What attracted me to the Partnership?
What do you think about when you think of John Lewis? Apart from shopping, I think about words like trust and quality. I’ll admit, I didn’t immediately think “somewhere for me to work” and if you had asked me about who worked at John Lewis or Waitrose last year, I’d have talked about the people on the shop floor. So, I’ll be really honest with you: when I drew up my initial list of grad schemes to apply to, the John Lewis Partnership (or JLP – we do like our acronyms around here) didn’t even occur to me. However, here I am…
I stumbled across the JLP grad scheme when I was googling schemes to apply to and ended up reading this. JLP, it transpired, is a business unlike any other. First things first: if you are employed by JLP, you are a co-owner of JLP. This came about thanks to our amazing founder, John Spedan Lewis – I’ll not go into the detail here, but do take a look at the link to learn a bit more about him and what he did.
I learned that what this means for employees (or Partners, as we’re called), is a share in the profits and lots of say over how our business is run, as well as the responsibilities of running a huge business covering general merchandise, groceries and finance. We have a really democratic structure with plenty of opportunities for Partners to express their views. I’ve mainly worked in very small companies until now, where I’ve always had access to senior management, so I really value the ability to share my experiences and help the company grow. To put this in context, by our second day in the Partnership the 2016 grads were presenting to members of the senior leadership team, who were not merely interested in what we had to say – they asked for written summaries, so they could action some of our ideas.
I understood that being a co-owner would make my work more meaningful, but I still wanted to feel like more than just a worker bee. JLP has that covered too: there are plenty of opportunities to have fun, whether you need a holiday, fancy joining Wine Club or can’t quite afford that expensive gig ticket.
This all stems from the first of the seven Principles in our Constitution – the ultimate purpose of JLP is “the happiness of all its members, through their worthwhile and satisfying employment in a successful business”. I’ve worked for a fair few different businesses and no one else has ever told me that my happiness is this important (although note HOW we’re made happy – the business needs to be successful to survive!). I also really liked the references to integrity, courtesy and honour in some of the other principles.
By this point I was pretty hooked – the Partnership really aligns with my own, personal values. However, I’m ambitious, too, and wanted to know what my future would look like in JLPs hands. No surprise, there’s a huge focus on training and development – something that has definitely been emphasised since I’ve joined. I’m pretty excited about my future at JLP – as a person, as well as a Partner – and if you feel the same way, then it’s time to apply!