One of the most exciting parts of recruiting new external trustees for Lancaster University Students’ Union, a charity located in the north-west of England with an £8million turnover, is that it has focussed our attention – trustees, full time officers and staff – on the composition of our trustee board.

Research within the charity sector and in the wider corporate governance environment highlights the challenges and opportunities of attracting more women to become trustees. Like any volunteering scenario, becoming a trustee can mean the following: making a commitment, in terms of both time and to the values and ethos of the charity; negotiating time spent on trustee business with time spent at work, with friends and family or leisure time; and, in the case of students’ unions, being available to support, coach or mentor less experienced first-time trustees.

In 2017, we live, work and study against a larger local, national and global background that people characterise as “VUCA” – volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous. Yes, it’s true that organisations are facing uncertainty, and university students’ unions are certainly not immune from this on a number of fronts, given the ongoing debates regarding higher education. Despite this turbulence, the preparation for our next strategic plan over the coming months provides us with the window of opportunity to re-evaluate and re-examine our core purpose, to reflect on our culture and values, to align these elements with our members’ stated needs and to guide our £8m+ charity to be the best that it can be, recognising our shortcomings and learning from our setbacks.

When our trustee Laura Davies was asked about what kind of board she believed we need to become, she said without hesitation we needed to be a “kick-ass!” board. She meant that Lancaster needs trustees who are prepared to challenge, champion, advocate, inspire and support each other and the staff and volunteers, whilst always keeping the best interests of our membership front and centre in everything we do. But that certainly doesn’t mean a “command and control” approach. We believe we can do better than that.

Leadership can take many different forms. We are looking for models which place importance on collaboration, mutual respect and support, which recognised the increasing irrelevance of “heroic leadership”. If we are going to ensure that we do all we can to deliver on our goal of students loving their time at Lancaster we believe that people need to be prepared to leave their egos outside.

The tone of leadership in any organisation is influenced by the tone at the top level, which means the trustee board members and the management. An exciting development in the students’ union over the past few months has been the appointment of Misbah Haque who joins our senior management team. Having our new top team in place is already raising professional standards, impetus and challenge within the organisation. For the first time in our history, we have a talented all-female team, and we are immensely proud of this. Having accomplished, assertive women join our board as external trustees can only underpin that activity.

Becoming an external trustee at our students’ union develops leadership within our £8million+ charity with commercial activity. Being a trustee of a students’ union provides the opportunity to support individuals often in their first position of leadership, and take part in discussions at the forefront of the Higher Education and charity sectors.  We believe that leadership can be exhibited by everyone at all levels in our organisation, but it is incumbent on our leadership, and in particular, our trustees, to inspire the next generation of female leaders. Incidentally, credit for suggesting this post goes to Brittany Tomlinson and Kate Jackson from our Student Development Team; we can’t think of a better example of leadership at all levels than that.

To sum up, there has never been a better time for women to apply to join our board, to help us lead a successful, exciting and dynamic charity whilst inspiring the next generation of women to develop as leaders.

We hope that we have sparked your interest in becoming a students’ union trustee. If you would like to join the trustee board at Lancaster SU, then we’d love to hear from you!

Laura Davies, Interim Vice Chair of Trustees, Lancaster University Students’ Union

Laura Wilkinson, Vice President (Campaigns & Communications), Lancaster University Students’ Union

Misbah Haque, Head of Marketing and Organisational Development, Lancaster University Students’ Union

Inspired? If you would like to learn more about this role or would like a confidential conversation, please get in touch with Bill Yuksel at Peridot Partners bill@peridotpartners.co.uk

 

10th August 2017

Guest Blog – What do we want? Women trustees! When do we want them? Now!

One of the most exciting parts of recruiting new external trustees for Lancaster University Students’ Union, a charity located in the north-west of England with an £8million turnover, is that it has focussed our attention – trustees, full time officers and staff – on the composition of our trustee board. Research within the charity sector and in the wider corporate governance environment highlights the challenges and opportunities of attracting more women to become trustees. Like any volunteering scenario, becoming a trustee can mean the following: making a commitment, in terms of both time and to the values and ethos of the charity; negotiating time spent on trustee business with time spent at work, with friends and family or leisure time; and, in the case of students’ unions, being available to support, coach or mentor less experienced first-time trustees. In 2017, we live, work and study against a larger local, national and global background that people characterise as “VUCA” – volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous. Yes, it’s true that organisations are facing uncertainty, and university students’ unions are certainly not immune from this on a number of fronts, given the ongoing debates regarding higher education. Despite this turbulence, the preparation for […]
23rd June 2017

