Claudio Armandi for Chairperson: “I Have the Energy and the Willingness to Commit to Another Task in AEGEE”

Claudio Armandi has been active on European level in many different positions. Besides his local activities, he has been a Network Commissioner and a member of the Mediation Commission for two terms. Now he is striving for something new, and is running for Chairperson. Read on to find out about his previous experiences, his motivation and aims.

DSC_1636sqThe AEGEEan: Claudio, even though you have been asked to do this quite a number of times already, please briefly introduce yourself to our readers!

Claudio: Hello, readers! My name is Claudio, 27 years old, originally from Naples, Italy, but lost somewhere between Germany and the Netherlands for the past few years. Basically, I haven’t had enough time to get accustomed to sauerkraut before diving into bitterballen. Beer has been good the whole time though.

About one year ago, you were interviewed by the AEGEEan about your candidature for the Mediation Commission (MedCom) which you were elected for, but that was not even the first time that you ran for a position on European level. Please let the readers know about your AEGEE-experiences.

You are making me relive my previous job interviews! Just promise me you will not ask about my values and flaws and I will be OK.

I joined AEGEE back in 2010. In the first two years, I have been active on local level, serving one year as President and being Network Commission (NetCom) SubCommie in the meantime. Then I stepped up at European level, serving and protecting the Rainbow locals (Italian speaking and Maltese locals, ed.) as Network Commissioner for one year and being in the Mediation Commission for two years, the last term as a President. I have also been active in the first round of the Eastern Partnership Project as Financial Manager.

How will these experiences contribute to your work as a Chairperson?

Such a long time in the organisation and attending many statutory events makes you understand how they work, what their critical moments are and the possible unexpected circumstances that you may encounter.

Two years in the MedCom taught me how to put my opinion aside when it comes to tackling some issues. The first level of mediation happens to be inside the team, where every individual has their own opinion, while the Commission must have a coherent and univocal approach to each matter. After that, you are likely to deal with conflicting parties that have to be treated equally, even in the case where you have a strong opinion about the situation and where the chosen approach to tackle the situation was not the one you were hoping for.

I really hope that no future statutory event will host such strong disputes, but I still think my last two years made me a well-prepared candidate for this position.

DSC_2222What about your non-AEGEE experiences? What did you study, what work experience do you have and to how far will they be useful in case you get elected?

I have an Engineering Bachelor, but then I decided to switch to Management and that move saved my life from years of boredom. I lived and studied in Italy, Germany and the Netherlands, currently residing in Amsterdam and commuting every day to Utrecht, enjoying lots of traffic jams and speed radars. I have been an industrial buyer for around three years, even if not consecutive. In my free time, I like cooking, travelling, photography, and I recently discovered the passion for running. I took part in a couple of races in the past year and I survived all of them.

All of the above things, including my AEGEE experience, forced me to work in diverse and multicultural teams, as the next Chair Team will probably be. My work includes a lot of public speaking and negotiations, negotiations, negotiations. They teach you that you will not always get what you want and that you have to understand everyone’s vision and needs before going head first into a deal. They also teach you that the way you interact with people and the angle you choose to present a situation can change the outcome drastically. Same can be told about photography, can’t it?

Running teaches you how to dose your energies during a long effort and stay mentally focused when everything around you seems to play against it. Cooking is also about doses, but hopefully the challenge there is eating that last bite when you are way too full just because it’s too good not to eat it! Last but not the least, missing a deadline in my job likely means burning lots of money and people being mad at you. If we treated deadlines equally in AEGEE, we would live in a dream world.

You have filled many positions already. Did your former positions not suit you or why do you keep changing from one job to the next?

I simply kept changing because I believe change is one of the keys to keep machines like AEGEE alive. One year is a long commitment for volunteer work and thus it is preferable to have new and motivated people that can bring freshness and new ideas every year. This was not the case for Mediation Commission last year, since I ran for a second term because there were not enough candidates after the deadline. It happens to be the case this year as well, but I think it has been enough for me in the MedCom. In the end, if you never step down, no new people will be encouraged to apply for a position at European level.

Every position has suited me in a different way. I liked being in daily touch with my locals as a NetCommie and being their referral point for small issues. I also liked working “behind the scenes” as a MedCommie, using my gained experience and maturity to manage more serious situations and to deal with the privacy of our network.

What made you decide to run for Chairperson/ Vice-Chairperson of the Agora/European Planning Meeting (EPM)?

As I wrote in my candidature, Leiden and Bergamo have a special meaning in my AEGEE life for different reasons. I do not believe in destiny or similar stuff, but sometimes I interpret some events as signs that tell me something.

Other than this, the role of the Chairperson and the other people sitting on stage during statutory events has always fascinated me. Their work includes a lot of dedication, commitment and planning. I bet they are the only ones to always be paying attention to what goes on during the Agora, the first ones to wake up in the morning and the most probable to skip a party. That is something to admire. All in all, I feel I have the energy and the willingness to commit to another task in AEGEE for another year. It would be a pity to lose them!

530330_10151960374082999_724912333_nOne of the other three candidates is Tom Simons, with whom you have worked together in the MedCom already. Is it a coincidence that both of you are running for a position as a chairperson now or did you two have great plans all along?

I did not discuss about it with Tom before submitting my candidature and I only knew he was running again for it when I saw his candidature online. So nothing that we planned together! Of course, it would be great to work with him again since I know the dedication and the effort he puts in what he does in AEGEE. Additionally, I would be working along with someone that already has one-year experience in this position, and this can only be beneficial.

On the other hand, in case I am going to be elected, I am fully open to cooperating with anyone that will be on my side. AEGEE and my professional life taught me to work with anyone who shared some path with me and I learnt that sometimes you could get a great experience in working with someone you did not know beforehand.

In your candidature you say that you would “like to give a special twist to the Chair team, so that participants would spend less time sleeping in the back row”. What exactly do you have in mind to accomplish this goal?

I know that that kind of behaviour boils down to not sleeping enough at night and too many drinks during the previous party. There is little a Chairperson can do about it. But, if you know me just a little bit, you would know I like joking and entertaining people, while keeping a serious approach. I reckon not even Andy Kaufman (an American commedian, ed.) would be able to entertain people for five days in a row and that a Chairperson needs some aplomb, but a laugh from time to time would not be bad.

There are four candidates for two vacant places. Why should people vote for you in particular?

Because everyone loves the Italian accent, even if I do not eat pizza every day and I cannot play a mandolin. I can grow a mustache if I really need it, but I would have to face some complaints at home. Also because I have been around for long in AEGEE, spending my last three years working every day for the good of the organisation. A last year as a Chairperson would be a very nice way to say goodbye and head to something different in my life. I would take it as a chance to keep doing what I love for another year and for AEGEE to renew the trust it had in me in the past years.

I know I am slightly different from the average AEGEEan and that you may either love it or hate it. This means it is a good chance to try something different.

Written by Katja Sontag, AEGEE-Aachen

You can read his full candidature here.