What the Young Presidents’ Organization Means to You

Caifu Magazine | by Alan Forsythe

 20171220 Education 60

That is the reality of today’s business world. Markets are opening up, but so is competition. This means that relationships matter more than ever. Establishing contacts is crucial across seas and across cultures.

Rick Hickok established YPO (formerly the Young Presidents’ Organization) almost 70 years ago in Rochester, New York. He was 27 years-old when he assumed the mantle of his family’s belt manufacturing company.

It was a forward thinking idea for 1950s America, a time when the United States dominated global markets, with over an 80 percent market share of the automobile market, consumer electronics and other major industries.

But it came from the realization that only other presidents and top managers can truly understand the problems and stresses of running a company.

Today YPO has 25,000 members around the world, and have chapters in more than 130 countries. Members consist of CEOs/presidents and successful entrepreneurs who must all be under 45 years of age to be considered for membership.

Vickie Tikam, public relations manager for the Asia/Pacific region based in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia at YPO said the organization has some huge names that have come on board largely because of their network. YPO has one of the largest global networks in the world.

Early members of YPO included Ray Hunt of the billionaire Hunt family who, working with sheiks in Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, tried to corner the silver market in the 1970s, as well as American investor Charles Schwab and Leonard Lauder of the Estee Lauder fortune.

Current YPO CEO Scott Mordell (since 2011) was originally chair of his Chicago chapter. He has brought with him 20 years of chief executive experience before assuming the top management position at YPO

He has talked in the past about shared experiences across business relationships, and the common ground of entrepreneurship – whether it is in Shanghai or Toronto.

Tikam echoed that sentiment, saying: “The advantages of YPO [membership] are the many confidential trusting relationships members enjoy.”

In its formative years YPO tended toward secrecy, or it certainly shunned publicity. That policy has completely changed.

YPO hosts between 45-50 events per year worldwide for members and invited guests. This is in pursuit of their mandate to build and strengthen global business communication.

YPO encourages members to publish articles on its website, covering a wide range of topics. The general public can access some stories, while other content is for members only.

“Approaches to business, are of course, different across cultures, well there are always some differences. So to increase better understanding of peers, we have many qualified speakers who attend events, and share their insights,” Tikam explained.

“It’s fun,” he continued. “You meet a lot of people and get to know successful people.”

Members also get automatic membership for their spouses. “We want to get member families to network and help them build their company,” Tikam noted.

To become a member, you must be the president or CEO of a company or a division of a company - with revenue of $12 million USD or more, or alternatively be the president/founder of a company with 50 employees or a company whose total compensation (excluding the candidate’s) exceeds $2 million USD.

“The interview process is done locally by the head of the local chapter, by someone who can truly understand the value of the member prospect,” Tikam said.

To start a local chapter of YPO, one must already be a member and have contributed to member recruitment.

“It’s ultimately up to the board, but there are no preferred industries,” Tikam concluded.