Taylor Root UK Trustee Network: An interview with Nicola Lucas

Author Georgia Morgan-Wynne
February 1, 2024

As part of our interview series for our Trustee Network, Taylor Root Partner, Georgia Morgan-Wynne recently spoke to Nicola Lucas, General Counsel and Company Secretary at New Look about being a Trustee for One YMCA.

What Trustee opportunities have you undertaken?

I became a Trustee of the One YMCA based in Herts, Beds and Bucks nearly 10 years ago now and sat on the board for eight years. During that time, I also became an NED for the Hertfordshire Football Association, which I did for three years, and then stepped down from both. Doing the two roles and the day job during COVID was quite a challenge – so I needed a break for a while. I was invited to join the Institute of Environmental Management as an NED after being headhunted, which I joined just over a year ago. IEMA is the professional body for people working in the environmental and sustainability sectors.

Why were you interested in becoming a Trustee?

I sought out Trustee positions for two main reasons. First, I was in private practice at the time. There wasn’t much training available other than the day-to-day learning on the job and nothing about management or expanding those soft skills, so I began looking at alternative opportunities like being a Trustee to expose me to a different way of putting my skills to use. The second reason was I wanted to do something with my skillset to “give back”, as corny as that sounds.  

What skills have you developed from being a Trustee?

The most significant skill was developing my “board voice” as a Trustee and as a NED. A great trustee works closely with the board and executive team, not against it, whilst also ensuring they bring a healthy check and challenge mindset to the decisions being made and the discussions being had. That allowed me to play around with styles in my early days and work out what was best suited to my skill set and personality. Having that experience of supporting an exec team of a large charity then gave me great insight into what boards of commercial companies wanted or valued in more senior positions in my in-house career. It also gave me great exposure to other new areas I hadn’t typically experienced while in private practice such as audit, risk, compliance, strategy, change management, acquisitions and mergers (not just the legal work involved in it), charity law, people management, influencing skills – the list goes on!

Has being a Trustee benefited your career?

Absolutely. The roles became my favourite thing to do as there were often such interesting projects that I could get involved in – from multimillion community projects to refurbishments or buildings of new hostels and pitching for new large contracts for family services. The people you worked with were just so inspirational too, so it rubs off on you. That gave me the confidence to approach things in a new way, be bold in taking on roles I had previously not considered or become a lot more certain about who I was not only as a lawyer and what my style was, but also know my unique selling points as a lawyer in the business world.

What advice would you give to someone considering becoming a Trustee?

You have nothing to lose and everything to gain from taking on a Trustee role, so give it a go! You will have moments where it does take a lot of time, but the benefits massively outweigh the cons in my view. That advice does come with some caveats though:

  • charities love people to get involved so be sure to also set your boundaries if you have other work or home commitments as after all it usually needs to be balanced with the day job and home life
  • to get the best experience, go for charities that have a purpose that match your own personal morals. It’s hard to get excited about something you have no interest in and
  • make sure you do your own due diligence on the charity – get comfortable that they are in a good stable position financially, and if it’s not, assess what your own risk would be and what challenges you may face and if you are prepared to take that on

If you are interested in a Trustee role or are looking to hire a Trustee position, please get in touch with Georgia Morgan-Wynne to find out more. 

If you would like to join our Trustee network, find out more here

We want to reiterate that this is not a paid service and forms part of our referral programme, so please do not hesitate to get in touch. 

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