Nazreen Visram is the Head of Charities in the Public Sector Team at Barclays. She joined King’s College London Students’ Union as a Lay Trustee in March 2021, which has given her an opportunity to use her skills and experience, including over 20 years of corporate experience, to make a difference.
How did you become a trustee, and why did this interest you?
I was contacted by Bill Yuksel via LinkedIn regarding the Lay Trustee opportunity at KCLSU. I studied chemistry at King’s College London, which was a real turning point in my life, and I wanted to pay it forward. It felt like the universe had aligned when Bill contacted me.
I have over 20 years of corporate experience and currently head up the charities sector for Barclays, so I really wanted to use my skills and experience to make a difference. I also wanted to develop my own leadership skills and feel that it is really important to experience different environments, perspectives and organisations. I feel like becoming a trustee provided all of this for me.
What did you learn in your first year as a trustee and what does your role as a trustee involve?
I started my role in March 2021, so all meetings have been virtual and it’s only recently that I have met a few of my colleagues in person. It has been a steep learning curve – understanding the organisation, meeting my colleagues, understanding how the sub-committees are run etc. In addition to learning about the Higher Education sector.
In addition to being a trustee on the board, I am Chair of the Performance Sub-Committee for KCLSU, focusing on commercial activities amongst other things. I think the skills that I have from being in banking/a commercial environment really align with this committee and I’m really looking forward to adding value and helping the team to achieve their strategic objectives.
What qualities do you think are important for those in a trustee role and what challenges do you face as a trustee?
Trustees have to be open-minded with strong communication skills, diverse experiences, the ability to adapt to a different environment, stakeholder management, and good listening skills.
In terms of challenges, time management and managing your day job and family life etc is a balancing act. But everyone has been really supportive and has helped me manage my time more effectively.
What is your favourite part of being a trustee?
Learning from others. I really enjoy the multigenerational aspect and diversity of our board and listening to the perspectives of the student trustees and sabbatical officers.
It really brings diversity of thought and challenges you to think differently. It’s the most diverse board I have ever been on. By the way, they gave me a really tough interview! I also enjoy reverse buddying, which has really helped me to broaden my knowledge. Reverse buddying involves being mentored by a student officer trustee. It’s a great way of learning more about their role, the challenges, and the opportunities they experience. In addition, you are able to provide your perspective and experience to help them navigate their role. It’s interesting for me to understand and learn through the eyes of a student and has challenged some of my thinking and vice versa.
What tips would you give to those looking to find the right trustee position for them?
Think about the skills you can contribute as well as the skills you want to develop. Also think about operating in a different sector so you get that diversity of experience. Think about the time you can commit. There is no point applying if you genuinely can’t give the time.
Thank you so much, Nazreen, for sharing your story with us and with others! You can read more about Nazreen’s career on the KCLSU website.