ERICK NJUGUNA – A TRAILBLAZER IN YOUTH LEADERSHIP
Speaking with him on phone, I got the feeling that Erick is a gentle soul. His choice of words was calculated, as he let me into his world of student leadership.
Erick Njuguna has served as the president of AIESEC in the University of Nairobi and was also the Chief of Finance in AIESEC Kenya’s subcommittee. He is today a Member of the Board of Advisors at AIESEC and at the age of 23, is moulding himself as an effective organisational leader. He says,
‘leading in one of the biggest global youth organisations, positioned me to become the person I have always wanted to be – a boss, because it feels good to be one and I guess everyone would like to be one.’
An alumnus of Nairobi School, Erick tried his hand is varied disciplines including rugby, tennis, chess – everything he said – that could fulfil his curiosity and love for new experiences. His co-curricular activities also extended to club memberships, where he acted as the chairman of the research club and was part of the drama club’s management team.
These were solid foundations for his leadership development as he was able to learn how to work with different personalities, and handle conflicts more efficiently. He also learned about servant leadership and how to set boundaries while leading from the front.
A typical day in his life as a student leader started with him waking up early for a 15-20 minutes email and social media check. He made any urgent calls and planned out his communication through the day. He then did what a good student would do, and would either embark on his morning studies or make his way to school for the day’s classes. Later in the day and only when needed, he would attend AISEC meetings and retire back home for supper, evening prayers and a good night’s sleep.
Erick’s greatest achievement over the past three years, has been guiding his colleagues in realising their potential through his motivated and encouraging leadership. This has however, not been without its challenges as he cites rigidity as one of the setbacks in his leadership. “I do not have a flexible mind-set and therefore have trouble adapting quickly in certain situations. I am however working at being more adaptable because as a leader, I will always find myself in unique settings that challenge my social and emotional intelligence.”
Notwithstanding, he wants to continue his leadership journey in the future and will rely on his faith in God for direction and empowerment along the way. His advise to teenagers and youth is to, ‘be brave enough to be bad at something new. Try out different things and don’t be afraid to embrace new experiences.’
If you are keen on becoming an AIESECers, Erick advises that they look out for events such as the AISEC annual gala dinner, AIESEC week, conferences, mentorship and tree planting activities, where you can learn more about the institution and your possible future role in it.
AIESEC is currently based in 10 universities in Kenya including, University of Nairobi, Kenyatta University, Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology, Strathmore University, Daystar University, United States International University, Moi University, Chuka University, Kabarak University and Catholic University of East Africa.
AIESEC also offers great opportunities. You could decide to go out of the country for an internship or volunteering opportunity in your chosen field of work/study. This includes in business, engineering, teaching and even medicine. You also get the opportunity to network and build connections with accomplished AISEC alumni and other industry leaders. The organisation is also keen on your personal and professional growth and so you will gain some work experience, which will be critical for you as a young graduate in your future employment.