Organization aims to play key role in Baltic development

  • 2001-05-10
  • Mark Taylor
VILNIUS - As businesses in the Baltics prepare for approaching European Union membership, one organization seeks to play an important part in business development by assisting in the training of future business people.

AIESEC is an international educational foundation dedicated to the development of economics and management students by facilitating student traineeship exchanges. It is active in all three Baltic states and 85 countries worldwide.

"AIESEC is creating opportunities for people," says Virginijus Doveika, president of the Lithuanian chapter. "The program offers students the possibility to experience a different culture plus gain valuable on-the-job experience which students lack."

He also pointed out that businesses have understood the benefits of the organization.

"Trainees from abroad open the horizons for a lot of companies by bringing important skills to their job such as a new way of doing things and knowledge of foreign markets," said Doveika.

Companies such as PricewaterhouseCoopers, UBS and Coca Cola have been actively involved in AIESEC on a global level for sometime and continue to partner themselves with the organization.

AIESEC held its regional Baltic planning conference April 27-30 in Riga where it established goals and priorities for the upcoming year, starting July 1.

Doveika said the goals in Lithuania were to bring companies and students together locally and to raise the profile of Lithuania abroad. He added that he felt it was important for Baltic countries to cooperate more.

Doveika gave the example of how the AIESEC chapters in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania used to hold separate planning conferences but have benefited from combining those conferences into a single Baltic one.

"We have saved resources and gained more exposure by merging the conferences," said Doveika.

One company to be involved in AIESEC on a local level is West Express. Considered to be the leading travel agency in Lithuania, West Express has been using AIESEC trainees for over a year.

"I have had only good experiences with AIESEC," says Arkadijus Maizelis, general director of West Express. He said that "people who come to work for West Express from AIESEC get to know the company and work specifically for West Express.

"This is something that West Express cannot get from working with special firms because they do the same thing for every travel agency."

The agency is currently employing, as a business consultant, MBA student Hugo Augusto.

"I have learned a lot from both West Express and the country," explained Augusto.

A native of Portugal, Augusto said that he felt that a traineeship offered a very useful experience for later situations in life where similar experiences would be encountered.

Maizelis has been very pleased with Augusto's work.

"Hugo works very sensibly. He knows what he needs to do and he does it well," exclaimed Maizelis. He added that Augusto's opinions had proven useful, especially during times of difficult decision making.

Asked about Augusto's role, Maizelis explained that "he will assist in the creation and implementation of a new structure for West Express." Maizelis was also keen to mention that every trainee who had worked for West Express had made lasting contributions to the company. "The first trainee from AIESEC created a Web site for West Express which has been and continues to be very useful," he said.

West Express is not the only company in Lithuania to have used staff from AIESEC. Other companies include DHL International Lithuania and AssiDoman Baltic Ltd.

AIESEC Lithuania along with neighboring chapters in the Baltics plan to bring in more students from abroad this year. Maizelis agreed with Doveika that having foreign student employees was very important for a company. Doveika hopes that more businesses in Lithuania and across the Baltic region will see the benefits of student trainees.