The First 100 Days as CEO with Ndidi Okezie
This week on Beyond Busy podcast we welcome Ndidi Okezie. Ndidi is a rising star in the charity World, the CEO of UK Youth and a board member of three boards, including Centrepoint. In this wide-ranging episode, we chat about having courageous conversations, kindness and much more.
The conversation starts off with Ndidi's current plans and the mission of UK Youth:
'So UK Youth is a leading charity with a vision that all young people are equipped to thrive and empower to contribute to every stage of their lives. We are an open network organization. We have about 7,000 youth organizations and national partners in our network. Based on our new strategy, we are very much focused on unlocking youth work as a catalyst of change that we believe is needed now more than ever.
Fundamentally, we are a bit of a hybrid organization. So, we're an infrastructure body for the youth sector. We are a direct and program delivery organization as well. And, we're a campaign for social change. So collectively our work is to kind of build a movement of like-minded people who are determined to create a society that understands champions and delivers effective youth work for.'
Ndidi also reflects on the problem of youth homelessness:
'Well, if it's not school and it's not home, where do young people go? Because there's a question there about when home isn't a place you can go. What happens there? And when they're there, you know, there are issues with home. When you think about how young people end up homeless, there are so many different things that tend to happen for young people before that can happen.
And having that safe place to go is such an obvious thing. But I think the sad reality is as a society we can't answer if they can go to a youth club. They can go to a youth provision because we know that the majority of young people. Don't have access to that. I think now most people can understand and accept that young people are one of them, if not the hardest hit demographic coming out of COVID, whether it's from the economic perspective, in terms of job prospects, whether it's from academic learning, whether it's from issues around online safety.'
Then she shares what is like being a CEO as a black woman:
'I would love to think about it: well, you're hired to be a CEO and that's what you are. But the reality is that I am a black woman CEO, and actually each of those things comes with its own thing. And then you compound them together. And again, I've experienced the gender dynamic. I've experienced that through my own leadership journey where you are invited to speak on things because you are a woman. You're invited to feed into issues and topics because you're a woman. I've been invited to speak on issues on the race for many, many years.
Right. So it's not, it's never really been something I've been able to decouple. As a teacher, students would come to you because they could identify with you in certain things you've got speak on issues from a place of connection, whether that's a locality based on like London. What it is to work, grow up in particular environments all the way through to, you know, being African, being black, being female. So I think we all draw on all or aspects of who we are. I've never experienced a way where I just get to be the thing I am, as opposed to all of those things together. But yeah, I think again, the CEO level, I wasn't expecting it.
I, again, feel very naive walking into it. When my appointment was announced, I just cannot explain to you the reaction and the responses that I got, the messages, the people kind of reaching out like, oh my God, celebrating the appointment more than celebrating me. If that makes sense. It was like, oh my God, you know, a black woman is leading youth charities, you know, an organization and the third sector.
And this was all before everything that's happened. So I didn't even know all the issues the charity sector had when it came to be. So, you can almost understand that now, but at the time I was really taken aback.'
The full conversation is also available on Beyond Busy YouTube channel. Graham Allcott is the founder of the time-management training company Think Productive.
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