By Amy-Jane Calder, Store Manager Selsey Road
I have a demanding day job but I also wanted to challenge myself, increase my experience and grow my network and career. So when my Regional Manager highlighted the opportunity to join a team of colleagues from all across the business on a fast-paced project, I jumped at the chance.
The Recognition Team launched the ‘Call For Talent’ for colleagues Grade E and above who met the criteria and could commit to a new challenge and grow their experience alongside their day job.
Successful colleagues would deliver a project the business had identified as a key opportunity – this was about adapting, solving problems and working together. The project was to develop and deliver a Co-op wide colleague recognition campaign for this winter (which you’ll hear more about very soon) and I really wanted to get involved.
I’ve always had a real passion for people and had been looking for ways to build my experience so it seemed perfect – it felt made for me. I was excited to be selected as I wanted a challenge, the chance to engage with leaders and work to tight deadlines – I certainly got those.
One of my first tasks was to work within a small team of six (who hadn’t met each other before) to gather ideas – understanding what was achievable and would work across one Co-op. Creating something with colleagues, for colleagues has been a real privilege. There’s so much passion and energy in the team to really show our colleagues how much we appreciate everything they’ve done this year.
We had to work together quickly to make it happen. From frontline colleagues in Food, Funeralcare and Nisa to support centre colleagues in social, digital and internal comms, I was straight in at the deep end speaking with people who, typically, I wouldn’t cross paths with. It was a steep learning curve understanding all the different teams and businesses, but it helped me expand my network and make great connections.
The biggest challenge of all was the pace. From generating ideas through to presenting a proposal to the Exec, we only had one and a half weeks! It was all hands on deck to meet the deadline and was a real eye opener at just how efficient we can be with the right mindset and a willingness to get stuck in.
Initially, I did wonder what I’d got myself into and how on earth I’d achieve everything. But it’s been the perfect way to prove exactly what I’m capable of and has really encouraged me to keep pushing myself. I’ve always wanted to work in the People function and this has given me first-hand experience of what they do.
I’ve met some wonderful people who all share the same passion to deliver great things in a meaningful way; I’ve had the chance to do things that are so different from my day job and it’s been so rewarding. I’m incredibly proud of everything we’ve achieved so far – you’ll start to see some of them very soon.
My advice to others would be to continue having career conversations with your line manager, but also to be empowered to own your own development. Make sure to keep looking on the Skills Sharing and Personal Growth Yammer page as there may be future skill-sharing opportunities and ways for you to get involved across all grades. I’d encourage you to jump at the chance if you can.