What is your role?
I have a very lengthy title – secretary, membership and co-operative affairs manager. I am the society secretary, working with the board, I run the membership department, aiming to respond to all members’ queries asap, encourage the growth of membership, run the elections and organise the AGM. Then I do lots of other co-operative tasks, like filling in this questionnaire! I am also the chair of our Ethical Policy Committee, and in charge of facilities (I am quite well-known for fixing toilets) and health and safety for the Phone Co-op.
How do you get started in the morning?
With a cup of Earl Grey tea. And then a second one to wash down a bowl of banana porridge with golden linseeds sprinkled on top. I am a morning person so get up early and complete several household chores before leaving for my 10 minute walk to the office. My first action of the working day is to check my emails and my long list of “next actions” and tasks.
What did you used to think of co-operatives, before you started working for one?
I started working for the Phone Co-op 14 years ago and was largely ignorant of the variety of co-operatives out there, or exactly how the business model worked. I was one of the many who thought there was one co-op and it mainly sold food. I was always aware that a co-op was “a good thing” but not quite sure why.
What do you think of co-operatives now?
The problem now is that I can’t imagine working for anything other than a co-op! The concept of being owned by our members, having a board elected by our members and from our membership and offering membership to all our customers in return for a dividend and the opportunity to participate in how the business develops strategically, cannot be bettered. I am also now convinced that the co-operative model can be used in any line of business.
What motivates you throughout the day?
Hopefully, the desire to do a good job and provide a good service to our customers and members as well as making a contribution as a part of a pretty fantastic team of people. I am heavily motivated by the enthusiasm of others, good humour and, as I am only human, a little bit of praise occasionally doesn’t go amiss!
What does the Co-operative Difference mean to you and your team?
We sell telecoms services – not sexy or particularly exciting and there are some other organisations out there who are only in it for the profit. To be the only telecoms co-op in the UK is something of which we are very proud – we sell our customers a service that they need but we give something back in the form of a dividend and engage them in the running of their organisation.
What inspires you in your profession?
As secretary, I am inspired by the contribution made by our board members. The seven people on our board don’t receive huge fees and give up a significant amount of their leisure time to lead the Phone Co-op’s strategy.
If you could form a never-tried-before co-operative tomorrow, what would it be?
I’m not sure if there is a co-operative out there that teaches tailoring and dressmaking courses but, if not, I would like to start one.
How do you wind down?
With a gin and tonic. Can I say that?! I wind down by spending time with my children and my friends – if that is in front of a log fire in a lovely pub, then I am even happier. I also love to make clothes, crochet, do yoga and dream of improvements to my slightly shabby Victorian house.