Shayne Ramsay

Trustee at South East London RSPCA

Making a fresh start … with a board role

A non-executive role had been on Shayne Ramsay’s radar before she moved to the UK. Thinking about her future career path, she’d completed a governance programme in Cape Town, South Africa. However, in the autumn of 2019 she decided to make the move to UK and to start building her non-executive experience here.

Shayne arrived in London shortly before the Covid-19 restrictions. Despite the extra hurdles this has presented in establishing herself in a new county, Shayne has pushed ahead and is now a trustee of the South East London branch of the RSPCA. And Women on Boards has very much been part of that journey.

“I’ve had a fabulous time with Women on Boards,” says Shayne. She explained how she actually joined our network from South Africa, after attending some of our events on her exploratory visits before making a full-time move to London.

It was when her role hunt started more seriously that her membership really proved its worth. Whilst Shayne was confident that the principles of governance translated easily to the UK, and she would be able to catch up on any details, she found some guidance on navigating the non-executive landscape in the UK indispensable.

“I found the support around my Board CV very helpful, it has to reflect different characteristics, than your executive CV. And I now have a section of my ‘fortés’ which brings out my strengths.”

She found a role with the RSPCA on the Women on Boards Non-Executive Vacancy Board. “I’ve always been involved in animal welfare and conservation, so the RSPCA seems like a good fit for me. Although the animals in question are quite different,” she laughs, explaining how she’d run a significant fundraising project for rhinoceros conservation in South Africa.

Initially disappointed when she found out the role advertised has been filled already, Shayne was then delighted to be put forward for an RSPCA role in a different area of London. Yet, she was now facing her first interview for a non-executive role in a virtual setting due to Covid-19 restrictions and in a country where professional life was still fairly new to her. However, Shayne was more excited than daunted.

She called Women on Boards to arrange for her 1-on-1 pre-interview support, which is part of the Full Membership package. She was impressed with the level of preparation and knowledge offered in this fairly brief call with the Women on Boards team. “Afterwards, I just felt prepared. I knew what I wanted to say and how to present myself,” she says. “That is important itself but also vital to feeling more relaxed going into the interview.”

Shayne clearly did an excellent job of showcasing her skills as a potential board member. She was provisionally offered the role, following a second interview and approval at national level. Waiting for that to come through was “the longest week”, Shayne remembers.

Shayne is now looking forward to using her skills as a trustee, as part of her journey establishing herself into UK life.

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