By Rachel Black
NHS Managing Director, Carol Moyo, had originally lacked confidence in her ability to be a successful board member, but her aspirations to shape and contribute to policies and strategic decision making is what really pushed her to apply for the UK Boardroom Apprentice programme.
The NHS worker, originally from Zimbabwe Africa, who now lives in London, first heard about the programme through a women’s professional network and thought of it as the perfect opportunity to learn new skills. She said: “I’ve always been very passionate about contributing to board conversations and decisions, at the sort of board strategic level, but I hadn’t the confidence and also the time commitment and when I first learnt of this program, I just thought this is the perfect opportunity that will give me a protected time and the learning, and equip me with the skills to be confident enough to go for a board role.”
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. 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.
Carol, 52, was placed with the Heywood Foundation, a board which she was initially attracted to as it aligned with her own personal values.
Speaking of her host board, she said: “The reason I had put the Heywood Foundation down was because their values resonated a lot with my own values, particularly around diversity and also making positive changes and contributions to society.”
She continued: “I didn’t feel like I saw many people like me on the board from a BAME background and not many women either, it was mainly sort of white male middle class on
boards and I thought, I’d like to also step into that space and make my voice heard and get more representation.”
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.
Achieving diversity on boards is something that Carol believes is of utmost importance when addressing key issues.
She explained: “I think it is very important that every board is diverse because you can tap into the expertise, and the lived experiences of people as well, from a broader base and so it makes the board – not only what it looks like, but what it actually represents and what they do – more broader and representative.”
The full-time working mum also praised the application process of the UK Boardroom Apprentice, highlighting their strengths at challenging stereotypes and encouraging inclusivity.
“I think the application process is what I liked about it and unlike many other application processes, it’s not dependent on your skills or expertise, it’s just about your purpose and what you want to do. And I think anybody can do it if they really put their effort in and really want to do it.”
Not only has Carol’s time as a board apprentice improved her level of confidence in her normal full time job, but enabled her to reach her full potential as she learned to “speak up without fear of retribution.”
This is largely as a result of the support of her board buddy, who mentored her during her experience. “Having a board buddy was like having a mentor, somebody to guide you, somebody to run ideas past, to help you analyse things and also to just help you untap and voice some of the knowledge that you already have.”
For those thinking of applying, Carol said: “It’s such a unique opportunity, I wouldn’t miss it, I would really just go for it, just go for it and be your authentic self.”