Name: Caroline Gillam

Role: Clerk to the Corporation

College: Farnborough College of Technology

Favourite hobby: Running – especially along the beautiful Blackwater Valley canal

Tell us a bit about your college.

Farnborough College of Technology is an Ofsted ‘outstanding’ rated college and accredited College of the University of Surrey.  The College offers a wide range of further and higher education programmes at its campuses in Farnborough, which includes the newly opened University Centre Farnborough (UCF), and Aldershot, which is home to the College’s construction courses.

Students can study full and part-time courses including A levels, awards, certificates, diplomas, apprenticeships, a broad portfolio of professional and management courses, access to higher education diplomas, foundation degrees, honours degrees and some postgraduate options.

What skills were you looking for in your governing board members?

The College has always looked to recruit governors with the following qualities:

  • the ability to think and act strategically
  • a broad base of knowledge and skills acquired through senior strategic management
  • sound judgement in fulfilling the Corporation’s financial and legal responsibilities
  • commitment to education and training, and to the success of the College’s students.

This year, as we focused on succession planning within the Corporation Board, we were particularly interested in recruiting governors with financial and audit experience.

Why did you choose to go through Inspiring FE Governance to fill your vacancy?

I subscribe to the ETF’s Supporting Governing newsletter and saw a request for colleges to take part in a pilot scheme to assist with recruiting governors.  I expressed an interest and was put in touch with the Inspiring FE Governance initiative run by Education and Employers.

Right from our first conversation I felt I’d found the answer to our prayers!  We had tried a number of recruitment initiatives in the past but always struggled to reach people working at a senior strategic level in organisations who might also be interested in a voluntary role on an educational board.

Education and Employers has a huge database of professionals who had the senior strategic experience we were looking for and the desire to contribute to education and training.  They were able to advertise three governor vacancies to potential volunteers in our geographical area.

What was the outcome?

Much to the delight of our Board’s Search Committee, we received a large amount of interest in our vacancies and compiled a short list of candidates to interview.  As of our December 2017 Board meeting we have appointed two of these interviewees to the Board and still have interviews to conduct early in the new year.

Any advice for other boards looking to fill vacancies or thinking about succession planning?

The Inspiring FE Governance initiative gave us access to a diverse and highly skilled range of applicants.  Our Board had spent time analysing skills gaps in the current Board, how representative the Board was of the local community, and the need to succession plan in certain key areas such as relevant experience for Audit Committee membership.  Being clear about what we were looking for and having access to a wide range of applicants has enabled us to make high quality appointments to ensure our Board has a balanced and effective membership.

Anything else?

Only a huge thank you to Education and Employers for all their assistance with our recruitment!