British Society of Haematology Appoints first ever lay trustees to drive growth

The British Society for Haematology (BSH) has been bringing haematology professionals together since 1960 to transform the patients’ care. With over 1700 members worldwide, it is the largest UK haematology organisation and the only Society to cover all aspects of the specialty. Members share ideas, knowledge and learning to champion and strengthen haematology practice.

The Challenge

In 2015, BSH undertook a strategic review to evaluate its governance and membership proposition.  This included a skills audit of its current trustee board, which at the time was comprised of elected doctors only.  Various gaps were identified in the areas of finance, business development and communications.

BSH felt that greater experience in these areas would help raise the profile of the Society and help reshape its membership proposition to ensure future growth. For the first time, the board decided to appoint a lay trustee from a non-medical background.

Katy Amberley, ‎Director of Operations at British Society for Haematology, explained, “We were aware other membership organisations had successfully recruited ‘lay’ trustees. As our articles allowed us to appoint external trustees it seemed a logic step that would also support our strategic growth and development.”

Katy approached Trustees Unlimited, a joint venture recruitment company set up by NCVORussam GMS and Bates Wells Braithwaite. Following an in-depth briefing, Trustees Unlimited advertised and promoted the trustee vacancies amongst its database and produced a shortlist of candidates to attend a panel interview at BSH.  Impressed by the high calibre of candidates, BSH were spoilt for choice. They appointed three candidates. 

The appointments included Susannah Randall, a marketing and communications specialist, who runs communications agency, Randall Fox. Susannah has delivered strategic communications programmes for charities, healthcare and membership organisations. She was also formerly, Head of Communications at Wellcome Trust, and has worked for the National Patients Safety Agency and Guy’s and St Thomas NHS Trust. 

The second appointment was Trevor Jones, a retiree with extensive database marketing experience including in the charity sector. Trevor describes himself as a ‘serial’ trustees, having spent several years as trustee at the Woodlands Trust and more recently with Cats Protection.  Trevor now sits on BSH’s newly formed finance committee and trading subsidiary and has already played a significant role in improving the content of the annual general meeting.

BSH was also impressed by a third candidate Daniel Ross, CEO and Finance Director at the Royal Colleges of Pathologists. Daniel is a qualified accountant, with experience of sitting on investment committees. 

The Impact of the new trustees

Over the last year, the new trustees have been helping BSH in many ways. Susannah joined the communications committee originally as Vice Chair but now she is Chair. She has been evaluating and redesigning the membership offering – a process which has involved her commissioning research amongst members to determine its value. Her other main contribution has been to recruit a fulltime member of staff who will focus on communications.

Susannah Randall said, “I was attracted to the role because BSH was clear it needed and valued communications experience and the role fitted perfectly with my experience.  BSH had undertaken a full strategic review and looked at its current position and where it wanted to be. The Society has bold goals and far from being a ‘closed shop,’ the other trustees are open to innovative ideas and insights, they have listened to us and have been incredibly welcoming. “

Trevor and Daniel both sit on the new finance committee have been helping to improve the content and format of the annual general meeting. 

Discussing the role Trevor said, “My wife is an orthopaedic surgeon so I have an interest in medical issues. I thought the role was interesting and I was keen to be a trustee of an organisation where I could learn about a new medical field.

“Since joining the board, I have undertaken a governance review of the trading subsidiary and board structure as part of the strategic review and helped improve the content and presentations of the annual meeting. I have been able to use my skills from the outset and contribute substantial pieces of work that will add value to BSH. Both Susannah and I feel valued and that we have been able to make a real difference in a short time.”

Kay Amberley said, “Our goal is ensuring BSH has a sustainable future and continues to offer excellent value to members. We want to consolidate the work we do in education and around our clinical guidelines and raise our profile as the voice of haemotology in the UK.

“Recruiting the new trustees has given us an external perspective which everyone agrees has proved invaluable. The board has been highly impressed with the work Susannah, Trevor and Daniel have delivered in their first year and we’re very grateful. The recruitment process was incredibly smooth and Trustees Unlimited very helpful throughout – selecting first class candidates who are making a tangible difference.”

Ian Joseph, CEO Trustees Unlimited and Managing Director Russam GMS said, “We are delighted to have worked with the British Society for Haematology last year, and to help with the appointments of Susannah, Trevor and Daniel. These are the Society’s ‘first-ever’ lay appointments and is clear that all three are having a significant impact on the Society and helping it progress and develop.”

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