August 23, 2023 Admin

“I Didn’t Think I Had The Right Skills To Be On A Board, The UK Boardroom Apprentice Programme Changed That”

Shamoon Hussain

By Hannah McCormack 

Before taking part in the UK Boardroom Apprentice programme, Shamoon Hussain didn’t think being on a board was for him. Shamoon, who grew up in Bradford, credits the programme with completely changing his perspective, especially regarding his own capabilities.

The 39 year old explained: “It definitely didn’t feel like an environment I could be involved in initially – I didn’t think I had the right skills, having completed the programme, I have a completely different view of that.”

Established by Eileen Mullan in 2017, the 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. 

Since its inception in 2017, the programme has seen 372 Boardroom Apprentices embark on their personal journey to serve on a public or third sector board. 

Shamoon, who now lives in Lincoln, was placed on the Architects Registration Board during his experience. On the board, based in London, Shamoon participated in various discussions and meetings, got involved in board sub committees, collaborated with staff within the organisation and got to understand operational challenges as well as how the board’s decisions may address these issues. 

Upon being assigned a host board, apprentices are paired with a Board Buddy who aids with their progression throughout the twelve-month experience, as well as being allocated learning days and further assistance.

Shamoon shared: “I’ve had a fantastic time, the ARB have been really supportive, the chair is my board buddy so I’ve got a lot of one to one time to share and reflect. They’ve welcomed my input in conversation and supported me during my learning experience which is complimented by the learning days and education sessions as well. I’m also involved with several sub committees. 

Shamoon acknowledged the initial difficulties that he faced at the beginning of his experience with the Boardroom Apprentice. Although initially lacking in confidence, he stressed the importance of putting yourself out of your comfort zone where possible.

“I was nervous before my first meeting and wasn’t sure what to expect. It was about jumping in with both feet, so I took a presentation slot at the first meeting and made an introduction about me and my values and how I could bring value to the Architects Registration Board. 

“Now I feel part of a team, the board and the Architects Registration Board have warmly welcomed me. I have great personal relationships, I can speak with confidence and I know the board members and the questions or discussions they might raise. It’s progressed very well.”

One of Shamoon’s personal reasons for applying was to develop the confidence to operate on a board and he would agree that has been achieved during the 12 month programme.

He spoke of the impact: “It’s a personal one – having the confidence to speak up and be heard and challenge and question effectively in an environment that would have been quite unknown to me. I’ve walked away with a greater sense of self assurance and confidence”

Boardroom Apprentice 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. This was another reason Shamoon chose to take part. 

He explained: “I personally didn’t have role models who represented my personal values enough so that was a big motivation to get involved. For me, it’s the only route into the boardroom for underrepresented groups who do not fit the stereotypical model of a board member.

“Most of my challenges have been internal and I’m a firm believer of the importance of my personal choices. Self-confidence has been a challenge as I’ve faced environments that have not been inclusive. In the past, this has driven conformity and neither helped my learning or self-assurance. Learning to develop and be a part of inclusive teams have taught me to share my identity more openly and also helped me to work more creatively and effectively.”

To those who are thinking of applying to the programme, Shamoon had this advice: 

“If you are thinking of applying, think about what it means to you personally. That’s very valuable. Understanding your personal values is critical to ensure you are an effective and resilient member of a board. Finding an organisation who represents these values will provide great motivation in delivering goals.”

He also added: “It’s given me a look into a world I would have never gotten involved with and has helped stretch my understanding in places where I think I could add benefit. 

“Definitely get involved. Don’t think too deeply about it, if you wait until you think you’re ready that may not come. You’re probably ready already.”