50 For A Reason #18: We’re Directed By People Like You
As Live Active Leisure announces an opportunity for a two new non-executive directors to join the board, Nicki catches up with Leigh Hudson, our newest member of the board, to find out what the role entails.
I’ve been working with Live Active Leisure for over three years now and one of the things that never ceases to impress me is the dedication and passion of the 600 strong team. I am fortunate to work alongside people from all areas of the business and have regular contact with fitness instructors, managers, Head Office, wellbeing in the community and the board of directors. Without exception, these people love what they do and care about the experience that you and I as customers are receiving.
You could say, “Well that is their job”, and you’d be right. People should take pride in their role and they should be prepared to offer up professionalism in exchange for a monthly pay packet! However, what if I was to tell you that the board of directors receive no such remuneration? They are all volunteers, offering up a few hours of their time each month to help shape and develop Live Active Leisure as a company. Their involvement is based simply on passion, belief and a desire to make a difference in the health and wellbeing of our communities.
There are currently two non-exec positions to be filled on the board of directors and in order to understand just what was being offered (apart from no wages!) I caught up with Leigh Hudson who joined the board around eighteen months ago. Leigh has her own HR consultancy – Virtual HR Director Ltd - and also works part-time role with Thorntons Investments as their HR Manager. Previous to this she was the HR Director for Affiniti and Mettoni Group as well as holding a role as the HR advisor at Business Gateway. A substantial track record, I think you’ll agree.
So, just what was it that attracted her to the non-exec role at Live Active Leisure?
“I’ve been self-employed for seven years now and I had started to think that I wanted to find a voluntary role that would let me give something back to the wider community. I had moved to Perth in 2009 and my little boy was born here.
This thought of finding a non-exec role was already in my head when I saw the advert looking for volunteer directors to join Live Active Leisure’s Board of Directors. Coincidentally, I was doing some work with another voluntary non-exec Director Mike Robinson in his day job at the Royal Scottish Geographical Society and he happened to mention it; but by that time I had already sent off my application!
For me, the vested interest was already there. My wee boy is four years old and we use Live Active venues at least three times a week. We swim; go to Wee Springers, play football… I got to know LAL as a customer first and I was always singing the praises of the team in the venues. I think it’s important to encourage a love of sport from a young age. I’ve never done anything as major as some of the board but I’ve always been sporty and I do think an organisation like LAL is important to the health of a community. I’d never worked in the fitness industry in any way but felt I could bring something to the table because I understand what they do from a customer’s point of view.”
Now, this is an important point to make for anyone out there who is considering applying for the role. There are a number of the LAL board who have a background in the fitness or sports industry and while this brings with it a tremendous benefit it is not a requirement of the role. Commercial understanding, a specific skills base and experience at senior management or project leader level are all attributes that are desirable in LAL board members.
“At the time I applied the board was looking for someone with specific HR knowledge to support the excellent Diane Gaffney, LAL’s HR manager, and her team. Diane and I will share experiences, talk about new policies and discuss any new developments within the team. For example, the transfer of services from PKC to LAL that are about to take place has been something we’ve discussed at length.
I chair the HR committee which Diane feeds into and I also chair the Joint Review Committee which is an employee based communication group that is led by employee nominated representatives. This is where we communicate plans, business updates and any important news to the team.
This is typical for each Director; we all use our specific skills to assist the senior management team. I probably spend around 3 hours a month on Live Active Leisure work with a few follow up emails with Diane in between. This is mainly meeting led – the board meets every two months and the other committees meet three times a year.”
I know from my many conversations with them that all of the directors talk about a real sense of achievement and pride in their role. Being part of an organisation like Live Active Leisure is a rewarding way to use your commercial experience to help and aid the community on your doorstep. As well as helping to shape and develop sports, leisure and fitness throughout LAL’s sixteen venues these volunteers also contribute to direction of the amazing work carried out in areas such as wellbeing, active schools and the performance level talented athletes some of whom will represent us in Rio this year.
“This truly is a unique position to hold and I would urge anyone who’s thinking about a non-exec role to apply. I was concerned at first that the formality of a public sector body would jar with my commercial background but in actual fact, LAL is very driven and the role is very much about taking the business forward. Progress is what we’re striving for.”