Working for purpose is how Leanne Hawes has approached her work at Lloydminster and District Co-op (Lloyd Co-op) for nearly a decade.
It's also how this Lakeland College business alumna will continue to approach her work as the organization’s new chief executive officer (CEO).
“It’s truly about putting your best foot forward to service your organization and being a collaborative team player,” says Hawes, Class of 2007. “I feel confident and so proud to work alongside the team we have. They bring a lot of knowledge and expertise to the table.”
While it’s a historic milestone for the organization and a professional achievement for Hawes, she’s focused on the work ahead of the diversified co-operative retailer she’s at the helm of. During her first few months as CEO, Hawes broke ground on a fourth gas bar in Lloydminster and celebrated Lloyd Co-op’s placement in the 42nd spot on Saskatchewan Business Magazine’s Top 100 SK Business List, among other achievements.
“We’re always exploring opportunities for growth, which could include new locations, new offerings or pairing some of our commodities – like agriculture and fuel – to give better service to our members,” says Hawes. “It’s about understanding where we’re going, being ahead of that curve, then doing the best to really serve the membership.
“As a co-operative, one of the benefits we have – and it’s been said several times – is purpose over profit. It’s not that profit isn’t important in terms of maintaining a healthy business and giving back to the members, but oftentimes we get to consider the purpose of a project versus just the profit.”
Hawes’ business acumen and passion for the co-operative’s values began when she first started working in Lloyd Co-op’s marketing and development office. She then became the vice president of operations where she managed construction projects valued at over $30 million, oversaw the grocery and gas bar divisions, and supported sales growth from $80 million annually to over $154 million for the fiscal year ending January 2019.
Prior to joining the co-operative, Hawes worked in broadcasting, sales, and finance. Her growing interest for business was sparked, so she enrolled in Lakeland’s business administration diploma program as an adult student.
“I could pull a shining moment from every one of my instructors. Whether it was a pivotal moment in my career moving forward or truly just a little gem that I reflect on every now and again, they were all instrumental,” she says, listing Doreen Der and the late Phil Allen as examples. “I loved every part of my experience.”
While becoming CEO of a multimillion-dollar organization was not her end goal when she started her studies at Lakeland – let alone becoming the first female CEO
within the co-operative retailing system – Hawes is humbled by the opportunity.
“I carry a lot of pride in my work and certainly in my relationships, but my efforts have never been about status. There’s a saying we truly believe in here at Lloyd Co-op, and it’s this: lead without the title. If you can get your team into a position where everybody’s contributing and they’re appreciated for their efforts, to me that’s the larger success. It’s about team success, not individual success,” she says.
“I hope there are more females who recognize this as an opportunity to balance business and family, and to go for it in terms of the position based on your expertise and your skill set.”
Photos: From top, Leanne Hawes hit the ground running as the first female CEO within the co-operative retailing system (photo credit: Joanna Marie Photography ); Nicole Clow, Saskatchewan Summer Games manager (left), Hawes and Cindy Rekimowich, Saskatchewan Summer Games host society vice-chair (right) announce funding of $140,000 through Co-op Community Spaces program for the resurfacing of the track at Armstrong Field in Lloydminster, in June 2019 (photo credit: Lloydminster and District Co-op); and Norm Namur of the Lloydminster Rescue Squad, Hawes, former fire chief Jordan Newton of Lloydminster Fire Department (centre right), and deputy fire chief Aaron Buckingham of the RM of Brittania (right) gathered in August 2018 to launch Lloyd Co-op’s Cup of Caring program. This program offers all uniformed first responders a free cup of coffee at any Lloyd Co-op gas bar location (photo credit: Lloydminster and District Co-op).