INSIGHTS OF A JCI SUCCESS STORY 1980-1995’ REMINISCENCE by 1994 JCI PRESIDENT ARNAUD GODERE, O.S.K.
My Jaycee career can be split in 4 phases:
- 1980 – 1984 Positioning JCI Mauritius as a fully affiliated NOM of JCI.
- 1985 – 1988 Getting JCI Mauritius fully operational, delivering positive results at local, national & regional level.
- 1989 – 1992 Played a key role on the international scene.
- 1994 – 1995 JCI Mauritius, the locomotive of JCI with a Mauritian leading the organisation during its 50th anniversary.
1980 – 1984 Positioning JCI Mauritius as a fully affiliated NOM of JCI.
40 years ago, in 1980, I joined Junior Chamber International, swearing in as a member. At that time we were recognised as a local organisation of ‘Jeune Chambre Economique Francaise’ and was known as ‘Jeune Chambre Economique de l’Ile Maurice’ (JCEM).
I remember attending my first JCI meeting at Anglo Mauritius Building, Port-Louis where Christian Dupond, a French national conducted an awareness & training session. Many JCEM founder members were present, namely: Michel de Speville (the first local President), Emmanuel Ng Cheong Tin, Francois Desmarais, Jean Marie D’Espagnac, Roland Boulle and Vishnu Lutchmeenaraidoo. The local organisation grew in membership with Jean-Noel Humbert, Philip Ah Chuen, Marday Venkatasamy and Danielle Wong among others joining JCEM. 4 years later the then Local President, Danielle Wong threw the idea: Requesting full affiliation with Junior Chamber International, the more so since Mauritius was an independent state!
This initiative represented a key strategic move, which would then pave the future of JCI Mauritius on both the regional and international scene. With the help of JCI staff handling the African desk; Philip Caner, we prepared our documents (myself as LOM Secretary), ready for the affiliation process of JCI Mauritius. Marday Venkatasamy (Chief Delegate) and I attended the Montreal JCI World Congress where the General Assembly voted the motion of our affiliation with the blessing of the Board of Directors. Thus JCI Mauritius was born and history was made! I remember taking a picture with the late 1984 JCI President from Ireland; Joe Murphy. I never thought that ten years later, I would be standing in his shoes as a JCI World President.
1985 – 1988 Getting JCI Mauritius fully operational and delivering positive results at local, national & regional level.
As a result of our full affiliation, obviously no more attached to JCEF; two LOMs falling under a National Organisation (NOM) ‘Jeune Chambre Economique de Maurice’ were created namely, JCI Port-Louis and JCI Curepipe. Our first National President was Danielle Wong with two first LOM Presidents; Joe Rouillard (JCI PL) and Patrice de Speville (JCI Cpe).
Henceforth JCEM slowly gained momentum in membership growth with a number of ongoing community projects and numerous qualitative training conducted (one of the very popular ‘Time Management’!), that helped bag several awards at the African level. I was personally involved in several community projects namely: ‘Carnet de Sante’, Electricity Savings, ‘Heure d’Été’ and ‘Guide pour les Petites Entreprises’.
1986 was when JCEM stepped on the international scene for the very first time. Two years after our affiliation, the candidacy of Eddy Yeung for the ‘Ten Outstanding Persons of the World’- TOYP was filed in. Eddy Yeung won the TOYP, travelled to Sydney JCI World Congress to receive his trophy from the hands of World President Moncef Baroni of Tunisia.
During the period of 1985 to 1988, I grew a lot as a person, attending several training sessions from chairing meetings to Parliamentary procedures, Robert’s Rule of Order, Addressing audience, Time Management, Negotiation Skills, TROT –Training of Trainers, the art of dressing up amongst many others. Those trainings helped in grooming my interpersonal skills. Convinced that JCI international would help build myself by leaps and bounds, I invested myself more in the activities of the organisation.
In 1985, the visionary leaders of JCEM made another strategic move by bidding to host the 1987 JCI African Conference. Winning the bid meant projecting Mauritius forward on the international level. Soon, a Conference Organisation Committee was set up with Danielle Wong as COC Director. Some 250 delegates from Africa, Europe, Asia and America attended the conference. World President Phil Berry (USA) graced us by his presence. For us, this was a big accomplishment; the first step on the international ladder. Marday Venkatasamy then stepped up by being the first Mauritian to be elected as a JCI Officer, a Vice President assigned to several African countries. With such achievements in only 3 years after its affiliation: a winner at TOYP, hosting a successful JCI Area Conference, winning several awards at African level, one Candidate elected as JCI Vice President and many qualitative members delivering outstanding community projects, JCI Mauritius was recognised by JCI worldwide as an example to follow. Such achievements were
possible by having everyone’s shoulder to the wheel, in true Jaycee spirit and focusing on the organisation’s success instead of our own personal.
1989 – 1992 Playing a key role on the international scene.
In 1989 a new journey started for me on the JCI international scene. I was appointed Special Assistant to 1989 World President Isfahani Sameen for Africa. In this capacity I attended the African Conference held in Swaziland followed by the Birmingham UK World Congress. This nominated position provided a good opportunity to build up a network within the African region, strengthening the link between Area A and JCI HQ, assigned Vice Presidents, Executive Vice Presidents and JCI President.
