Trustee Profile – Siobhan O’Shea

Trustee Profile – Siobhan O’Shea

Siobhan O’Shea, Client Services Director, Cpl Resources plc

Trustee, TeenLine Ireland

Siobhan joined the board of TeenLine Ireland through Boardmatch’s services. 

“Go for it! You can make a profound difference to both the charity and to yourself. I would also advise joining a charity that you feel a genuine connection to in light of the time commitment required –  a belief in the charities’ purpose and values is key to staying the course.”

 

Why did you choose to take on a voluntary trusteeship?

A passion for giving back and for the following reasons …

  1. The TeenLine Charity & People:

After learning about the vital work Teenline do in supporting young people it became an easy decision to join the Board. Maureen Bolger founded the charity in 2006 following the death of her son, Darren who took his own life in 2003. Maureen wanted to provide a safe place for teens to talk. Currently over 40 people give of their time voluntarily to Teenline from the helpline, office & board volunteers which I continue to find inspiring.

  1. Personal:

The areas of mental health and wellbeing, support for young people, and work to reduce our teen suicide rates are all issues that have a personal connection to me, especially now as a Mum of two pre-teens. Our volunteers make a huge difference to the young people calling the lines supporting over 2,000 calls a month.

  1. Professional:

Taking on a board position was a goal I had long set for my professional growth. I am interested in pursuing further Board roles in the future, so it has been invaluable to gain this experience.  Also because of the work I do in Cpl I’m very aware of the struggle to shift the dial on female representation on boards – I felt it was the right time and opportunity to get off the fence myself!

What advice would you give to someone considering joining a charity board?

‘Go for it!’

You can make a profound difference to both the charity and to yourself.

I would also advise joining a charity that you feel a genuine connection to in light of the time commitment required –  a belief in the charities’ purpose and values is key to staying the course.

It’s important to do your due diligence so that you go into the role with your eyes wide open. While it is a voluntary role, you are exposed to the risk that any Trustee role of a Board brings with it.

What challenges did you encounter whilst being on a board?

Balancing the strategic priorities with the tactical demands is an ongoing challenge, particularly given our reliance on donations and fundraising to finance the service.

Ensuring that we have the right balance of skills and experience on the board is another one– at the moment we are recruiting for legal and clinical experts for anyone who might be interested.

Lastly juggling the role’s responsibilities with everything else going on, a universal challenge!

What have you learnt by being on a board?

It has been an excellent learning journey. Our board bring a wealth of professional and life experience from a wide range of roles and sectors which is enriching to be around. The diversity of leadership, skills, energy, ideas and thinking adds great value not only to Teenline but to each other.

When I joined the board it had been through a period of significant change. This change presented the opportunity to get involved in a broad variety of Board work from governance, strategy, operations and more that may not have presented had I joined a more established board.  I currently serve on the governance and fundraising sub committees which has strengthened my experience in compliance, risk mitigation and governance.  Getting involved in a charity as a Trustee has been hugely rewarding on every level – I would highly recommend it.

 

Trustee Profile – Chris McElhinney

Trustee Profile – Chris McElhinney

Chris McElhinney

Trustee, Friends Of The Royal Hospital Donnybrook

Chris joined the board of Friends of the Royal Hospital Donnybrook through Boardmatch’s services. 

“The diversity on a voluntary board can enhance the opportunities for collaboration both with fellow board members and the organisations management team. Different voices and perspectives are really important in contributing to good debate, the exchange of ideas, problem solving and conflict resolution.”

Taking on a voluntary trusteeship gives you the opportunity to contribute your time and expertise to a worthwhile cause, which is very rewarding. For me however, the real value has been the opportunity for learning and growth and knowing that your own contribution is helping the organisation learn and grow as well.  When you’re working in a good environment as a trustee it’s a great opportunity for a mutually beneficial relationship!

The exposure to different organisations that face their own unique challenges is really interesting and informative, particularly if, like me, the sector is new to you.

The diversity on a voluntary board can enhance the opportunities for collaboration both with fellow board members and the organisations management team. Different voices and perspectives are really important in contributing to good debate, the exchange of ideas, problem solving and conflict resolution.

I would certainly recommend joining a voluntary board. My experience has been very positive and continues to both interest and engage whilst allowing me to offer my skills, services and experience to an organisation that really values and appreciates that contribution.

Trustee Profile – David Kiely

Trustee Profile – David Kiely

David Kiely, Group Head of Risk Assurance, Bank of Ireland

Trustee, Merchants Quay Ireland

David joined the board of Merchants Quay Ireland through Boardmatch’s services. 

“I have gained better understanding of the struggles of people who, on a day to day basis, would never enter my life.  It has given me a better appreciation for people who work in the sector full time and hopefully made me a more empathetic person.”

 

Why did you choose to take on a voluntary trusteeship?

I had a desire to do something useful that would apply my professional skills in a way that might help others. Trusteeship allowed me to do that.

What have you learnt by being on a board? 

I have learnt the importance of always keeping the person to the forefront of decisions.  I have learnt about addiction (the charity I work with supports people with drug addiction) and the extent to which it harms families for generations.  I have learnt how professional the charity/NFP sector can be.  I have also learnt about restricted funds!

What challenges did you encounter whilst being on a board? 

Understanding the breadth of activities carried out by the charity and the sector and the interplay between charity/giving and government funding.

How did you approach conflict resolution on your board? 

I have been fortunate and haven’t experienced conflict on the board.  Differences of view/perspective exist and these are respected and welcomed and help to get to the better decision.

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

It’s important to understand the commitment to the board and to make time for it.  I am lucky in that my employer is very supportive of my board membership.  They see benefit in both Corporate Social Responsibility and also in the benefits and experiences board trusteeship gives me as an employee in my day-job.

