Get On Board
(Scotland Edition, 2019)
International Centre for Management & Governance Research (ICMGR)
Edinburgh Napier University Business School
Dr. Miles Weaver*,
Dr. Jackie Brodie
* corresponding author: firstname.lastname@example.org
This handbook details the ‘Get on Board Competency Pathway’ that aims to support young professionals to go beyond the classroom and get into the boardroom: bringing a unique mix of knowledge, skills, mind-set and experience to a board position. Edinburgh Napier University want to make an impact on the diversity of thought in the boardroom, encourage more people to get involved in the Charitable / Social Enterprise sector and to bring together and grow an eco-system to support young professionals being better equipped in board governance. By doing so, we believe that our participants following this pathway will grow, get ahead and give back.
New research by the Charity Commission (published 13.11.2017) showed that the average age of a Trustee is now reported at 61 and boards are typically 64% male / 36% female (in England and Wales, however, no comparative data can be found in Scotland). Collectively, we can lower the average age of a Trustee and work towards gender-balanced boards. To do so, we need to develop a talent pipeline and offer opportunities for young professionals to get more involved in the third sector following their passion, interests and competencies that they bring to a board.
Version 4 of the ‘Get on Board Competency Pathway’ is presented in this document, following a series of funded research projects supported in part by Edinburgh Napier University and the Scottish QAA. A previous version had been presented to the Charity Board Initiative in Edinburgh (July, 2017). We are also indebted to Julie Hutchison, Charity Specialist at Standard Life, who has made an intellectual contribution to the pathway, particularly in how the pathway is supported at Silver with an ‘open architecture’. Essentially, enabling other providers of free competency development training and opportunities to offer support to Charity/Social Enterprise Trustees and to grow an already vibrant and supportive trustee community.
The ‘Get on Board’ Competency pathway is supported by an open learning environment, provided by Edinburgh Napier University. This platform is detailed at the end of this document, combining learning opportunities, links and a social space. You will need to use this platform to submit your workbook prior to attending a progression interview to achieve a bronze, silver and hopefully, a gold award!
“Our young professionals who are working towards getting on board are full of talent. We are encouraging, skilling and building a community of our future leaders in nursing, accountancy, events, engineering, design, all with an abundance of passion and energy that needs to be harnesses by boards willing to offer mentoring and a big welcome”
Dr. Miles Weaver,
Associate Professor, ICMGR at Edinburgh Napier University Business School
The ‘Get on Board’ Movement
The Get on Board student initiative was first introduced at Edinburgh Napier University in 2013, following the successful model launched by the Birmingham Leadership Foundation in 2011. It incorporated the syllabus of the ‘Effective Board Member’ programme offered by The Governance Forum (based in Birmingham) and was established in partnership with the Association of Corporate Governance Practitioners (ACGP).
The aim of ‘Get on Board’ in its current form is to encourage, support and nurture a community of practice for University students for a board member of local charities, social enterprises and voluntary organisations. In 2015, the pilot at Edinburgh Napier University was awarded a Higher Education Award for enhancing student learning.
The programme gives students the opportunity to:
- Contribute to the decision-making process of an organisation at board level
- Gain experience in leadership and board governance
- Network with leaders in Edinburgh and Scotland and those who wish to give back to their community
- Support diversity in the boardroom by taking a leadership role, make a real difference in their community and have a demonstrable impact on people’s lives
- Receive student membership of the Association of Corporate Governance Practitioners (AGCP) and encouragement to sit the ACGP professional qualification.
From September 2017, the ‘Get on Board Competency Pathway’ now underpins the Get on Board initiative. This seeks to encourage the whole student body to participate in a ‘Bronze’ level experience – to find out key information about the third sector and understand what a board role might entail. To develop individual competencies beyond the classroom. Students who are interested in pursuing the initiative beyond bronze, will be invited to participate in masterclasses offered by the University and encouraged to pursue opportunities for professional development, beyond our classroom, offered as part of the Leadership and Board Governance eco-system detailed in this document. Those who achieve the silver accreditation can begin to work towards achieving ‘gold’ once recruited and time has been spent on a board.
Get on Board Competency Pathway
The ‘Get on Board’ Competency Pathway is made of three levels: bronze, silver and gold. The following page details the learning outcomes that need to be demonstrated for each level of achievement broken down into the Knowledge, Skills, Mind-set and experience that a board member should develop and demonstrate. Followed by some guidance on how each participant can demonstrate the specific criteria.
