Eileen Mullan


“when we learn to give, we receive far more in return”

The Boardroom Apprentice and why it matters to me:

I really struggled early on in my life with the idea that a small huddle of people, can go ahead and make decisions that will impact on me and without me having a voice in it. I suspect that fueled my desire to get involved on boards and committees.

There is a constant drive for diversity on our boards and I wanted to do something really practical and different that would hopefully help unlock the huge talent that is out there.  I have been a strong advocate for diversity on boards for many years. But for me I was constantly frustrated by the expectation that if we put an advert in the paper, and say we welcome applications from women, the LGBT community, those with disabilities and those from an ethnic minority background, then all of sudden these sections of our community would run out the door and apply. That is not the case and diversity goes way beyond age, gender etc. There are many myths and barriers to board participation, much around age, experience and skills required. I figured if I could create a programme that would give experience, enhance skills and knowledge and provide the support needed, then that is a great place to start. Which means, we prepare people in advance of being appointed, rather than after and that makes complete sense. 

So armed with my passion and enthusiasm I set about sharing my idea and seeing what people thought. I was amazed at the response. So, I had to turn the idea into reality.  There I was faced with the prospect of creating this wonderful programme with no money, ‘sure it couldn’t be that hard I said’.  

The Boardroom Apprentice has been created and delivered on goodwill from across the host boards, the trainers and a wider group of people who wanted to reach out and help.

For me, these are our public services, and our communities, we should all be playing our part to support them. My mantra is “give your time and share your skills to something that really matters to you”.

My vision is that people who want to play their part and serve, get the support and encouragement to do so and that we stop expecting them to turn up and be ready just because we ask them. 

When we learn to give, we receive far more in return. As the song goes, “what did you do today, to make yourself feel proud”