Young scholarship winner has his eye on the prize of more board positions

Posted on 03 Mar 2020

By Sarah Richardson

The first winner of a new round of scholarships plans to use the networking opportunities of the Diploma of Governance to find even more board positions.

Scholarship winner Matt Whitley, age 26, will begin studying for a Diploma of Governance this year after receiving a Young People on Boards scholarship from the Institute of Community Directors Australia.

In his application, Mr Whitley said the Diploma of Governance would help him to achieve his goals in four main ways, writing:

  1. It will help me be a more well-rounded not-for-profit board member due to the practical approach of the course
  2. It will help in my own company
  3. It will help me in my plan to assist young people in their journey
  4. It will help me towards my goal of being on four paid boards from the connections I will make with other students on the course.

Listening and learning

Mr Whitley’s first experience of a boardroom meeting came at age 13, when his mentor told him, “Shhhh, don't say a word. Listen, take notes, and we can talk after.” Since that first meeting, he’s been a regular in boardrooms.

Thirteen years later, he co-owns an insurance brokerage, owns a small property development company, and gives back to the community by sitting on the board of Wollondilly Support and Community Care Inc. (WSACCI). WSACCI looks after people who are elderly or have a disability, and also provides a meals-on-wheels service.

Paying it forward

Mr Whitley says young people bring different types of value to the boardroom. “They are not jaded by life experiences and are willing to take risks that historically older board members would not –calculated and legal, of course!”

Mr Whitley says young people on boards are often overlooked or looked down upon because they’re perceived as lacking practical experience, but mentoring can help to overcome this. He aims to one day set up a foundation to help young people to start companies and join boards, and he says great mentors will have a role to play, donating their time to share their stories and experience with young board aspirants.

Scholarships fast-tracked

Matt was chosen for one of the fast-tracked Young People of Boards scholarships offered by the Institute of Community Directors Australia, with the award announced during the Festival of Community Directors’ Young People on Boards Week.

The new ongoing speedy application and approval process is aimed at giving scholarship applicants certainty and offering faster access to the benefits of the diploma course.

More information

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