Don’t ask me to be a Trustee, unless…

I’ve had two Trustee roles and enjoyed both immensely. I stayed in both for over four years, and then I left before completing a fifth year in either. I felt that potential to add value had eroded and it would be better for new people to come in with fresh skills and new thinking. I know when it’s time to move on, and I do. Time is not renewable. When it’s gone, it’s gone. As the Managing Director of a growing business with 13 colleagues and lots of clients, the pressure on my time is ever expanding. I have a wife, three children aged 6 to 14, I practice karate and like to go to the gym. I have friends I rarely see. If I gave more time to any of these things my life would be further enriched. I work hard to protect my time for where I can have a positive impact and gain most enjoyment, so why would I want to take another Trustee role? If I do, why should I join your charity? Looking at most adverts for Trustee roles advertised via the Guardian, Third Sector, Charity Job etc., is an underwhelming experience. Most are little […]
15th May 2017

Peridot Partners Welcome Drew Richardson-Walsh, Business Manager

  Peridot Partners are delighted to welcome Drew Richardson-Walsh to our team. Drew joins us as a Business Manager, leading our executive and board recruitment services in the Further Education sector. Grant Taylor, Peridot’s Managing Director commented “This is an exciting market for us and one that aligns very well with our approach and values as a business.  Since our successful work with City College Brighton (now Brighton MET) to recruit a Chief Executive, Director of Education and Director of Finance (http://www.peridotpartners.co.uk/executive-leadership-team-city-college-brighton-and-hove/), we have been keen to bring in somebody who can focus exclusively on this sector.  I am thrilled that person is Drew. His experience as Assistant Principal at Grantham College and as a board member or governor of several educational organisations gives him excellent insight and understanding of the sector and its nuances.  Combining Drew’s knowledge, experience and enthusiasm with Peridot’s recruitment and executive search experience, values and approach is an exciting prospect.” Drew commented “I am excited about my new role with Peridot Partners. I’m passionate about the work of colleagues in the FE sector and how colleges have the ability to change the lives of people spanning generations. It’s because of this that I’m looking forward […]
3rd February 2017

About this time last year, I started to tackle the question of what next?

As a second-year sabbatical officer, I had to seriously consider what next. Run for an NUS full-time officer position? Go back to full-time study? Get a job? I opted for the latter, but I thought it might be helpful to others to share five challenges I’ve faced to give you a head-start. 1)   Work out your why. Make sure that whatever you do next is something that excites you. I can’t stress this enough, you are about to take the next journey in your own adventure. Only you know what makes you get out of bed in the morning. If you’re proactive and start your job hunting early it means you can explore opportunities without the time or financial pressure and provides the ability to reject offers if they are not right for you. As a rule of thumb if you’re not excited about the prospect of being offered that job don’t waste your time applying – the passion won’t come through and you probably won’t secure an offer anyway. 2)   Have THAT conversation with your team. You are going to be leaving so you need to consider your exit before it’s forced upon you. It’s worth having a conversation with both your […]
14th September 2016

Why New Philanthropy Capital are missing the point regarding paying charity trustees.

New Philanthropy Capital (NPC) recently released a report called IT STARTS FROM THE TOP, IMPROVING GOVERNANCE, IMPROVING IMPACT. I wait with baited breath, sad I know, for such reports in the hope that one day I will be further enlightened. The UK, across all sectors, has an opportunity to lead the world in its governance practice and I’m keen in my own small way, as an advisor to Boards and as a trustee, to pick up new thinking. One of their recommendations is that The Charity Commission should its amend guidance on paying trustees to avoid disincentivising charities from exploring payments and empowering individual charities to make the decision about paying trustees if they wish to do so. This is not a new issue, but the guidance is helpful. I’m all for promoting more freedom for charities to test new ideas that promote better governance. In my experience this is a question increasingly asked when recruiting Chairs of Boards of Trustees, as these roles are particularly onerous and almost part-time employment. In many cases a Chair will give 1-2 days per week of their time and sometimes more when an organisation is going through a period of major change or […]
5th September 2016

