HE Governance Career Journey:

Michaela Boryslawskyj

Name: Michaela Boryslawskyj

Job title: Registrar and Secretary

Institution: Leeds Beckett University

What does your current role and remit encompass?

Leadership of University Governance, legislative and regulatory compliance and assurance, including Legal Services, Information Governance, Governance and Sector Regulation, Internal audit, and Health and Safety.  A critical part of this role includes acting as Clerk to the Board of Governors and its committees, providing independent and expert advice to the Board on its legislative and regulatory responsibilities.  I’m also the strategic Safeguarding Lead and Deputy Prevent Lead. (I always struggle to explain this to colleagues!).

What does a typical day look like for you in your role?

Is there such a thing?!?  There’s an element of the role which is quite regularised and predictable in terms of the Board and Committee Cycle, compliance and assurance activity etc but recently (and particularly under the auspices of the OfS) I’m increasingly having to deal with more reactive and emerging issues.  As you might expect, I spend a lot of time reading papers and in meetings but I also really enjoy getting ‘out there’ and engaging with colleagues beyond the formal governance meetings and supporting institutional projects etc.  It’s often the interactions beyond the formal structures which help best inform thinking around agility and approach to decision making. 

I think a career in governance is incredibly rewarding and feel privileged to have been given the opportunity to work with both executive colleagues and members of our Board

What is your previous work history?

My professional life started as a Corporate/Commercial Solicitor in Leeds.  My first foray into HE was as the Legal Officer at the University of Huddersfield, progressing from there to be University Solicitor, then University Secretary.  I joined Hallam in September 2019. 

What led you to a role in HE governance?

I’ve always been interested in governance – initially in the corporate world, recognising its importance in providing checks/balances for shareholder investments.  My father had worked all his life in HE and spoke highly of his experience (including his time as a staff member on the University Council) so when a suitable opportunity presented itself, I made the leap to the sector (against the advice of many of my peers at that time); it’s still one of the best decisions I have taken. 

I think a career in governance is incredibly rewarding and feel privileged to have been given the opportunity to work with both executive colleagues and members of our Board providing oversight of the strategic performance of institutions.  It never gets stale, because whilst the business cycle might be quite familiar, things are always changing whether that is the membership of the Board, the Regulator’s expectations, a need to review strategy and realign with changes to the external environment – there is always something new around the corner and I think this is what makes the job both challenging and rewarding, whilst always being stimulating. 

What sources / training / qualifications have most helped you in your HE governance role to date?

AHUA membership, together with the coaching offered to new members and the opportunity to participate in a learning set, has been one of the most valuable sources of personal and professional support. 

I would also highly recommend the Chartered Governance Institute as a source of relevant and useful training/qualifications – I undertook the Chartered Secretary qualification and that has been incredibly relevant throughout the years.

Which person has been particularly helpful / inspirational in your career to date and what did they do or say that was so helpful?

I have had the pleasure of working with so many wonderful colleagues it is really hard to single one out – if pressed to do so, Lord Kerslake (our previous Chair) was a source of great inspiration in his ability to lead the Board with compassion and ensuring that, even during challenging discussions, all members and colleagues felt that their contribution was valued and valuable.  We were devastated when Bob passed away over the summer, I find myself often asking ‘what would Bob do/think?’ and anticipate that I will do so for the rest of my days. 

What role do you hope to move onto next and how will you go about preparing for it?

At the moment, who knows what the next role will be!

What is the best piece of advice you have received about HE governance?

Decisions are often ‘important’ and ‘urgent’ but decision making processes need to be demonstrably robust – it is better to defer a decision until you have sufficient information; once taken a decision can often be impossible to unwind.

December 2023

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