EOA Network Focus: South East

By Jamie Pyper, EOA South East Regional Network Coordinator

It’s YOUR Network

Becoming a member of the EOA seemed like a natural step for Conscious Business People (CBP). We were already employee owned and were working closely with other companies transitioning towards becoming employee owned, so, five years ago, we joined this hugely supportive and inspiring business community.

We naturally wanted to be more involved once we became a member and were delighted to be asked to lead the coordination of the EOA Regional Network in the South East. This was a couple of years ago now and the Network is going from strength to strength.

Our quarterly meetings are opportunities for members to unlock the benefits of being our community and are typically centred around developing strong working relationships and supporting one another to learn about all aspects of creating, transitioning and running employee owned businesses. Advice comes from those people who are already involved in an employee owned company, as well as from experts who specialise in typical EO challenges.

We host the meetings in central London once a quarter with the kind support of EOA members. Alden at Arup for example, not only hosted our launch party and two subsequent meetings, but also offered Arup as venue hosts once a year. FieldFisher, RSM, the John Lewis Partnership, OPM and CH2M have all hosted events, supplying the space and refreshments for groups of usually around 50 members to attend. It’s this sort of collaborative spirit that underpins the EOA Networks – and employee ownership.

We run meetings earlier in the week, normally from 3.30pm to around 7pm and the format usually incorporates a workshop or panel, networking time (sometimes in the pub afterwards!) and the use of ‘Open Space’, which enables everyone to participate in a conversation they want or need to have with other members.

We therefore encourage everyone to think about key issues they want to discuss beforehand which they can pose to the rest of the group. We aim to maximise interactivity between members and give everyone something useful to take away with them, whether it’s a new relationship, an answer to a problem, insights into a challenge or simply a sense of being a part of something bigger. The feedback to date has been extremely positive.

But there is only so much we can achieve in a few hours once a quarter and I believe we can do more to liberate the potential we hold as a community. We are a membership-run network, with the EOA providing valuable support and administration, but it’s up to us to make it work for us… and when I say ‘us’, I mean ‘you’!

Looking to the future, I’d like all EOA members based in the South East to take a couple of minutes, use their creativity and engage in a little exercise. Please consider your answers to the following questions:

  • What would your organisation like from the network? Support, business, collaboration?
  • Who else in your organisation would benefit from attending meetings?
  • What could your offer the network? Host a network meeting? Create a regular meeting for members around a specific interest? Just meet in the pub once a month? Sponsor an event, maybe around EO Day for example? Offer a free service or taster to other members? Volunteer time towards the running of the Network? Just get involved somehow?

If you have answers or thoughts about any of these, please get in touch on jamie@cbp-uk.com or 07769 882245. I’d love to talk to you about how we can work together to grow the Network and enhance its impact.