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.
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.
“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 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 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