We asked a number of our Boardroom Apprentices what it has been like for them…

David Johnston, Boardroom Apprentice, Community Relations Council

I applied to be part of the Boardroom Apprentice programme because I didn’t see too many people like me (black or disabled) sitting on boards, and I wanted to do my bit to help change that.  

Being part of the Boardroom Apprentice programme has been a privilege. For me it has reinforced the importance of being motivated and committed to enhancing public service delivery. I’ve gained a better understanding of the Nolan principles of public life, which helps guide my thinking and decision-making.

Diversity is in the DNA of the Boardroom Apprentice programme, so apply and be the change that you want to see.

Deirdre Allison, Boardroom Apprentice, Social Care Council

The idea of serving on a Board had been on my radar for a few years however, there was never a right time to do it.  I also naively thought I could simply apply to a Board that might take my fancy and given my skill-set, it would be plain sailing.  I soon realised it didn’t work like that. 

When I saw applications for Boardroom Apprentice Programme on the website in May 2021, the idea grew to a ‘maybe’, but I still wasn’t sure if it was for me. I was coming to the finale of my career and I was sure a programme like this would be full of ‘bright, young things’.  I was wrong. 

If you’re reading this, you’re already interested.  Talk to someone who knows you well.  Getting another perspective spurred me on to apply. Don’t be afraid.  I’m proud to be a Boardroom Apprentice at my age, and I really don’t want the experience to end!

Sarah Fraser, Boardroom Apprentice, Department of Finance Solicitors Office

After returning to work after maternity leave during Covid-19, I wanted to be able to give something back to my local community but felt I lacked the confidence, skills (and years of experience!) to be able to serve on a public board. Coming from the private sector, I knew I had a lot of valuable knowledge and experience but wasn’t sure how this fitted in with the structure of the public sector and their boards and thought I needed 20+ years’ experience to be able to serve.

The boardroom apprentice program has not only de-mystified the public appointments process but has also helped me find my voice again and given me the skills and confidence to know that as a young working mother I can make a difference. Having more diversity on boards is crucial for the future and being an effective board member is ensuring people of all backgrounds, ages and mindsets are represented; so even if you feel you don’t fit the mould of a ‘typical’ board member- go for it, you won’t regret it!

Paul Lemon, Boardroom Apprentice, Young Enterprise Northern Ireland

I wanted to be able to use my experience and skillset to give back to society. I didn’t know what being a board member involved, what were the responsibilities and how do you apply? Public boards seemed like a closed door which only opened once you had experience of sitting on a board. How could I get appointed to a board without having the necessary experience?

A colleague recommended that I consider the Boardroom Apprentice program. I am so glad that I did, the program was excellent! Right from the start we enjoyed training sessions from senior experts covering every aspect of a board, what it means to hold a role, the different responsibilities, what best practice looks like and how to apply for a board role. We were each assigned to a public or third sector board and got first-hand experience of how boards function.  

Tamlyn Stinson, Boardroom Apprentice, Equality Commission

I applied for the Boardroom Apprentice after I had previously applied for an open board position a few months before. I knew I needed formal training, but I had no idea where to start until the programme was introduced to me by a colleague. I never expected to be accepted as I assumed board members needed to be high powered, professional and senior level people. I was delighted to look around the room of the 2021 cohort and see a mix of people all at the beginning of their journey with me and all there for the same purpose. 

We were advised to “get comfortable with being uncomfortable” the famous words of Eileen Mullan..and that we did! Although the apprenticeship is no easy task, as a team we all kept each other accountable, motivated and worked in great partnership.

Janet Toal, Boardroom Apprentice, Southern Regional College

Boardroom Apprentice is as much about challenging yourself as it is learning about Boards, their members’ roles and responsibilities. Boardroom Apprentice both supports and asks you to play a role in public life.  The carefully curated learning days provide tools you will need as a Board member.  The opportunity to meet new people cultivates confidence.  The privilege of access as a Boardroom Apprentice with your host Board offers a unique invitation to observe and engage in learning through practice. 

If you want to give back, believe with support you could share your experience with others then get to work reviewing the Host Boards.  Take time and decide where do your interests lie?

Being a Boardroom Apprentice has been both a privilege and a challenge answering many of my questions about the role I can play in public service.

Meet Alex, David, Laura, Peter. Bernadette and Angela

Listen to the impact being a Boardroom Apprentice had on the class of 2021…