They Advocate: We Progress (Part Two)

Throughout the month of March, our Gender Equality Network have been celebrating Women’s History Month with other Partners (employees) through their campaign ‘They Advocate: We Progress’.

As part of these celebrations – which will continue through to the end of May – they brought together inspiring women from across the Partnership, who lead with equality in mind and asked them to share their own personal career journeys and progression stories. 

In this three part blog series, we’ll be sharing their stories with you in the hope that they can begin to inspire you on your own career path too. Once you’ve read through part one below, head back to part one or head over to part three to hear from more of our inspiring Partners. 

Hannah, Waitrose Branch Manager & Partnership Gender Equality Network Lead

“I started my Partnership career behind the deli counter at a particular Waitrose branch almost 22 years ago when I was 16. I have gone full circle and I am now back at the same location as the Branch Manager having worked in various roles and in different branches along the way. My progression to date has not been an easy road, sometimes you have to face rejection to spur you on to further successes. The most challenging part of my career was when I was attempting to move into the role of a Deputy Branch Manager, it was a long process but one day I received a positive phone call to say I’d been successful and that’s when my career pivoted. I worked with an incredible team and was supported by some wonderful Male allies from here to now that have made me feel like anything is possible. 


“You have to face rejection to spur you on to further successes.”


A woman I have absolute admiration for is my Nan, who is sadly no longer with us. She taught me a lot about life and how to be a good human. She was a woman who wanted to work however there was an expectation upon her to stay home and care for all 4 of her children, whilst my Grandad worked and did little to support her in managing the home. Both my Nan and I spoke about this biassed culture many times over the years and I learnt how headstrong she was as she made it clear that she wanted her independence along with her caring responsibilities. 

My advice to anybody who is experiencing blockers in their progression is to not give up and ensure you seek out the support and allies around you. There are some incredible women in our organisation and it’s crucial that our customers and our Partners see themselves represented across our Partnership. The talent of the future will be outstanding if we recognise how important representation is. Everyday as a Branch Manager and as a Co-Lead of the Partnership Gender Equality Network, a wife to my wife and as a Mum to 2 young children, I try to agitate and educate why this is so important. We all have a responsibility to be ‘inclusive’ and recognising women and our roles we can play in this is going to be critical for the success of our business.”


Berangere, Executive Director Finance

“My career so far is a mix of luck (good and bad!) and hard work, sprinkled with a touch of magic from the people along the way who taught me most of what I know. 

I started as an Accounting Trainee and I am now Chief Financial Officer (CFO) but the journey from one to the other is not a straight one: I have worked in 3 companies, 3 industries and across many disciplines from Finance and Strategy to Customer Service, Transformation and Logistics. After 16 years in the Partnership, I definitely have the retail buzz and a strong belief in co-ownership. As a woman, I have found that having sponsors and coaches along the way really help you boost your career by challenging certain biases and prejudices – yours and others. The woman I’ve admired the most in my life is my mother, who sadly is not with us anymore. She was the first woman in our family to get the equivalent of GCSEs, to get a job, and to make it a career, when home life was hard, money was scarce, the pressures of being a daughter/wife/sister/mother were very strong, and she wasn’t that academic. Her willpower and kindness were second to none. Amongst many other things, she taught me the importance of independence and self-belief. I have her in my thoughts everywhere I go. 


“As a woman, I have found that having sponsors and coaches along the way really help you boost your career.”


My advice for those looking to progress would be to understand yourself well enough so you open your mind to possibilities and prepare yourself for the next role as best you can, to take yourself out of your comfort zone (the worst that could happen is not as bad as you fear) and to meet as many people as you can, as all kinds of doors can open when you do. Women in particular tend to underestimate their capabilities and seek perfection; my advice would be – just go for it.”


Catherine, Head of Data Products & Platforms

“I joined the Partnership 18 years ago as a graduate trainee and have worked in Waitrose Branches and Head Office. During my time in the Partnership I have had a range of roles as well as a Golden Jubilee Trust (GJT) secondment. The GJT role made me realise I had an interest in Data and information and how it inputs into decision making and idea generation. Each of these experiences has helped me progress my career and broaden my skills and experience. Even the things that don’t go well are valuable as you take something from them.


“Even the things that don’t go well are valuable as you take something from them.”


Seeking out and taking opportunities like the GJT or moving sideways into a new area has been my approach to progression and driving my career. The key thing I have learnt is to look out for things you are interested in and explore transferable skills or take on something outside your day job to grow your breath of experience. I have never had anyone in the Partnership say no to an introduction and request to find out more about their career or the field they work in.”


As part of a three blog series, you can hear from more inspiring Partners in parts one and three. Click here for part one. Click here for part three.



Find out more about careers in the John Lewis Partnership at

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