Leap Conference 2017

@IE University

Following the success of last year’s first-ever LEAP Conference, a new team took on the challenge of organizing the second edition.

IEU students are famous for their entrepreneurial mindset. It should then come as no surprise that they frequently take the lead on new initiatives. Following the success of last year’s first-ever LEAP Conference, a new team took on the challenge of organizing the second edition.

We sat down with one of this year’s organizers, Oskar Woehr, a second-year Bachelor of Psychology student, to discuss the event.

What is the LEAP Conference?

LEAP is about bringing together successful leaders that show you how to take immediate action and apply this in real life situations. During the event, there were three individual speakers, a workshop about influential leadership, and a panel discussion on intrapreneurship.

LEAP is about creating an environment in which stories and experiences can be shared. It showcases the talent and courage of a range of successful individuals who went the extra mile and shattered the boundaries of conventionalism. It’s about inspiring you to reconsider what you know, encouraging you to think outside the box and start making things happen. This is the profile that the speaker needs to have – someone who has become successful by taking action and being able to inspire others to do the same through a motivational talk. The recurring theme is “breakthrough experiences.”

Why did you decide to organize this year’s edition?

Primarily because, after volunteering for the event last year, I wanted to continue with the tradition of this annual event, and ensure the growth of this non-profit organization. We felt that there are so many aspiring entrepreneurs in the IE community and in other Madrid universities,  and we really wanted to show these students what is possible by giving them real-life examples on a stage set for champions.

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This year, the goal was to make the event bigger in every way possible. For this reason, we took LEAP to Madrid, opened it up to other universities, and accommodated a larger audience with more speakers.The event was fantastic. Masa Micunovic, the other co-director who had also worked with the organization of the previous year’s conference, and myself recruited a team of over 10 people in September and were able to work together very well in order to create this conference. Our team was very diverse in terms of culture and background. Although most of us were in Segovia, we did have a couple of members in Madrid.

Can you describe this year’s event?

First, we had a brief introduction by LEAP Conference Co-Founder María Paula Botero, who spoke about the origins of the conference as well as about persistence and her journey to meeting her role model, Ariana Grande.

The first speaker, Basil Khalil, spoke about his journey to making his movie known in the film world by being persistent and never giving up. He discussed how, although it was controversial—a short comedic film set in Palestinian territory—he was able to convince enough investors to fund the project, allowing him to promote his film all the way to the Oscars. His message? Everything you make is a product. Never give up trying to get it out to the world.

Second, we had Madhumita Das, an IE grad student running an NGO for underprivileged girls called Girl2B. She spoke about her journey, coming from extreme poverty in India to being given the opportunity by a Spanish family to come to Spain and eventually study at IE. Her message to the audience was to not let social norms define you; educate yourself and be aware.

The last speaker was Mateusz Mach, creator of a sign language messaging app for deaf people called Five app. He spoke about how the idea occurred to him: he had originally started by making this messaging app to have fun with friends. He was a great example of how age should not be a limiting factor and that it’s possible to get on the Forbes 30 under 30 by taking risks.

We then had an interactive workshop where the audience formed groups and were asked to think about different driving forces that would push them to contribute great things in life. This was a very integrative session led by Maria Liddiard, a member of the LEAP team, and Csenge Fazekas, a professional coach.

To finish off the afternoon, a former IE student and founder of startup Pangea, hosted a panel discussion about intrapreneurship with two IE students, an intrapreneur from Lidl, and CEOs from Five app, Pangea, and Uniplaces Spain. The points discussed ranged from the difficulties of being an African woman building a company in a male-dominated world, to how people can make a difference inside big companies by having the right mindset.

We also had amazing musical performances from IE students Piers Ndoke Butt and Emma Sinclair.

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What were the major outcomes of organizing this event?

Organizing this event has taught me a lot about the different leadership styles. Taking on this role was eye-opening, since this was the first time that I had been in a position with such a magnitude of responsibilities and people who relied on our team.

We started by recruiting people motivated to contribute to the conference. This process taught us that even though people might like the idea, not everyone is suited to dedicate their time and effort to the project. Masa and I had to learn how to distribute people’s roles based on their strengths and motivations, in order for the team to work at its full capacity. This is something that we learned and observed continuously throughout the year, as people’s positions evolved. Working on this for such a long time allowed me to greatly develop team-building, communication, and organizational skills.

By observing everything that was taking place, I learned what motivates people to take part in such projects and how to push people to take action. One of the most important skills that everyone on the team learned was critical thinking and quick decision-making. There were several crucial moments that required the team to make effective decisions. Furthermore, through motivation I learned how to instill the global vision and goal of the conference and to keep us on track to achieve our goals.

For my studies, this experience has taught me that hard work and dedication allows for an amazing outcome as long as you are persistent. As for my professional development, it has made me grow in multiple ways. I have definitely improved in my method of communication and organization. What has been the most impactful, however, is learning just how much continuous motivation any team needs. For my professional development, I now feel as if I can create anything, and that the world is full of possibilities.

I don’t think anyone should hold back from their dreams. People should always take on the task at hand, however big or small it may be, with full attention and dedication.

Why do you think it’s important to have an entrepreneurial mindset during university?

Having an entrepreneurial mindset doesn’t necessarily mean that one is always creating new companies. I feel that it’s about keeping an open mind to any possible opportunities that may come your way. This is extremely important, especially in university, since the number of opportunities for growth are almost endless.

Having this mindset means always being on the lookout for something new, and following up on activities that you’re passionate about. This leads me to the next point: the importance of passion. This characteristic is not something that develops overnight but something that grows within a person when they have stepped onto the right path. By having an entrepreneurial mindset at university, people are able to show what they’re passionate about, meaning that they’re less fearful of failure and more determined to go all the way with what they start. This is extremely important in today’s world as it’s a rare skill that will allow a person to go the extra mile in today’s competitive workplace.