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I joined Co-op in 2016 as a part-time Customer Team Member when my children started school. This was a big change from my background in finance, but having left my last job to start a family I found it wasn’t practical to return while raising two small children.  The flexible working policy at Co-op made it a great fit for me, allowing me to work during school hours and do the school runs. I was fortunate to have some very supportive leaders along the way which allowed my career to grow with my children, and I progressed to become a Store Manager within three years.

Finding my passion during the pandemic

As the Covid-19 pandemic started, I took over a new store and it was so important for me to engage my new team with business updates while supporting their wellbeing. Our priorities as a business and as individuals changed, and I found a passion for improving our communications, and supporting and engaging our colleagues in a more creative way. I took on voluntary roles and joined Aspire (Co-op’s colleague network for women and allies) – supporting them with career development projects.

During the pandemic, Co-op implemented a hybrid way of working and an increased focus on internal mobility. This opened different opportunities for me, and I applied for a secondment into a Communications Business Partner role. It was a great opportunity to blend my skillset, experience and passion while working in a different part of the business. 

I was the first person without a traditional comms background to secure a job like this in the team, but the operational experience I was able to bring to the role mean that my contribution was really valued by my manager.

Inspiring others to invest in self-development

With my secondment coming to an end, I was able to secure a permanent role as Co-op’s first ever Learning & Development Campaigns Manager. It feels very full circle – through hard work and having supportive leaders I’ve had amazing opportunities to grow a rewarding career that I love, and now I support our 65,000 colleagues to develop and grow their own career paths like I have.

I continue to work with Aspire and have started working with our other colleague networks. These relationships really support my day job and allow me to share my experiences with others while ensuring I am inclusive in all the work I do. I hope that by sharing my journey I can inspire others to dedicate time to their self-development, and to show how at Co-op you don’t have to follow ‘traditional’ career paths to succeed.