JCI President Itai Manyere


JCI President with Itai Manyere

Many active JCI members from all around the world dream about one day becoming a JCI President; but what does a day in the life of a JCI President entail? What motivates one to work towards leading this international organization? And how does one tackle the curveballs that may come their way during their year of service? 2020 JCI President Itai Manyere gives us some intel about one of the most prestigious roles in JCI.

By Nicole Borg

“Every day is different - and that’s the exciting part,” says JCI President Itai Manyere when interviewed about his role in 2020. He explains how he’s always facing new challenges and meeting new JCI members each day. For him, it’s the kind of work that’s fun and something that he looks forward to. “I may be getting up early on a Saturday morning to discuss the future of the organization on a Zoom call, or spending a Wednesday night preparing to meet and speak with a Local Organization located half a world away. In normal circumstances, I’d be traveling to meet with JCI members in-person and visiting World Headquarters to lead the team there. But, simply put, a day in the life of the JCI President is spent guiding and supporting our members, who are always moving us towards greater relevance and prominence in the world,” explains Manyere. Manyere has served JCI during a year which has seen the whole world hit by a curveball: coronavirus. Due to this, the year has turned into a true challenge for many; however, Manyere describes it as “an adventure”. When asked how he feels to be the one leading this international network of young leaders in 2020, Manyere replies: “I have definitely had to be adaptable and resourceful this year, just like our young leaders have had to be.” He goes on to explain that JCI’s young leaders, all around the world have risen up to these unforeseen challenges with grace and creativity. He mentions one particular project run by JCI Malta, called Buy A Meal, and described it as a bold action during this covid-19 crisis. JCI Malta engaged partners to provide food packs to vulnerable people. “That is in line with our thrust to respond to challenges and also supporting local small businesses,” says Manyere. In fact, he admits that he would have never managed to predict what his year of service as JCI President would pan out to look like in 2020. “The challenges I thought I would be facing this year are very different to the challenges we have been facing. I don’t think anyone was prepared for this global pandemic, and how it would restrict our ability to see each other,” he exclaims. Manyere explains how he thought he wouldn’t have enough time to visit all the National Organizations that he wanted to travel to or was invited to.

“But now, I am trying to find ways to still connect and interact with organizations from my home in Zimbabwe. It’s been a blessing that we have such resourceful and intelligent leaders in our organizations who have offered online seminars and conferences that I can attend, to connect with members across the world in this new way,” he says.

JCI is not the only organization in the world; there are hundreds of thousands of people who seek to be better versions of themselves by volunteering and working for several NGOs.


Knowing and growing

Asked why he chose to seek a leadership role within JCI instead of any other global organization, Manyere says that it all boils down to the mission and impact of the organization: “I’ve been serving JCI since I first joined my Local Organization in 2004. I have had so much opportunity for self-development - proof that you really can grow as a leader within the organization. I chose to serve and represent this organization because I believe in our mission and its impact on so many levels. I believe in the change we can create within individual members, as well as the change that members can create in their communities and the world around them.” Every year, each JCI President chooses a focus for JCI’s global impact. In 2020, Manyere asked that JCI makes “Bridge the Gap” its priority. During the interview, he explains the reason behind why he chose this specific focus: “I said this because I believe that the global impact of JCI is defined by our ability to connect all sectors of society to create lasting change, as well as our ability to connect the problems of today with the sustainable solutions of the future. JCI is truly developing leaders for a changing world, preparing them for the type of active leadership that will make this world better for future generations.” Asked what he would like to see JCI achieve in the next five years, he says that he would love to see JCI become a more widely recognized international organization. “Our members have the innate ability to be great leaders, entrepreneurs and community organizers. They are always hard at work completing projects that have lasting, widespread impact. I would be very happy to see more young leaders join us to amplify that impact so that we may create a brighter future for all,” concludes President Manyere.