12 Jan 2022

Finding the right trustees for your organisation

By Samantha White 

To find the people your organisation needs to set its direction and provide strategic scrutiny, your values should feature prominently throughout the recruitment and application process, says Dr Marcia Philbin, Chief Executive, Faculty of Pharmaceutical Medicine.

In November 2021, FPM welcomed a new set of officers and trustees onto its board for their three-year term. Before the selection process began in January 2021, Marcia revisited the role descriptions to ensure they were up to date, and added the organisation’s values and commitment to EDI to each one. Now, on the application form, candidates are asked to describe how they will deliver against their mandate, using these values.

The role description should also make clear that this is an active role, says Marcia. “I look for someone who’s going to be committed, who cares about the specialty and wants to make a difference. They must be collaborative and willing to keep up to date with developments in medicine.”

A trustee should also be a critical friend, explains Marcia. “I don’t want a nodding dog! I want someone who is going to challenge in a supportive and constructive way and ask those questions that I haven’t thought of, because the worst thing that could happen for FPM is if you end up with groupthink and then you go down a road you shouldn’t be going down.”

“We’re looking for people our members respect and look up to, so they’ve got to be credible, and with that credibility, that means they’re honest. Because if we’re going to be putting out statements, those statements have to be trusted, and they’re trusted because you trust the people giving them.”

Diversity is particularly important to the organisation for several reasons. Firstly, to reflect the diverse backgrounds of the people who work in pharmaceutical medicine. “But also, what we do affects everybody, globally. When our members develop a medicine and they approve its safety, that’s going to affect everybody who will use that medicine. Lastly, diversity isn’t just about the traditional gender, race… it’s also about career stage, so supporting early pharmaceutical physicians in their careers and acting as role models, that kind of thing.”

FPM’s commitment to diversity is already bearing fruit. “In 2021, for the first time in our history, we had four candidates put themselves forward to be President, and six candidates for Vice President, which was brilliant. More women put themselves forward this time, as well as candidates from a range of ages and backgrounds. I think it’s a result of all the work that we’re doing: people think ‘this is an organisation that I am part of and I want to get involved.’ So I’m really, really proud of that.”

In part 2 of this article, Marcia shares her insights on how best to induct a new board.  

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