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I’ve worked at the Co-op for 4 years, starting as a Store Manager over in West London. I’ve been a retailer all my life, but at the beginning of this year I decided I needed to challenge myself by trying something different. 

Outside my comfort zone 

I talked to my Area Manager about my options, and with his support I put together my personal growth plan. I was really keen to experience the challenge of leading a team in a different industry. I also wanted to find a role where remote working was a possibility.  

I considered a few different opportunities, and at first, I discounted the funeral service manager role because it felt too far outside my comfort zone. Like most people, I’d never considered working in the funeral industry before, but my Area Manager encouraged me to find out more. He put me in touch with a colleague in funeralcare who inspired me by telling me about the incredible difference you can make for your clients during the most difficult time of their lives. 

Learning every day 

Funeralcare is  totally different to food retail as you’re dealing with people’s emotions, wishes and memories. My team do an incredible job, and I’ve found it both rewarding and humbling to see how much they care for the families they support.  

I’m learning something new every day, and I’m trying to give as much to my team as they give to their clients by spending quality time with them and coaching them. How we mark and celebrate the end of people’s lives is changing all the time.  We work hard to help our clients say goodbye in a way that’s very personalised and memorable for them. 

Representing our communities 

When I joined funeralcare I knew that I wouldn’t be working alongside many other black leaders. Like many organisations, we’ve still got work to do at Co-op to make sure our teams reflect the diversity of the communities we serve.  

By joining Funeralcare, I wanted to push out my personal boundaries and experience something new, and I’d encourage other leaders from ethnic minority backgrounds to do the same. Co-op is a genuinely welcoming, supportive place to build a career, and it was great to see our commitments on racism and inequality which set some important targets to increase Black, Asian and ethnic minority representation in our leadership teams. 

Looking to the future 

I know that in the future I want to keep learning new things and pushing myself. I’m loving my role in funeralcare and I’m keen to see where this journey could take me. Wherever that might be, I know at Co-op I’ll get the support and the opportunities to allow me to achieve my goals. 

Peter Denys, 

Funeral Service Manager