By Heather Blahnik (Madison ’96, US ’98, AI ’99)
Frank Foti (Miami ’79, US ’81) is, and always has been, a strong believer in AIESEC. As CEO of Vigor Industrial, he has been looking for the chance to support AIESEC and take trainees in the company. Two trainees from Denmark and Brazil were placed in marketing in the late 1990s, but after that the company didn’t take a trainee for many years. Frank knew that the company could really benefit from an AIESEC trainee; it was a matter of timing and finding the right place to start the program again. Frank says of AIESEC:
“There seem to be more AIESECers who combine head, drive, and heart than what you encounter in everyday life. I’m fond of saying that out of the 200 special people I’ve met in my life, 100 of them are AIESECers. As CEO of Vigor Industrial, which is thriving here in the US and working to expand internationally, I get to lead (and follow) a company which values authenticity and open communication, and which continues to adapt and improve. AIESEC fits in perfectly with our company strategy and culture.”
Frank decided to kick off the program again in 2009 by taking a Salaam Program trainee and got the VP of Sales and Marketing on board. Since then, the Sales and Marketing department has had trainees from Greece, Brazil, and now one from the UK. As the department position of the trainee is an ongoing, permanently rotating one, they have expanded the length of the traineeship from six months to one year.
Vince Piscitello, the VP of Business Development, says of Camila Sitler, the AIESEC trainee from Brazil that worked in the company last year:
“We were fortunate to have a trainee from Brazil working in our department. We are looking for opportunities to expand in Brazil, and having Camila with our team helped us with the language as well as to understand cultural differences and gain an understanding of how the government works there. However, the biggest benefit came from having someone who is motivated, passionate, and eager.”
Vigor Industrial is looking at taking 4 trainees a year, and expanding into other areas such as mechanical engineering and project management. They are also looking into the opportunity of getting talent with backgrounds that are not easy to find in the USA, such as marine architects, which are more common in countries with a strong maritime tradition such as Norway.
Something that the company is looking into is taking trainees from countries where they are looking to expand, as they did with Camila and Brazil. This would enable them to bring experience with those countries to the employees in Seattle and Portland. In addition, it would allow them to hire those trainees in their home countries after the traineeship finishes and thereby give them a pipeline to talent in those countries.
Tiffany Curtiss (Georgia Tech ’06, US ’10), another AIESEC alum that works at Vigor Industrial with Frank, says of the program:
“AIESEC trainees are extremely motivated and enthusiastic and bring diversity to the company. Frank kicked off the program in Vigor, and now people across the company are requesting trainees. All AIESEC alumni should think about how they can introduce AIESEC into their own companies as AIESEC trainees really are exceptional. Many times the program just needs the right start and it takes off from there.”
If you think that your company or organization could benefit from an AIESEC trainee, fill out the referral form and the AIESEC US team will be in contact with you shortly.