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24 and COO? Crazy!

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Old 20th June 2017, 5:41 PM   #1
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24 and COO? Crazy!

So I work at this little research NGO. I'll complete my M.A. next year and likely move elsewhere for work (bcs I study international politics & the NGO researches domestic). But I also want to stay - the environment is great and my boss, too - we just click; most public sector jobs I am aiming for are really miserable in this regard. I don't want to lose this chance to have great work-life balance & to do really meaningful work. But career advancement there is limited (junior researcher/project manager, to senior researcher, to what? director?). And they know that I am aiming much higher and can reach much higher - I've been offered a COO position already, that's how badly they want me to stay.

We only have the CEO, CFO and the researchers (a dozen at most), sometimes a deputy CEO. I was offered a promotion from office manager to COO (or if I get more research experience, then deputy CEO), because I also cover admin & grant management issues. But I will only be 24 next year! I feel like I don't deserve the C-suite already... it's such a small team, so C-positions aren't a big deal, but still, I am so young. I do feel qualified, inspired, ready, and am sure I can do the job right, but there's this mental block - I keep thinking how people won't take me seriously/will make fun of me. The work involves a lot of media interaction + lots of networking within the sector (with older people in the C-suite), so it's...difficult.

I wonder what's you view of this. Would you take the position if you were me? Or is it...ridiculous?
- "When nothing goes right, go left."
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Old 20th June 2017, 6:24 PM   #2
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Like you said, this title while "impressive" is in a very small organization (which I am guessing also has a small budget).

I hail from Silicon valley - there are many 20 something CEO / COO's around here - and that doesn't really mean that they are making a ton of money, or are heading up successful operations, more that they are the big fish, in the little pound that is the company they work for.

Take the opportunity, hopefully it will help you gain skills that you can use - when you have bigger fish to fry
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Old 20th June 2017, 6:29 PM   #3
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Yes, take the position. I was in your shoes a little over 5 years ago. I interviewed for an executive director job I thought I would not get and was not qualified for. Like your job, lots of networking with higher-ups, being the "face" in the media, etc. (I'm an introvert so it was terrifying). It was the toughest interview process I'd ever been through and my feelings were so mixed when I was offered the job. I was shocked, and scared to death. Before I even started, my name was in the newspaper because a certain board member (who'd never met me) threw a yelling/crying fit at a board meeting about my hiring (and not her brother), so that only made me even more afraid. But I wanted to move to the area in which the job was, so I said yes. I gave my current job 30 days notice, and I can't tell you how many breakdowns I had during that time, had to leave work early some days, and had a breakdown with my GP and he gave me Xanax! When I went for my 6 week checkup after that was prescribed, my kind/fatherly GP looked at me and said, "Now. All of those things you were afraid of and had yourself so worked up about, did any of them happen??" Nope, not one. Turns out I WAS qualified for the job, and I just didn't believe in myself. I had an older gentleman who took it upon himself to mentor me and that helped immensely.

What's that saying....the only choice you'll ever regret is the one you didn't make? Something like that?

I think you should go for it. They obviously see something in you, so try not to think about your young age (I was 39 when I went through this!). Stand firm in your abilities because YOU know that your age doesn't dictate your abilities.

Congratulations, and good luck!
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Old 20th June 2017, 7:14 PM   #4
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Generally speaking, it's better to work for a big company under a very talented mentor when you are young, because you can really learn a lot. More than you can imagine, if you have never been exposed to it. Then when you're old, happy with your accomplishments, and sick of politics then "retire" to a small company.

First you need to clear your head about the title. My brother owns his own company. He is the CEO, CFO, and COO. But so what? He only has one employee (the Manager).

I would say the most attractive part of your job offer is that you like these people. No need to pull knives out of your back. If you are not very ambitious, it's a great deal. Get married, buy a house and have kids.
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Old 10th July 2017, 10:48 AM   #5
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How comfortable are you on learning on the fly? Your development is going to need to be fast and furious to get up to speed for that level. It is definitely a possibility but it takes a lot of wherewithal to do it successful.

Personally I would take it. But I did something very similar in my career, started off with a fast growing small company, developed the HR department, grew it to over 30 people underneath me and the head of HR for the global company. The company is now 8,000 employees, a household name, growing well, we are international with our international office open which I am developing that HR department. All of this starting at 30 years of age.
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Old 10th July 2017, 10:54 AM   #6
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Zuckerberg was FB CEO at a younger age, so I wouldn't let your age bother you.

That being said, there are pros and cons to taking the position vs moving to a new place. Consider those and make your decision based on them, not based on your age (or based on how fancy a title sounds).
~Perfection is about accepting that we cannot control everything and letting go of some of our preconceived notions.~ -Spiritofnow-
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