To support the pathway the following are offered as part of the learning materials developed by the get on board team at Edinburgh Napier University:
- Slides that can be used as part of a Bronze taster session and an introduction to the GoB competency pathway
- Workbooks for Bronze and Silver
- Guidance notes on the reflective discussions at each level
In addition to the above, it is intended that third sector organisations and local businesses can provide additional resources to support the competency pathway. Particularly, in providing professional development opportunities for young professionals such as:
- Competency development training
- online resources
- Opportunities to gain an experience in the relevant sector
- Board Shadowing
- Board Recruitment
A mapping of organisations who provide these opportunities and support the GoB competency pathway are provided in this document.
To summarise the activities that need to take place to get each award is shown below:
The ‘Get On-Board’ Competency Pathway is based on achievement against four criteria to encourage and support more young people to get on board. Criteria for each award are defined in terms of: Knowledge, Skills, Mind-set and experience.
|Level Achieved||Specific Criteria:|
Evidence of a foundation level of knowledge, skills & mind-set in board governance.
|Awareness of key board-level roles in a variety of sectors in different contexts.||Appraise the skills that you can bring to a board-level role & identify gaps for development.||Awareness of your own attitudes and motivations to get on a board and readiness to develop a growth mind-set.||Demonstrate in an interview evaluation your relevant knowledge, skills and mind-set in board governance.|
Evidenced achievement against each criterion to demonstrate at least 14 hours of professional development.
|Demonstrate the appropriate theoretical & practical understanding to fulfil a board-level role in a relevant sector and context.||Evidence of relevant expertise that could be brought to a board-level role, including an ability to build good networks and relationships.||Reflect on the attitudes and disposition that shape the individual contributions, behaviour and their influence on board decision-making.||Active engagement in a relevant sector that utilises your knowledge, skills and mind-set to add value to an organisation’s purpose.|
Professional recognition in a board-level role over a sustained period.
|· Evidence of an active engagement in a board-level role in at least three board meetings
· Written personal evaluation and reflections on experience and peer feedback to date
· Commitment to ongoing professional development and networking*
· Mentoring of others in board governance
* Further opportunities exist as part of a professional pathway with the Association of Corporate Governance Practitioners
© The ‘Get on Board’ Competency Pathway (2017, v.4) for use as part of the Charity Board Initiative. Adapted by Weaver, Brodie and Hutchison and first published in Brodie and Weaver (2017). All rights reserved.
The following descriptions are for guidance only – it is expected that you will be able to provide evidence to demonstrate the specific criteria noted below. This should include attendance at the taster event(s), completion of the bronze level workbook and participation in a reflective discussion with a member of the accreditation board (or a nominated representative).
|Evidencing Output||Demonstrating the specific criteria:-|
|Bronze||Attend Taster Event(s)||Attend taster event(s) to:-
a) Understand the requirements and expectations to follow the ‘Get on Board Competency Pathway’.
b) Acquire a foundation level of knowledge, skills, & mind-set in board governance.
|Bronze Workbook||Complete the Skills Audit (Part 3) and identify your strengths and gaps for development (Part 4).||· Assess your motivation to getting on a board (Part 1).
· Identify the issues and areas of interest that matters to you (Part 2).
|Detail any volunteering activity (including board level experience) that you hold (Part 1).|
|Rank the sectors that are most relevant to you and note any target boards that you may wish to pursue (Part 4).|
|Reflective Discussion||a) Attend a reflective discussion with a member(s) of the accreditation board (or a nominated representative) to explore the programme’s key learning points and your personal interest and motivation.
b) Consider the most relevant sectors, potential charities/social enterprises that are of interest to you and in line with you can bring to a board role.
The following descriptions are for guidance only – it is expected that you will be able to provide evidence to demonstrate the specific criteria noted below. This should include at least 14 hours of relevant professional development each evidenced using a Silver log and participation in a reflective discussion with a member of the accreditation board (or a nominated representative).
|Demonstrating/evidencing the specific criteria:|
|Silver||Professional Development||Attend at least 14 hours of professional development to bridge relevant skill gaps from the directory of professional development opportunities for charity/social enterprise Trustees||For Silver award ‘Board Prepared’:
· Participate in a board role scenario and critically reflect on the experience and evaluate the overall performance and decision-making processes.
