Appointed CEO following the launch of Welbee’s in 2021, Jonathan Shaw harnesses the wealth of experience from the company’s founder shareholders that drove its component supermarket brands to original success.
“Until March of 2021 – prior to the merger within our group – the shareholders managed the day-to-day supermarket operations with a hands-on approach,” he explains. “While there were a few structural differences between them, each supermarket’s owner was heavily involved in leading the business from a dedicated location. This engaged leadership style – with its hard work and awareness – worked. Over the years the founders in question grew small family-owned grocery outlets into fully fledged supermarkets. As the sector itself is hugely competitive, complex and dynamic, with many moving parts, the business leadership story is clear: roll up your sleeves, work hard, be passionate and the results will come.”
The merger to become Welbee’s, however, presented both challenges and opportunities, with so many shareholders and styles to unite. “It was a total gamechanger,” says Jonathan. “The brand’s footprint grew overnight, and we could see a synergetic effect in market penetration. Yet, it involved restructuring the company, and required the shareholders to move away from the daily operation of their businesses. Although most changes are good changes, change is always change.”
Jonathan reflects on the pros and cons of a step such as this one. “The passion and drive of a founder is unique, yet there are times when founder CEOs are better off stepping out from leading the dayto-day. It means they can direct their energy and passion towards other areas that can benefit the organisation.”
With his own diverse career across event management, TV production, marketing, online travel and retail, Jonathan shares one key aspect of effective long-term leadership: adaptability to change. “Any leader that doesn’t evolve and grow has a shelf life. Great leaders should aim to make themselves redundant. This mindset alone pushes them to evolve out of their comfort zone and, in doing so, make space for others to grow and fill the gap they leave. Change is the only constant in life, so effective leadership is one that drives change to address current and future challenges.”
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