Lucy Robinson, Vocational Rehabilitation Coordinator at Back Up, is a Governor Apprentice at Keele University.
What made you want to get involved in GAP?
One of my core aims is to become a full charity trustee soon and I felt that the opportunity to join the Governance Apprenticeship Programme would prove beneficial and place me in a good position to achieve this outcome. Another factor was that in addition to gaining invaluable experience on governance and board structures, I would also gain exposure to a slightly different sector to the one I would want to eventually end up in.
What have you gotten out of the experience so far?
The experience so far has been eye-opening. There has certainly been an increase in several areas of my knowledge, in particular what good governance means and how this can be displayed. Audit has been another area I feel being a Governor Apprentice has helped improve my knowledge and expertise in. I am really enjoying the fact that decisions made are impact led and grounded in moral and ethical discussions rather than a pure focus on financial outcomes etc. This has served to lift my soul, something that I was not expecting to be a by-product of the programme.
What has been the most effective way to engage with the Board?
Conversations with my mentor have proved very useful in providing a steer on what is happening within the board. It has helped that there is a very human perspective to the board where I have felt able to add value in bringing my own perspective to bear knowing that it will be taken into consideration. Committee meetings also played a pivotal role in shaping my understanding as well as contextualise the goings on at full board meetings.
How did you make that next step to a trustee role happen?
I have not currently confirmed a full trustee role, but I am in conversations with a charity Board at present. The exposure to governance from this programme and being proactive in searching for opportunities have proven to be positive thus far.
What would you say to anyone who is thinking of getting involved in GAP or in governance more generally?
I think one of the more essential things to do prior to applying is getting your employer on side fairly early on in your thought process. This will give you peace of mind in terms of any capacity concerns that may crop up once you become an apprentice and may help shape which of the opportunities/institutions you end up submitting an application to. One of the ways I found useful in doing so was by thinking in terms of value added not just to you but how the programme can also benefit your executive work.
Try to really get to grips with the expected time commitment as they vary depending on the institution, so perhaps a timetable of meetings will be useful to look at prior to applying or even the previous years’ timetable to get some idea of what to expect.