Student Life

GISA Exit Interview with Tanvee Kanaujia

By The Graduate Press Editorial Board

On May 15th, the GISA Board officially welcomed its newly elected members, with the positions of President, Vice President of Masters, Events Coordinator, Treasurer, and President of the Professional Development Committee all transitioning into their new roles. The Graduate Press reached out to the five departing board members for an exit interview, giving them a final opportunity to talk about their experiences at GISA. This is our interview with Tanvee Kanaujia, the former President of the Professional Development Committee (PDC).

What are you most proud of achieving during your time on the GISA Board?

During my time on the GISA board, I was given the opportunity to work for the student body in several capacities, firstly as the President of the Professional Development Committee, and secondly, as a representative of the student body in meetings with the administration. For example, I participated in meetings of the Residences Working Group which was tasked with giving voice to concerns of the students living in GM and Picciotto. We also created a Whatsapp community with over 500 members for sharing opportunities and resources which sees a lot of students sharing opportunities that could be relevant to others. However, for me, the most proud achievement during my time in the Board was the opportunity to make an impact beyond the community. As President of the PDC, I decided that instead of giving a token of gratitude to guest speakers who came for our events, the PDC would donate 15-20 CHF on their behalf to a charity of their choice. We donated to a variety of causes through this initiative, be it humanitarian, social or environmental. 

What did you enjoy most about your role as PDC President?

I think it has to be the opportunity to interact with so many different people, be it from IHEID administration or from different fields such as environment, trade or health. We did so many events that helped me and the team connect to the professional world outside. For example, we had a panel on PhD applications with speakers from IHEID and Oxford. We had coffee chats with people working in ILO, WEF, WHO etc. We organised a Communication Workshop series where workshops were conducted by professionals from ICRC and the Institute. Lastly, and this one is very special to me, we conducted an interview series where we focused on bringing voices of alumnae to the fore, whether they are in Geneva or outside, working in the field of trade, gender or environment.  Learning about their journeys was so inspiring. Of course, it was a great opportunity to interact with other students too, which becomes difficult when you are a second year student with very few courses to take.

What was one of the biggest challenges you faced serving as PDC President?

One of the biggest challenges I faced was to understand how the PDC could cater to the student body in a relevant manner. The role of the PDC is evolving and will have to evolve over a period of time. As a specialised committee that is supposed to cater to the entire student body, disciplinary or interdisciplinary, we tried to organise events on a variety of topics with different kinds of people coming in. We cannot favour one kind of topic over another, because unlike several other initiatives, the PDC does not have a topical or regional focus. In such a case, some events can be hits and others can be misses, depending on student interest. With the number of initiatives at the Institute increasing, it is also difficult to set yourself apart as a committee, especially when everyone is doing events like roundtables and coffee chats on multidisciplinary and multifaceted topics. That is something that I tried to navigate this year, with some successes and some failures. 

What advice do you have for the incoming members of the GISA Board?

Many things you do on the board or as part of specialised committees may not be visible to others, but do not let this diminish your efforts. Also, while you take criticism and feedback in your stride, don’t forget to be kind to yourself. You are doing a lot, and that is enough.

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