August 23, 2023 Admin

Charity Champion Overcomes Crippling Imposter Syndrome By Levelling Up With Boardroom Apprentice

By Amelia Conwell

Feeling charitable doesn’t always stop at donations or supporting a cause. For Rodrigo Voss, charity has been much of his life’s work.

The current Head of Operations & Governance at the Forces in Mind Trust, a charity that supports ex-service personnel to transition into civilian lives, Rodrigo’s career experience lies within both the charity and commercial sectors. 

After graduating with a BSc in Business Management from the University of Hull, Rodrigo has also worked for two children’s charities, working for a public health regulator and also managing an educational business overseas.

Wanting to learn about what being a board member entails, the UK Boardroom Apprentice provided the perfect opportunity for Rodrigo to level up his skills for his future aspirations of serving on a board.

“I always wanted to give back to society and I thought being a board member could be a good opportunity but I didn’t know how to do it. 

“The programme was an opportunity to learn the mechanics of how it could be done and how I could perhaps be useful for society,” he explained

Established by Eileen Mullan in 2017, Boardroom Apprentice is a unique board learning, development and placement programme which enables those who would like to serve on a public or third sector board to learn and gain the experience that they need to take that step. 

The Class of 2023 are the first class to have taken part in the programme since it went UK-wide, expanding beyond Northern Ireland.

Besides giving back to society and his community, the Londoner’s main reason for applying to the programme was a deep-rooted desire for personal growth and to feel secure in his own abilities.

“I wanted to overcome the impostor syndrome.

“The theories I know as I’ve studied them before, but I still need to work on my confidence, raising my hand and saying what I am thinking.”

Rodrigo, 46, was placed with the British Tourist Authority as their UK Boardroom Apprentice, an experience which for him has been highly formative and educational.

“My board was very professional, with really skilled and experienced people around the table. I was always invited to contribute and given the opportunity to ask questions. I had two board buddies who were very helpful.”

And on the challenges he faced, Rodrigo said it was: “more demanding than I expected initially, but I learned a lot during the programme. Not only the skills like communications and finance during learning sessions but also the group work. The people involved are really helpful.” 

He has designated understanding strategy and working on having the confidence to communicate as some of the key skills he can take away from the process. The experience has also given him some food for thought on how to keep levelling up in the future.

“I still need to work on thinking of the big picture rather than the operational details, being able to extract what’s really important and relevant to boards rather than the operational level.”

One of the primary aims of Boardroom Apprentice is to encourage diversity in boardrooms and lift up underrepresented voices.

Boardroom Apprentice was created to deliver diversity, create change, and realise aspirations. It seeks to enable a wider diversity of individuals to play their part within boardrooms, allowing those without board experience to enhance their knowledge and understanding through in-depth learning and support.

“The programme’s aim to help create diversity on boards is hugely important – it gives ‘average’ people access to boards that they would not have access to normally” Rodrigo explained. 

Not only that but he believes that having taken part in UK Boardroom Apprentice will open doors for his career moving forward. Parallel to the programme, he started discussions with a charity assisting the development of young musicians, which he has now been appointed a trustee for. He is also scheduled to take part in the British Tourist Authority strategy day this coming October.

For those considering applying for UK Boardroom Apprentice but who are hesitant or nervous about their suitability, Rodrigo has encouraged them to take the leap.

“It’s a journey. It’s an amazing opportunity if someone wants to be a board member and in my case, I wanted to give something back to society. I have plans for the kind of boards I want to work with and I would just say for someone who is thinking about it, do it. Go for it. Apply.

“As long as you have your ‘Why’, your reason to apply, I would say apply. Filling out the forms will give you an indication of the kind of things you may be able to do and the people involved are so helpful and they will guide you through what’s needed. 

“Just fill out the form and do it.”