Meet our Boardroom Apprentices

We asked a number of our Boardroom Apprentices what it has been like for them… 

Sarah Sellars, Boardroom Apprentice, Northern Ireland Ambulance Service

Taking part in the Boardroom Apprentice programme has shown me that I can make a difference in our community.  My personal and professional experiences equip me to ask informed questions, participate in discussion, and contribute to the delivery of public services in our country. That’s amazing!

I’ve learnt a vast amount about governance, effective communication, finance, and public sector organisation and function.  This breadth of knowledge is essential for a Board member, creating a framework for positive participation in public or third sector life.

My host Board have welcomed me to a range of events outside the Boardroom: staff engagement sessions; graduation of the first Paramedic Foundation Degree students in N.Ireland; a multi-agency response exercise; the launch of the N.I.A.S. Strategic Plan; and much more.  A highlight was joining a paramedic on shift, an opportunity to truly appreciate the operational implications of strategic decisions made in the Boardroom.

Alan Wilson,  Boardroom Apprentice,  Agri-Food and BioSciences Institute

Before starting the programme, I was quite apprehensive because I had no experience of boards or working in public sector bodies, however, everyone in both the Programme and my Host Board have been incredibly helpful in offering advice and explaining anything new to me. It’s been great to learn new things and different perspectives.

Time has been by far the biggest challenge – learning to balance commitments between work and day-to-day life, alongside the learning days, board meetings, and in particular preparation required before a board meeting has been a real insight into the role of board members – the few hours each month to attend the board meetings is only a small part of the commitment required. Fortunately for me, both my employer Danske Bank and my host board the Agri-Food & Biosciences Institute have been really supportive to help me gain the most from my participation in the programme.

Being a Boardroom Apprentice has definitely helped me understand the benefits of having the views and opinions of people from different backgrounds, of different ages, of different mind-sets etc, and valuing and using those opinions to help a Board to become more effective and make better decisions.

Fiona McLaughlin, Boardroom Apprentice, Patient Client Council

I’m Fiona, unemployed and living with a chronic illness, and no longer even middle aged. I have been volunteering in health for a while, and have had all various reactions-from being asked to speak at events or contribute to develoments, to being asked “why should we listen to you?”. I applied for some public boards and was knocked back. The process was unclear, and I didn’t feel my voluntary role was valued.

Boardroom Apprentice have given me so much confidence in my skills, abilities and experience. I can do this. I can make a difference. My experience is valid. I can work with others to problem solve, and my contribution is as important as theirs. I have learned a lot about governance, the legal requirements; I’ve learned to listen carefully and to question what I don’t understand. I am good enough.

The Boardroom Apprentice Class of 2019 have a few things they would like to share with you.

Meet Angela, Seamus, Roisin and Maggie

Listen to the impact being a Boardroom Apprentice had on them