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Trustee Interview - Eddie Blair

Posted on 22/10/2020 by Brigitte Stundner

Trustee interview boardroom

We hear from Eddie Blair in our latest Trustee interview who gives us his thoughts on joining a Board for the first time and becoming a Trustee at Quadram Institute Bioscience.

1.  How would you describe your current Trustee role? 

Board Member, and member of two sub-committees (remuneration, audit)

2.  What interested you in joining a Board? 

I specifically knew the Director of the Institute seeking new Board members, and had been contacted for an executive role.

3.  How would you compare being a NED for a commercial organisation with being a charity Trustee? What did you learn? 

Apart from Trustee role having no compensation, apart from spontaneous travel, the interactions are fairly similar. I have learned that those from an academic background have funding issues similar to commercial entities.

4.  What is your favourite part of being a Trustee? 

Exposure to great science, great people and great strategic thinking. Plus, a chance to contribute from my experiences.

5.  What skills and experience did you want to bring to your current Trustee position? 

Coming from an industry background, specifically human pharmaceuticals and diagnostics, my experience complements the other largely academic backgrounds on the Board and the executive team. Specifically, I would guide on commercially-driven decision-making, i.e., is a proposal financially viable as well as scientifically viable?

6.  A Trustee role requires a significant amount of time for meetings, reviewing papers, and other events/activities. How did you balance your role with other commitments? 

Actually, remarkably easy, as the Board papers are well laid out, clearly written and easy to understand. I pre-read upon receipt, marking them up, then re-read just before the meeting. Thus, the time-commitment is spread out such that other activities can be accommodated.

7.  How has your trustee role adapted in light of the Covid-19 pandemic? 

To date, all our Board and Sub-Committee meetings have been held remotely. This means less travel and lower costs, but does also make relationship-building more challenging. 

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

Ability to communicate – listening well and presenting complex thinking in a digestible manner. 

9.  What motivates you as an individual? 

To make a difference to people, places and times. 

10.  What advice would you give to someone from the commercial sector looking for their first Trustee role? 

Take it on; the Code of Practice is not onerous, and the Boards run in similar ways. 

11.  How did you get into contact with TPP? 

Through Linked-In after being asked to apply for executive roles. 

If you are looking for your next opportunity at Board, CEO, or Trustee level, get in touch with our Leadership & Governance team for more information on 020 7198 6060 or email executive@tpp.co.uk.