Trustees’ Week – Pauline Blake

A qualified accountant with the Institute of Chartered Accountants of England and Wales and a Chartered Internal Auditor with The Chartered Institute of Internal Auditors, Pauline began her career at HLB Kidsons (now part of RSM UK) before joining Pearson plc’s Internal Audit Team in London in 2005. In 2013 she was appointed Pearson’s Audit Director EMEA and in 2016 joined Financial Times Ltd as Internal Audit Director.

  1. When did you become a trustee?

I became a trustee and the Honorary Treasurer in June 2017.

  1. Why did you become a trustee?

With my love of the printed word, I have been connected to the printing industry in some way since graduation. My roles have included being an Audit Senior on the external audit of Bloomsbury Publishing plc; the EMEA Internal Audit Director at Pearson plc (previously home to well-known brands such as Penguin); and currently the Internal Audit Director at the Financial Times. The charity’s dual focus on providing financial and practical assistance to people working in the sector and encouraging the future talent necessary to secure the sector’s future are objectives that I fully support and demonstrates the charity’s definition of help extends beyond the provision of one-off grants.

  1. What is the best thing about being a trustee?

Quite simply, I believe the secret of living is growing and giving.

Being a trustee allows me to develop my transferable hard and soft skills, whilst allowing me to use my existing skills, knowledge, and business contacts to support another organisation whose mission I care about.

It is my way of giving back to society and I think those who can, should.

4. What does your role as a trustee involve?

I am a trustee of the charity and its Honorary Treasurer.

The main duties of a charity trustee involves areas such as ensuring the charity complies with its governing document and is pursuing its objectives, ensuring the charity’s resources are being applied appropriately in the pursuit of its objectives, actively contributing to the Board of Trustees, supporting the organisation’s financial viability, ensuring the charity’s governance is of the highest standard, and making use of any specific skills, knowledge or experience to help the Board make good decisions.

The Honorary Treasurer’s main purpose is to oversee the financial affairs of the charity, ensure proper records are kept and that effective financial procedures are in place, monitor and report on the financial health of the organisation, oversee the production of necessary financial reports and returns (including assisting with the year-end external audit), and to work effectively with the Executive Team on financial matters.

  1. What would you say are the important attributes a trustee should have?

I believe it is important for a trustee to be genuinely passionate about the charity’s work and its plans for the future. You should not sign up to support a charity if you do not care about or support the charity’s aims and objectives.

A trustee also needs to have the ability to give time and energy to their charity. I am very fortunate in that the Financial Times gives all its employees up to two days of paid leave from work in any one calendar year to participate in charitable or community initiatives. However, in my dual role at the charity I am still required to use days from my annual leave allowance to attend necessary meetings. Before signing up to be a trustee, do not underestimate the time commitment involved – a current trustee will be able to give you a good idea as to what it means in reality. Not being present at key meetings is not fair to your charity. However, with meetings typically taking place during normal office hours, a trustee may need to have a supportive employer to enable them to fulfil their duties. As a trustee, you are there for a purpose and your ability to effectively support and challenge your charity are important aspects of the role.

A willingness to share your knowledge and connections is another important attribute. It can be a challenge for many charities to get appropriate quality guidance and advice. A very good example is GDPR compliance, where many large corporates/organisations were able to pay for legal expertise but it was a challenge for many smaller charities. As a trustee, you may have industry contacts, professional connections, and supplier contacts that can help your charity and you are in a prime position to help connect those parties together. I regard it as a time when you can call on those favours you may have in the business world, for a very good cause!

Above all, a trustee must have integrity and an ethical mindset. As an accountant and internal auditor, integrity is one of the attributes you must possess and demonstrate when conducting your work. A trustee with integrity is likely to demonstrate the following characteristics: honesty; fairness; reliability; accountability; practises and encourages open communications; complies with laws and regulations; respects and contributes to the legitimate and ethical objectives of the organisation; and their actions are consistent with their words.

  1. What do you think is the biggest challenge currently facing charities?

Looking beyond the challenging economic climate and the expectations that demands for the charitable services are likely to increase in the future, I think one of the biggest challenges that charities have faced in recent times has been the adverse public perception of what they do, how they manage their resources, and how they interact with beneficiaries and vulnerable parties, which has eroded public trust. Many good charities are reliant on donations and they may be unduly penalised by this lack of trust by the general public.

