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My Co-op journey began in 2013 when I joined as a Team Manager in a store in Sheffield, before being promoted to Store Manager a couple of years later. Customer facing roles can be really challenging, but you gain so much experience that the rewards are well worth the hard work.

Shining Stars

As I grew in my role and built up experience and confidence in what I was doing, I began to discuss development opportunities with my Area and Regional Managers. I was fortunate enough to be sponsored to apply for the Shining Stars programme in 2018. Shining Stars was an internal personal development programme that gave participants the opportunity to explore a wide cross section of the business, while working towards a specific project as a team.

One of the stops on the Shining Stars journey was the Strategy & Transformation team, where we were introduced to project and programme management. Immediately I felt like this was something I would love to do and I made it my mission to find out more and grow my network in this space.

Learning new skills

I began to have lots of different conversations with colleagues in Strategy & Transformation to learn about the different roles in the team, and that’s when I decided that project management was the route for me. I mapped out what skills I would need to be successful as a Project Manager and began to develop my knowledge.

In July 2019 I graduated from the Shining Stars programme and secured a secondment into a Project Manager role! I’d learned so many new skills by working on a range of transformation and change projects with colleagues across so many different parts of Co-op.

The first major project I got involved in was in our franchise business. I got to put all my newly acquired project management skills into practice, and I could use my operational knowledge which was a massive benefit to the team. I then got to take part in an even bigger project which was about adapting to change brought about by the pandemic. This was a huge learning curve for me, but I loved every minute.

Co-op is a place where I can grow

Co-op has supported my development by providing me with access to internal project management methodology training (P4CM), and a nationally recognised Project Management methodology course (Prince2). I’m also currently working my way through a Level 4 Project Management Apprenticeship through our government backed apprenticeship programme.

I feel so lucky to work for a business that’s supportive of personal growth and gives colleagues the flexibility and opportunity to develop themselves in ways that might not have seemed possible.

Ben Heath
Project Manager