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Grade-School C.E.O.

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A very simple trope. One of the top officers of the Mega-Corp happens to be far younger than should be permissible. Examples should be younger than 17 years old, which is just young enough that it seems implausible. Often the age is justified by the fact that their parents owned the controlling interest in the company, so ownership of it fell to them upon their death.

This is only possible under Artistic License – Law where the setting is Like Reality, Unless Noted, as minors (especially those under the age of 12) in most developed nations cannot sign contracts or hold employment. When a parent dies, leaving control of major assets to their child or children, a Trust or Conservatorship is created to manage the assets and look after the best interests of the child. Or, at least, it's supposed to...


Subtrope of Improbable Age. Related to A Child Shall Lead Them, where the kid is the ruler of a country. (The two may overlap if the company is an N.G.O. Superpower.) May overlap with Adorably Precocious Child.


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  • The little girl, Susie, in a Verizon commercial. She uses her father's cell phone to turn her lemonade stand into a thriving corporate business.
  • The baby from the E*Trade commercials who acts as a hyper-competent stock guru.
  • This seems pretty popular in advertising. In the UK, a series of TV ads for Velvet toilet paper have featured a computer-animated baby as managing director of a company producing that product, lecturing the adult staff on its qualities. The effect is a bit weird.
  • Commercials for Haribo gummy bears feature three small children as the leaders of the company.

    Anime and Manga 
  • Ciel Phantomhive from Black Butler is the head of a massive toy and candy company and only 12 years old. He inherited them after the deaths of his aristocratic parents. Being set in Victorian Britain this set-up is more plausible than most.
  • Might Senpuuji of The Brave Express Might Gaine took charge of his family's international transportation empire, The Senpuuji Concern at age 12, with him being 15 when the series starts.
  • Imonoyama Nokoru from CLAMP School Detectives, the son of the Imonoyama zaibatsu, is the student council president of the elementary school brunch of a very elite school in which the student council acts almost like the directors of the school. And he also was said to be the head of physics department in his family business.
  • Digimon Universe: App Monsters: Knight Unryuuji is nominated CEO of L Corp at 16. It's explained that he's extremely intelligent and has graduated from university already, though it doesn't change the fact that he's still legally a minor.
  • Hitomi Mishima of Hinamatsuri winds up as the top-earning worker of an office at only 13 years old, upgrading to a full-blown CEO over three years and starting her own firm. The only reason she ends up in this mess is because of her inability to turn down anything given to her, leading to a hectic double life and a general mastery of every possible skill.
  • Natsu Tanimoto (aka Hermit) in Kenichi: The Mightiest Disciple was one when he was younger, due to his adopted father dying and leaving him with control of the company. In a rather cruel but realistic twist, the company's managers and lawyers immediately conspired together to trick the young Tanimoto into signing over control of the company and its assets to them. It's implied that this stopped soon after Tanimoto was taken in by "The Great Sage Fist", as he's still fairly wealthy at the time of the series.
  • In Megaman NT Warrior, 12-year-old Enzan Ijuuin is the vice-president of the IPC hardware company.
  • Watta Takeo from Muteki Robo Trider G 7. After his father's death in an accident, he not only inherited the presidency of his company but also the role of pilot of the Super Robot he helped build, Trider G7- while in sixth grade.
  • Masako Natsume in Penguindrum, who turns out to be the same age as the protagonists.
  • Rental Magica has both Astral and Goetia assigned very youngs 'heirs by blood' — and in the case of Astral, a magically inept boy who had to learn on the fly — as acting presidents after the disappearance of their old bosses. Justified, as in both cases the alternatives were either worse or unavailable.
  • Seto Kaiba in Yu-Gi-Oh!. He won Kaiba Corp from his step-dad when he was a child, and turned it from a weapons manufacturer to the major provider of the series' central Children's Card Game.
    • Sort of averted in the first series anime, where the iconic "wrest control of Kaiba Corp from Gozaburo" scene takes place not during a flashback, but in the present day, where Kaiba is presumably older and of proper age to run the company.
    • Sort of averted in all the incarnations really since it's stated that Kaiba won Kaiba Corp 6 years after his adoption at age 10 (or 12 for dub viewers). On-screen or off-screen, he was around 16 (or 18) when he became the CEO. Still young, but not as bad.
  • Pokémon Adventures: White owns her own company despite being under 17.

    Comic Books 
  • Richie Rich, possibly. In the film version, at least, he has substantial power within his parents' company.
    • Legally, Richie's guardian, Herbert Cadbury, holds the authority over the company in his parents' absence, but he happily gives Richie de facto control over matters.
  • The villains of X-Men: Schism are a quartet of obscenely rich kids around 12 years old, the leader of whom takes over for his late father as CEO of the company that manufactures Sentinels.
  • Averted with Batman, who as eight-year-old orphan Bruce Wayne becomes a ward - either of Alfred or family friend Dr. Leslie Tompkins, depending on the era - while the Wayne Corporation falls under control of its board. Some stories have it with Bruce dealing with inter-company corruption when he becomes old enough to gain controlling status.
    • Though, during the period where Bruce was lost in time, Dick let ten-year-old Damian attend a board meeting and intimidate everyone, and Tim started running a company-sponsored charity.

    Fan Works 

    Films — Animation 
  • The Boss Baby - the entire company is in fact run by babies and the baby of the title is just one employee of a massive company. The babies are sometimes placed magically with families as cover for their work.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The Brainiacs Dot Com: Two kids (using investors' money) bought controlling interest of a toy manufacturing company. Trouble arises when the authorities made inquiries about the microchip the kids told their investors the money would be used to develop.

