CEO, Phone Co-op Foundation for Co-operative Innovation
Vivian Woodell is Chief Executive of the newly launched Phone Co-op Foundation for Co-operative Innovation, which aims to fill a gap in provision by providing strategic co-operative development, supporting infrastructure such as secondary co-ops that remove obstacles, enabling co-operatives to start and grow more quickly.
Prior to stepping down last year to launch the Foundation, he was Chief Executive of The Phone Co-op, one of the UK’s most innovative and successful new co-operative enterprises which he founded in 1998. The Phone Co-op, owned and controlled by its consumer members, built a profitable business with 30,000 telephone and Internet customers, over 70 employees, and an annual turnover of £12 million. In June 2018 it merged with The Midcounties Co-operative, bringing it together with their successful Co-operative Energy business, creating a new co-operative utilities player.
The Phone Co-op’s success was built on a radically different ethos from most telecoms businesses, putting customer-owners at the centre of the way the business is run. Its members also provided all the capital the business needed. The Phone Co-op’s ethics, driven by members, also included a focus on all stakeholders including colleagues and the environment.
Vivian is also an elected director, and Vice President of The Midcounties Co-operative, one of the UK’s largest independent retail co-operatives with a turnover of over £1bn, where he also served as President for eight years, and currently serves on the Utilities Committee, the board subcommittee which oversees the new combined business. He is a the board member of Co-operatives UK and has served as a member of the Senate and National Members’ Council at The Co-operative Group, and is a founder and board member of West Oxfordshire Community Transport, which launched in 2017.
Prior to starting The Phone Co-op, Vivian had no background in telecoms, but had worked extensively in the co-operative movement. His earlier roles include: Executive Director of the Social Economy Consortium, which managed Co-operative and Social Economy development projects in Central and Eastern Europe, and Project Manager with the European Social Economy Information Network, ARIÉS. In the past he has served as a board member of CECOP (the European Confederation of Worker Co-operatives), as a member of the executive of CICOPA (the equivalent global body, part of the International Co-operative Alliance) and as a trustee of Co-operative and Community Finance.
The dominant platforms, like Uber and AirBnb were able to use millions of dollars to get to scale. But, without venture capital, what can platform co-ops do to match their growth? In this session, Vivian Woodell, ex CEO of The Phone Co-op and now head of The Foundation for Co-operative Innovation, will lead an open […]