After the Area A Conference I took the wise decision to pursue my international career by going one step further. I stood as candidate for the Vice President position at the Birmingham World Congress and was elected. It was obvious to me, coming from Mauritius to be assigned to our Africa ‘A’ area. To my very surprise, I was given the responsibility of 8 countries of the European continent: Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Ireland, Scotland & Great Britain. I was somehow startled by the President’s announcement, more so since I could not fathom the position of Iceland on the world map! Being assigned to Europe, especially Scandinavia & British Isles gave me the opportunity to interact with different European cultures. I also acted as an ambassador of our Mauritian culture while interacting with Jaycees. The sharing of cultures, traditions and beliefs have been so enriching.
I attended the January Board Meeting, the European Conference in Inverness, Scotland and the Puerto Rico World Congress. With the passion kindled in me, I perceived my next step as Executive Vice President thinking to myself it would be wise to seize the opportunity. With the support of JCI Mauritius and our African Jaycees, I filed in my candidature. The idea of becoming the first Executive Vice President from Mauritius was gripping. And at the Helsinki World Congress of 1991, I was elected EVP assigned to Europe. I later chaired the Geneva European Conference attended by some 3000 delegates. The conference was only a year after the fall of the Berlin Wall, where a great deal of East European countries were lining up to join our organisation. After the 1992 Miami World Congress, I decided to end my Jaycee career well aware that there isn’t much ahead. I have reached the EVP position; coming from a small NOM like Mauritius with less than 10 years existence, I could hardly anticipate the highest position of the organisation! It was crystal clear that I should focus on my professional career, so I travelled back home.
1994 – 1995 JCI Mauritius, the locomotive of JCI with a Mauritian leading the organisation during its 50th anniversary.
As an international organisation with high reputation and numerous members scattered around the globe, one is bound to make strong connections and friendship. In 1993, after recommendations of my many Jaycee friends worldwide and endorsement of some key advisors, I was prompted to run for office as the 1994 JCI President. I humbly requested for some reflection time and promise to make my decision known during the ASPAC Conference in Taipei, Taiwan.
During Taipei ASPAC, I discussed with impactful jaycees and senators, weighing the pro and cons of running for presidency, measuring my chances of winning. After the ASPAC conference, I finally made my mind with the support of my employer (Shell), my area i.e. Africa and the government of my country. My candidacy was officially announced 1993, midyear.
A campaign committee set in motion by JCI Mauritius with thunder of excitement, enthusiasm and motivation of all Mauritian jaycees! Over 40 of them supported my campaign in Hongkong during the world congress where I was elected the 49th President of JCI, the first Mauritian and second African to reach such position. From that November 1993, everything changed, along with the conquest came the responsibility of 400,000 jaycees and senators from around the world. I was about to lead an international NGO for one whole year and also celebrate its 50th anniversary during my presidency. Words will never be enough to describe my full year, where I spent only 20 days at home, travelled to 70 destinations with an average of 5 hours sleep per night, early wake up calls, long drives and long haul flights. I devoted myself 24/7 to this beautiful organisation braving contrasting temperatures, climates, weather conditions, altitudes, food, cultures and language.
It’s a unique experience that each JCI President encounters during his office time. Since the organisation was celebrating its 50th anniversary, my motto “Go for Gold’ made a historic year. ‘Mottanai’ quickly became the ‘buzzword’ in JCI during 1994. The concept spread all over the world with environmental projects implemented locally. This JCI-endorsed program sponsored by JCI Japan provided an avenue for JCI members to help save the multitude natural resources. In 1994 on top of the four area conferences held in Madagascar, Houston, The Hague & Singapore, a fifth conference: the Bali Business Conference was held in Indonesia, gathering over 1000 delegates. This led to a new area of opportunity for JCI members with an International Business Network (IBN) launched to establish business contacts and opportunities with IBN associates worldwide. I had the opportunity to attend several national conventions: the USJCC National Convention in Orlando, FL, the french national convention in Tours, the Philippines National Convention in Naga City, the Moroika Japan JC National Convention and the JCI Mauritius National Convention during which the organisation celebrated its 10th anniversary.
My visits led me into meeting several head of states and world dignitaries such as US President-Bill Clinton, US Secretary of State-James Baker, Rev. Archbishop Desmund Tutu, Prime Minister of Ireland-Albert Reynolds, of Finland-Esko Aho, President of the Republic of the Philippines-Fidel Ramos, President of the Republic of Ivory Coast-Henri Conan Bedie, of Burkina Faso-Blaise Compaore amongst many others.
I then had the honour to chair the JCI World Congress held in Kobe. Attended by over 15,000 delegates from over 100 countries, the opening ceremony was held in presence of the Crown Prince of Japan. Grateful for the many encounters and new experiences that made 1994 an enriching and memorable year. The opportunity given by JCI to grow, excel and build myself as an individual lives on. Besides making history for the 50th JCI anniversary, I impacted hundreds and thousands around the world, imprinted positive change in their lives and instilled the passion of JCI upon them. What I gathered from my JCI career is the more you give to the organisation selflessly, the more you get in return.
Arnaud Godere O.S.K.
1994 JCI President