Vivian Woodell

Vivian Woodell

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 Capital conundrum

Workshop space

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 […]

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