The Young Professionals programme from Arts & Business NI places the best up-and-coming talent that the Northern Ireland business sector has to offer on the boards of leading local arts charities.

The programme provides training and support to ensure Young Professionals in the early stages of their careers (aged 21-35) will truly benefit from this practical, hands-on strategic leadership experience.

Accountant Leah Kirkwood has been part of the Baker Tilly Mooney Moore team for three years and recently joined the Young Professionals on Arts Boards programme. Leah said:

“I am delighted to have been accepted onto the programme. It’s a fantastic opportunity as Arts and Business will provide training and connections to Arts Boards in Northern Ireland, and so I’m really looking forward to finding the right Board for me. We are currently going through training, which happens every year. Training as a group and putting together a prospectus for everyone in the programme has been a really rewarding experience.

“It was a natural decision for me to want to take part in the programme. I have a real interest in the arts, and I’m from a very artistic family. I know first-hand what the arts in Northern Ireland means to people, and what it can do for us. Especially this year, with COVID-19, we’re naturally in an Arts crisis so being able to lend some support this year is really significant.

“Carson McDowell has provided the training for the scheme, which has been exceptional. One session so far on governance on Boards was a real insight into how this all works. There are around 20 people on the programme this year, giving Boards a broad range of specialisms to choose from.

“Baker Tilly Mooney Moore has been really supportive throughout the whole process. I saw the advert a while back and the firm encouraged me to apply and take part in the training. And I’m so glad they did.”

Donal Laverty, Consultancy Partner at Baker Tilly Mooney Moore provides strategic advice to Boards around the world and said: “Recent research shows that board composition, diversity and quality of the boardroom are key focus areas. In a changing world, it is important for organisations to be represented by younger people on their boards. It is our experience that boards who actively recruit young board members find that they bring new skills and perspectives, and having age diversity helps the organisation have different approaches to and views of their market and environment.

“For a younger board member having this new experience provides a different perspective on decision making and helps to develop their skills in leadership and collaboration, whilst contributing to a cause or organisation that they care about.”