The 14th Employee Ownership Association (EOA) Annual Conference was held in Birmingham on the 18th and 19th November 2019, and was attended by Alan Paulley, Amy Taylor, George Towler and Claire Watson on behalf of Quintessa, an employee-owned company from its inception 20 years ago.
The conference celebrated 40 years of the EOA and boasted a record attendance of 715 delegates from over 220 companies. Companies in attendance came from across the employee ownership spectrum, from well-established employee-owned companies (such as the John Lewis Partnership) through to those in the early stages of exploring employee ownership.
Deb Oxley OBE (CEO, EOA) opened the conference and announced several exciting new training and leadership programmes designed specifically for the employee owned sector. Keynote speakers included Sir Charlie Mayfield (Chairman, John Lewis Partnership) and Jason Parker (Director, Make Architects), with a Q&A with Peter Lord & David Sproxton from Aardman Animations alongside their special guest Shaun the Sheep!
Over the two days delegates took part in 38 speed learning, networking and seminar sessions targeting all stages of the employee ownership business cycle. Session topics covered administration, communication, strategy, finance, best practice, and even a lively debate on whether employee ownership could be the right solution for the UK rail network!
This year all delegates were asked to provide a word that encapsulated what employee ownership means to them, with the words collected on a Building Blocks of Employee Ownership Wall – inclusive, innovative, collaborative, engaging, enduring, productive and family being just a few of the words collected. It was interesting to see the breadth of ways that employee ownership manifests itself in each organisation, and the Quintessa delegates enjoyed sharing ideas with other delegates and took away some suggestions to put into practice in Quintessa.