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Trustee truths: Oluwaseye Awolusi

Updated: Jul 9

Profile picture of a Black man in a suit and shirt with no tie. Green background with yellow and white graphics. Text read Oluwaseye Awolusi school governor. Additional text reads: "You don't need to know everything on a board."

Oluwaseye Awolusi is a board member who is passionate about making an impact

Oluwaseye Awolusi is a Manager in the Financial Services Advisory department at BDO. He completed the Charity Board Leadership Programme and became a governor at South Essex College Group and sits on the Policy and Risk Committee. One year on, he shares his story.

I didn't realise that I could actually search for board roles

I found this out on the Charity Board Leadership Programme. I found my current role on LinkedIn and applied. I had a preliminary interview and then sent in my CV. The Charity Board Leadership programme prepared me to tailor my CV for a board role because it's quite different from generic CVs for a job application.

Getting on Board supercharged my passion

I've always been passionate about making an impact but the Charity Board Leadership Programme actually ignited me. I remember saying that I want to change lives. I knew I wanted to be a board member where I can actually make decisions that have the impact that matters in people's lives.

The amount of work is very manageable

My organisation, BDO, gives us 10 days a year where we can do volunteering, five of which are for strategic projects like this. I just book those times off to do any board-related work or to read and review any papers ahead of the meetings I need to attend. The support from BDO is very, very good in terms of giving us actual time to do the work.

A lot of things are just unnecessary jargon

Being on a board has helped shape how I write board papers in my day-to-day job. The board needs papers to be as short as possible and as straight to the point as possible. Just a one page summary of all of the key issues and the key decisions a board needs to make before they will start delving deeply into the subject.

You don’t need to know everything on a board

I learned from the chair that you do not have to know everything. Sometimes it is just best to take a back seat and let those who are actually experts in a particular field talk. Board work is more about strategic leadership and varying the leadership style to the particular situation. 

We always encourage everyone to speak at board meetings

We have board training on how to think critically, and how to shape questions and challenge. 

Even when someone is a bit quiet, the chair or another board member will say, “I wonder what this person thinks about this situation?” or “What are your thoughts on this?”  As much as possible, we try to bring everyone in and ensure they participate in all of the board meetings. That's why most of the crucial board meetings happen in person.

Thinking about what response you want is important when you have to challenge

I've learned how to structure my questions and how to change my questioning style according to the situation. It’s helped my day-to-day role too. I use the questioning skills that I learned from my role as a governor and a board member when I’m consulting at work on an audit job. I imagine I'm speaking to one of the college executives and I find it easier to interact with other people.

Challenge and collaboration go hand in hand

 As much as I collaborate with the school executive team I also question them:  “Why are you making this particular decision?”, “Why do we need to approve this?”or “Is there a proper justification for this?” I want to be remembered for the fact that I always ensure every decision is thought through properly and to the best standard. 

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