Welcome to Extern, Caroline. Tell us a little about yourself.

I come from Portstewart originally but live in Bangor now. I work as a management consultant for the public sector, providing advice on the value for money of projects using taxpayer funds. As a chartered accountant I enjoy working with facts and numbers, but as a Psychology graduate, I also love to talk to people and understand what makes them tick.

Why did you apply to be a Boardroom Apprentice?

I have been interested in the programme for a few years, but this was the first year I really considered applying. I know someone who participated last year, and she urged me to go for it, saying it had been a really positive experience for her. After lockdown there were really no excuses for not getting out there and working towards my ambitions.

Why did you choose Extern?

I was keen to choose a charitable host board as I work with public sector organisations in my day job and wanted to get a closer look at how essential services are delivered for hard-to-reach groups in our society. When I researched Extern, I was impressed by the breadth of services offered, as well as its ethos of reaching in to provide the services most needed by people.

What have been your first impressions of the role?

My impressions of Extern so far are positive. If anything, the services delivered are even more diverse than I realised when I applied, and the organisation seems to be operated professionally and with a great deal of passion and care.

In terms of the trustee role, there is a lot of detail and paperwork to get up to speed with and it is tricky following all of the changes which Extern has gone through in recent years.

What are your hopes and expectations for the role going forward?

This is a unique opportunity and I want to get to know Extern as well as possible and offer as much as I can in terms of my skills and experience. I would love to go on service visits to see in person the great work being done by the teams and to hopefully make some valuable contributions at board and committee meetings. It will be interesting to see how any emerging issues are dealt with by the board as the year continues.

Have you ever undertaken a role like this before?

I have been involved with charities before through volunteering roles and sitting on a fundraising committee but never felt that I was the ‘right type’ of person to step into a boardroom. Boardroom Apprentice is showing me that anyone who wants to serve has something to offer.

What do you hope to get out of this experience?

I am hoping to gain confidence, governance and interpersonal skills and new networks and contacts. Most importantly though, the last few years have been (and continue to be) really tough for people.

While I want to gain skills and knowledge from participating in the Boardroom Apprentice, I hope that through the experience I can make even a small contribution to improving the lives of people in need by supporting Extern to do its important work as effectively as possible.

For further details on the Boardroom Apprentice programme, visit www.boardroomapprentice.com