It's been a real privilege
Ben Reid on his Co-op career
Published 7 Jul 2017
After 30 years at the Society, former CEO Ben Reid says he’s proud to prove that being a business with a conscience means you can still be a success
Former CEO Ben Reid believes the ‘innovative and bold’ Midcounties Co-operative will go from strength to strength and continue to prove that ‘being a business with a conscience you can still be a success’.
And he believes that with his successor, Phil Ponsonby, the organisation will be in ‘safe hands’ as Phil oversees Ben’s legacy of demonstrating that the co-operative business model works well in the modern retail world.
Asked how he’d like best to be remembered for his 40 years in the movement, Ben, 64, is clear: ‘That I’m a champion of the co-operative way of doing business and living your life.
‘Co-operation suits me. Everyone knows I don’t just act in this way because we have to – I believe in it.’
Once the youngest CEO in the co-operative movement, and the longest-standing board director, Ben says one highlight was being presented with the Queen’s Award for Enterprise in Sustainable Development by Her Majesty at Buckingham Palace 18 months ago.
‘We went from not existing to the Queen congratulating us on our performance in little more than a decade,’ says Ben, who will now be exploring other interests.
But he will still be involved in co-operative matters, representing the UK on the International
Co-operative Alliance Board.
‘I’ll use the knowledge of the UK movement I have built up over the years to support the development of the Movement around the world,’ says Ben, who also plans to continue as Chair of the Shrewsbury and Telford NHS Trust and Deputy Chair of Wolverhampton University.
He urges Midcounties members to continue to hold the CEO and Board to account, saying: ‘I’ve absolutely loved the relationship with our members. The meetings are what really fired me up, with committed co-operators challenging me, asking questions. They’ve been respectful to me, I’ve tried to be respectful of them – and I hope they keep the future management on their toes!
‘In Phil, I’ve been able to hand over to someone who lives and breathes the same values, and I know the Society is in good hands.
‘It’s been a real privilege to lead this organisation. When I started out I could never have imagined I’d lead an organisation that so many people are so proud to work for. It’s a pinch-yourself moment when I think “How did I do that?”’