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What the CEMS Club Presidents Actually Did in Istanbul

By Klaas Bischoff

Many of you have asked me recently: “Klaas, what did you actually do in Istanbul at the CEMS Club Conference and why was it important for you to go?” And I very well understand that people ask me that question as even I did not really know what to expect from the conference.

Generally, every local CEMS Club tries their best to make the semester at their school as joyful and as exciting as possible for all their students. Most clubs have already established a great structure for that and developed best practices over the past years that work very well semester after semester. This however is not yet the case at all schools as some are younger and less experienced than others. And even the more experienced clubs can still improve on all kinds of levels to make the semester at their school even better. And that is exactly what the CEMS Club Conference is all about – helping the local CEMS Clubs to be better tomorrow than they are today.

CEMS Club Presidents from 21 countries and the student board support team

This year’s fall conference took place in Istanbul between the 25th and 27th of September, hosted by Koç University, our academic partner in Turkey. And next to the organizers from the student board support team, a total of 22 out of 30 CEMS Club presidents flew in from all around the world to be part of the conference.

Besides getting introduced to the student board and their current projects, we discussed topics like the upcoming global sustainability week, funding structures, regional events and collaborations between clubs, just to name a few. Furthermore, we were all invited by our corporate partner Arçelik, a household appliances manufacturer headquartered in Istanbul, that showed us their innovation lab and gave us a presentation about their company. And most importantly, the conference involved the CEMS Best Practice Awards, where we won the third prize for the great work that has been done last semester in Rotterdam!

Company visit at corporate partner Arçelik in Istanbul

If I told you that the conference was only about work, I would be lying. We also had some free time on Saturday to explore Istanbul and bring out the tourist in us. And in the evenings, we feasted on the amazing local food and enjoyed some drinks and Turkish music at the local bars. We even learned how to dance Halay, for better or worse.

It was amazing to meet so many smart, hardworking and inspiring people from all over the world and to see how much fun it can be to work together towards a common goal: improving the CEMS experience for every single student worldwide. For now there is a lot of follow-up work going on at the local CEMS Clubs and, in the future, you will definitely see some events and projects that have been inspired by this conference.

If you would like to learn more about the CEMS Club Rotterdam or the CEMS Club Conference, feel free to contact me via e-mail ( or approach me whenever you see me on campus. Also, I would highly recommend that you check out the CEMS Club at the school you will be visiting next semester and consider applying for a position in their board. I can put you in touch with the current president at your respective school.

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