Bursary Programme

Bursary Programme 2023

The fifth year of our Bursary programme offered six women complimentary places on our signature Boardroom Journey. We are grateful for the generous support of Heidrick & Struggles for our 2023 Bursary.

We received over 200 applications for our 2023 Bursary Programme. We have been really impressed with the determination and passion displayed. Thank you to everyone who took the time to apply.

Congratulations to our 2023 winners: Bethan Neil, Bushra Ahmed, Emily Palmer, Nicky Passmore, Ruth Ashaye and Sian Powell.

Bethan Neil

Bethan Neil Women On Boards Bursary Programme

As an early career Marketing Professional with a passion for diversity, Bethan is gaining significant experience in a range of marketing areas. Bethan is keen to add value to a board with her broad marketing and branding experience.

With a passion for diversity and inclusion, Bethan is looking to pursue board roles that allow her to share her lived experience as a bisexual woman of colour and continue her advocacy for the representation and access of people of colour, women, and LGBTQ+ individuals.


Bushra Ahmed

Bushra Ahmed , Women on Boards member bursary participant and campaigner

Bushra is an experienced charity sector leader, named by Charity Times as one of the 15 most inspiring leaders to look out for on #IWD22 and voted this year as one of the top ten most influential fundraisers by Civil Society’s Fundraising magazine.

Bushra is keen to build on her experience with boards in the charity sector and lived experience as a social justice campaigner, and transfer her skills to the public and/or corporate sector.



Emily Palmer

Emily Palmer Women on Boards Bursary Programme

From a marketing background in the commercial and charity sector to retraining as a nurse, Emily’s career turnaround came about following a serious accident which rendered her disabled. Alongside adjusting to life as a young disabled woman and achieving her goal of becoming a registered nurse, Emily has also taken on leadership roles on the Student Nursing Council.

Her next goal is to pursue a board role as a trustee in a charity that matches her desire to ensure inclusivity and access to opportunities for people with disabilities.


Nicky Passmore

With an extensive career in improving customer experience across both the Higher Education and charity sectors in the UK and Australia, Nicky was just six months into a new position as CEO of a member-led charity when she was diagnosed with a Covid-related disability and had to step down.

Having considered a board career before her diagnosis, Nicky is determined to bring her board value-add to a portfolio career, focusing initially on Housing Associations.


Ruth Ashaye

As a mature STEM PhD student, a remote admin professional and a working mum, Ruth is keen to bring a fresh perspective to conversations at board level, in particular in relation to diversity and inclusion issues.

Ruth is looking forward to exploring the potential board opportunities with local charities and organisations, as well as building a network of peers.

Read Ruth’s Success Story.



Sian Powell

Sian Powell Women on Boards Bursary Programme

Early career success led Sian to be appointed as the Chief Executive of a national news organisation in Wales. Following the birth of her third child, Sian co-founded a communication, strategy and marketing company with the aim of working flexibly whilst engaging her senior-level strategic skills.

Sian is now keen to use her breadth of experience and her understanding of how a board works from a CEO perspective as a non-executive director.


Thank you to our generous programme sponsor, Heidrick & Struggles.

Heidrick & Struggles board recruitment and executive search headhunter firm logo

The Women on Boards Bursary Programme 2023 was generously supported by Heidrick & Struggles, the premier provider of executive search, corporate culture and leadership consulting services.

They work for more than 70% of Fortune 1000 companies in virtually every sector and industry around the world. For all of the services they offer, they employ data-driven methodologies honed through decades of relationships and engagements with the world’s largest organizations.  Their expertise enables their clients to find the world’s best leaders, create diverse and inclusive cultures, and transform their teams to achieve the highest levels of profitability and performance.

We also thank John Dembitz, Richard Hooper, Stephanie Liston, Margaret Rice-Jones, Elisabeth Stheeman, and Jenny Watson for waiving their speaker fee for our ‘Becoming an Effective Chair’ programme (September & November ’22, January & June ’23 cohorts) to contribute to our 2023 Bursary Programme.