Jackson in store

Jackson Mills is not your typical 24-year old. Already a store manager, he hopes to go further in our Co-op. Unlike most people twice his age he also has a 15-year plan – to be an MP. Here he shares some of his tips on personal development.

Jackson is on cloud nine when we meet. He’s just been accepted on Co-op’s notoriously competitive Shining Stars, a programme in Food which develops leaders for the future. This year competition was even tougher when it was opened up to the rest of the Co-op.

“I’m absolutely thrilled,” he smiles. “I was nominated in December by my area manager and it’s been a good four-month process from application, online tests to an assessment centre in Glasgow.

“It develops your leadership behaviours and gives you the tools, network and knowledge to progress. It certainly doesn’t guarantee progression but it helps. I’m ready for the challenge.”

Jackson has been challenging himself since he passed up an opportunity to study Business and Marketing at Manchester Metropolitan University to take a place on Sainsbury’s fast track management scheme at the tender age of 18.

18 year old Jackson in the newspaper on Sainsbury's fast track management scheme

Jackson in the Mirror newspaper

But it’s here at Co-op he admits he’s rediscovered his love of learning. “Coming in as a store manager, the past two and a half years has been a learning curve. That’s from a technical point of view learning the role and the way things are done by Co-op. And from a behaviour point of view having several teams and understanding what leadership styles work well.

“If I’m not in work I’ll be spending a good three or four hours a day on Ted Talks or reading self-development books, writing all the key points, trying to put them into practice in work. A lot of my friends call me sad for doing it but I really enjoy it. I’m trying to be the best I can.

Jackson’s development do’s

  1. Watch Ted Talks – you’ll learn some fascinating stuff about leadership
  2. Use LinkedIn to find lots of interesting articles, videos, links
  3. Brush up on your social media skills
  4. Get involved in groups outside your role within the business
  5. Network (online and offline)
  6. Push yourself and be tough (with yourself)
  7. Check out the Being a Co-op Leader Zone


“In my personal time I’ve been learning about body language and emotional intelligence. I really find that kind of stuff interesting. Non-verbal – what you can discover about people. 

“Anyone can be a leader but sometimes you have to try harder. I have to try harder because I’m dyslexic. Lots of people have disadvantages but as long as you work hard, anyone can achieve.”

Jackson on young people

“My generation need to understand that you have to work hard to get on. You have to make sacrifices and put that effort in. Push yourself out of your comfort zone.

“Young people have bags of potential. Some are just choosing not to harness it.”

Jackson Mills3

Jackson in his Kirkham store with local school children

Jackson on social media

“Using social tools like Twitter and Facebook is like having your own little brand campaign for your store.

“You not only build basket spend but increase footfall by reaching out to the community through social media.”

Jackson on Respect (LGBT +) network

“For the last two years I’ve organised Co-op’s representation at Blackpool Pride. 

“At first I had store managers saying: ‘I’m not going to that. Not because they’re in any way homophobic. They just thought it was for gay people. I said no it’s about showing your support for diversity. 

“In 2016 they all came to Blackpool Pride – it’s probably one of my proudest moments in Co-op. Along with just finding out I’ve been chosen as a Diversity and Inclusion Pioneer.”

Jackson gay pride

Jackson at the recent Blackpool Pride event

Jackson on the future

“The dream for me is absolutely to have a bigger influence in this business. I want to carry on with that community drive and I’d love to have that opportunity to do it on a bigger scale. It’s all about putting yourself out there.”

You can follow Jackson on Twitter @JacksonM_Retail

Join the conversation! 10 Comments

  1. You’re a prime example of what our generation (I’m 26) is lacking these days. Some, not all, young people expect things to be handed to them and they don’t have the drive, and sometimes the confidence, to go out and be proactive. From what I have read here, you seem like a great role model. Keep doing what you’re doing and you will go far.

    • I think you will find Jackson would be exceptional in any generation. Please don’t disparage those who can not be a super ladder climber every day of their lives. Many of us value our lives by things other than career achievements and media coverage.

  2. Glad everyone is enjoying Jackson’s words of wisdom. He’s a brilliant asset to our Co-op. ^Rachel

  3. Great article about Jackson. Had the pleasure of meeting Jackson on Monday at the first Diversity and Inclusion Pioneer session.

    Great share on your personal learning and development journey so far.

  4. very inspirational

  5. Thanks guys!

  6. Love this Jackson!! Amazing

  7. This is great Jackson! Well done 🙂

  8. great read Jackson Mills!

  9. Fantastic Jackson very inspirational and Love seeing all that you post On Twitter

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