By Mahalia Flasz, Asset Planner – Format and Innovation team (and Co-op Young Members’ Group representative on the National Members’ Council)
I recently got a fantastic new role in the Format and Innovation team at our Support Centre, having started my retail career a couple of years ago at the Co-op Franchise store at Newcastle University Student Union. Thanks to the support and advice from the Franchise team, I’m in a new role, building new relationships and learning so much about our business with a totally new set of eyes. I’d like to share my career journey with you, because in my short time working at Co-op, I’ve learned that our values and behaviours are so important – and they’re not just written on paper!
Growing my passion for Co-op
I started at the Co-op franchise store just before the first lockdown, whilst completing my masters degree. Working as a Customer Team Member throughout the pandemic was a huge learning opportunity – supporting customers and many of my fellow students through unprecedented times.
My passion for Co-op grew, not just from an operations perspective, but also anything and everything about the different ways we do business. I learnt more about my role in store and was soon promoted to Team Leader. By now, I was clear my personal beliefs totally aligned with Co-op’s, so I decided to reach out to expand my network and learn even more about our business and everything we stand for.
It all made perfect sense to me: the ethical approach to how we do business and at the same time how we do good for our colleagues, our communities and the planet – I could clearly see how all this is embedded in our Co-op behaviours. I realised Co-op don’t just talk about having these behaviours, they’re at the heart of what we do, our decision making and ingrained in how we run our business.
New opportunities and sharing my experience
I’ve learnt there’s always opportunity to grow and develop within Co-op – not just professionally, but personally too. Everybody I reached out to showed me their continued support and helped me to reach my goal of branching out from my Franchise store roots and work in the wider Co-op business.
With the support of my store’s Operations Manager, it wasn’t long before I moved from being a Team Leader in the franchise store to become an Asset Planner in the Co-op’s Format and Innovation team in Angel Square, working with lots of different stakeholders to produce computer aided design layouts for our shops.
It felt like a natural progression to move from franchise into the Support Centre, and a great two-way learning and sharing opportunity: the store roles gave me a foundation in retail and I’m now investing this into my ideas around design layouts in my new job; and at the same time I’m sharing my first-hand operational knowledge with my new colleagues in the Format and Innovation team.
Having the confidence to promote our values
Whilst working in store, I joined the Co-op Young Members’ Group to help be a voice for young people. I’ve recently led on a Fairtrade Fortnight project to engage students from university franchise stores about both Fairtrade and Co-op. This project was an amazing chance to talk to so many different teams both inside and outside of Co-op. I also spent time, with a Member Pioneer Co-ordinator, chatting to students and other university franchise store colleagues, about Fairtrade, Membership and what makes Co-op unique.
I’m really proud to be the Co-op Young Members’ Group representative on the National Members’ Council where I help provide another perspective on issues facing us. Through all these opportunities I’ll continue to learn more and develop new skills and I’m very excited to see what the future holds!
Click here to read more information about our Co-op Franchise stores. For more information about progressing your career at Co-op, visit our Career Development, Performance and Training pages on the Colleague Site.