EOA announces new Chief Executive to lead growth and transformation plan

The EOA has recruited a new Chief Executive to lead the EOA through its ambitious transformation and growth plan.

James de le Vingne, who has spent the past 5 years leading the Development Unit at Cooperatives UK, will join the EOA in February 2022.

The search for a new CEO began back in August when current EOA Chief Executive Deb Oxley OBE announced that she would be stepping down from her role at the EOA after 9 years – 3 as Membership Director and 6 as CEO.

James, whose work at Cooperatives UK includes establishing the Ownership Hub in partnership with the EOA, joins the as the association passes the 500 corporate membership milestone, with the sector seeing its largest growth ever with more than 730 businesses. He will lead the EOA’s transformation programme and delivery of its strategy to ensure its future sustainability and continued growth and influence.

Deb played an active role in the process to identify her successor, which was led by EOA Chair, Chris McDermott, and the Nominations Committee of the EOA Board. The EOA Membership Council was also involved and the whole process was supported by specialist employee-owned search agency, Perrett Laver, and change consultants Telos.

The EOA’s new Chair Chris Mc Dermott and President Patrick Lewis were appointed earlier in 2021, bringing new strategic leadership to the EOA Board.

James will build on the legacy of Deb’s tenure at the EOA which saw the association double its number of members and creating relationships that have helped drive both the success of the EOA and the growth of the employee ownership sector.  Her legacy includes a series of signature events, a national enquiry and report, the Ownership Dividend, a National Strategy for Employee Ownership, and a partnership with Cooperatives UK on the #1MillionOwners campaign, which is seeking to grow the number of employees that have a stake and say in the business in which they work to one million by 2030. The latter two has seen James work in partnership with the EOA in his role at Cooperatives UK.

The partnership is also responsible for the launch of a new regional programme of growth in employee and worker ownership, the Ownership Hub, with the first region being announced in Sheffield.

James de le Vingne said: “I am thrilled to be joining the EOA at this time of great growth and opportunity.  Employee ownership is a great fit for today’s economy: collaborative, innovative and rooted in our communities.

“This winning formula, which provides employees with a stake and say in the workplace, has captured the imagination of business owners across the UK and I’ve been struck by their energy and enthusiasm of the model and the positive impact it delivers. This is evident in the EOA’s growing membership and new regional initiatives such as an emerging network of Ownership Hubs.

“I look forward to joining the exceptional team and working with members to seize the political, economic and digital opportunities to grow the EO sector and maximise the impacts it can have on individuals, businesses and the economy.”

EOA Chair Chris McDermott, who is also MD of the 1:1 Diet by Cambridge Weight Plan, said:

“James joins the EOA at a really exciting time. His experience at Cooperatives UK and previous roles prepares him well for the challenge of delivering on our new strategy and transforming the association to support the needs of our growing membership.

“This new era of growth for the EOA needs someone like James with the values, ambition, and acumen to innovate unrivalled value for members, advocate and champion employee ownership and ensure influence and impact in the policy space.”

Deb Oxley OBE, Chief Executive of the EOA said:

“I am delighted to welcome James as the EOA’s new Chief Executive.  He brings the vision, ambition, and energy to ensure that both the EOA and the EO sector grow and develop for future generations of employee owned businesses.

“It has been the greatest honour and pleasure of my career to date to lead the EOA as its Chief Executive.

“In James’ hands supported by a brilliant team of colleagues, a superbly qualified Board, and an engaged and supportive group of members and stakeholders – the opportunities are both substantial, and entirely within the EOA’s grasp.”