Helen has worked in many operational and people roles across John Lewis and Waitrose (the two leading retail businesses of the Partnership), including Personnel Director for Waitrose from 2012-17.
Her present role leads the Registry Directorate – one of the unique parts of the largest co-owned business in Europe with 85,000 Partners. She is the “critical friend” of the Chairman and Executive, and she sits on the Partnership Board. In the written constitution of the Partnership, it states that “she must be completely open with the Chairman, and must tell him anything which he ought to know for the good of the Partnership.” She also acts as an ombudsman for the business and “seeks to ensure that the Partnership is true to its principles and compassionate to individual Partners.”
The Partnership has three governing authorities, unlike quoted companies – the Chairman, the Partnership Board and the Partnership Council. Helen is a member of the Council and leads the team which promotes and delivers the 500 different democratic bodies which allow Partners (the employees of the Partnership) to express their opinions about their business and hold leaders to account.
The Partnership prides itself on an inclusive culture where Partners can bring their whole selves to work and Helen, who is herself dyslexic, has been key in leading by example and working with leaders across the organisation to enable their teams to embrace difference of thinking. Her belief is that happy and engaged employees will always give better and more authentic customer service and build stronger relationships with suppliers, contractors and other external agencies.
She is a qualified coach within the Partnership and is working towards a Masters in Executive Coaching. She has been a trustee of a number of charities in the arts and natural sciences.