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CEO Interviews: Isabel

Posted on 2/09/2018 by Brigitte Stundner

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How would you describe your current Trustee role?

A trustee’s role is, primarily, to oversee the executive team’s performance by ensuring that the strategy is being designed/delivered according to best practice for the sector and the specific circumstances of the organisation. At the British Lung Foundation, I am also in the Governance Committee, which means that in addition to the trustee responsibilities we consider the performance of trustees and of the board as a whole. 

What interested you in becoming a Trustee?

I have been a senior executive in the sector for many years - my area of expertise is business development /commercial growth. As such I have reported to many CEOs and indeed been involved in many boards as an employee. I wanted to gain the perspective from the “other” side too. 

What is your favourite part of being a Trustee?

Working closely as a “link” trustee with a specific department. This allows me to be a bit of a mentor, a bit of a coach, and a bit of champion. 

What skills and experience did you want to bring to your current role? What skills did you hope to develop?

The skills for my usual professional role are financial and commercial, in addition to business development proper and management. This includes risk management. I have been primarily interested in developing further my soft leadership skills. As a senior leader in my professional life, people listen to what I have to say by default. On a Trustee board, people have often little time and are not prone to listen unless there’s good reason to - so this requires more in terms of the ability to distil what’s really important and with what evidence to make a point. 

What do you think are the characteristics of a great Trustee?

Collegiality, respect for diversity (including of opinions) and a combination of confidence and humility. 

What do you like to do in your spare time if you have any?

I like to travel - always important to make time for things we like. I take an average of 8-10 holidays a year, some short city breaks. 

What advice would you give to someone looking for a Trustee role?

Make sure you understand the board -who’s in it, what gaps are there - and how it works. I once was appointed to a board so dysfunctional that it wasted years of my time, and I was unable to make a difference. Don’t ever trust what people tell you - ask for the right evidence (if it’s not there, or if it tells you a different story, run for the hills!) 

How did you get into contact with TPP?

I applied for one role, and was headhunted for another. 

Describe TPP in one word?

Professional 

Would you recommend TPP’s services to someone seeking a Trustee role?

Yes. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.