By Jane Watts
I was elected onto The Phone Co-op Board at the last election and started my new role in February at the AGM.
Becoming more involved with The Phone Co-op represented a 'return to my roots', as I had been very active in all kinds of co-operative businesses earlier in my career and now had some time to commit again to an ethical business in more than a member/customer role.
I was surprised and pleased to be elected, as there was a strong field of candidates; this was already a good sign as it's definitely an indicator of a strong democracy when you have a number people willing to stand for the Board. It is hard work, and I have learned a lot, but it is also rewarding to be part of a strong Society and forward looking business. We have had some exciting times this year, including the purchase of a building for the new head office, and winning the award for Growing Co-op of the year.
The board has an important overview role and is accountable to members; I was and remain determined to use my position to represent as far as possible those members who are not technically 'up there' with new telecoms and IT developments - making sure that our co-operative meets their needs. I'm still trying to do that at the same time as increasing my own skills around telecommunications - I am now an enthusiastic Fairphone user but still need to learn more. It has been good to see membership increase this year.
One impressive thing about the Society is the way that it works across the whole co-operative movement and invests seriously in the development of new co-operatives.
As a Board we are also trying to make sure that the ethical behaviour of the Society matches our high aims and ambitions; stressing the importance of constant improvement. There are challenging times ahead in an uncertain economy and it will be our job to hold steady, take some risks and continue to support the staff in growing the business.