Liam Redmond, Acting Country Manager, Enactus Ireland
A proud 26-year-old
When thinking about joining a board, I had one reservation – my age. Although we live in a time where young people are celebrated and encouraged to take charge, I was always coming up against roadblocks because of my age – lack of experience, just out of college, a perceived level of immaturity. Other people’s words; not mine.
Over time, I allowed other’s opinion on my age define my ambitions and what I was capable of. I stopped putting myself forward for fear of the inevitable put down. With that said, I still worked hard at my job and my projects, one of which being volunteering at my local Special Olympics Club.
Last November, the Chair came to me and asked me to step into his role – pending election of course! I was dubious – I would be the youngest person on the board. How would the other board trustees feel about working with someone younger than them? Would they discount everything I say?
I aired my concerns with the Chair. He laughed off my worries and said, “Action speaks louder than words, and louder again than age”. This sentence gave me back my confidence and I am delighted to say I was elected into the position of Chair. Once a board trustee works hard and completes their role, age is immaterial.
I am thoroughly enjoying working on the board of my local Special Olympics club – it can be quite challenging at times but is very rewarding. I have also honed my skills – especially communication and delegation skills. Suffice to say my predecessor was right – my fears lived solely in my mind and working hard has discredited any disbelief in me – including from myself.
It is for this reason that I love my day job – Enactus Ireland. At Enactus, we believe with the right work ethic and a positive attitude, we can overcome anything. Enactus develops third level students to become socially conscious leaders. We do this through the creation and implementation of social entrepreneurial projects. Working on these projects enables our students to hone the skills necessary to enter the working world (potentially join boards!) and create a positive impact.
Our alumni network was established in 2017, and I am proud to see our alumni join boards, locally and globally, and put the skills they learned during their time as Enactus students to use. The knock-on impact of our programme can really make a difference in the world we live in.
If you are considered young and are thinking of joining a board – just do it! Below are some tips to help you on the way:
Don’t Let Anyone’s Perception of You Stop You
Believe in yourself and in your capabilities. Being young gives you a new, fresh viewpoint which is needed to create diverse boards
Find a Champion
Find someone, not on the board, who can act as mentor and allow you to bounce ideas off them. They can reassure you when you need reassurance and point you in the right direction if you are lost
People will use your age as an excuse to discredit you. Prepare for this and be knowledgeable on the topic at hand – don’t give them any opportunity to try and knock you
Action speaks louder than words, and louder again than age!