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

The different perspectives/experiences and views of the board as a team allows decisions to be taken on a well informed basis and hopefully drives better decisions.

How has your board experience affected you personally?

I have gained better understanding of the struggles of people who, on a day to day basis, would never enter my life.  It has given me a better appreciation for people who work in the sector full time and hopefully made me a more empathetic person.

What advice would you give to someone considering joining a charity board? 

Get to know the other board members and the management/full time staff.  Hopefully before you even consider joining, you are aware of and have a connection with the underlying work of the charity but in talking with the board and management you will get a sense early on about your own fit for the organisation and the way it operates.    I worked on board sub-committees before joining the full board and I found it a really useful way to learn about the organisation.

Trustee Profile – Fred Karlsson

Trustee Profile – Fred Karlsson

Fred Karlsson, Founder of DoneDeal.ie

Trustee, Boardmatch Ireland

Former Trustee, Wexford Arts Centre

Fred joined the board of Boardmatch Ireland through Boardmatch’s services. 

“It is essential that the board has people with different skills that complement each other. If there is a good spread of relevant skills, and the board members are good at collaborating, it filters down through the whole organisation to create a great place to work.”

 

Why did you choose to take on a voluntary trusteeship?

I had enjoyed some success with my company, and as the company grew my role was changing from engineering into management. So when a local charity approached me about joining their board, I jumped on the opportunity. I saw it as a chance to give back to the community and develop my leadership skills at the same time.

What have you learnt by being on a board?

Being on the charity board has developed my leadership skills. It is very different to lead a company as a board director, compared to your full-time job. It forces you to think more strategically and focus on the areas with the most significant impact.

What challenges did you encounter whilst being on a board?

My biggest challenge was to adapt to the new leadership role. I was used to running a company where I met my colleagues almost every day. In a board position, you meet your colleagues once or twice per month. It requires a very different approach to leadership and management, and it took some time to adapt and learn.

How did you approach conflict resolution on your board?

The best boards bring together people with different experiences and backgrounds. This means there is often a healthy measure of tension in the discussions. Most of that tension is constructive, but it’s important to be respectful and to know when to pause a debate that is getting too intense.

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

It was never difficult to manage the time. The board usually meets once per month for two hours, so it’s easy enough to fit into the schedule. However, to make the meeting effective, you must prepare before the meeting and think strategically about the agenda items. It deserves a good bit of planning.

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

It is essential that the board has people with different skills that complement each other. If there is a good spread of relevant skills, and the board members are good at collaborating, it filters down through the whole organisation to create a great place to work.

How has your board experience affected you personally?

I find it very rewarding to be on a charity board. I have met some fantastic people from other walks of life. People I would never get a chance to work with otherwise. It has given me new insights into people and organisations and has helped me grow both on a personal level and as a business leader.

What advice would you give to someone considering joining a charity board?

Go for it! Joining a charity board helped me grow a lot, both as a leader and on a personal level. It’s an excellent opportunity to give something back to the community, and learn and have fun at the same time!

Trustee Profile – Rachel Waite

Trustee Profile – Rachel Waite

Rachel Waite, Head of Marketing, Client Solutions
Member Retail Board of Directors of NCBI

Rachel joined the board of National Council for the Blind Ireland through Boardmatch’s services. 

“Both teamwork and collaboration are key to running successful board meetings, everyone in the room has something to contribute and wants to help drive things forward. It is a great environment when everyone is passionate about the same cause. With everyone working together as a team we can brainstorm and execute ideas successfully.”

Why did you choose to take on a voluntary trusteeship?

Giving back to my community is very important to me, as I enjoy volunteering and helping others. I was excited to get involved with National Council for the Blind Ireland (NCBI) as their services were like what my grandmother back home in the States would have benefited from when she lost her sight completely at the age of 85.

 What have you learnt by being on a board?

Listening and asking the right questions are key to move things forward and initiate change. It is a step by step process and change cannot happen immediately but highlighting the important factors to consider and striving to collaborate together to achieve them are important to drive innovation.

What challenges did you encounter whilst being on a board?

My experience as a board member has been completely positive, I only wish that I could devote more of my time to helping the NCBI. A main challenge of the organisation is a lack of volunteers, so I try my best to give my time for any fundraising activities and raise awareness within my own network to drive others to sign up.

How did you approach conflict resolution on your board?

Luckily, everyone involved with the NCBI Retail Board has a good dynamic and there are rarely any conflicts. If there is a disagreement or differing opinion on a certain topic we can successfully talk through the issue at hand and resolve it effectively. Staying positive and making sure to listen to all viewpoints are important.

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

When interviewing for my current company I told them I held a volunteer board position and would need a few days a year to attend meetings. Having an employer that was supportive of my work with the NCBI was important to me, having only a few meetings a year doesn’t interfere with my career and only enhances my passion to contribute.

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

Both components are key to running successful board meetings, everyone in the room has something to contribute and wants to help drive things forward. It is a great environment when everyone is passionate about the same cause. With everyone working together as a team we can brainstorm and execute ideas successfully.

How has your board experience affected you personally?

Seeing the NCBI figures improving year on year and the board suggestions being implemented by the staff make me very proud to have contributed to their success in a small way, and happy that those affected by sight loss will be helped even more by the services that NCBI provide.

What advice would you give to someone considering joining a charity board?

If you are considering joining a board, I would highly recommend contacting Boardmatch and finding a charity that you are passionate about to apply your expertise. Even if you haven’t considered something like this, start thinking about it! It is a minimal time investment that can have a great impact on the community.