What’s it really like being a Learning Network Director?

A laptop sitting on a table next to a mug of tea. The laptop screen is showing a Zoom meeting with multiple participants.

This time of year sees us prepare a fond farewell for some Learning Network Directors who are coming to the end of their time on the board. But while it’s the end for some, we’ll also soon have some new Directors to welcome aboard.

On Monday 13 November, we’ll invite Learning Network members to nominate themselves to become board Directors. Could you be one of them?

Who can be a Director

Directors are volunteers elected from within the Learning Network membership. This is because we’re a community interest company. We’re run by our network, for our network.

There are up to 12 Directors on the board. Each year the Directors elect a Chairperson who oversees the board and sets our priorities for the coming year.

Directors have a tenure of two years, after which they can nominate themselves to serve for a further two years. The maximum continuous tenure is four years. A Director who’s served four years who wants to stand again can do so after one year out.

Anyone who’s a full Learning Network member (i.e. they pay the £29 annual membership fee) or an Industry Partner representative can nominate themselves to be a director.

We welcome any member who wants to give back to the network to nominate themselves to be a Director. If you have skills or experience that you think will add value to the network, we want to hear from you.

What our Directors do

Each Director looks after one of the following priorities:

  • Events management – organising webinars, in-person events and the annual LN Connect conference
  • Mentoring – running our mentoring programme, recruiting mentors, and matching mentees with potential mentors
  • Marketing – planning our marketing and comms calendar, running our social media channels
  • Community engagement – running the podcast, curating the members’ newsletter, supporting events and marketing
  • Finance – looking after the network finances
  • Industry Partner relations – looking after our Industry Partners, moderating our Industry Partners of The Learning Network LinkedIn group
  • Technology – running our website and other platforms (e.g. Slack)
  • Member experience – ensuring the network membership continues to provide value for money and looking for ways to improve the member experience

Where possible, we pair up Directors to look after our busiest areas (such as Events). We also pitch in on high priorities, like organising the LN Connect conference. So there’s lots of opportunity to get exposure to different things.

As it’s a voluntary position, each director agrees to give up some of their own time to help run the network. Directors must attend a one-hour online board meeting per month and one annual board meeting. In between these meetings, the time you give will vary depending on the area you take responsibility for. On average, we estimate 2-4 days per month. 

Two questions to ask yourself

If you’re thinking of nominating yourself, the two key questions to ask yourself are:

  1. What can I bring to the network?
  2. Can I commit to volunteering the time needed to make a difference?

Ultimately, we need Directors to bring their passion and energy, and volunteer their time to keep the network running. So if you decide to nominate yourself, think about which priority area you’d bring the most to.

Why I nominated myself to be a Director

I had been a member of the network for around four years and decided I was ready to nominate myself to be a Director last year.

I’d learned so much from other members that I wanted to give something back to the network. In particular, Kim Ellis was a great role model for me and encouraged me to be brave and get more involved in the network. I wanted to be able to do that for someone else.

I was also at a point professionally where I wanted (and felt confident enough) to get exposure to strategy and decision making outside of my day job. I’m not in a leadership position in my day job, so I wanted to see what I was capable of.

The highlights of my first year

My first year has gone past in a blur. It’s true what they say: time really does fly when you’re having fun. My particular highlights are:

  • Getting to know the other Directors – I’m constantly amazed at the wealth of experience and endless kindness of this fantastic bunch of people who’ve welcomed me into the fold.
  • Getting to know more network members – from chats on Slack, to the in-person meetups, it’s been lovely getting to know more people. Special shout-out to my Glasgow crew: Katerina, Lorna, Jonna, Ella and Heather!
  • Getting a peek behind the curtain – seeing just how much planning and work goes into our events has been mind-blowing. Especially being on the exhibition stand at Learning Technologies and World of Learning.  

The advice I’d give last year’s Paula

There’s so much I’d like to tell last year’s Paula, and any new Director. But I’ll settle for these two pieces of advice:

  1. Plan things in advance and make the most of your time – just like in your day job, there are busy and quiet spells. And sometimes the network and day job busy spells overlap. The more you plan in advance, the easier you’ll find it.
  2. Ask for help when you need it – you’re not alone. The other Directors are there to help. There’ll come a time when you can do the same for them.

Actually, I think this year’s Paula needs that advice too.

Thinking of nominating yourself for the board?

Like the sound of what I’ve been up to? It could be you! We’ll be opening nominations for the board in the next few weeks.

Not quite ready for the board, but want to get more involved?

Whether it’s just not the right time to nominate yourself for the board or you don’t think you’re ready, there are plenty of other ways you can get involved. You could:

  • Become a mentor
  • Organise an event
  • Write a newsletter article
  • Write copy for our social media posts

We’re all keen to hear from people who want to help out or get exposure to board duties. So feel free to reach out to me or any of the other directors personally on Slack or LinkedIn, or via our contact form.