Just go for it! I personally believe we all need education, but we can get more than that from networking, cultural exposure, visiting places, taking some bigger responsibilities into life and standing up for what matters to us! ISES will be a great opportunity to experience all these things while you are still doing school, something you will cherish for the rest of your life.
Do you think you have what it takes to be the next chair of ISES? Find out how to bid to host ISES 2017 here.