Why you should get involved in Boardroom Apprentice 2020

Posted in : Boardroom Apprentice on 4 June 2020
Legal Island
Legal Island
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Ever thought of being on a Board? Thought it was not for you? Not sure what you have to do and what you need to know? Ruled yourself out as you have no experience?  Then think again! 

The Boardroom Apprentice programme might just help you out there. It is a 12-month Board learning and development programme and provides you with ample opportunities to develop the skills and knowledge needed to become a fully-fledged board member. It is a fantastic way to explore how much you can contribute as a Board Member across our third and public sectors. 

Apprentices are matched with a Host Board (Public or Third sectors) where you will attend Board and Committee meetings and any other events that arise.  Boardroom Apprentice is open to all ages (16+), backgrounds and abilities. 

Recruitment opens on the 8th June (closes on the 29th June) and you can find out more about the programme and how to apply here: https://strictlyboardroom.com/apprentice/.

We have recorded a series of interviews (below) with a number of recent apprentices who outline the benefits for them and their employers from their participation in the 2019 programme.

Video Contents

  1. Boardroom Apprentice Discussion with Eileen Mullan, Boardroom Apprentice & Mary Kitson, Equality Commission
  2. Barry Phillips, Chairman of Legal Island
  3. Adriana Morvaiova, Boardroom Apprentice at Equality Commission for Northern Ireland
  4. Kelly Foster, Boardroom Apprentice at Supporting Communities
  5. Maria Pimentel-Mackel, Boardroom Apprentice at Relate NI
  6. Niall Parfitt, Boardroom Apprentice at South Eastern Regional College

Boardroom Apprentice Discussion with Eileen Mullan, Boardroom Apprentice & Mary Kitson, Equality Commission

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Barry Phillips, Chairman of Legal Island

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Hello, my name is Barry Phillips. I'm the Chairman of Legal Island. We have a number of staff that sit on boards, and we find it is extremely good for their own self-development. It's very good for networking. And many of our staff have got an awful lot from the experience of sitting on boards. And I would thoroughly recommend it to other employers to really think about this opportunity, because it really does bring so many things to a workplace, to an employee, and it's a win-win for everybody. It's a win for the board. It's a win for the employee. It's a win for the employer. I just can't recommend it highly enough.

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Adriana Morvaiova, Boardroom Apprentice at Equality Commission for Northern Ireland

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My name is Adriana Morvaiova, and I'm the Boardroom Apprentice for the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland.

I wanted to be part of the Boardroom Apprentice to give back to the community and serve on boards. I want to sit at tables where decisions are made. I want to be part of the change, and I want to lead the change for Northern Ireland. Myself and my mother moved here 15 years ago, and this community has welcomed us and helped us to settle in. I want to serve, and I want to give back to that community. 

We need the Boardroom Apprentice programme to make decisions, to get new decisions and new outcomes for Northern Ireland. We want people of all backgrounds, of all races, social economic, or different ages to be represented when we make these decisions, when the boards make decisions. We want diverse and inclusive environment for these decisions to be made, and we want all the people who are silent to be heard.

The benefits of undertaking the Boardroom Apprentice programme for myself were immense. It's training that you cannot buy. It gives you, it challenges you. It teaches you to learn about your own character. It teaches you to learn about your passion and your drive. This burning desire that you have inside, this programme will help you to find and show you how to lead that change and be a key person.

The benefits for the employer, again, I was very, very lucky and grateful for my manager to fully support me from day one when I presented this idea. There's a time commitment that he needs to be on board or he or she needs to be on board with. It's two free days every month that you go to board meetings, you go to committee meetings or different events to support this programme. So you need that. Other benefits were through communication training or relationships collaboration. I use those skills I have learned through the programme every day in my job, in my life. I'm looking at new ways of collaborating with other companies or other different people, different initiatives where I can insert myself and represent the Boardroom Apprentice. 

Every board has different needs, whether it's in social media, whether it's in just hearing the voices of the silent, whether it's your own perspective or your own experience that you bring from your past or from your background or where you live. You certainly have something to input. Don't be afraid to speak up.

It's a one in a lifetime opportunity. It's your opportunity to gain skills, to learn about yourself, about your character, to gain courage and just put your passion towards your community and serve, make a difference.

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Kelly Foster, Boardroom Apprentice at Supporting Communities

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Hi, my name is Kelly Foster, and I'm a boardroom apprentice 2019 with Supporting Communities. 

Well, I was at a time in my life where my children have grown up, and I've turned 50 and I needed a new challenge in my life. I've worked with people throughout my whole career of 30 years on the ground supporting homeless families and people living in the community. So I wanted to give something back. So when I'd seen the Boardroom Apprentice, I thought this is a new challenge and a chance to give something back.

We need a programme like this to break down the myths of the old boards of retired men in suits, solicitors, lawyers, HR people who are all vital to a boardroom. But I think we need more. We need people from all backgrounds, all communities, people who work on the ground who can give a different perspective and break down that old boring boardroom, if you like.

I never thought I could be on a board. I thought, "What would I have to offer? What would I have to say that could make a difference?" But being part of this programme has made me realise that I do have something to offer, that I do have a voice, and what I say does matter and can help. Who we're here to help actually is the people who we're there to serve as a board. 

