My experience with the Leaders-for-a-Day program was amazing. François Lhémery, from France, is the Senior Director of Policy for Microsoft EMEA and the leader I followed in October 14th in Brussels. I had the opportunity to talk and get to know François, what he did in his life and that he started the same as me: an entrepreneur!

François was the best leader that I could “shadow” due to his sympathy, knowledge and common points of view that he and I shared. I came to know that Microsoft was supporting various programs and institutions besides Junior Achievement such as “All You Need Is Code” and “YouthSpark” and a “whole new world” of Microsoft products. I also learned that Microsoft takes their job of creating policies and preventing cyber crimes, such as piracy, very seriously and for that I couldn’t be more grateful.

The Leaders-for-a-Day programme provided me with a great opportunity to meet a motivational, professional and great leader that has already provided so much to the world. Because I could talk to François, observe him and speak with him, I learned so much on how to prepare myself for what’s coming in my future! 

The Leaders-for-a-Day programme brings so much value to students, such as myself because it provides the opportunity to develop entrepreneurial skills and personal values in ways that traditional education doesn’t. I can only say that I enjoyed the day a lot and want I also want to express my gratitude to JA Europe, JA Portugal and François Lhémery, my leader!

I want to begin by thanking everybody involved in the organization for this unique experience my peers and I had. The two days I spent were more than fulfilling of my expectations. One of the greatest events I have attended so far in my life. I could not be more humble and appreciative of this exceptional opportunity I had. I tried to gain the most out of the situation and I think I did. 

Having just a day with my inspirational leader the Vice President of International External Affairs, Mr. Karim Lesina and Mr. Wouter Ghysens, Global Project Manager, both from AT&T, showed me what it takes to be a leader in today’s world. 

Mr. Lesina showed me how transparent and down to the ground a leader could be with his colleagues and lead a wonderful and efficient team. Moreover, he advised me and at the same time was curious of my thoughts and experiences. Wanting to know more about me revealed to me that being a leader is about being kind and thoughtful among other important skills. By sharing some life experiences he had, he broadened my way of thinking. I picked some of his thoughts about few interesting topics and I am sure that they enhanced some of my skills acquired from the JA program. Now I am eager to apply them in my future field of work. 

It was delightful to meet such extraordinary likeminded people. I was amazed just by connecting with them for few hours and had a great time debating on few current topics. I am keen on keeping in touch with them in the future and expanding my network of friends. 

I would eternally be grateful for this unique experience, which I could easily say that it is one of those life changing experiences, people have once in a life time. Spending just couple of days reassured and made me more confident in my path of choice in life.

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My experience with the Leaders-for-a-Day program was excellent. Paulo Ferreira from Portugal, the young leader who came to "shadow" me in the Microsoft office in Brussels, was very curious, knowledgeable and way more mature than most 18-year-olds I’ve encountered. I was impressed by the fact that Paulo already has his future plans set for the next years and it was great to help and mentor such a young talent with an entrepreneual mind-set.  

Paulo shared with me several observations during the day. First, his surprise at the breadth and depth of Microsoft products and also the role the company takes in various initiatives and programs. Indeed, it is true that Microsoft is supporting different programs and events, like "YouthSpark" and "All You Need Is Code". Second, Paulo noted that he was also quite surprised to see how much work is done, so-to-say, "behind the scenes" within the different policy areas. But he is not the only one who learned something new during the day.

The Leaders for a Day program provided me with a great opportunity to meet a young, motivated, ambitous leader who we need so very much in today’s world. Meeting Paulo, observing him and talking about his plans was refreshing, as he brought a completely entrepreneurial perspective on things to the table. I only wish the program had been available when I was 18 years old.

The Leaders for a Day program is incredibly valuable, because it brings entrepreneurial and soft skills to talented students though experiences they can’t get in traditional education. It provides a needed and helpful component to formal education programs. I enjoyed the day a lot and want to express many thanks to JA Europe, the organisators of the day and Paulo, my shadower!

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Before coming to AXA, I expected it to just be an ordinary day at work, but in fact my experience was extraordinary. It was great to shadow a leader and even greater to shadow such an inspirational man as Damien Bourgeois. I am quite a social person, so luckily I didn't feel embarrassed at all.

Although I study medicine, I’m really passionate about the marketing and publicity sector. Ι was the CEO of my enterprise for the Junior Achievement Company Program, and it was really interesting to see how this related to a real life situation.

I had lots of meetings with colleagues, discussions and idea sessions, and Damien encouraged me to ask if I had questions about the kind of work his does. The best part of the day was when we were having dinner together. He discussed with me about his childhood dreams. It was interesting to see how the perception of a child, of an adolescent has changed over time when thinking about professional life.

Damien taught me two important things. Passion and perseverance. His work is a passion for him and he always perseveres; he never gives up when he has set himself a goal. I want to be the same going forwards.

Having been part of this experience from Junior Achievement, I can honestly say that I have broadened my horizons and gained knowledge, skills, competencies and the right mindset for the future. My dream is still to become a doctor, but since I believe I was born to be a leader, I’m really keen on participating in programs within the business sector.

I really would recommend the program to other students.

My advice: Don’t let this opportunity pass you by!”

Originally posted on AXA's website here.

Priceless experience, a ton of new contacts, opportunities everywhere! This is what the Leaders-for-a-Day event meant to me. However, only these few words just cannot express how I am thrilled I met such amazing and talented people. Friendliness of everyone I spent my time with astonished me. The fact I could spend the whole workday with the CEO of Hill+Knowlton Strategies changed the way I see my future. A lot of various nationalities have been working here. Belgians, English, French, Americans and much more! It is amazing to see how pleasant the international environment can be. 

My leader Mr. Thomas Tindemans was interested in project of our former JA Company and about the JA programme in general. He really appreciates its contribution to the society and supports education in entrepreneurship.Throughout the day we participated in several meetings where I had an opportunity to watch my leader and his working process. I must admit I have never seen such an open-minded leader. It was obvious to see he sparks the best in his colleagues and my opinion is that is how a good leader should act. Person who can motivate others to make their work at its best. I have also discovered the opportunity about internship in Hill+Knowlton Strategies. Three months of work in such workplace in the European centre are something I feel really excited about.

I really enjoyed these three days which gave me not only many valuable experience but the opportunity to spread my network to the international level. So much new people with different unique personalities, JA staff who were more kind and helpful than I could ever imagine and many members of other companies. Good relationships were made and I am really looking forward to see how solid our network gets!

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