Leonor Stjepic is the award-winning CEO of RAFT (Restoration of Appearance and Function Trust), a 29 year old medical research charity carrying out its own medical research into tissue reconstruction.

What is your role at RAFT and also with London Fire Brigade Enterprises, and how did you get there?

Strictly speaking I am not on the Board of RAFT but I do attend all the meetings as CEO. It is an automatic attendance.  Similarly when I was CEO of the company that we set up, Smart Matrix Ltd, I was an Executive Director of the Board – again, it came with the job.  The role of Chair of London Fire Brigade Enterprises came through a recruitment process carried out by London Fire Brigade

What advice do you have for women getting on the board?

Don’t be afraid to try and don’t be put off by the time commitment.  You can make the role fit into your time availability regardless of what it says in the job description.

What advice would you have for them once they are there? Say, your 3 tips for giving the best to the board…

1)      Speak out.  There is nothing worse than a quiet board member.  There are no stupid questions or stupid observations.  Nobody is going to think worse of you for your contribution.

2)      The staff work very hard to prepare for the board meetings, it is important to read the papers and have given thought to what is being proposed.  It is disrespectful to go unprepared to meetings.

3)      You need to be visible to the staff and investors.

Any things you would advise not to do?

Remember that a board member is a non-executive.  It is not your role to try to run the organisation.  That is what the CEO is there to do.

Do you have any suggestions of things women can be doing earlier in their careers to prepare themselves ?

Volunteer for committees or trustee boards.  The more experience you can gain in governance and how groups are run, the better.

What fulfills you most about being a board member? Working with people who are very experienced in their own fields.  A good board has people of diverse backgrounds and it is enriching to learn from them.

About Leonor Stjepic

Named Most Innovative CEO 2017 in the Not for Profit Sector by Business Worldwide, Leonor was also named Global ACQ5 Gamechanger of the Year UK 2016 and won a Silver Award Stevies Women in Business Awards 2015. Finalist in the First Women awards for First Women in Science 2016.

Under her leadership, RAFT and Smart Matrix Ltd have also won several awards, most recently Global Health and Pharma 2017 Most Dedicated Medical Research Company; Global ACQ5 2016 Company of the Year (Healthcare/Life Sciences); Corporate Livewire Healthcare and Life Sciences Award and International Life Sciences Award 2016 for Best Medical Implant and Technology.

Although she has spent 17 years charity sector, Leonor had 15 years of commercial experience before that, in the private sector, including running her own consultancy helping SMEs to grow their businesses in the UK, Spain and Portugal.

Wanting to use her business and entrepreneurial skills to make a charitable impact, Leonor has always thought of herself as a ‘charity entrepreneur’.