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oikos Presidents’ Meeting 2014

oikos Presidents from more than 30 oikos Chapters trickled into the scenic and serene town of St. Gallen on Friday 7th November. The first day kicked-off with an ice-breaking session. The participants had a ball getting to know each other through a series of fun-filled activities. Post the ice-breakers, oikos International Presidents, Lenka Parkanova and Anita Negri, charted out a roadmap for the Presidents’ Meeting portraying the Meeting’s journey as one going from sensing to learning and sharing and culminating in actions.

After lunch, presidents were confronted with a session named “What Really Matters…”. Presidents highlighted a multitude of issues that concern them from economic thinking to inclusive development. This activity led them to reflect on how these issues can be addressed.  An enriching activity on sustainable leadership orchestrated by Claude Siegenthaler followed.  Claude dons several hats including that of oikos Board of Trustee member. This session encouraged teams of participants to come up with a game that would project their vision of oikos and sustainability. Subsequently, Claude led a session which encouraged presidents to reflect on themselves as leaders.  This proved to be a powerful experiment to realize the power of reflection and sharing reflections.


The second day started with an intriguing quiz on oikos followed by a session showing presidents how to efficiently communicate the impact of their projects. The presidents then took an impact mapping exercise which enabled them to share the impact of successfully implemented chapter projects. These were allocated to five identified project domains including education, finance and economics. The evening was devoted to hands-on activities including a sublime experience of cooking an African dinner, learning new dance forms and a freewheeling excursion into St. Gallen.


The final day was all about action right from the word ‘go’. Presidents were given the responsibility to prepare and hold an introductory speech at the upcoming FutureLab. The action reached a crescendo as the participants weaved a story encompassing the history and vision of oikos and how we can endeavor to make an impactful difference in the communities that we serve. Next on the agenda were a series of workshops on fundraising, the oikos website, establishing an oikos alumni network and succession planning. These helped the presidents gain insights into managing their chapters effectively. Regional meetings also took place discussing the scope of further enhancing cooperation and the impact of chapter activities. A final reflection brought the day to its conclusion. The curtains were officially drawn on the Presidents’ Meeting with an eager anticipation of the Legislative Meeting and the FutureLab which would be the setting for the presidents to broadcast their vision to all the enthusiastic participants.

Group Pic

We take the opportunity to share what few of the participants for the Presidents’ Meeting had to say about their experience:

“I think the three days in St. Gallen really created a bond between the presidents/representatives and I feel part of a strong community. I have also learnt that there are certain cultural differences between us, for example, German and British chapters and I realized a greater need to adapt our oikos chapter-culture to the culture of St. Andrews. Lastly I learned (again) to listen.”Renée Horster, St. Andrews (Scotland) 
“My learnings were manifold including how to solve problem which appear in our chapters, how to talk about it, and recruit new members and what was really important was to know that we have alumni who can guide & help us. Through talks I got to know different opinions, experiences from fellow chapter presidents who came from four continents. To put it in a nutshell, my experience was simply amazing!”, Tomasz Węgrzyn, Opole (Poland) 


“The President’s meeting has only reinforced this feeling of belongingness that I have to oikos and its goals.” – Madhumitha Sridharudu, Kolkata (India)


Article written by Saurav Kumar Das

Pictures by Hubert Pylinski