By Amelia Conwell
When Becky Reid applied to Boardroom Apprentice, she had no idea what to expect. All she knew was that she wanted to make a difference.
Coming from what she describes as “a limited educational background”, Becky wanted to prove that with determination, boundaries can be overcome.
“I wanted to show people you could make a difference. It doesn’t matter where you come from. I’m from a council estate, I have no A Levels nor a degree and if i can do it then so can you, you can make a difference.”
The 40 year old, who has worked a variety of jobs throughout her career, from starting off as a cleaner to now being a Lead Specialist within the pensions regulatory industry has never let her background define her.
She explains: “I come from a lower class background but decided at a very early age that my class doesn’t make me who I am, my personality and attitude to life and its opportunities is what defines me and my path in life.”
This driven mindset led her to apply for the UK Boardroom Apprentice programme, an opportunity she first heard of whilst working full-time at The Pensions Regulator.
The Boardroom Apprentice, founded in Northern Ireland in 2017 by Eileen Mullan, 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 to take part in the programme in its UK-wide format.
Becky’s determination saw her overcome her self-doubt about whether she could be a successful board member.
“I didn’t think I could do it! But I was determined that I was going to try and I was going to apply, even though I wasn’t sure whether I had the right qualities to be a part of the programme.”
Born in Lincoln and now living in Brighton, was placed with Home-Start East Sussex, a non-profit organisation founded in 1996 which supports families in the area that have been subject to adversity including domestic abuse. It supports and empowers vulnerable disadvantaged families to keep safe, and works closely with SafeLives, who provide staff training, quality standards, and policies.
At the beginning of the programme, Becky lacked confidence and struggled to overcome her nerves, but she quickly learned to use her voice in the boardroom.
Speaking of her first day, she said: “I was so nervous when I arrived at the venue but everyone was super friendly and really welcoming. I sat down and I didn’t say anything for the first hour, but then they encouraged me to join in and asked me questions and I absolutely loved it.”
In overcoming these nerves, Becky was able to learn an array of skills and boost her knowledge. She cites learning to read accounts, learning about core governance and behaviours and communication styles as her biggest educational takeaways, in addition to learning about how boards and trustees work.
Becky praised the monthly learning days, which are designed to broaden participants’ knowledge and skills and allow them to practically apply what they have learned in order to excel in their board aspirations.
“I’ve learnt a lot on the programme that I’ve been able to apply to my work. I’ve learnt a lot about board management and governance.”
The now UK-wide programme which seeks to enable a wider diversity of individuals to play their part within boardrooms, allows those without board experience to enhance their knowledge and understanding through in-depth learning and support. Part of that support stems from the teamwork built into the learning days.
“It’s been really nice to get to know different people from different backgrounds all on the same journey with me. There’s been a lot of teamwork and I love my team” Becky stated.
The 2023 UK Boardroom Apprentice has also been able to learn in other ways too and spoke of her personal growth in confidence and how this can be applied to her professional life, proving to her that her perspective matters.
“The programmes have helped me understand that my view and what I know is just as important as everyone else.”
Working with a host board which aligned with her own values also helped her personal development, creating a profound sense of contribution which she can be proud of.
“I did feel very proud of myself. It felt so good that I could contribute to a charity and that I’m making a difference to all the people that charity works with.”
Becky is looking forward to seeing which doors she believes the Boardroom Apprentice will open for her, having provided her with the opportunity to develop her skills and knowledge about the work of boards.
For anyone who is thinking of applying for UK Boardroom Apprentice and lacks the confidence to hit submit on their application, Becky encourages them to just go for it.
“I’d say don’t think about imposter syndrome because everybody has that, and actually, the long-term benefit is that you’ll know that you can make a difference.
“If you can get on the course, [it] will bring you a world of difference.”