Nessan Vaughan, Chairperson of Sphere 17, Regional Youth Service

Full-time Community & Volunteer Worker

Honest, Organisied and Flexible: Building Strong Board Relationships 

“Building and achieving consensus are important while focusing on arriving at the right decision; not always the easy decision. Honesty and transparency greatly assist in achieving this as trust is developed.”

Why did you choose to take on a voluntary directorship?

 I wanted to make a meaningful contribution to people and communities experiencing disadvantage and social exclusion.

How has your experience differed from what you expected?

The regulatory framework in respect of governance; the distinction between Boards of Management and Boards of Directors.

Has your professional capacity helped you in this position?

My lengthy and diverse experience in the public service, particularly my policy background, have helped me.

What have you learnt by being on the board?

The need for a balanced Board with an appropriate mix of skills is essential for an effective Board. Thus, when recruiting Board members, one should start by examining any skills deficits and then having an open and transparent recruitment process.

What challenges did you encounter whilst being on a board?

Varying and often inconsistent demands made by the sometimes multiple funders. The need to take account of various perspectives whilst ultimately doing the ‘right thing’: funders, staff, service users, managers and Directors.

How did you approach conflict resolution on your board?

I encountered very little of this. It is always important to prepare well for Board meetings – agree agenda and anticipate any issues with the Manager; utilise Board Committees to do some of the detailed examination and preparation of various items; present well written papers for Board information/consideration.

How would you describe time management with respects to your day-job and voluntary board position?

I am a full-time volunteer and work for a variety of organisations. Good diary management is essential. Set aside sufficient time for the scheduled meetings and preparation of same and, importantly, be flexible around availability as required.

How important was teamwork and collaboration in relation to board effectiveness?

Essential. Building and achieving consensus are important while focusing on arriving at the right decision; not always the easy decision. Honesty and transparency greatly assist in achieving this as trust is developed.

November 2017