  • Ender, from Orson Scott Card's Ender's Game, is a very young fleet commander. Justified, as he was specifically chosen by the government before he was even bornnote , then educated in a system of schools whose very purpose is turning out little admirals and generals, and finally commanded his great campaign under the impression that it was all a simulation.
  • Played for Laughs in Bill the Galactic Hero, where the admiral of the fleet Bill is in is an inbred toddler. The nannies interpret his baby talk as orders. No wonder The Empire is doing so badly.
  • There are several in the Grantville Gazette short stories of the 1632 novels, though the most notable (The Higgins Sewing Machine Company) hired some adults to handle the high-level business decisions once they actually had a product that was ready for sale. Other businesses started by school children in Grantville included the sale of pipes, mushrooms, and cheese (the kids who ran the latter industry ended up becoming their parent's landlord).
  • Downplayed in Modern Villainess: It's Not Easy Building a Corporate Empire Before the Crash. Runa is a reincarnated adult in a pre-kindergartener's body when she starts her corporate conquest, but she has to bully her butler and a bank manager into acting as her "designated adults" to invest her money for her, and uses cutouts, actors with law degrees and shell companies to hide her activities.
  • Ayla from the Whateley Universe. Only in his teens, and he already owns Marvel. Helps that he was being groomed by parents who ran a corporation. He still suffers from the Trust issue. Also, he independently PURCHASED Marvel.

    Live Action TV 
  • Angel: Mesektet looks very young indeed to be controlling a law firm, although she is actually an Avatar of the "Partners".
  • Dinosaurs: when Earl becomes a TV Network Executive, one show he greenlights is "Baby Cuddlebunny, M.D." It's supposed to be "Dr. Kirk Marcus, M.D." but Earl decides to make a baby the star.
  • A Bit Character from an early NCIS episode was shown having his own roving nightclub. When a victim is found dead during a party, the team tracks down the his high school. During the conversation, he lists a bunch of business practices he uses to stay profitable, including subcontracting out the technical work to avoid paying health insurance by himself and having automatic drink dispensers to keep costs predictable. Tony figures that after expenses, the kid clears over $10,000 a night. When they ask about the bouncer on duty that night (the real reason they're there), he whips out a smartphone and Boom! Home number, cell number, business number, and email, just like that.
  • The eponymous character of True Jackson, VP, a 15-year-old who is the Vice President of youth apparel at a fashion company.
  • In the Korean Drama High School King of Savvy, the main character has to impersonate his older brother, a high-ranking corporate executive 9 years his senior who looks exactly like him, while also attending high school.
  • Saturday Night Live takes this to a ridiculous extreme with "Baby CEO", who has the voice, face, and apparent mental capacity of a grown man, but the body and mannerisms of an infant.
  • Iron Fist (2017): Ward Meachum was forced to start running Rand Enterprises when he wasn't even twenty years old. A look at his LinkedIn profile shows that he was running an architect firm from 2002 to 2004, when he was just 17 years old, and undoubtedly because Harold forced him into the position.
  • The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel: Rose's family refuses to let her sit on the board of the oil company because she's a woman, but they let a kid sit on the board (hey, he's had a bar mitzvah).

    Video Games 
  • Borderlands: "The Admiral" fits this trope, being only 5 years old.
    General Knoxx: "Damn nepotism."
  • Pokémon Black 2 and White 2:
    • The Battle Company in Castelia City is now being run by the young grandson (who has the School Kid trainer class) of the CEO from the previous games.
    • The owner of Join Avenue assigns the protagonist to manage and develop the facilities for him, enabling the player to open and recommend all sorts of shops.
  • In Team Fortress 2, Olivia Mann, who is a small child of unspecified age, was made CEO of Gray Gravel as part of her father's Batman Gambit to take over Mann Co., who legally allows hostile takeovers if the opposing CEO wins a fight against Mann Co.'s current CEO Saxton Hale. Saxton Hale refuses to fight her, and forfeits the match and his company.

  • Suzette Grady of Precocious expanded 'Blame Jacob' (a merchandise slogan based on blaming one of her classmates for all the world's ills) into a multinational corporation, including shady ties in the People's Republic of China for manufacturing. She does at least mention the multiple levels of corruption, bribery, and other shady tactics that she needs in order to keep control.
  • For a while, Fiona Fennec of Kevin & Kell 'had custody' of her parents — while they were divorcing, for various plot reasons Fiona was the one with the actual wealth.
    • She was also owner of Hare-Link for some time, though Kevin remained the actual president.
  • Sheldon is about a ten-year-old prodigy who wrote a program that sped up internet access and started a multi-billion dollar company. All while going to school and living with his grandpa.
  • Averted in the modern arc of Arthur, King of Time and Space, where Merlin doesn't even inform Arthur that he owns a controlling interest in Excalicorp until he's 18, meaning he's kept ignorant of his heritage longer than in the main and future arcs.
  • In Angel Moxie, junior-high Magical Girls Alex, Riley, and Tristan gain controlling ownership of the multi-billion dollar Tsutsumu Corp after their Evil Mentor Tsutsumu, in a stunning Graceful Loser move, leaves it to them in his will after they kill him. Somewhat subverted in that they chose to have the board appoint a CEO for day-to-day duties.

    Western Animation 

    Real Life 
  • Sindhuja Rajaraman became the CEO of Seppan Company, an animation firm in Chennai, India, when she was 14 years old.
  • A legally Emancipated Minor is eligible to operate a business or practice an occupation, independently from a parent's or guardian's influence.