On being the Chair of British Exploring Society – Doug Oppenheim

Jan 7

Written by:
07 January 2019 16:29  RssIcon

On reflection, my ten years as a volunteer trustee and latterly Chair with British Exploring Society have been one of the most rewarding experiences of my working life. My day to day life is as an investment manager. This inevitably means I’m spending most of my time working with senior managers of the companies we invest in; there’s an unavoidable detachment from the coal face of each business. The distance between the board room and the young people we are working with at British Exploring Society is surprisingly short. We get to spend time with remarkable young people and see for ourselves how their outlook on life has been transformed, knowing we have played a role in the life-defining journey they’ve been on with us.

My own experience with the charity has also been a journey of change. We have been able to take a small charity with a great history and made it completely relevant and purposeful for today and the future. We have changed almost every aspect of the how we go about delivering our work. Executive management, routes to market, our developmental and outcomes models, branding, systems and processes, all have been changed or overhauled. This necessary but uplifting journey and process of change needs to continue and I am sure will provide rewarding opportunities for our next Chair, too.

This is a very special charity. I leave in place a talented and motivated group of trustees, accomplished in their respective fields and committed to their role as trustees. We are a diverse bunch, and number amongst us individuals from the worlds of education, children’s services, law, finance, strategy consulting and marketing. It’s been a great pleasure for me working with them. We all enjoy the additional benefit and challenge of working alongside a more diverse range of career backgrounds than our day to day jobs typically offer.

As trustees, we bring to British Exploring Society the experience, insights and networks gained from our respective careers – from risk management in remote environments and legal advice to policy review and evaluation models. From my time as a trustee and chair, I have seen how valuable the contribution of professional experience from trustees can be to the success of a charitable organisation like ours. A relatively modest amount of time and knowledge can go a very long way, and it is enormously heartening to see the immediate impact that this can have.

The next few years should see the completion of British Exploring Society’s transformation into a scaleable charity delivering remarkable developmental programmes and long-term impact. After a decade on the board looking to the future, it is time for me to step aside.

Our next Chair will find themselves fortunate, as I consider myself to have been, to be working with an exceptional CEO in Honor Wilson-Fletcher together with a passionate and dedicated team. British Exploring Society sits at the centre of a vibrant community including its Members, Fellows, Leaders, partnership organisations and other supporters; it has been an enormously enjoyable part of the role engaging with so many people who share a passion for our work, and who make what we do possible.

Click here to find out more about applying to become the Chair of British Exploring Society

<November 2019>