A UK first, the Boardroom Apprentice is a 12-month unique board learning, development and placement programme which enables those who would like to serve on a public or third sector board to learn and gain experience through in-depth training and support.
Founded by Eileen Mullan in 2017, the programme is now in its sixth year and has helped 223 candidates across Northern Ireland to begin their Boardroom journey thanks to its support from the Department of Finance.
Open to those aged 16 or over from all backgrounds and all abilities, the programme seeks to enable a wider diversity of individuals to play their part within boardrooms and helps move the board member role from aspiration to reality.
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.”
During the year, each Apprentice has to attend a number of learning days on topics such as finance and governance and along with the board placement on a board of their choice, matched by both Eileen and a selection of former apprentices.
“If being on a board giving your time and sharing your skills is something you aspire to do, but are not sure how to do then Boardroom Apprentice will enable you to do just that,” said Eileen.
Previous Boardroom Apprentice David Esler said his time on the course in 2020 provided him with an opportunity like no other: “Previously, I had seen different boards but I had no idea how to go about taking part in a board.
“The Boardroom Apprentice exceeded my expectations and it gave me a lot more confidence that it’s attainable, it’s something that you can do,” he said.
2020 Boardroom Apprentice Jo McGinley recalled her experience was ‘phenomenal’.
“The programme is a phenomenal learning experience. It really does set you up as a top class board member going forward because you’ve got the experience, you’ve got the learning and then you’ve got this fantastic amount of peer support going forward.”