Angela Bosnjak-Szekeres FCG

Director of Corporate Governance/Company Secretary, East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust

The importance of supporting women to progress as governance professionals

Angela believes strongly in a public service ethic. She is also creating a talent pipeline for women into NHS governance and is a strong advocate in support of female leadership, ESG in healthcare and diversity on boards.

Angela is a pioneering professional company secretary in the NHS where there are currently very few female governance professionals.

She has a career background spent working with local authorities and arm’s length housing management organisations, including at Haringey Council, before heading off to work for the borough of Kensington and Chelsea, also in housing. She has also worked in compliance roles for a couple of housing associations – Riverhaven Housing and Servite Houses.

When asked about her experience of allyship, she says, ‘I’ve been very lucky to have been supported by both male and female bosses throughout my career. I had a hard time reaching the top as I came here from Eastern Europe and had to work my way up.

‘When I worked as a deputy company secretary for a housing organisation in the past, I received enthusiastic support from my female manager.

She supported my desire to qualify and move into a more senior role than I was used to. I have also previously worked for two female CEOs and I’ve experienced female chairs promoting and supporting my views in meetings.

When I applied for my current role at East Lancashire, I had a positive experience of female allyship when Professor Eileen Fairhurst, who is the Chair of the Board, supported my appointment.'

In her current role, Angela says she is busy creating a pipeline for young women to transition into governance in the NHS. She is also a firm believer in strong female leadership and diversity on boards and is quick to point out that she has had a positive experience of female allyship throughout her career.

She says, ‘Succession planning in governance is very important to me.

'The NHS finds it difficult to attract governance candidates who are qualified and the industry still accepts people who are not qualified, which is a problem.'
'I have been working with stakeholders in our North-West England leadership team to create a talent pipeline for young governance professionals to enter the NHS.'
'Sometimes new people entering the profession have some experience but they lack exposure as leaders. Because of this gap, I have been actively encouraging the development of female leaders in my profession.'
'I am currently supporting a colleague from a diverse background in a middle management position, who has qualified to make the next step up into a professional governance role. I have also previously recruited CGIUKI members to work with me.’

When asked to share an example of how she has worked to break the bias at work during her career, she said: ‘I previously worked in Blackpool as a company secretary. I discovered that there weren’t many female non-executive directors (NEDs) there, and the board lacked diversity, so I supported the governors in making their board more diverse. Then, in the next recruitment round, they recruited two female NEDs and one NED from an ethnic minority.’

Ending on a positive note, Angela is keen to point out the strong female leadership team heading up her current hospital trust. She says, ‘Women are currently well represented on the board of our trust. Our current chair is a woman and five executive directors and three non-executive and associate non-executive directors on the board are also female. This gives me motivation to train others and hope for the future.’

Angela Bosnjak-Szekeres FCG

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