Challenge your career and make a difference at the Co-op

590 words approx. 2.5 minutes to read

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I’ve always worked in retail. I started my career as a team member and have worked my way up the career ladder ever since.

I joined the Co-op in 2012 to make a real difference with the desire to become an area manager.

Before Co-op I worked at a couple of the large UK retailers. When I was approached and asked if I would like to join the Co-op I was excited. I had had my eye on the Co-op for some time, as salary wasn’t the only important thing I had to think about; the Co-op offered me flexibility, a better work/life balance, plus opportunity for me to grow too.

Facing challenges

I think I joined the Co-op at its most interesting time. In 2012 the company was going through lots of changes but I could see how determined my new colleagues were to get things back on track.

I spent a few years working in a number of different stores and formats and my experience enabled me to lead my team through the changes the Co-op faced.

No matter what challenges we faced, I’ve always made sure the customer and our communities we serve were at the heart of everything we do.

Developing my career

In 2017 I achieved my goal of becoming an area manager. I now manage a team of 20 store managers, ranging from 1 month to 40 years’ experience. Some need my support more than others and it’s great that I can put myself in their shoes. However I rarely give them the answer but instead empower them to make their own decisions.

Being an area manager brings new challenges, one of which is the loneliness you can feel at times due to the time spent traveling alone around your area, but don’t get me wrong I love my job!

I’ve had to develop a wider understanding as to why we’re doing things – thinking about the risks and the strategic commerciality. This means making some difficult decisions at a commercial level. But I can deliver plans in my own way and there’s a real element of freedom.

Membership and community

The membership proposition makes me proud. Being able to personally hand cheques over to local causes in my area is exciting, plus my team really are #BeingCoop by getting involved with food banks, homeless charities and drop in centres in their area. Personally, I have young children and I’m passionate about working with disadvantaged children so I get involved with the school and nursery causes in my area.

The future

I love my job. Eventually, I’d love to progress and move into a regional manager position, but I also feel I have the option to move outside of an operational store role if I wish. My skills and experience lend myself to all sort of opportunities within the Co-op, of which there are many. It’s fantastic that movement across the Co-op is encouraged too.

Why join us?

If you’re looking for a different challenge in your career and you really want to make a difference then the Co-op is the place.

There is lots going on in 2018 alone – new stores opening, refits, store enhancements and operational improvements – and there’s always something to get involved in. My advice is to think about what your personal and career development looks likes – the Co-op can help you get where you want, just like it has with me.

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Carmelo La Gambina,
Co-op Area Manager – Bath, Bristol and Cotswolds region