· Active participation in peer coaching circles
For Silver award ‘Board Ready’ (with Charity/Social Enterprise board/work shadowing experience in relevant sector’):
Undertake board/committee/senior management governance shadowing to understand the ‘behind the scenes’ governance support required from work shadowing together with reflections on at least 1-2 sub-committee/board meetings.
Note: Before undertaking this work, candidates will be paired based on the reflective discussion (at Bronze level) and attend an interview to determine compatibility with the Charity/Social Enterprise.
|Log your competency development to demonstrate/evidence of improvement against the gaps identified in the Bronze workbook (each CPD opportunity should be logged independently and hours noted)||Log your critical reflections of the silver experiences (i.e. board scenario, board shadowing) and evaluate overall performance and decision-making processes for each decision made on the board and identify the diversity of its members.|
|Reflective Discussion||Attend a reflective discussion with a member(s) of the accreditation board (or a nominated representative) to report on competency development, reflections on the experience gained and feedback collated as part of demonstrating the Silver award. Objectives will be set for candidates who wish to progress to the Gold award.|
The following descriptions are for guidance only – it is expected that you will be able to provide evidence to demonstrate the specific criteria noted below. This should include a board appointment, obtaining some 360o feedback and the collation of all the Bronze and Silver evidence into a Portfolio of Professional Practice with some critical commentary/personal evaluation on your experience that you can draw upon in a reflective discussion with a member of the accreditation board (or a nominated representative).
|Demonstrating/evidencing the specific criteria:|
|Gold||Board Membership||Evidence of active engagement in further professional development opportunities to fulfil board-level role||Active engagement in a Charity/Social Enterprise board (or sub-committee) in at least three meetings|
|Peer Feedback||Gain formal 360o feedback from Charity/Social Enterprise and/or any mentoring of others in board governance|
|Portfolio of Professional Practice||Collate all workbooks and other evidencing documents into a Portfolio of Professional Practice and write a personal evaluation, experiences and feedback gained to date.|
|Reflective Discussion||Attend a reflective discussion with a member(s) of the accreditation board (or a nominated representative) to present the Portfolio of Professional Practice.|
Get on Board candidates are free to find a board position at an earlier stage but will not be eligible for Gold until appropriate professional development training has been gained.
Further opportunities exist as part of a professional pathway with the Association of Corporate Governance Practitioners and individuals are strongly encouraged to engage in peer mentoring during the GOB Programme.
The following organisations offer training, networking events and volunteering experiences that may be of relevance to an existing or aspiring Trustee (charity or social enterprise) or public appointee. The following list identifies providers who offer training to develop board-level competencies (knowledge, skills & mind-set) and opportunities to gain an experience in the relevant sector to help students to demonstrate the learning outcomes in the GoB competency pathway.
|Provider||Competency development training
(knowledge, skills & mind-set)
|Opportunities to gain an experience||Organisations adopting/Supporting the GoB Competency Pathway|
|Face-to-face||Online Resource||Networking||Volunteering||Mentoring||Board Shadowing||Board Recruitment|
|Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce||l|
|Edinburgh Napier University||l||l||l||l|
|OSCR – Charity Regulator||l||l|
|Changing the Chemistry||l||l||l|
Organisations offering training in Edinburgh:
|Standard Life Wealth||l|
|Effective Board Member, The Governance Forum||l||l||l|
|Association of Corporate Governance Practitioners (ACGP)||l||l||l|
Organisations that wish to be considered as a provider should contact email@example.com for further information.
The ‘Get on Board’ Competency Pathway is supported by an online platform that can be accessed here:
Once you are registered to the programme, you will receive the access code to gain entry to the site. The site houses the framework and lists professional development opportunities that you could engage in as part of undertaking this co-curricular activity. You can also download additional worksheets to work on and upload your completed workbooks prior to being called for interview (at the end of Bronze, Silver or Gold achievements). You will also find additional online learning opportunities that can count towards your training requirements.
The ‘Get on Board’ Competency framework is also supported by an open facebook group – additional opportunities’ will be posted. Plus, an opportunity for you to interact with fellow students participating at other institutions and organisations. You can access the facebook group here:
Additional support and opportunities’ can be found at these external sites:
- Young Trustee Community – https://www.facebook.com/groups/youngtrustee/ | Support, advice and links
- Get On Board Edinburgh – https://www.getonboardedinburgh.org.uk | Sign-up for trustee opportunities and news for trustees
‘Inspiring Scotland’ also provide Trustee opportunities on its website:
The following organisations are either adopting or supporting the ‘Get on Board’ competency pathway.
