Philip Taylor was 30 when he was appointed as a Trustee at the Scottish Seabird Centre in March 2018 in celebration of Scotland’s Year of Young People.
Philip was already volunteering and involved with the work of the the Scottish Seabird Centre in North Berwick, on the beautiful coastline of East Lothian, when a position became available on the Board of Trustees.
One of the staff suggested to Philip that he apply to join, and following that he was invited for an interview. After being successfully appointed to the role, Philip was warmly welcomed by the Board, and given full freedom to question and contribute to the work of the centre.
In terms of professional development, the experience has given him exposure to a different organisation’s board, management structure, and processes. “Most development opportunities relate to being exposed to things and experiencing things,” said Philip, giving one example of being part of the team who recruited the centre’s new CEO. “It was a fascinating experience,” he added.
Philip is a self-confessed glutton for work, which means he dives in to help with any work he feels he is able to. Therefore, his trustee role is managed alongside a busy schedule, including acting as COO for another NGO. “I just prioritise based on what seems most urgent and where I can be most helpful,” he said.
When asked why an organisation should consider appointing a young trustee, Philip responded, “Clearly age has no bearing on how much someone can contribute, therefore I don’t think it should even be a question.”
But he did go on to say that in his opinion, the explanation for why more boards don’t currently have younger representation is because of two reasons. “Firstly, the way such roles are advertised is not very visible to those earlier in their careers, and secondly, they have yet to build up a substantial network,” he suggested.
Philip thinks that volunteering as a trustee has helped him to improve as an executive in his daily work, and provided a platform for him to continue engagement on the issue of seabird conservation which he is really passionate about.
However, Philip went on to say that there are arguments for increasing numbers of young trustees in general, in terms of altruistically improving the workforce and providing a broader base for work in the third sector.
Philip’s advice for young people considering becoming a trustee is to simply, “Get on with it!”. He also believes that young women especially should consider volunteering on a Board.
“I might be a young man just now,” he said, “but soon I’ll be a middle-aged man, and Boards have plenty enough of them! If you see a role advertised and you are interested, then give the Chairperson a call. Without a doubt, they will be very interested to hear from you.”