Not many undergraduate students get the chance to hold an executive position at one of the world’s largest global organizations, but SFU’s Gordon Ching just landed such a position with AIESEC, a prominent not-for-profit organization dealing with youth leadership and positive social change.
Ching accepted a position as AIESEC’s chief digital officer and global vice-president of digital marketing. The year-long contract has taken him overseas to the Netherlands, where he is posted in the city of Rotterdam.
What began with a visit to AIESEC SFU’s clubs day table in 2010 has turned into a progressive career with the company for the 21-year old student. Ching made his way from being a lowly online media coordinator, to the Canadian national vice-president of marketing and communications, to now working on a global scale.
In his previous position, Ching worked with a network of 2000 people across Canada within a leadership team of 7 based in Toronto, Canada. He was responsible for country-wide marketing and communications for the organization, as well as the organization of 15 global conferences, including the Canada Youth to Business Forum, also leading AIESEC’s Canadian Youth Voice Survey.
This new position has him working with a team of 24 people, from 18 countries across the world. For him, the main difference from his previous position is the global aspect — something he believes aligns very well with SFU’s campaign to “engage the world.” “I’m not thinking about ‘how do I create change in Vancouver or in Toronto?’ now I’m thinking, ‘how do I create change across our 124 country network?’” said Ching.
Another challenge he faces in this new role is “[understanding] the intricate cultural differences, different communication styles, and how [he] can lead people across different areas.”
Despite being in a state of transition, Ching enjoys his new work. “I feel that with every new experience comes a brand new way to see the world and understand myself at the same time,” he said.
At the beginning of his undergraduate degree in human geography, Ching couldn’t have imagined the present turn of events. He had a passion for climate change, so he focused his energies on the environmental science aspects of the degree.
He explained that he later realized that if he wanted to effect real change, he would need a broader understanding of other things, such as economics, business, and politics: “I not only wanted to be an environmental scientist anymore but an entrepreneur or politician that can be a catalyst for massive and impactful change.”
This, in part, prompted him to get involved with AIESEC in the first place. He also said that, as a young person, he didn’t have much to lose in trying out something new. Ching emphasized that, “university is the best time to really develop yourself.”
Ching has been out of school for just over a year now, but he intends to pick up where he left off after his contract is up.
He stressed the importance of breaking out of one’s comfort zone, encouraging SFU students to “think beyond their local horizons, [. . .] reach out to an international audience,” and also to find deeper meaning in their degrees and “how they can bridge [them] into a greater social context to make a meaningful impact.”
“You need to understand the picture beyond your own discipline,” he concluded.