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Carmelo's Story

Challenge your career and make a difference at the Co-op

I joined the Co-op in 2012 because I knew it was a retail career where I could make a real difference within the community. I’ve always worked in retail. I started my career as a Customer Team Member, with the desire to eventually become an Area Manager.

Before Co-op, I worked at a couple of large retailers. I was really excited when I received the offer to join the team, as I had wanted to join Co-op for some time. Salary is always important but Co-op also offered flexibility, a better work life balance, and lots of opportunity to progress.

Facing challenges

I think I joined the Co-op at its most interesting time. In 2012, the company was going through lots of changes, but I could see how determined my new colleagues were to get things back on track.

I spent a few years working in a number of different stores and formats and my experience enabled me to lead my team through the changes to the business. No matter what challenges we face, I’ve always made sure that the customers and communities we serve are at the heart of everything we do.

Developing my career

In 2017, I achieved my goal of becoming an Area Manager. I now manage a team of 20 Store Managers, ranging from 1 month to 40 years of experience. Some need my support more than others, and it’s great that I can put myself in their shoes. However, I rarely give them the answers, instead, I empower them to make their own decisions.

I’ve had to develop a wider understanding as to why we’re doing things - thinking about the risks and the strategic commerciality. This means making some difficult decisions at a commercial level. But I can deliver plans in my own way and there’s a real element of freedom.

Membership and community

The membership proposition makes me proud. Being able to hand cheques over to local causes in my area is so rewarding, plus my team really are #BeingCoop by getting involved with food banks, homeless charities and drop-in centres in their area. I have young children myself, so I’m passionate about working with disadvantaged children and getting involved with school and nursery causes in my area.

The future

I love my job. Eventually, I’d love to progress into a Regional Manager role, but I also feel I have the option to move outside of an operational store role if I wished. My skills and experience lend themselves to lots of opportunities and it’s fantastic that movement across the Co-op is encouraged.

Why join us?

I'm currently recruiting for managers to join my team, so if you’re looking for a different challenge in your career and you really want to make a difference then the Co-op is the place.

There is always lots going on, from new stores opening to community causes to support, so there’s always something to get involved in. My advice is to think about what your personal and career development looks likes – the Co-op can help you get where you want, just like it has with me.

Carmelo La Gambina,

Area Manager