Justin Cooper was with Capita, later Link Market Services (formerly Capita Asset Services), for nearly two decades. In May Justin retired as ceo, and is now studying for a Financial Times non-executive director diploma. He was a staunch ally of the Centre nationally and internationally.
In what ways does employee share ownership serve a useful purpose?
For me, it’s the fundamentals of aligning the interests of the employer with the employee – owning a ‘share’ of the company gives employees a tangible feeling of belonging. For companies, it’s the obvious upside of having a workforce that’s engaged and is likely to work harder.
How can we widen and deepen the adoption and use of employee share ownership?
The corporate world seems full of companies that seem to understand that having a purpose helps engage employees and sharing in the company vision does the same. As part of this drive, I wonder if there is a way to promote the link to employee share ownership better?
What do you think will change about employee share ownership over the next five years?
I see the continuing expansion of the global business environment – and as such more use of global share plans that have design features that link employees irrespective of which country they work in. Closer to home, it is inevitable that Brexit will change the way that UK companies do business – it is possible that markets will become more difficult and competitive advantage will be amplified… I wonder whether there is a place here for employee ownership to help companies achieve this advantage by having a more engaged workforce.
What has been the most important development in employee share ownership during your career?
I grew up with Sharesave, but the Share Incentive Plan was the largest change during my career. I was working at Proshare at the time SIP was introduced and to be involved in promoting wider employee share ownership at that point was very interesting. To see this stock plan become complementary and not competing against the option plan of Sharesave was satisfying.
Why do you think employee share ownership has enjoyed cross-party support in the UK?
Again, this has to be about company/employee alignment – this is desirable irrespective of politics!
What is your idea of perfect happiness?
I never do well at these types of questions…..perfect happiness is family & health perhaps with a good bottle of wine, a round of golf in good company, Brighton winning a football game!
What do you consider your greatest achievement?
Finding Jennifer, my wife, and managing to stay married to her for 17 years!
Which living person do you most admire?
A difficult one as you normally don’t get asked for the person to have to be living! But on that criteria Steven Spielberg – one of the most influential personalities in the history of cinema.
Which word or phrases do you most overuse?
I think, like a lot of people, I am transient with phrases and use some a lot for a period and then move onto to something else. At the moment I catch myself saying ‘Charli Come’ multiple times a day – but that’s more about the fact that I have a six-month old English Springer spaniel who’s a bit lively!
What is your most treasured possession?
At this point I would probably have to say my Brighton & Hove Albion season ticket – so many years in the wilderness and now to play in the Premier League!