They'll have an employee who comes back with knowledge, particularly for an employer that has a boardroom, is governed by a boardroom, that they'll have an employee who understands the governance, who understands why decisions are made in a boardroom, what the restrictions are, and they can bring that back to the other staff, and they'll come back a more confident, rounded person.

It's that they have a new set of eyes, someone who can bring a different perspective to their boardroom, who has gone through an invaluable training, and they can bring that training and their learning to their boardroom. So I think it will give a boardroom a new life. 

I would say just go for it. Don't let your lack of confidence hold you back. I never thought I could join a boardroom. I never thought I could around that intimidating table. But now I know I can.

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Maria Pimentel-Mackel, Boardroom Apprentice at Relate NI 

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My name is Maria Pimentel-Mackle, and I'm the Boardroom Apprentice with Relate NI. 

I decided to become a Boardroom Apprentice because I wanted to see someone like me in the public boards, in third sector boards. I think we need programmes like Boardroom Apprentice because it will bring a diverse group of people into the boardrooms, and it's also the perfect opportunity to learn from those who have been in the boardrooms and the leading professionals who are training on governance. 

Because it brings a diverse group of people into the boardroom setting for public sectors and third sectors so that the boardroom looks more like the communities that they serve.

For me, personally, it helped me with my confidence. It helped me network. It helped me feel like I belong on a board, that I have the life experience that I could bring and also share my professional skills in the boardroom.

The benefits to my employer, with Boardroom Apprentice, is I can bring all the knowledge and skills that I've developed. It also brings the networks that I've met in terms of getting our name out there, branding. That's beneficial, but I'm also learning a lot about interpersonal skills, which I can bring back to my teams, learning about leadership and learning about relationship building. So there's a lot more to the programme than what it says on the website.

You get a fresh group of really talented and really innovated and really diverse group of people coming into the boardrooms, and they want to serve. We all want to give back to our community. And that's the only thing that you really need to apply. 

The thing that I would share with people that want to apply to Boardroom Apprentice is to really consider the time and the commitment that it takes. You need your employer's support to be able to do the programme. And really, it's anyone. You can bring all your experiences. Whether you're a working mom, a new grad, or you've been in the private sector, you can bring all of those skills in, and I wouldn't count yourself out just because you've never imagined yourself to be a Boardroom Apprentice. Bring everything you've got. You have nothing to lose, so you should apply.

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Niall Parfitt, Boardroom Apprentice at South Eastern Regional College

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My name is Niall Parfitt, and I'm a boardroom apprentice 2019 with the South East Regional College.

Something personal happened to me, and my son had open heart surgery when he was very young and we had support from a charity. And I felt that I could see the real difference that the charity could provide, and that's the reason why I wanted to act on a board, because I wanted to make a real difference, I wanted to help people, and I wanted to help and make a positive impact to society.

It's to add more diversity and equality in various boardrooms. We just don't want a stale boardroom with just the same people acting for very long times. We want a diverse boardroom that it doesn't matter what your sexual orientation is, your gender, that you all can make a difference to the boardroom environment. And that's why I think we need a programme like Boardroom Apprentice, because it adds to the diversity of the overall boardroom.

The benefits for me, there's personal benefits. I run my own organisation, and I run my own company. It's extremely beneficial to myself. It's helped me to develop skills, such as communication and also financial skills. And this is money can't buy training that I have found throughout the whole process. It's been phenomenal. But also from a boardroom perspective, I've always wanted to act and wanted to represent in the boardroom environment, and I feel that I've never had the skills to make that step up into the boardroom experience. So you're learning things like governance and then also communication skills within the boardroom environment, and that's allowed me to apply those skills when I'm acting on a board. The other beneficial thing about the Boardroom Apprentice is that you're actually physically allowed to sit on a boardroom environment, so I'm with the South East Regional College, and that's enabled me to get really, really good practical experience working within a boardroom environment then as well and to really look at the complex space of that environment as well. 

For me, as I say, I run my own business, it's been hugely beneficial from a communication point of view. It's allowed me to develop my skills further, and it's allowed me to help my business grow using the skills that I've used in the Boardroom Apprentice. It also means that I am actually representing myself on a board, which is again hugely beneficial.

And so that they get someone fresh to sit in a boardroom environment. So I'm very lucky in that my host board actually ask me for feedback regularly on how the board is operating and how I feel that the board is operating. It gives me a good, realistic view of how a board operates. But it also means that there's somebody fresh there coming in, somebody with fresh ideas, with new connections, with new ways of doing different things, that can offer a different perspective and a different way of looking at things and how a board can operate. 

Well, I would share with anybody who wants to join the Boardroom Apprentice or is thinking about joining the Boardroom Apprentice is just do it. You need to think that this is a big time commitment. It is also something that will take you into another realm of being comfortable, being uncomfortable. Be prepared to challenge yourself, to push yourself, and get involved with as many things that happen throughout the whole process of the year. It was absolutely phenomenal. I cannot recommend it enough. It has changed me as a person. It's changed other people I've noticed within the Boardroom Apprentice as well. So I think it's a phenomenal project and long may it continue, and it's only going to get better.

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This article is correct at 04/06/2020

The information in this article is provided as part of Legal-Island's Employment Law Hub. We regret we are not able to respond to requests for specific legal or HR queries and recommend that professional advice is obtained before relying on information supplied anywhere within this article.

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The main content of this article was provided by Legal Island. Contact telephone number is 028 9446 3888 / 01 401 3874 or email hub@legal-island.com

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