As part of the recent Trustee week 2022, LSTM met up with two of our trustees to find out what the role means to them
I always wanted to do something in addition to my core job, my non-executive and trustee roles have helped to broaden my experience and provided new challenges…trustees are an important part of the LSTM family, they bring a wealth of skill and experience that compliments the capabilities of the management team.
Jim McKenna, Chair of the LSTM Board, talks about his role as a trustee at LSTM, for National Trustee Week
November 7-11th is National Trustee Week 2022, and this year’s theme is making a difference in difficult times. Here, the Chair of LSTM’s Board, Jim McKenna, talks about how valuable trustees can be in helping an organisation increase its impact and capacity.
‘I am a Liverpool graduate and lived and worked in the city for over a decade. I was keen to take up the role of Chair of the Board at LSTM, as it gives me the chance to contribute something to a unique organisation based in Liverpool that has a truly international impact. As organisations evolve and grow, they face new challenges. LSTM is almost 125 years old, but it has only been an independent Institution for less than a decade. Trustees have played a pivotal role in helping to navigate this initial period of change.
Trustees are responsible for providing the strategic direction of the organisation and for ensuring sound and sensible governance. Governance centres around behaviour and culture and our Board is responsible for providing effective leadership of the organisation. I hope that we provide the appropriate balance of challenge to the management team and support them in the many complex issues they face each day.
I have always believed that boards need to represent ‘who we are’, ‘what we do’ and ‘where we do it’. The range of skills and experience we are assembling on the LSTM Board, will ensure we are well placed to help the management team increase our core objective of having a greater impact in saving and improving lives and in building capacity.
Trustees are of course volunteers, charged with ensuring the long-term custodianship of our organisation. My experience at LSTM to date, is that the board balances its independence with a pragmatic and sensible approach to decision making. As Chair of the Board, I am fortunate to have colleagues who work as a team and provide strong guidance and advice on the way we lead LSTM.
As a trustee I am proud of the work that LSTM does and the impact we have on the lives of the people and communities we work with. I have been particularly proud of the contribution that the School has made to COVID19. Our response demonstrated many of our strengths. We are an extremely flexible and adaptable organisation which has been able to focus its medical, scientific, and testing capabilities in a way that few other organisations worldwide would have been able to do.
I feel I’ve been very lucky in my role as trustee for Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine
Joanne Dodd talks about her role as a trustee at LSTM, for National Trustee Week
November 7-11th is National Trustee Week 2022, and this year’s theme is making a difference in difficult times. Here, one of LSTM’s trustees, Joanne Dodd, talks about why she chose to become a trustee for LSTM and the added value she believes a trustee can bring to an organisation.
‘I was listening to Life Scientific on Radio 4, during a long drive home. Janet Hemingway, then CEO of Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, was on the programme talking about the school and LSTM’s different research areas. I found it fascinating, and I remember thinking, they do so much, what an amazing organisation to be involved with. I’d always had links to Liverpool as I did my accountancy exams there. Also, my husband is from the city, so I’d always had an affinity with the place.
I work for myself, so can manage my own time and I was keen to use some of my time contributing usefully to an interesting organisation, which was making a difference. That was how my affiliation to LSTM began.
I dipped my toe in the water at first, working voluntarily on the finance committee for two years. It was a great way to learn about the school as it is quite a complex organisation and there’s a lot to learn. At the end of the two-year period, I was asked to be a trustee - it was a responsibility I took seriously. I overwork with lots of different businesses, but LSTM is quite different, and I found the time working on the finance committee gave me the chance to learn about the organisation and its different strands.
An organisation’s finances are the responsibility of every trustee, and we are there to help the organisation to be as transparent and effective as possible for stakeholders, and anyone with an interest in the organisation. As a third sector organisation we have to follow charity commission legislation, with regards to its finances, whilst as a higher education institute, we have the Office for Students structure too, which works well. Trustees are there to provide checks and balances, whilst helping the organisation to manage its assets and income as effectively as possibly.
As somebody who runs a business and advises other businesses on accountancy and finance, I am there to provide further challenge to the school’s accounts and can work with auditors, navigating the complex layers of requirements. I hope by bringing relevant, up-to-date experience from the business world I can provide a good sense check in these situations.
I am constantly impressed by how the school seeks to develop its charitable purpose and its vision of healthy lives across the world. Each staff member I speak to has remarkable stories of the work they and the school does, which they think normal, and I think extraordinary; from breeding tsetse flies, to researching and treatment of HIV.
As the role is unpaid you are independent, and you can approach an issue from an unprejudiced viewpoint. I don’t think I would want to do this role for just anybody, I really need to feel passionate about the work I am doing in this capacity.
I always knew that I wanted to volunteer for something that was helpful and useful. It been a great journey, as I have learned about areas of science that I knew nothing about. The work LSTM does on malaria and antimicrobial resistance, for example, it is a whole new perspective on the world. I was also incredibly proud of how the school contributed to fighting Covid and was integral to vaccine development. I have also enjoyed my work on the Environmental Sustainability Committee and am keen to learn more. I have taken some of these learnings into my life. I just feel very lucky to be doing this work for LSTM and to feel a part of such a wonderful organisation.’