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.