Trusteeship: Mentoring and advising staff

By Frank Neale 2 November 2011

Frank Neale is currently a business coach having spent most of his career in private equity. As well as being Treasurer of beat (the eating disorders association) he is also Vice Chair of West Herts FE college, on the Finance Committee of the Open University, and on the Board of two quoted investment trusts.

When I was asked by Impetus Trust some four or five years ago, as part of their capacity building and board strengthening programme, if I would be interested in the role of Treasurer and Trustee at beat my first response was ‘only if the finance manager is half decent’. And I stand by that advice – do not take on the job if you do not have faith in the finance function. It is one thing helping to develop someone and quite another to end up doing half the job yourself. Fortunately my assessment proved accurate.

I see my role as part mentor, part guardian and part adviser to the Board and management of beat. In my role as mentor I have seen the beat finance manager become fully qualified, be promoted to Director of Finance and then again to Director of Finance and Commerce. As guardian I introduced an audit committee and the strategic risk register as well as cash flow forecasting. It is also my monthly task to review the management accounts before they go out to trustees. As adviser I have sat on recruitment panels for senior postholders and am currently involved in a group of us who are reviewing how we can improve the management accounts now that a new software package has been installed.

Of course there are also board meetings to attend! But most gratifying is to attend beat events where Young Ambassadors speak of their triumphs against adversity and you witness the great work that beat actually does for people who are suffering from eating disorders, a particularly pernicious and poorly understood mental disorder.

This is the third in a series of blogs to mark Trustees’ Week, an annual event to showcase the great work that trustees do and highlight opportunities for people from all walks of life to get involved and make a difference. You can find out more about Trustees’ Week and about becoming a trustee here.