Alison Thorne

Portfolio NED and Women on Boards presenter 

If at first you don’t succeed …. my journey to a sports board

Although I am not a sports person at all, I am passionate about Welsh Rugby. So I was excited to put myself forward for the Welsh Rugby Union board. I’d done my research, had my CV reviewed and knew that they had no woman currently on their board. So when I was not even shortlisted, it was extremely disappointing.

A while later, Sport Wales were advertising for a non-executive. I was dubious about applying as although my skills were a strong match to the selection criteria, I did not have grass-roots sports experience to draw on. I believed, from my first experience applying to a sports board, that this would rule me out. It was only with encouragement from Rowena at Women on Boards that I decided to put myself forward again. Her advice to ‘go for it’ was spot on – this time I was invited for interview.

Of course, I made use of Women on Boards pre-interview connections in my preparation. In these conversations with women already serving on sports boards, I realised that my dance background and Pilates practice would squarely come under the umbrella of ‘grass-roots sports’. By framing my experience in this way, I was able to do justice to myself as a candidate at interview. I was delighted to be appointed!

I’ve been on Sports Wales board for a year now and find it a fascinating world to contribute to. I have also met many extremely interesting and accomplished people. My advice would be to ensure you make use of Women on Boards support to give yourself the best chance.

Your next steps…