Arc Initiative – Takeaways

Key Takeaways from Arc Initiative

This summer, I had the opportunity to return as a Team Lead for the Arc Initiative. Context: the Arc Initiative is a non-profit organization run out of my university, UBC, that delivers business skills workshops to entrepreneurs in emerging economies. University students, faculty, and alumni mentors are selected to plan & execute a business skills conference which teaches business tools to entrepreneurs who currently have their own businesses, or who are serious about starting a new business. The Arc operates in Ethiopia, Rwanda, Colombia, Peru, and Cambodia.

This year, my role was different than it had been in the past. I acted as a Team Lead, and therefore felt I had much more responsibility than ever before. Here are some overarching themes of my takeaways from this summer (in no particular order):

Team Dynamic is SO Important

  • This was especially prevalent to me this time because I was managing a team of individuals who not only needed to work together, but also live together for 4-6 weeks. I also learned that a diverse team is the best kind, with each person able to offer different perspectives and methods of problem solving. Overall, the team dynamic can make or break the team’s ability to execute a successful conference, and managers need to take into account not only individuals’ skills and attitudes, but also how diverse individuals will “fit” with each other in a group setting.

Candid Communication is Critical

  • They say communication is key. But this was extremely amplified in a brand new environment with a group of diverse individuals. It’s important to establish ground rules for communication and creating a safe space for candid dialogue before embarking on a trip like this – the group will be better off in the long run!

Stay Organized & Use Tools for Planning

  • Although I consider myself an organized person, there were instances where I could have been more efficient or structured with my planning. Using tools such as Gantt charts, databases, simple lists, and various templates could have made planning much smoother – I will definitely be using these tools in the future!

Always Consider Continuity & Think Long-Term

  • Especially with a program like Arc, which aims to provide tools that are cross-culturally consistent and able to be used in many different industries and contexts, a long-term approach is more beneficial than a short-term one. One of the biggest issues with anything international development-related is continuity (how can we ensure that these positive results continue in the future after we leave?), so a long-term mindset should be used when considering to implement a new tool, working with any organizational partners, choosing teams, etc.

I’m a big proponent of self-reflection and constant improvement. Posts like these push me to think hard about what I did well, and what I can improve for next time. Thanks for reading! 🙂

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