T.M. Lewin, What to Wear at Work

We often get asked by people what they should wear to interview in different work environments. Whilst charities are often more informal than public sector organisations each work environment is unique so it’s worth finding out directly in advance of any meetings. We hope this style guide is useful as broad overview.
2nd September 2016

The Grind Behind the Gold

As we bask in the late summer glory of Team GB’s magnificent performance at the Rio Olympic Games the athletes who so notably achieved such astonishing feats are rightly receiving the plaudits they deserve. London 2012 was a notable high point for both this country’s ability to stage such a wonderful global event and also the level of performance by our athletes; levels unprecedented in living memory. This time around expectations were lowered. No country had improved their medal tally after hosting the Games and there was no expectation this time around that Team GB would put paid to that statistical quirk. That they did is a fantastic achievement and the fact that medals came thick and fast in such a diverse range of sports is testament to the breadth and depth of talent this country produces. Who would have thought the nation would be gripped by canoeing, taekwondo or synchronised diving and a British gymnast winning not one but two Olympic gold medals was frankly inconceivable not that long ago. The athletes will rightly be lauded for a long time to come but what did it take to get them there? During my 20 years in the sports industry […]
7th July 2016

“Increasing fundraising governance skills and leadership on trustee boards” – The GetRaising! Report

In early June 2016, Peridot Partners and the Social Change Agency brought together a group of professional fundraisers keen to explore the idea of becoming a charity trustee with the charities who are keen to improve fundraising skills and experience on their boards. Today sees the launch of our report, GetRaising! Increasing Fundraising Skills on Trustee Boards. Having surveyed the professional fundraising market, we knew that there was a need for this event. Of the 250 people surveyed, 81% of them said that fundraising is an unrepresented skillset on their trustee board. Coupled with that, changes in fundraising legislation alongside the continuing challenging fundraising landscape for many charities means that they can no longer afford not to have professional fundraising representation at board level. Both parties seemed in agreement that the days of purely ‘traditional’ trustee skills of finance, legal and HR were numbered, with charities requiring more modern and diverse skills at board level including fundraising, digital and comms to survive in a changing world. On a rainy summer’s day over 50 people attend our GetRaising! event, held at the premises of Baldeton Capital in King’s Cross. Teaming up with The Social Change Agency the Institute of Fundraising and […]
6th July 2016

Tom Sears joins Peridot Partners

Peridot Partners are pleased to announce the appointment of Tom Sears to develop our recruitment business in the physical activity/well-being/sport sectors. With increasing emphasis by local authorities, public health and clinical commissioning groups to look at the preventative role of well-being and physical activity, and a diversion of funding towards prevention rather than intervention, we have a new context for the future. There are also significant changes ahead in these sectors with the DCMS and Sport England reviewing their approach to sport and physical activity as well as a shift in emphasis away from traditional National Governing Body funding and delivery to alternative providers. These changes, combined with the emphasis on targeting the inactive population, is leading to significant changes in the governance and leadership requirements of many sports, well-being and physical activity focused organisations. In other words there are opportunities for growth in organisations who can secure the new sources of funding if they re-evaluate the way they are governed and led, and Tom Sears is well placed to help organisations in this sector make such a transition. Tom has 20 years’ experience in senior roles within the sports and physical activity industry worldwide. He has held CEO and other leadership positions in the UK, Europe, Australasia and […]
3rd June 2016

GetRaising! Let’s get this started.

On 7th June over 50 fundraisers, Trustees and CEOs will be at GetRaising!, talking about why more professional fundraisers don’t sit on Trustee boards, the impact this is having on the sector and what we can do about it. So, in the spirit of stoking the discussion, I’ve been reflecting on my own journey from fundraiser to trustee and wondering if part of the problem is a lack of appreciation of the high functioning fundraiser’s broader skill set.    As a corporate fundraiser in a large national charity, I remember being told that I would be judged by the amount of time my desk was empty.  Face time with donors, spent building relationships and closing deals, was prized above all else.    My focus was on building strategic partnerships with corporates, which were about more than money and required me to bring the donor into the heart of the cause to give their money, skills, time, knowledge, expertise and influence.  And, more often than not, what took up most of my time and energy was getting the charity to articulate what it really wanted to raise money for (beyond ‘meeting our fundraising targets’) and selling what my supporters could give back […]