Participants at ‘Bronze’ level are entitled to one year free membership of the Association of Corporate Governance Practitioners (ACGP). ACGP is the professional body focused on supporting governance practitioners, governance consultants and board members who have a responsibility for corporate governance. Further professional grades awarded on a combination of experience and qualifications and are designed to help support your journey to becoming a Certified Governance Practitioner. To find out more about ACGP and how you can become an ‘Affiliate member’, then follow: http://www.acgpglobal.org/becoming-a-member.
RSM in joint partnership with Santander, Inspiring Scotland, Anderson Strathern and Edinburgh Napier University have set up the ‘Charity Board Initiative’ launched in TrusteesWeek 2017 to encourage students:to find out a bit more about how charities are governed and what they do; to attend some relevant training on the board role; andpotentially to become board members of a charity. The CBI follows the Get on Board Competency Pathway detailed in this document.
Further details can be found: https://www.rsmuk.com/charityboardinitiative
STEP ‘The Informed Trustee’
STEP, the global professional association for practitioners who specialise in family inheritance and succession planning, including advice on philanthropy and advice for charities, has launched an innovative new online course for charity trustees to meet a growing, though as yet unmet, demand.
Known as The Informed Trustee, the course will equip both established and aspiring trustees with awareness and knowledge of a broad range of charity regulation and charity finance matters. The Informed Trustee will cover aspects relevant to the 21st century trustee including social media and data protection, as well as more long-established topics of charity law, regulation, accounts and risk management. In turn, this is intended to lead to more confident trustees who are better able to participate and challenge at board level.
The Informed Trustee has been brought about by its Chief Editor, Julie Hutchison (a Charity Specialist at Standard Life Wealth) and STEP. The certificate is endorsed by Edinburgh Napier University.
Further details can be found: https://www.step.org/online-course-register
International Centre for Research in Management and Governance (ICMGR)
The authors of the Get on Board Competency Pathway are indebted to the ICMGR which aims to bridge academic and professional knowledge on international management and governance. It embraces a multi-disciplinary approach to research across subject groups at Edinburgh Napier. The Centre’s key themes are as follows: Accountability and audit; Corporate governance (including executive compensation); Corporate social responsibility (CSR) and economic governance; Critical labour market studies; Debt contracting; Disclosures and transparency in private and public entities; Ethics, business ethics, ethical finance/investment, and Islamic finance/investment; Financial regulation; HRM, HRD & strategy; Leadership, and SMEs & entrepreneurship.
In 2017, the ICMGR launched the ‘Leadership in Board Governance’ Executive Education programme with cohorts starting in September and March. The Centre also developed the ‘Get on Board Competency Pathway’ first published in Brodie and Weaver (2017).
For more information, email:
The Edinburgh Napier University ‘Get on Board’ pilot was the first recipient of the
Higher Education Award for ‘enhancing student learning’ in 2015.
 The awareness and effectiveness of charity trustees in England and Wales https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/658775/Trustee_Awareness_Report__final__print_.pdf (Accessed: 13.11.17).
 Brodie, J. & Weaver, M. (2017). ‘Getting on Board’: Supporting HE students’ transition to employment, The Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education Annual Conference. Glasgow, UK. June, 2017. http://www.enhancementthemes.ac.uk/pages/docdetail/docs/paper/2-2-1-getting-on-board-supporting-he-students-transition-to-employment (Accessed: 12/07/2017)
The following guidance and templates are available to support you:
- Appendix A: The ‘Get on Board’ eco-system in Scotland
- Appendix B: Directory of professional development opportunities (e.g. training, events and activities) available locally
- Appendix C: List of relevant competency frameworks that can be applied for different Governance Leader roles and sectors
- Bronze Workbook: Series of templates to demonstrate the bronze criteria, including a skills audit
- Silver Logbook: Collection of logs to describe and reflect on CPD training, networking events and activities attended to evidence the criteria
- Gold: Example 360 feedback session by peer / Board Chair / Letter of support
- Gold: Declaration of ongoing commitment to personal development / Active membership of ACGP and its Scotland Chapter