Trustee Week from 7-13 November 2016 celebrates the vital role trustees play leading charities up and down the country. Here Ian Joseph , CEO of Trustees Unlimited, explains why being a trustee can be a great career step for younger City professionals.
Charities are under increasing pressure to deliver more with fewer resources in an environment of greater public and media scrutiny and increasingly tougher regulation. Many charities are looking to enhance the skills on their boards by recruiting from a wider group of professionals to improve their governance.
Becoming a trustee offers professionals the opportunity to share their skills and gain new ones and work with people from a variety of sectors and backgrounds, whilst contributing to society.
One initiative that is helping some City professionals find trusteeships is ‘Step on Board’ - a board-level volunteering programme, run by Trustees Unlimited and the National Council for Voluntary Organisations.
Step on Board helps senior employees from the private sector to become trustees and non-executives on the boards of charities and organisations with a social or environmental mission.
Through interactive workshops led by sector experts, one to one diagnostic sessions and a matching service, Step on Board helps people become ‘board ready’ and matches them to organisations based on causes they feel passionate about, their skills and experience, and the amount of time they have to volunteer.
A number of leading businesses including Barclays, Google, Credit Suisse, PA Consulting, and Mishcon de Reya are all involved in the programme.
These companies recognise that becoming a trustee is a great way for their staff to share their skills whilst also offering employees an exciting, alternative professional development opportunity, providing them with skills they couldn’t pick up from traditional management training.
Media lawyer Dina Shiloh completed Step on Board at her former law firm Mishcon de Reya. Now a partner at Gallant Maxwell, Dina has been a trustee for The Microloan Foundation, a charity that helps women in sub-Saharan Africa set up businesses, for over a year and half.
The Microloan Foundation was looking for a trustee with strong media skills. Dina was selected because she is a legal and media expert, having worked as a print and radio journalist, and a television producer prior to training as a lawyer.
Dina says: “I would recommend ‘Step on Board’ to any professional considering becoming a trustee, especially younger people, as it provides a solid introduction and understanding of the requirements of a trustee. I don’t know of any other way for people in their early 30s to gain board experience so early in their careers. It’s also very good for personal development.”
Two other professionals to have completed the board level programme are Andy Challis, Head of Electronic Distribution and Strategic Investments, Barclays Investment Bank, and Miranda Abraham, Head of Emerging Markets Loan Syndicate at Barclays.
They joined the board of Dreams Come True a national children's charity when the charity was looking for trustees with commercial and financial experience.
Andy said: “I wanted a new challenge where I could use my commercial skills for social good and this programme appealed. All the briefs sent through were relevant, but as a father with young children, the work of Dreams Come True is close to my heart and inspirational.
“I feel I am making a valuable contribution. It’s too easy to sit on a board in the commercial sector and be critical without offering a positive alternative. Being a trustee is about challenging in a constructive way and offering an alternative contribution – putting in some intellectual property,”
Miranda says, “I’ve done lots of volunteering for charities at a grass roots level and wanted to get involved strategically. Volunteering at Dreams Come True has been one of my most rewarding and exciting experiences particularly discovering how the charity runs. I’ve have seen great progress and change.”
As Sally de la Bedoyere Chair of Trustees, at Dream Come True sums up: “Step on Board is attracting trustees with superb experience into the sector.”
To find out more about Step on Board and how you could become a charity trustee visit: NCVO.org