Scott Bennett will admit there’s a real possibility he might be sharing his 50-year Co-op anniversary story with us in 2048. Since the age of 13 he’s been working for us. Here he shares his career journey and some of his top tips on how to ‘get on’ in our Co-op.
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I always wanted to be a store manager when I was younger. I used to shop in the Co-op with my mum and they always made a fuss of me.
Then I started a paper round at 13 and had such a good time working there I never wanted to leave.
Three years later I was put on payroll stacking shelves. At 18 I became a Team Leader, but looking back I was still learning how to talk to people then. People skills come with experience.
It was really difficult to leave the store in Flixton as it felt like family to me but I moved to Taylor’s Rd almost to test myself. It was really challenging – a different community I didn’t know. But I just felt – these are the opportunities and you just have to grab them.
Onwards and upwards with Respect
In Taylor’s Rd we had a manager who was about to run a new store in Manchester. We were putting produce out together one day and I thought: I’d love to get into a high profile store, I’m going to ask her if there any roles going. So I did. That was about six years ago.
Then I started doing a lot of work with Respect, the Co-op’s LGBT+ network, so that linked me up with what was happening in One Angel Square, our support centre. It really opened doors as I was dealing with people across all of our businesses.
After a while I applied to become a Team Manager, went for my assessment, got a high mark but didn’t get the job.
For the first time in my career at the Co-op I felt there was a blocker there. I just thought – ‘How can I progress and have a career that I really want?’ At the time I thought I might as well just work for Aldi but a friend I’d made through Respect told me about a job going in store support dealing with operational queries coming from colleagues on the phones – he helped me apply.
Moving from a very physical job to sitting down thinking and responding was really difficult for the first couple of months and I thought – is this for me?
I did that role for about a year but didn’t feel like it was challenging me enough. I was asked if I wanted to move over to customer support. That was a higher role band and was really challenging as it’s rare you get someone phoning up to say they love the Co-op!
Social media starts here
One day my Team Manager asked me to look after social media complaints. At that time I didn’t even have a Twitter account so I went on to see how other retailers were responding.
Three weeks in and I just thought, I absolutely hate this – it’s not something I’m enjoying. Then I met Jordan from the Social media team. We were always linked up and when he asked me to deal with something that came in, I’d be on the case and get back to him quickly.
Three Social Media Community Manager roles came up in his team and I was starting to think – I’m going over the rainbow with this. I’ve gone from hating it to thinking it’s not too bad to loving it.
This job was two role bands higher and I was convinced I wasn’t going to get it – there were people applying with social media and marketing degrees.
Before I submitted my application I asked if I could go for a brew with Gail, the Head of Digital Engagement, to ask a few questions. Little things like that can make a big difference when you’re going for a job.
Learning on the job
As community managers we make sure that everything coming through our social channels from Facebook to YouTube is dealt with appropriately so that customers, colleagues and members are being listened and responded to.
It needs to be in the moment – it’s not about responding in five days. Our colleague community has grown on Colleague Facebook – it’s now 20,000. Working closely with our Colleague Comms team it shows that we’re giving our colleagues the right content.
At one point I couldn’t even send a tweet and now I’m running social media campaigns. I’ve been on a few training courses but I’ve learnt a lot on the job, and picked up a massive amount from my team.
There’s not a manual on how to be a good people person or how to progress. It’s about being yourself.
I’ve always been positive. Sometimes people find that unnerving – they’re a bit like – is that real? But if you don’t have that outlook on life then it drags you down and everyone else around you. Have a laugh and smile – that gets you far.