The Printing Charity has challenged this trend. Its surveys of the people it supports with financial assistance have received excellent results and a strong emphasis on safeguarding is central to its governance.

  1. How has The Printing Charity changed since you’ve been a trustee?

In the two years I have been a trustee I have seen the charity take so many positive steps in increasing its value to those in need. Under the leadership of our CEO, Neil Lovell, who is supported by our Chairman, Jon Wright, and the other trustees, we have seen the Print Futures Awards go from strength to strength in terms of the number of applications and winners. We continue to update the charity’s systems, processes, and resources. Both trustees and staff hold a great amount of optimism in the charity’s future influence and its ability to work more efficiently in the future. Although nearly 200 years old, The Printing Charity is very much a 21st century charity.

  1. What impact does the role of a trustee have on the charity?

The key impact of a trustee’s role is the sharing of knowledge and expertise. It enables The Printing Charity to draw on different skill sets from the commercial sector to help it achieve its charitable aims of promoting independence, protecting dignity, and furthering education.

  1. If you could give one piece of advice to someone thinking about becoming a trustee what would it be?

Once you have taken into consideration factors such as what you can contribute including availability of time, the one piece of advice I would give is just go for it.

Being a trustee may be the most rewarding ‘work’ experience in your career to date. Doing something for the good of others should not be about giving yourself an egoistical slap on the back, many charities are small and the good you can do may not be measurable in terms of great public recognition, but if a cause is genuinely important to you, you do not need to be celebrated. I believe our work legacies and contribution to the world can extend beyond what we get paid to do!

  1. How important is the relationship between the chairman and chief executive of a charity?

It is a critical relationship that drives a charity forward. Our Chairman and Chief Executive come from different commercial backgrounds but they are both imbued with a love of print and the role print in its many forms plays in our everyday lives.

Trustees’ Week – Jon Wright

Jon is a qualified accountant with the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants. He joined the Financial Times in 1974 and worked his way up to Acting Finance Director. From 2003 until his retirement in June this year, he was the Finance Director of Pearson Global Real Estate.

  1. When did you become a trustee?

I joined the charity in 2004 as a trustee and Honorary Treasurer, became Chairman of the Investment Committee in 2007, and was appointed Chairman of Council in 2013.

  1. Why did you become a trustee?

I had never considered being a trustee until the charity’s then Chairman, with whom I worked at the time, mentioned the charity was looking for a treasurer. Told it would only take up about an hour a week of my time, I decided to take it on but quickly realised the role would require a lot more of my time than I had initially expected.

When I stepped up to the Chairmanship, I was uncertain whether the charity still had a place. However, through the work it has done over the past five years to extend its reach, coupled with the fact the printing industry is still absorbing the impact of the digital revolution, it is clear that there is still a very real need for what the charity does.

  1. What is the best thing about being a trustee?

In a nutshell, the best thing about being a trustee is knowing that you are making a difference to so many people’s lives. That is a brilliant feeling because the charity is here to make life better for people facing difficult times.

Being able to share my expertise in finance, management, and property with the charity is another positive aspect of my role. The charity is beginning to upgrade its two sheltered home schemes for people, who have retired from the sector, and I am able to contribute by giving a steer on structuring the programme of work.

Another great thing about being a trustee is that you have the opportunity to learn new skills. As a member of the charity’s Investment Committee, which receives independent investment advice, I have gained a far greater knowledge of the investment world.

  1. What does your role as a trustee involve?

As Chairman, my role is to be available to help and guide my fellow trustees, our Chief Executive, and the Management Team when appropriate. In essence, I am a sounding board for ideas. It is also about identifying problems that may arise and how to resolve them if they do. That may involve advising on the steps to take or proposing additional resources that may need to be put in place.

  1. What would you say are the important attributes a trustee should have?

It is a given that trustees come with a particular area of expertise and a willingness to share that expertise to benefit the charity. It is a voluntary role so trustees have to be willing and able to give their time to the charity and their role, which includes preparing for and attending Council meetings.

  1. What do you think is the biggest challenge currently facing charities?

I think the biggest challenge for charities is not falling into the trap of providing essential services that are the Government’s responsibility. With funding cuts to services, it can be difficult for charities to strike the right balance. In my view, they should be careful not to be seen as a soft option to fall back on as providers of essential services.

