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Meet Bilgin Yuksel

Bilgin Yuksel

01 September 2020

Today, on his 30th birthday, Bill has decided to step down from his role as Ambassador of the Young Trustees Movement. In doing so, he hopes to create space for younger people to lead this movement and amplify their voices.

Why I’m standing down as a Young Trustees Movement Ambassador.

It’s important for leaders to know when it’s time to go.

Being committed to supporting the power, voice and advancement of young people, I have taken the difficult decision to end my term early as the first-ever Ambassador for the West Midlands with the Young Trustees Movement.

The Young Trustees Movement exists because just 3% of Trustees are under 30. Until today, I was part of an even smaller percentage of people who are on their 2nd Trusteeship as a young person.

To understand why I wanted to be an Ambassador, you need to understand my journey as a Trustee.

As a result of the barriers that I have overcome from growing up poor, disabled and BAME, I have a significant amount of life experience. My first Trustee role was in a charity needing major change and transformation, which gave me some extremely valuable Trustee experiences in my early 20s. In my day job, I also support charities to recruit senior leaders and Trustees. I felt that this combination of experience would be valuable to another charity.

Yet when I decided that I was ready to take on another Trusteeship I tried and failed for about a year to secure even an interview. Feedback was sparse and on some occasions I didn’t even receive a rejection email. In some cases I had submitted highly tailored applications and had direct experience of the challenges being faced by their benefactors.

But nothing came of it.

It knocked my confidence, and I started to doubt what I could offer another board.

A year later, and after rebuilding my confidence I tried again and fortunately, was successful in my application to join the board at Wolves SU. Having been on the board 18 months I can see where I have added value, and the board’s trust in me is evident in being asked to lead the board’s involvement in our CEO and Trustee recruitment processes.

Why I got involved with the Young Trustees Movement.

Once appointed, I wanted to ensure that I did not pull up the ladder behind me and that other young people who had value to offer as Trustees got a fair chance at being considered for Trustee roles.

I started to actively support and encourage those in my network to become Trustees, and spent time supporting them to construct applications, introducing them to decision makers and advocating for them when I could. Indeed, one of our other Ambassadors is someone I supported when they were applying for their current Trustee role.

When I learnt about the Young Trustees Movement, I knew that I wanted to play a part in it. When I saw the role of Ambassador, I applied and was fortunate enough to be appointed as the Ambassador for the West Midlands.

2020 is a challenging year to grow the presence of a national movement, yet that is exactly what we have done. It’s been an immensely rewarding experience to be part of the team and I’ve enjoyed working with fellow Ambassadors, Mita and Meg to try and work out how best to double the number of young people on charity boards. It’s fantastic to see the impact the Young Trustees Movement is already having, especially when there is been so little else this year to be cheerful about.

Why it’s time to stand aside.

Whilst I am, and will always be, committed to empowering young leaders, there has been a change.

Today I turn 30.

As part of being a credible Ambassador, I feel that you need to be seen as a near-peer by other young people. To me, this means that Ambassadors ideally need to be in their late teens or twenties.

To cling to being a voice of young people, despite being 30, and withholding an opportunity for another young person to take the lead does not feel right. It is against everything I stand for.

Over the past few months, I have been working with one of the Champions in my region and supporting them to transition over to becoming the Ambassador for the region.

I will be staying on in the background as long as they need or want me to support, and I’ll always be there to offer advice to Meg, Mita, my fellow Ambassadors and any other young person that I could add value too.

Why does this matter?

Self-awareness in leadership is essential and knowing when it is time to stop doing a role I enjoy has been difficult to come to terms with.

Whilst the role of an Ambassador isn’t a Trusteeship, it is a position of influence. We are trying to advocate for younger people to be on boards, and we do aim to do this by role modelling the power of young people within our structures.

The average age of Trustees is 55+ and that there is a lack of diversity in every other sense of the word too. The uncomfortable reality for many charities and their Trustees is that if they actively want to address the lack of diversity within their governance structures, and hear more from young people and other underrepresented groups, some Trustees might need to ask themselves if they are still the right people to continue holding positions of power on boards. I suspect many should make way for others.

By taking the decision to stand down, I hope I have played my role in leading by example and supporting the power and voice of young people.

Bill has been an incredible Ambassador. He has both supported young people, and charities, to be part of the movement. We have no doubt he’ll keep working to create further change, and support board diversity.

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