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Boardroom Apprentice

Maria Pimentel-MackleBoardroom Apprentice 2019 with Relate NI

Why did you want to be a Boardroom Apprentice with Relate NI - I have benefited from learning about healthy relationships by going to counselling, to support myself and family members with mental health wellbeing.  I am absolutely certain that education and counselling services are an essential part of everyone’s health. I firmly support the work that they do because counselling has enriched all of my relationships at home, at work and with my peers. It has also helped me want to contribute back to society in a meaningful way. As a young person, I think it is crucial to gain the skills, knowledge and experience about governance from experienced board members to make a meaningful contribution to my community. I am keen to ensure that high standards of service is achieved through effective training and constant clinical support is available for all staff. I think leading with empathy and compassion is crucial in this role and it would be an honour to help this organisation reach its goals. I also wanted to see someone like me on a board and inspire others in under-represented groups to give their time and skills to causes they feel passionate about.


Why do we need a programme like Boardroom Apprentice - We need programmes like BA because it’s the best way to get the most diverse group of people the skills, knowledge and confidence to be able to apply to board positions in the public and third sector. A sector that society as a whole is heavily reliant on and depends on. Public and third sector boardrooms should reflect the population that it serves.


What are the benefits for you in undertaking the Boardroom Apprentice Programme - The main benefits as a young person is the leadership and management experience that you build on the way. On a personal level, it gives me confidence as a woman and ethnic minority to contribute my personal experience and professional skills to help an organisation with a cause that I am passionate about. There is really nothing like it out there in Scotland, England or Wales. It’s a very unique opportunity to serve my community here in Northern Ireland.


What are the benefits for Host Boards in having a Boardroom Apprentice for a year - The biggest benefit is the participation and feedback of Apprentices to the public and third sector. We are very willing and able to help organisations have a fresh perspective, help innovate and deliver their services with the highest standards. We are also a huge network of talented people that are very motivated to help organisations become more diverse and inclusive of society.


What would you share with people considering applying for Boardroom Apprentice 2020 - You really have nothing to lose and everything to gain from this experience.  Take this opportunity and enjoy it! Don’t let it pass you by. Your life experiences matter and you have more than enough to give back, no matter your background, boardrooms need you!


What would you tell Boards about the value of taking on someone who has gone through the Boardroom Apprentice Programme - This programme is a strong foundation on best practices for public and third sector organisations. A boardroom apprentice is committed, passionate and competent to help existing boards innovate and deliver their much-needed services as well as improve its diversity to reflect society better. It’s really a win-win!


Would you like to be a 2021/22 Boardroom Apprentice?

Applications are now open! Visit to apply. See the videos below from the Relate NI Chair Aiden Bennett & Our 2020/21 Boardroom Apprentice Brendan Morrisseey on why you should choose Relate NI for your apprenticeship:




Alison Rankin  - Boardroom Apprentice 2018 with Relate NI

My name is Alison Rankin and I have been a Boardroom Apprentice with Relate NI as part of the 2018-2019 programme. I was delighted to have been selected to join the board of Relate NI. As a psychotherapist, Relate was an organisation I was keen to learn more about and felt passionate about being able to support. From day one the team have been very welcoming. As part of my induction, I met with the Chief Executive, Duane and the senior management team. They took time to chat through the services Relate provide and I was thrilled to have been given a book on the history of the organisation. 

Attending the board meetings has given me the opportunity to understand how they operate and how decisions are made. I was assigned a board buddy, Aidan, who was a great support. He took time to meet with me and to answer the many questions I had and didn't make me feel like any of the questions were stupid or irrelevant!

Relate NI really made me feel that I was a valued part of the team. I attended and contributed to their strategy away day and feel that over the course of the year I have learned so much about Relate and the great work the staff and trustees do. The training received through the boardroom apprentice really equipped me to understand better the responsibilities of a trustee, to build my own confidence in the boardroom setting and to challenge my perception that I may be 'too young' to be a trustee! In short I would highly recommend Relate as an organisation to get involved with.

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