  1. How has The Printing Charity changed since you’ve been a trustee?

The granting of our Supplemental Charter in 2014 has fundamentally changed the way we can help people. Recognising the importance of education and the digital age in our sector, it has allowed us to spread our net wider.

  1. What impact does the role of a trustee have on the charity?

The positive impact of the trustee role is the sharing of professional expertise and opening doors for the charity. The role is a strategic one, separate from the charity’s day-to-day operations carried out by its staff.

  1. If you could give one piece of advice to someone thinking about becoming a trustee what would it be?

Being a trustee is a well-kept secret. Admittedly, people can be put off by the fiduciary duty but that should not be seen as a barrier. The rules are not a straitjacket; they are there to guide and protect trustees and decisions are made with the help of expert advisors. My advice would be ‘just do it, you’ll enjoy it’. Being a trustee is a great experience working with like-minded people to make a difference and give something back to society.

  1. How important do you think the relationship between a charity’s chairman and chief executive?

There is no doubt the relationship between a charity’s chairman and chief executive is absolutely critical. It is the oil that keeps the charity’s wheels turning. A chief executive deals with a charity’s day-to-day running, while a chairman’s role is a strategic one. Both need to understand and respect each other’s role.  A good working relationship between the two allows a charity to flourish.

Trustees’ Week – Julia Cole

Julia has been a senior business leader in the printing industry for over 30 years. She was HP’s World Wide Brand Innovation Manager where she led the sales, marketing, and training tools for HP graphics customers to grow their businesses. She was formerly the HP EMEA Manager for Dscoop, HP’s Graphics user group and previously Head of Marketing in the UK. She worked with the BPIF to establish its graduate training programme and spent 12 years at Xerox.

  1. When did you become a trustee?

I was appointed as a trustee in 2015.

  1. Why did you become a trustee?

I have had a great relationship with the charity for many years. My introduction to it was in a business context through meeting members of the charity’s team at industry events. I was keen to support its work as the sector’s occupational charity and felt the best way I could do that was by sharing my industry and business experience. When I was asked if I would become a trustee, I accepted as it was a natural progression to a much closer involvement with the charity.

  1. What is the best thing about being a trustee?

The charity is here to help people of all ages in our sector in genuine need so the best thing is definitely being able to play a part in helping the charity to flourish and increase the number of people it helps year-on-year through new initiatives.

  1. What does your role as a trustee involve?

Trustees are responsible and accountable for the charity’s governance, ensuring it is well run and complies with regulation. The safeguarding element of governance is especially important as the charity owns and manages two sheltered home schemes for people, who have retired from the sector. We are also responsible for the charity’s overall strategic direction so that it continues to make a positive difference to people’s lives. As a trustee, my industry and business experience lends itself to building links between the industry and the charity to help it achieve its aims.

  1. What would you say are the important attributes a trustee should have?

Integrity, without a doubt, and as a trustee you have to be prepared to make difficult decisions at times. You also need to be willing to share your expertise and knowledge to benefit the charity.

  1. What do you think is the biggest challenge currently facing charities?

Unfortunately, over the past few years there have been some negative comments about charities in the media but there is a huge number of charities doing an amazing job and making a very real difference to people’s lives.

  1. How has The Printing Charity changed since you’ve been a trustee?

The charity is focusing its work on two areas, Welfare & Wellbeing and Education & Partnerships, to help us achieve our aim of extending our reach and impact.

  1. What impact does the role of a trustee have on the charity?

It has a powerful impact in the way it brings together people with different expertise. Our trustees’ skills range from finance and print production to marketing and business. Having a good balance of skill sets and experience makes for a very effective board of trustees.

  1. If you could give one piece of advice to someone thinking about becoming a trustee what would it be?

Just roll up your sleeves and get on with it. You’ll find it so rewarding. I’ve had a fabulous career in print and being a trustee of the sector’s occupational charity is one of the ways I can give something back. The charity’s Print Futures Awards scheme to help attract and retain the new generation especially resonates with me as I’m passionate about encouraging new talent and achieving a more balanced workforce in the sector.

  1. How important do you think the relationship between the chairman and the chief executive is for a charity?

It’s absolutely critical that the chairman and chief executive have a good relationship. There has to be trust on both sides.

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