Aaron Fu, an alumnus and emerging leader in CSR

June 29, 2009

Based on an interview with Aaron Fu, an AIESEC alumnus, we explore his pathway into the CSR field of work.  From an AIESEC conference to internships, all the way to his invitation to guest tweet at the Responsible Leadership Summit in London.
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My Internship

June 15, 2009

Luca Nizzola, Citizenship Coordinator at Microsoft

Luca joined AIESEC in 2005 in the local committee of Geneva, Switzerland, in the last year of his studies in international relations. Initiall joining only for an internship, he quickly realized that AIESEC offered much more than that. After 2 months as team leader for the external relations team,  Luca was elected Vice President External Relations in his local committee. One year later, he was elected at the same position but this time in the national commitee. After that,  he left for Sao Paulo, Brazil, to organize the AIESEC International Congress with a team of 55 individuals from all over the world. He concluded his AIESEC Experience with what he wanted to do when he joined the organization : an internship. Luca is currently working as an intern in Brussels, Belgium, for Microsoft in CSR initiatives.

SustainabilityTell us about your internship…

I’m assisting my managers in reaching out to goverment leaders in the European Union institutions to make them aware of Microsoft CSR initiatives mainly in the area of environment, e-health and education. What I love about my internship with Microsoft is that I learn a lot about how such a huge company is functionning and dealing with such topics. Besides, as a graduate in international relation, I enjoy getting to know the EU institutions and sometimes participate in some meetings due to my internship.

I was very surprised and impressed by the work Microsoft is doing all over the world mainly through its departments of Citizenship and Community Affairs. Microsoft is working closely with NGOs and foundations to enable them to perform through different initiatives such as software donations, support to apply for international grants, IT skills building and more. On environment, Microsoft is investing a substantial amount of its 9 billions dollars budget in Research and Development to develop more energy efficient softwares and operating systems like the upcoming Windows 7. I was for instance very impressed by a prototype that Microsoft Research has produced. It’s a USB stick called Somniloquy that once introduced in your computer augment network interfaces while your computer is at sleep and can reduce energy consumption between 60 and 80 % !

What was AIESEC’s role in attracting your interest in CSR and sustainability?

I had never heard of CSR until the moment I joined AIESEC. At that time, CSR was chosen globally as one of the 5 main topics that AIESEC wanted to work with, mainly to enable members to develop leadership skills in a specific topic that can impact the world today. AIESEC in my country and abroad organized plenty of seminars and conferences where CSR was one of the topic of discussion and where business leaders, academics and NGOs were sharing their views on the topic. This helped me a lot to discover and understand what CSR means and what businesses are doing today in that area.

n507571342_2656476_2477105How did your involvement in AIESEC build your interest in CSR and sustainability?

As local and then national Vice President External Relations, I was the one who was responsible for engaging companies in AIESEC activities. I had to find ways to involve them in our internship program but also in our national conferences and other projects. Thanks to AIESEC I had the immense privilege to interact regularly in my mid twenties with business leaders all over my country. And that’s by working closely with them that I could have a glimpse of their business activities, CSR being one of them. I discovered that companies in Switzerland were much more active than I thought in this area and were running many interesting and meaningful programs. The more closely I worked with them, the more aware and interested I became about CSR.

How is AIESEC curreny making an impact in CSR and sustainability?

It is making an impact by providing a platform for people to develop through leadership roles, international internships and its learning environment, the so called AIESEC Experience. Very often people join AIESEC with a very vague idea of what they want to achieve in life or more simply, where they would like to work after university. What is so great about AIESEC is that it helps you, without noticing it at first, develop crucial skills, understanding and knowledge of the world around us. During my time in AIESEC, I was surrounded by like-minded people all over the world that became eager to do something with their life. Some people wanted to improve education in their coutries, other started their own business or NGO while others currently work in CSR branches of well-known corporations. AIESEC not only provided them with key competencies to improve the state of the world, it provided them with a set of values that will hopefully guide their life and their work in the future. When some of the AIESEC alumni will work for a SME or a multinational company later on, I hope that not only the competencies gained but mostly their values and their mindset will impact their colleagues, their partners, their business and their community at large. At least, the potential is there. That’s for me how AIESEC is making an impact in CSR and sustainability.