Being a Head Coordinator (HC) of the Nordics’ biggest case competition sounds like a challenge that most people might be reluctant to at first. But imagine doing that and not being able to see the people you work with. In these different times, it might be tempting, and definitely easier, to let go of your dreams and give up. Here at ACC, we are lucky that our three Head Coordinators decided to face the challenge and think outside of the box, reinventing the ACC set up and the structure of the organising committee. You can meet them here and learn about how they approach leadership in a more than ever digital time:
Emma, Jeppe and Noemi. The Head Coordinators.
Name, age and what you study
EMMA: Emma Hergott Hansen, 24 years old, Cand.merc Marketing
NOEMI: Noemi Wulfsberg, 26 years old, Cand.merc Strategic Communication.
JEPPE: Jeppe Holmfred, 24 years old, Cand.merc Finance and International Business
What your previous role in ACC was (in ACC 2020).
NOEMI: I was Head of Event last year, planning everything in detail about the ACC week.
EMMA: Last year, I was part of the PR & Marketing team – introducing Gamification into ACC.
JEPPE: I was part of the Business Relations team, where I was responsible for Clearwater International.
Why did you want to be a HC?
JEPPE: I wanted to put my mark on ACC and help make an incredible event. It was the same reason I joined in 2020. But as a Head Coordinator, I have an even greater opportunity to leave my mark.
EMMA: First of all, I was not done being part of ACC when ACC 2020 got cancelled. I saw being a HC as the perfect opportunity for working with brand building and strategy. However, I have realised that the best part about being HC was leading 26 incredible skilled and inspiring people towards one goal – ACC 2021.
NOEMI: I just had to see at least one ACC week happen! I had the idea coming from the Event team that I would have the chance to contribute with some of the ideas we discussed last year and with this influence this year’s planning of events. However, it quickly became clear to me that we have an extremely creative, dynamic, and talented group of people in the Event team, so they do not need any of my ideas, haha.
When did it become clear to you that ACC needed to be online?
NOEMI: I think it was in November, and I remember being in complete denial about it! We ended up calling last year’s Head Coordinators to get another perspective, and I think that was when I realised that this was in fact the best and safest decision.
EMMA: Honestly, when the virus mutated due to the minks. I probably could have realised it earlier, but I was very eager to have some of the events to be physical. I remember it being somewhat difficult to decide, as we all dreamt about a physical event.
JEPPE: It was only around November, after some lengthy discussion between us Head Coordinators, that I came to the realisation that I had to give up on my dream of a physical ACC. It gave much clarity to the organising committee and helped ensure that the first digital ACC will be an incredible event.
What is the best thing about an online ACC?
EMMA: Ohhhh… where to begin! This digital format for ACC gives us the opportunity to bring ACC home to our participants. It allows our participants and partners to interact more intensely than if at uni, as there are fewer distractions around them. The committee gets to fully explore their creativity as this year’s ACC is different from the previous ones, and WAUW, we got some bright minds within the committee – they amaze me daily.
NOEMI: Although it is also a challenge, it is a gift to have to turn everything upside down and outline a whole new strategy and setup for ACC. I am convinced that this year also brings some new ideas that will be a part of next year’s ACC as well. I knew that the learning curve in ACC was steep, both as a committee member and as a HC, but this goes beyond what I could have imagined.
JEPPE: A completely new format has pushed everyone in the organising committee to be extremely creative and to re-think what ACC is. While the framework for ACC is still there, almost everything has had to change in some way. Some changes have been simple, and some have required a lot of work and creativity by the organising committee. It has been amazing to see the dedication and hard work from everyone in the organising committee to create the first online ACC.
What do you think is going to be the most difficult thing to do now that ACC is online? Or what may you miss?
EMMA: It is very difficult not to have any experience to rely on when planning a digital ACC. Usually, the participating teams hand in their solutions on a USB-stick in the ACC week, which tells you how outdated the digital aspects of ACC were.
NOEMI: That no one has been through this before. Having to consider every little detail and think about everything so nothing comes as a surprise can be challenging. On a more personal level, coming from the Event team last year, it is also hard having to let go of the plans we made last year.
JEPPE: Getting the interplay between the IT side of our events and the practical planning right is quite a challenge. You give away a lot of control to the online platforms we are using, which can be a bit nerve-racking. Fortunately, we have an amazing IT & Digitalisation team that has taken on the enormous challenge of finding the right platforms and preparing all things IT-related.
You are leading almost 30 people, and you have not even seen some of them in real life. How is that, and how do you keep them motivated?
EMMA: Everyone is doing such a great job and putting a lot of energy into planning ACC, and I feel it is difficult to truly show my gratitude for each of them without seeing them face-to-face regularly. Though I do let them know whenever possible, I often feel a hug would do better than words.
NOEMI: We recently talked about the importance of praising people, and I think this is an important part of keeping people motivated. I am, without exaggerating, daily amazed and moved by the time, effort and thought every single member of the committee puts into this project.
JEPPE: The most challenging part has been to get a feel for how everyone in the committee is doing. We have had to rely on the “Head of” the groups a lot. They have done an amazing job keeping us updated on what’s going on and what we can do to help.
Is it difficult connecting with other members, and how does that make you feel as a leader?
NOEMI: Yes, or at least it has been difficult, as I can feel very dependent on meeting people in real life in order for me to connect. I like to think that it gets easier and easier, as I have met and worked with more of the committee in different situations. I think the current situation also makes you appreciate every little moment you get to spend with people, and I value everything highly, also if it has just been a quick chat or even waving to another committee member from the other side of the street. I feel that it is moments like these that make me feel like I have a more personal relation to people – and I really hope others feel the same, as this is what brings me closer to the kind of leader I aspire to be.
JEPPE: It has definitely been difficult. Particularly in the beginning. But as we went along and got the chance to meet everyone one on one (online or in-person), it has helped a lot. It has required an extra effort since you don’t really get the small talks after a Zoom meeting as one would do for a physical meeting. But that effort always pays off. It is also extremely motivating for me to get to know everyone better and understand their motivation to be part of the organising committee.
EMMA: It was difficult in the beginning before we got to know each other a bit better. I felt that people saw me more as a manager than a leader in the beginning, as I often was one of the three making the decisions about the uncertain future. This was challenging for me, as I had no interest in this perception of me. I wanted to be a leader who was easy to reach and let go of stuff too. Luckily, getting to know each other better led me to the leader I wanted to be.
What have you learned from leading in a digital time?
JEPPE: Clear communication is key.
EMMA: I have learned that being a proactive leader is key in a digital setting.
NOEMI: That everything is possible, how important teamwork is, and the importance of being open to new ideas and solutions.
Anything you want to add? (how the recruitment process worked, zoom meetings, good memories, would you do it again…)
EMMA: The last year has been full of fun moments, long zoom-calls, “hygge”, big decisions and stressful situations – and I have loved every moment of it.
NOEMI: I would definitely do it all again – and this time, I would even be prepared for what was to come. I have really learned how being too settled on one specific idea can be a personal challenge. I am bringing a lot of great memories with me from this year – from seeing people for the first time and discovering how some were much shorter or taller than I imagined, to experiencing how smoothly we can run a digital event without being together at the same location.
JEPPE: While ACC 2021 has had a lot of ups and downs, it has been absolutely incredible. It is all because of the amazing people involved, our partners who stayed with us and supported us through many of the difficult decisions, to the other 28 wonderful people in the organising committee who have put their heart and soul into this project. It is difficult to put into words just how much I appreciate all of them.