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A Decade of Impact and Change in Leadership

This month marks the tenth anniversary of our work which has evolved into mobilising and supporting young people worldwide to learn, grow and take action for a regenerative future. A decade spent, trying to create equal access to opportunity to those who make a positive impact in their communities. Ten years of working with the most incredible, talented, driven and fun people.

This month also marks a change in leadership. Returning from maternity leave, I will officially hand over the reigns of Chief Executive Officer. The QS World Merit Charity Board, team and community are excited to officially welcome Beth Eden in her new capacity with us in her appointment as our new CEO.

Marlou (outgoing CEO) and Beth (incoming CEO) at the Vatican Youth Symposium in 2019.

I honestly cannot think of anyone better suited for the role. It was important to me that we walk the talk and set an example of how this charity is led by ‘one of our own’. This, to me, feels like the ultimate demonstration that we reward merit, that young people can make a difference and that women should support women, especially in leadership roles. I am committed to setting Beth up for success and will leverage my experience, network and knowledge to fully support her in her new role.

Beth is based in Victoria, Vancouver Island. As a dual citizen of Canada and the United Kingdom, she majored in Environment and Business at the University of Waterloo. She then worked in SDG engagement for UN networks as well as a documentary film tackling environmental and local indigenous issues in Canada. She received numerous awards, such as 30 under 30 Sustainability Leader in Canada and 25 under 25 Environmentalist in 2020.

Prior to becoming the interim CEO for QS World Merit in 2021, Beth has been an active community member within the charity since 2016. She gained recognition as a trusted leader, first whilst leading our work in Canada and later on a global stage as interim CEO.

Beth’s list of accomplishments is impressive but to her it was never about the trophies, the spotlight or the awards; it has always been about the impact. That is why I believe QS World Merit is incredibly lucky to have Beth dedicating herself to further our vision.

The Board is excited to introduce Beth as the CEO due to her diverse professional skill set, her knowledge and experience of working with a global community and her ability to work with a diverse group of stakeholders. Her deep understanding of the social sector and systemic approach have moved QS World Merit forward and her hands-on approach will drive the charity to unprecedented heights.

Reflections on a Decade of Impact

This is the end of a chapter for me and I am blown away by the support both myself and Beth have already received. This work was my first baby and I have given it all I got.

It taught me everything I know about running a business. A start-up in the social impact sector. It was growing and taking steps back but in constant development. Our biggest assets are our failures and our learnings. As expected, these learnings were chaotic but it allowed me to get involved with every element of our work. From cleaning toilets in our old office to crafting business plans. From vlogging for Social Media to attending global conferences and business retreats. From baking cakes for our Global Bake Sale to running Merit360 with 360 young people gathering in the US and UNHQ. From being the only one in an office to heading a team of 25 staff and 120+ volunteers. And back.

It has been an extraordinary rollercoaster. A journey like no other. There are moments where I cried; worried about being able to pay wages. Worried about the realities that some of our community members were (and still are) facing. Worried that I was in over my head. Since day one, I was thrown in the deep end and wow have I learnt how to swim! Because alongside the worries were always the highs and the highs were so high. Too many memories to share, too many people to mention, too many places we visited and communities impacted. Too many thank you’s to pass out in this blog. Too much to be grateful for. This work has become part of my DNA and so did everyone I met along the way. I truly did give it all I got.

(From left to right) Marlou at the World Merit HQ, Marlou at the United Nations HQ during Merit 360 in 2016, Marlou at the World Merit Summit in Morocco in 2019

What’s next for me? I am excited to share that I have started my own consulting business Jibe, supporting organisations, charities and businesses in the social impact sector to figure out the hard stuff. The things I have learnt the hard way – but in a fun way! The best part? I will continue to support QS World Merit in a consulting capacity. My focus will be on social impact partnerships, securing opportunities for our community and cheering Beth on from the sidelines! So if my experience, approach or personality resonates with you, please connect with me and I would love to chat.

During the past decade, I have said: “We are building a ship and I will only get off when it sinks or sails.” Our ship is sailing, it is time for me to make way. I have navigated our ship to some incredible places and through some stormy weather and somehow we’ve managed to get the ship safely ashore during the pandemic. I will forever be grateful for the experiences, the people I have met along the way and the impact we have been able to create. I have learnt and grown so much from all of your stories and am proud to be part of such an amazing, global community.

Thank you Chris for the opportunity and thank you to our Chair, Cllr Richard Kemp, for never giving up either.

From being the youngest and only woman in way too many rooms to becoming the CEO and now introducing you to another incredible woman, Beth. We have come full circle. I know she will do the job I have loved so much exceptionally well and I’m looking forward to seeing QS World Merit continue to thrive under her leadership.

Cheers to making it this far and cheers to taking QS World Merit to new heights! – Marlou Cornelissen, former Chief Executive Officer of QS World Merit

Would you like to chat with Marlou or Beth? Learn more about QS World Merit? Chat Women in Leadership? Would you like to congratulate Beth in person? Do you have questions, memories to share or would you just like to meet other community leaders? Join Marlou & Beth LIVE on Facebook on August 11th at 3 pm BST. You can also leave your question below in the comments!

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