What’s it like on the Board?

Helen Roy gives an insight into being on the Board of the British Ecological Society.

Helen Roy
Helen Roy

The BES is a registered charity governed by our Board of Trustees.

The Board is responsible for the Society’s long-term success, setting our strategy and overseeing our activities. The trustees come from a range of ecology disciplines and sectors, and meet at least four times a year. Ultimately, they make sure we carry out our charitable purposes as set out in our ‘articles‘.

But what’s it like and what does it really involve?

Board member Helen Roy of the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology in the UK explains:

“I have been a member of the BES for 25 years since joining the society during my postgraduate studies. I have hugely appreciated all that the BES has offered throughout the various stages of my career. The BES provides incredible opportunities, supporting each individual ecologist to find a place within the global community.

“Over the years I have enjoyed various roles within the BES and considered nomination as trustee the logical next step in giving a little back to the society which gives me so much.

Willingness to be open to understanding the general needs of the BES and its community is perhaps the most useful attribute of a trustee

“It is fascinating being a trustee. The BES is a large society with many diverse commitments to the global ecology community. The trustees provide a range of views in response to emerging discussion points, ultimately (mostly) reaching consensus in decision-making. Most trustees have some specific area of expertise in which they can offer guidance, but actually willingness to be open to understanding the general needs of the BES and its community is perhaps the most useful attribute of a trustee.

“Trustees attend a number of meetings through the year. There is always the opportunity to attend remotely but certainly there is lot to gain from being physically in the same place at the same time. There are always lots of papers to read and sometimes email exchanges for emerging issues or opportunities. Trustees are also ambassadors of the BES, but even before taking on this role I enjoyed highlighting the amazing BES community to others.

“Trustees come from many different backgrounds and it is wonderful to hear so many perspectives, but ultimately the strategic aims (and passions) of individuals for the BES are mostly closely aligned. The stimulating and friendly way in which board members engage in informed debates to benefit the society is how I will remember board meetings.”

Helen’s tips for contributing as a Board member:

  • Listen lots and enjoy learning about the ways in which a learned society runs its activities and the possibilities for contributing.
  • Provide thoughts and ideas freely while recognising the complexities of decision-making in such a large and dynamic community.
  • Look for opportunities to make a difference however small.
  • Share enthusiasm for the BES far and wide – it is a great privilege to be part of this inspiring community.