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Dame Pauline Green
Trader Column
Written by Supporters Direct & RamsTrust Board Member Elaine Dean   
Thursday, October 29 2009
Dame Pauline Green

When Brian Lomax announced that he would be retiring as Chair of Supporters Direct at the 2009 Annual Conference, it left the organisation with a conundrum.

Just how do you find a new Chair to lead when the previous Chairs have been the iconic Brian Lomax and Rt. Hon Andy Burnham MP?

There were a lot of people who were retiring from senior paid positions in the Co-op Movement nationally – maybe one of them would relish the retirement challenge of fronting SD? Graham Bennett - Chair of the Co-op Bank, David Gibson – Chair of the Co-op College, David Anderson – Chief Executive of the Co-operative Bank and Dame Pauline Green – Chief Executive of Co-operatives UK.

Supporters Direct is itself a co-operative and so are all the trusts of which it is the umbrella body. SD is affiliated to Co-operatives UK and has a Secretary ‘loaned’ by the Co-operative Group. I firmly believed that the next Chair of SD should come from within the Co-operative Movement itself.

I just happen to sit on two boards with Dame Pauline, the Co-op College Governors and the Co-operative Press. I’ve seen at first hand her dynamic personality, her understanding of extremely complex financial issues, her excellent contributions to board meetings and perhaps above all, the respect in which everyone holds her – even after almost ten years at the top of the Movement.

It’s rare to find a boss so well regarded – perhaps even more so when that boss is an assertive and high flying woman.

Born in Malta, Pauline later lived in north London where she did secretarial work and then joined the Metropolitan Police. She said that it was working on the beat and witnessing first hand the cycle of those caught in poverty turning to crime that turned her into a socialist.

In 1971 she married a fellow police constable (who later became a Police Commander in Brent) and had two children and subsequently studied for various degrees.

She became very active in politics and became an MEP for London in 1989 and then Leader of the Socialist Group of MPs in 1994.

In 2000 she gave up politics to become the first female Chief Executive of the Co-operative Union – which in the space of a few years she transformed into a dynamic umbrella body for hundreds of co-operatives and called it Co-operatives UK.

She was awarded the DBE in 2003. Her entire career can be read in detail at

It was back in January of this year, after a College Governors meeting that I asked her if she was interested in joining me (the only elected female) on the board of SD in her 'retirement' and to my surprise she said yes. She spoke enthusiastically of it as a ‘young co-operative’ and highly of the Chief Executive, Dave Boyle.

Thus began the process that saw her elected to the Board of SD in October 2009 and my fellow board members (and they were all fellows) had the confidence to unanimously vote her as the new Chair to lead us forward.

The Trader column is for individual members of RamsTrust to put their point of view across in the media. Although the views will not contravene the principles of the trust, the views expressed are entirely personal to the author and do not necessarily represent RamsTrust policy.

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