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Meet Alice Olafare

Megan Raybould

28 October 2020

We're excited to introduce Alice. Alice co-founded the organisation New Gen Accountants and is now a trustee for Peer Power Youth.

In this series we're sharing experiences, tips and ideas about trusteeship from Young Trustee Movement members.

As part of our ongoing work in support of Black Lives Matter, we will be sharing spotlight stories throughout October to celebrate Black History Month. We are working with Beyond Suffrage to share stories from some of the inspiring young people they work with.

Alice co-founded the organisation New Gen Accountants who are a community of accountants, supporting diversity and inclusion in the sector. She completed the Beyond Suffrage Trustee programme and is currently a trustee for Peer Power Youth.

How did you get involved with Beyond Suffrage and start your trustee journey?

I was drawn to Beyond Suffrage because of their mission to work to get more women on trustee boards. The aim of the program aligned perfectly with my desire to just improve representation within positions of power across society.

The program was a great kind of crossway, in terms of supporting communities who need help through the work of charities, but also improving representation at the same time.

Where did you become a trustee?

I'm trustee at Peer Power. Peer Power's a charity focused on supporting young adults in the UK who have gone through particular life experiences, such as living in poverty or who've had difficult upbringings. And so I've been a trustee for 5 months.

What was it like starting in the middle of the pandemic?

It has been really difficult, especially because you haven't been able to meet in person yet. And I think not being able to do that and having all the meetings on the phone, it can sometimes be quite difficult to engage, to really understand what you're doing, how the charity runs, and who the beneficiaries are.

I think you would get a better sense if you were actually able to kind of go into the building, meet some of the beneficiaries, sit with the board and the other new trustees, and really be able to delve in.

Luckily the senior management team at Peer Power are just really amazing, and they do make every effort to get us new trustees involved, and up to speed. But they're also considerate of the fact that we have joined in the middle of a pandemic, and it is difficult and unusual circumstances.

Has there been anything that could have made it easier?

I would definitely set out some times for the new trustee to get to know each other and the management team and that can be done online.

It’s good to get to know how people work and build up that familiarity, I think that that's really one great way to integrate people. Otherwise, as a new trustee you join a call and you don't know anyone on the call it could feel like: the majority of you know each other, and are very good at talking to each other, and feeling comfortable to kind of raise their hands and say something.  But, as someone who's new and I don't really know anyone, you might be uncomfortable or shy to speak.

On a call, no one's really going to notice if you’re talking, or not. But if you're in a room I think you would notice after a while if one person wasn't talking, and they're not really engaged that much.

One thing that I really appreciated at Peer Power was the CEO actually took some time to send out an invite, to have  a virtual coffee catch up, just to see how I'm doing and how am I finding joining the board and what they could do to improve and make it more comfortable for me. So a tip would be hosting a general check in one-on-one with the CEO. I really appreciated it, and that made me feel a lot more comfortable.

I think one thing that I have found quite beneficial is the fact that the conversations were involved in, our viewpoints and comments are taken into consideration and I can see how it impacts the charity.

What was your overall experience of working with Beyond Suffrage and the process of becoming a trustee?

I think what is really important is shedding light on opportunities available, but also championing diversity on boards so that there are more opportunities in the future.

It's been mentioned quite frequently to me that more diverse boards have produced better results. And that's because diversity of thought, mind and experience, means that you're able to tackle a greater surface area of problems. And also your results are able to capture a lot more points of views and perspectives.

I think programmes like the Beyond Suffrage are doing amazing things, in terms of just shedding light, and granting more opportunities in the space of trusteeship. And, I think trusteeship is an experience and role that more people should get involved in. Not only is it an opportunity to give back to charities and your community, but it's also an experience that will help you with your personal development as a whole. I would really recommend people to get involved where they can.

This blog was created in collaboration with Beyond Suffrage. You can find out more about their trustee training programme, here.

Don't forget to listen to this month's episode of Boardroom Bookclub too! Listen here.