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What Is It Like Being a CEO at 17?

As you may already be aware I am part of the World Youth Organization, however, I am not just ‘part’ of it- but one of the CEOs. My partner Maliha Reza is also a CEO of the organisation and we both work tirelessly each day striving to make the World Youth Organization one of the best global youth charities. Us both being only 17 years old does, however, bring about many struggles to our daily lives. It almost seems WYO is a 24/7 duty. The support, which our organisation has already received is phenomenal and both of us are truly grateful and thankful for this. But let us tell you what we have been up to these past couple of months.

WYO was founded in October 2014 after we both wanted to make a change and provide teenagers our age and beyond with opportunities to help better them in life. At the age of 16 we knew that it would be a tremendously difficult task to set up our own charity but it did not stop us. We researched into setting up an organisation and laid out what the purpose of our charity was, and what we wanted to achieve for the world. We had just completed our GCSEs and were moving onto respective colleges for further studying, and did not once think this time last year that by 17 we would be doing what we are doing now. We have remained motivated through the fact that each day there is new young persons (and adults) interested in WYO, and that we find someone that has the same ambitions as us to help our generation of youth plus the future youth.

Do you know what a Governing Document is? Nor did us a few months back. Setting up a charity is not as simple as 1, 2, and 3, in fact it is far from that. Appointing Trustees, safeguarding Officers, Communication Officers, International Relation Officers, Directors, Social Media Managers, Marketing Officers, and Funding Directors etc. The list can sometimes seem endless, as endless as the amount of CVs/Resumes we have to read on a daily basis! However, one of our top tips we could give is: don’t think about it. Just battle on and eventually, it will pay off.

In our case, there usually is no light at the end of a tunnel, but it is usually a pen to sign another important document with. This is something we have just got used to. For me, I really enjoy meeting new people from the job. Meetings is something I used to avoid at all costs, but part of our WYO duties is to attend endless meetings- now I tend to rather enjoy them.

What I enjoy the most is that having this organisation has given us the opportunity to make a directly positive impact on the lives of other people near and far to us. Thanks to our extensive and ever growing social media platform we have gained contacts with people from all edges of the globe, and have made an impact in some way or another. – Maliha

Last week we attended our first exhibition in full WYO gear. It was amazing to interact with all these business people however, the shocking thing was that we were the youngest there. No one was even close to being 17. Let us be honest though, we both were petrified. This was meeting new people on a different level.

It is not always easy juggling school work alongside WYO work and sometimes we have been guilty of prioritising WYO over school but we try our best to keep things balanced. We have had excellent support from our schools and appreciate it. A lot of people do not understand how much work goes into writing documents and chasing up emails, and sometimes we ourselves forget how hard it is. It is always important to take a step back once the sun has gone down (not always easy as we may still be working then!) and just talk through your day and see the positives. Even if the rain is pouring down with negativity there can be some positives to be found. It is also so important that you have a genuine bond with the person you are working with, which is why we are lucky. We are very close and have similar interests so WYO itself does not feel like work, but it just feels like daily life. Something to be enjoyed.

We believe in hard work, and this has been our ethos since the very start. You cannot achieve anything great without the blood, sweat and tears. If you are not willing to work for something it is not worth considering till you are willing. Teenagers need a voice, they need opportunities and most of all a strong platform to build this on, which is what we hope WYO can offer. Life is full of opportunities but they are not always clear until you are shown them. Then it is your duty to show others these opportunities until it is made clear. And this is what WYO wishes to demonstrate to the youth and adults across the world.

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