Freshmen often ask about the importance of joining organisations in campus and what lessons can they learn from doing so. Steven Koesno shares his experiences on managing his campus organisation’s program, what he learned about project management and how he landed his first job because of it.
“Plan.. Organize.. Execute.. and Review..” as I mentioned to the Partner who ended up hiring me as a management consultant when I was still a fresh graduate. Those four words help me to get where I am today, but let me start by sharing how I ended up saying those words.
Arriving in Melbourne as a student, probably most of us will go through this process – settling down (or some might still be looking for a place to stay) in an apartment, buying mobile plan for your smart phone, opening up a bank account, buying groceries and furnitures and then finding yourself sitting on the sofa of your newly rented apartment realizing not knowing what to do next. Fortunately, I have some friends whom I have known before. They invited me to a barbeque party where of the attendees were Indonesian students studying in Melbourne University. That was the first time I was introduced to Melbourne University Indonesian Student Association or more known as PPIA Melbourne University.
I never intended to be a part of the PPIA community nor being one of the committee members. However, since the people there were very welcoming, I became good friends with the committee members. They invited me to play basketball and by the end of the game they mentioned that they wanted to recruite a person in charge for PPIA’s weekly basketball game. One of the committee members suggested me to be the person in charge and I reluctantly asked him, “So, my only job is to contact the court every week to check for availability, am I right?” As he nodded, I officially became one of the committee members of PPIA’s Sports Division. Being part of the team, it encouraged me to be more involved in their activities. PPIA provides various ranges of activities ranging from sports event, internal bonding event, mentorship program and so on. PPIA Melbourne University at that time held an annual ambitious project called Et Cetera. It was a cultural night event starring Indonesian celebrities and well-known musicians to perform in front of two thousand audiences. I was assigned a small responsibility to be one of the backstage crews. I was happy with the role since there were not many responsibilities to handle.
As the planning of the event progressed, the Project Manager and the Head of each division became busier preparing the event. Unfortunately, the Project Manager has to resign from the position due to personal reason. His departure caused quite a commotion since everyone wondered about the fate of Et Cetera. There was an urge for me to volunteer for that position. I had zero experiences in managing such event, with a considerable amount of money involved and and a big team. However, I never regretted the decision I made on that day. On a relatively short period of time, I learned countless valuable lessons on how to be an excellent leader.
Planning. After stepping up as the Project Manager, I called for an emergency meeting to discuss on our next move. We re-planned the whole event from scratch. In addition, we made Plan B and Plan C should Plan A failed.
Organize. Communication is the most crucial part in assembling different divisions in order to align each division’s progress. This has been the biggest obstacle in project management. Delegating and trusting your team to do their work is important because no one person is able to do everything by himself or herself.
Execution. It was the kind of event where few months of hard work depended on the success of one night. Every individual did their best to create a spectacular event. Nevertheless, mistakes and imperfections were inevitable. It is very crucial to have the capability to adjust and improvise on the spot. At the end of the day, the event was a huge success. It was a full house, everyone enjoyed the show and every stakeholder was satisfied with the results. However…..
Review. In every project, it is important to review and ask for feedbacks and areas for improvement. This will definitely help our performance in future project.
Getting back to my point in the beginning of the article, yes, the journey of studying abroad is not just about getting a degree or achieving the highest GPA. Building your communication skill and other soft skills will definitely play a major role in defining your career or business in the future. According to the Partner who interviewed me, my experience as a Project Manager of Et Cetera became his biggest consideration when he hired me for my first job, as management consulting is all about the delivery of high quality performance at all time. We need to make sure that the expectation of our clients is fulfilled by completing the process of planning, organizing, executing and reviewing the project.
After a few years of working as a management consultant and an investment officer in a financial firm, it gives me enough confidence to pursue my dream of building a tech company. Leading a company is not only about having the best idea or the most financial backup. Leading a company is about how to communicate the vision you have and to execute different tasks by delegating those tasks to each team member in order to reach the same goal. I am far from being a successful entrepreneur, however, my organizational experience from University has become an exceptionally useful tool for me to overcome every challenge that comes my way.