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Helping to shape the region's economic future

The Marches Local Enterprise Partnership is on the lookout for new board members – particularly women. SONIA ROBERTS, the chief executive of Shropshire charity Landau, has been involved for the past three years, and explains why she chose to give her precious time to the cause.

I love my job. As the CEO of a charity working to get the most vulnerable in society into training and employment, I get to meet inspirational people doing wonderful things every day of my working life. It’s a real privilege. And it means my time is valuable.

For the last three years I have been a board member of the Marches LEP – the body responsible for promoting growth across Herefordshire, Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin and setting the region’s strategic economic priorities –  which has been just as rewarding and just as much of a privilege.

Today, we have two vacancies on the board, and I passionately believe that successful businesswomen from across the region should be stepping forward and applying to ensure this vital body truly reflects the communities we serve.

Don’t think for one moment this is a talking shop.

I am a busy woman who likes to get things done. The last thing I wanted to be was an ‘observer’ on a board. If I was selected to join, I wanted to be actively involved. I have since learned to be careful what I wish for because each and every one of the board members is encouraged to play the fullest part in the economic development of the Marches.

I was also wanted to be a board member as I have a strong interest in collaboration and partnership working. It features heavily in my ‘day job’ and I was keen to see how through the LEP we could bring the private and public sectors together. I knew I could learn a great deal from the interaction between the sectors in delivering a joint economic ambition.

I was only the second female to join the board (I’m now the only one) and was made welcome and treated with respect for the contribution I made at meetings. I sit on the Skills Board and have been appointed interim joint chair of the Performance, Risk and Monitoring Committee.

As a LEP board member, I am involved in discussions relating to priorities within our area, the strategic importance for road, rail, broadband, business investment, housing, redevelopments, environment, skills and employment.  Being able to influence local economic development in the area in which I work and live is very attractive.

Being on the LEP board provides a rare opportunity to have a real impact on our local businesses and communities through deciding our investment priorities and making timely economic decisions.

It has given me exposure to a wide range of talented people, who are happy to share their experience and, in doing so, has broadened my own understanding of political, economic, social, technological, environmental and strategic factors important to our area. 

I am involved in how our priorities are used to pitch for funding from Central Government, how we align our priorities to the national agenda and ensure the Marches remains an area worth investing in.

I also champion equality and diversity.  I believe it should be embedded in everything we do. That is why I believe more women should be involved in the economic development of our area. 

My experience of being a non-executive board member is an interesting and rewarding one. You not only make a real, valuable contribution to the economic success of the Marches, but you work with inspiring people on exciting, challenging projects. 

In the past three years I have witnessed the economic decisions I have been involved with translated into projects that are shaping our local economies, I hope you will be inspired to join me to continue to shape the economic future through The Marches LEP.

Expressions of interest should be emailed along with a short biography or CV to Gill Hamer at gill.hamer@marcheslep.org.uk by 12.00pm on March 28. To find out more about the roles call Gill Hamer on 01743 462026. Applicants should have a strong knowledge or expertise in the region’s industry and either live or work in the Marches. The board meets six times a year and membership will be for a minimum of two years on a voluntary basis.


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