Help us take Council to the next level

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CEO Sarah Beale MAAT reflects on the huge contribution of trustees to AAT – and the well-being of the nation as a whole.

It’s that time of year when AAT invites volunteers to stand for election to our Council.

I don’t think people realise what an amazing and special role is played by the trustees of charitable bodies. They bear a legal responsibility as the guardians and last line of defence in organisations in which a multitude of people have placed their trust. As such, they play a critical part in the charitable sector, which in turn makes a huge contribution to social well-being that our whole nation relies on.

We are looking once again to broaden our skills and achieve an even better representation of our membership. Being responsible for a £33 million organisation is no small task. It’s a very different experience to operational management. In fact, aside from the role of the CEO, I can’t think of another job that involves such a range of responsibilities.

Stand for AAT Council

We are searching for a diverse range of people from AAT’s membership to help us shape the future. Could that be you?

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Council’s role  

A good example of that is the guidance Council provided in putting together our 2030 Vision. As a result of that, we’ve been able to go back to Council with our suggested corporate plan, which it scrutinised. As it did, trustees reviewed each initiative and considered whether they align with our planning themes, our culture and values, and whether they provide value for money for our community. This is why AAT needs the broadest range of skills it can get.  

Understandably, very few people are going to come into this role with all the boxes ticked. And they don’t have to. I found that out for myself when I became a trustee. 

I assumed the role of trustee in a business about which I had no technical knowledge. The organisation researched, tested and certificated products for buildings. I was chosen for my financial skills, as they had operated a skills-based board and had a gap in that area. The organisation had some interesting business decisions to make, and the construction industry was dealing with some high-profile challenges.

More varied than ever

Last year we made another step forward. Thanks to the enthusiasm of our members, we had a record level of nominees and the intake further strengthened AAT Council in several ways. We have a better balance of age and gender. The new appointees have brought a wider range of skills, perspectives, and knowledge, including in useful areas such as social media. We now have a great mix of people at different stages of their careers, including people with great corporate experience and those who know what it’s like to run a fledgling business right now, as well as those more seasoned in the role of a trustee. 

That said, there is still more to do. I would really like to see better representation with regard to ethnicity and those who are neurodiverse putting their names forward for election. This could really help AAT be more representative of our membership and to give us a greater range of thought.

We also have some independent seats on our Council, and that’s very healthy. It provides an opportunity to bring in people from outside our sector, with completely different experiences and knowledge. As our membership is made up of accountants, the skillset will coalesce to some degree, and having outside voices is important.  

Ultimately, AAT Council is driven largely by its membership. We talk a lot about being inclusive, and need your help to achieve it. Being a trustee is a significant commitment, and I know we are asking a lot. However, one of my biggest lessons in my time so far as CEO of AAT has been the willingness of members to give back. I hope you will prove this again by standing for election this year.

Stand for AAT Council

We are searching for a diverse range of people from AAT’s membership to help us shape the future. Could that be you?

Read more

Sarah Beale is AAT Chief Executive.

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