Fifty years of friendship and finance – meet Anne Wilks

Today in our series of interviews we’re talking to a member of our current team. Anne Wilks joined ICOF in October 2012 and is our Transactional Services Manager.

“Until 2012, I’d always worked in private businesses. I knew finance but I didn’t know anything about co-ops at the time. The ‘desirable’ skills on the advert around the movement and lending made me doubt whether I should apply. However, I not only liked the feel of the job and what ICOF was doing, but I was also ready for a new challenge, so I thought, ‘Why not give it a try?”

I was surprised, happy and excited when I got the job. Alain was part of the recruiting panel and having his feedback helped me understand what ICOF was about. They were not only looking for somebody with finance skills but also needed somebody that would be involved and 100% committed: 11 years later, I am still surprised, happy and excited!

During my first years, the team was adamant about me going out networking, attending co-ops events, meeting various people, to make sense of it all. Now looking back, they were right. Until you meet and talk to people, and understand why they are in the movement or what being a co-operator means, it’s just not going to click.

At first, grasping the movement’s mission was confusing due to its various facets. I truly enjoy and appreciate co-ops networking events as I believe they inspire and motivate not only me, but everyone within the movement.

Working for ICOF means being in contact with others who share the same passion and are willing to share their knowledge, insights or provide stakeholders with unique opportunities. The latter led me to gladly volunteer for the newly formed, as a member of their Finance Committee. I admit, it will be my first commitment into another co-op, and I look forward to it.

I also volunteered to lead on ICOF’s mission towards Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) – we believe each one of us has a role to play in being actively curious, open-minded and respectful at all times. For us, it is a chance to share a common mission in order to act in the interest of our customers and members while continuously tackling inequalities. We all know every patron will be different, and it doesn’t matter whether it is a community asset organisation, whether it is in an affluent area or not, a women led organisation or a minoritised community. The reality is, will and should be this – the approach applied will be key to any future relationship.

Looking at the wider co-op movement, and knowing we are at the beginning stage of our individual journeys, I think we are still lacking in our actions towards EDI.

We are all thinking, me included, and talking about various aspects of EDI and the good intentions/ideas we have, but the reality is if these intentions and ideas are not translated into actions, they will not matter or have the desired impact. Talking about doing something and actually doing it are two very different affairs.

More than ever, we need to acknowledge the fact that it is easy to have lots of good ideas and express them, but what will always be vital is to remember that thinking, writing, discussing, and reading about something will never equate to truly doing it: practice is practice. Errors are inevitable during practice. Experiences, confidence, and efficacy will inevitably grow with practice. We become more structured with practice. More tolerance and humility come from practice.

Injustice and exclusion will not be properly and consciously addressed if EDI tasks are completed by checking a box. Leaders within the whole co-op movement, ICOF included need to meet, discuss and collectively find avenues to address and reverse the situation; if we, as a movement, are serious about EDI. This will mean: no floor crumbs, but a rightful place at the table.

Happy Birthday ICOF!

I would like to congratulate and thank all members of the Staff Team and the Board over the past 50 years. Without their resilience and commitment ICOF wouldn’t be 50 this year.”