Helping colleagues reach their full potential with Claire Foster

Helping colleagues reach their full potential with Claire Foster

Hi, I’m Claire, COO HR Centre of Excellence here at The Midcounties Co-operative. To start with, here’s a bit about what led me to join The Midcounties Co-operative. I joined The Midcounties Co-operative in January 2021, so pretty much in the middle of Covid. It was a significant time for HR and I guess I saw the pandemic as a bit of an opportunity to make a move and try something new – although I’m sure most people thought I was a bit mad.

I have 20 years of experience working in HR, including working for Volvo Trucks for nine years. Previous to that, I worked in retail operations roles for Safeway, Morrisons and Superdrug, which means I know a bit about that side of the business too.

My role at The Midcounties Co-operative is quite broad, as I oversee recruitment, reward and wellbeing, diversity and inclusion, learning and development, HR management information and policies – so just a few things!

Outside of work I live with my two boys, aged 9 and 7, my husband, Mark and our cat Bear. At a weekend you’ll usually find me balancing spending time with the family, fitting in some exercise (usually me chasing the kids on their bikes whilst I am trying desperately to keep up running!) and catching up with friends for a walk with plenty of chat, a coffee or more likely a glass of wine! I also enjoy helping out at my kids’ Beavers and Cubs groups – I think it’s really important to get out there into my local community and help out where I can.

The Midcounties Co-operative's values align with my own

I love working for The Midcounties Co-operative because of the values that underpin the us and the variety of the job – both the variety in terms of the different people I work with and the different trading groups. The complexities of the different trading groups bring their own challenges, but it also makes the role really interesting. But fundamentally it’s the people you work with that make it a happy place to work. 

Recent projects and initiatives

From a systems point of view, we have just gone live with our financial wellbeing app, Wagestream, which gives colleagues the power to access their money as they earn it, build their savings and access financial wellbeing resources. Next week we are launching a digitalised right-to-work platform, which will improve the journey for candidates and hiring managers while ensuring we are legally compliant. 

We’re also looking at ways to support colleagues in their roles, starting with developing colleague learning journeys. The learning journeys will provide a structured approach to support the local onboarding process, helping colleagues feel more confident and capable in their new roles. We are also working on our new talent and succession approach, which will be embedded in 2024 to create more opportunities for colleague growth and movement across The Midcounties Co-operative.

There’s also lots of work going on around making The Midcounties Co-operative a more inclusive and diverse place to work. We’re looking at creating inclusion allies (colleagues with representation of the Protected Characteristics from the Equality Act 2010, covering things like age, disability, race, religion and sexual orientation) who can feed back to us on ways we could be more inclusive.

The best piece of advice I’ve ever been given is...

Don’t be afraid to put yourself in a situation or apply for a role that you don’t necessarily tick all the boxes for. So, even if you haven’t got experience in a particular area, don’t let that stop you, because actually, if you don’t try, you don’t know and you never know you still might learn something from it. If there’s an opportunity to get involved in a project or join a steering group that you might not feel that comfortable with, don’t stop yourself from giving it a go!

If you would like to take a look at our current opportunities visit yourcoopcareers.co.uk