Open to those aged 16 or over from all backgrounds and all abilities, this unique board learning and development programme is looking for a diverse range of Boardroom Apprentices to take a seat at one of the host boards and attend a suite of expertly led learning days throughout the year.
Founded by Eileen Mullan in 2017, the programme is now in its sixth year and has helped 277 individuals across Northern Ireland make their aspiration of sitting on a board a reality whilst helping to diversify boardrooms in the public and third sector.
Eileen Mullan, Boardroom Apprentice founder, said: “I decided to create a programme that brings together three key elements – knowledge and understanding, experience and support. Over a twelve-month window Boardroom Apprentices will get practical board experience, a suite of learning days and support to fully equip them to serve on a board in the public or third sector.
“Being a Boardroom Apprentice is a gift. You get the programme as a gift with the expectation that you give it back. Being a Boardroom Apprentice is about preparing you for public service, which is about you playing your part.”
Speaking of her experience, Boardroom Apprentice Alex Deonarine who was placed with the Department of Health said: “Being a young, mixed race girl, I initially felt as if there was no room for me at the boardroom table. I didn't understand my potential and often questioned 'what's the point?' or 'what do I have to bring?'. What I learned was that anyone and everyone can serve on a board, it just takes confidence and believing in yourself. If you’ve never seen anyone ‘like you’ on a board before, be the first one. You will never regret it – you will only treasure each and every experience on this journey.”
2022 Boardroom Apprentice, Craig Service, who was placed with the NI Police Fund said that the programme was a “humbling” experience. He added, “Before I joined the programme, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I thought it would be daunting and I suppose I doubted my capabilities to be involved in such a programme. I met and worked with wonderful people all of whom have their own views, opinions and experiences that I could learn from. Being on a board is one of the most humbling and authentic experiences I have ever had. I would highly recommend the programme to anyone.”
Boardroom Apprentice Gillian Orr, who was placed with Nexus, said her time on the course last year provided her with an opportunity to develop her soft skills: “Through the project work I developed greater interpersonal skills which were really helpful and mirrored the experience of being a new board member. I also learned skills across different areas that I wouldn’t typically have insight to, such as finance analysis and governance, all of which were accessible at all levels and applicable in my host board setting.”
Boardroom Apprentice Clodagh Palmer, who was placed with Southern Regional College said the experience helped her in her personal development journey. She said: “Boardroom Apprentice enables people from different backgrounds to have an opportunity to be on a board. I wanted to be on a board for my personal development and to be able to give back to the community in which I live. Before applying I had no idea, to be honest, of what to expect and I thought it wouldn't be as interesting as it was. I was wrong, as I soon found out the programme was far better than I ever expected. I learned so much about how boards work, the intricacies and about what I can bring to the board.”
The Arts Council of Northern Ireland welcomed Tanya English as its first Boardroom Apprentice in 2022.
Liam Hannaway, Chair of the Arts Council commented:
“The Arts Council of Northern Ireland is delighted to be participating again this year in the Boardroom Apprenticeship scheme. It’s so important that we encourage new voices and more diversity onto boards, and this initiative offers people from all backgrounds, including those not typically associated with public appointments, a brilliant opportunity to gain practical experience of serving on a board. It can be a hugely rewarding and enjoyable experience, and we hope their time spent with us will motivate our apprentices to take their new learning and skills forward and continue to use them to make a real difference in an area they feel passionate about.”
To apply go the Boardroom Apprentice programme go to boardroomapprentice.com/how-to-apply
For more information on Boardroom Apprentice go to boardroomapprentice.com