Edinburgh Napier University’s Get on Board Team was established in 2015 consisting of two academics, Jacqueline Brodie and Miles Weaver, working in collaboration with the careers service at Edinburgh Napier University to deliver an extra-curriculum programme to support employability of students and address a key Scottish national outcome, 'diversity in boards'. The programme’s development was supported by a student steering group called Young Trustees in Scotland led by Elena Pershina, who was a fourth year undergraduate student at the time and President of Young Trustees in Scotland. Following a successful pilot run of the Get on Board programme and after being recognised for enhancing student learning, by winning a Herald Higher Education Award in 2015, the team were approached by two employees from Santander and RSM respectively, Janet Hamblin and Arthur Lawrence, who shared a common goal to support young people onto boards and upskill students to make an impact in their local communities.
RSM and Santander had identified from their clients that their greatest challenge was recruiting skilled board members and improving board diversity. The Get on Board team, Santander and RSM decided to join forces in 2018, and the Get on Board competency pathway was utilised and enhanced with the aim of scaling this opportunity to develop trustee skills to other students in Scotland. To this end in 2018, the team were joined by Anderson Strathern and Inspiring Scotland to launch the ‘Charity Board Initiative’ utilising the Get on Board competency pathway in Edinburgh-based universities. In 2019, the team once again expanded to four additional universities, making seven in total in Scotland. Each collaborative partner brings their own capabilities, training and networking opportunities. For instance, Edinburgh Napier offer career advice and CV guidance alongside iterative versions of the Get on Board Pathway and its associated learning materials. RSM and Santander employees bring expertise from the charity sector in Scotland, while Elaine Crichton at Inspiring Scotland identifies potential board opportunities for students and Victoria Simpson, from Anderson Strathern, offers workshops in charity governance.