Nina joined the John Lewis Partnership in February 2020 as Executive Director, Strategy & Commercial Development. She is responsible for a number of functions in the Partnership: strategy & portfolio, data analytics & insight, sustainability & ethics, partnerships, corporate communications and operating model. Since joining, Nina has led the development of the new Partnership Plan against the backdrop of the pandemic. The plan is ‘purpose-led’, leverages the strength of Waitrose and John Lewis – two of Britain’s best-loved brands – and seeks growth in complementary areas such as financial services, housing, outdoor living and the circular economy.
Prior to joining the Partnership, Nina was the MD of Hive, one of Europe’s largest connected home businesses and part of Centrica. Before this, she led one of British Gas’s home services businesses, delivering electrical and plumbing/drainage repairs to millions of homes. Nina was a Partner at McKinsey for over 10 years working with clients in the consumer, energy, healthcare and public sectors. She sits on the board of Domestic & General, owned by CVC, as a NED and until February 2021 was on the Advisory Board of the Cambridge Judge Business School.
1. Best piece of advice you’ve been given
‘When you are not sure what to do next, create high quality options’. This has been invaluable for key career choices, has helped me put shape around uncertainty and make more informed business decisions.
2. Worst piece of advice you’ve been given
‘Try not to stand out too much or give your opinion’. This was possibly the least useful piece of advice to give to a woman from an ethnic minority – and of course was much more about the person giving the advice. It wasn’t that uncommon though!
3. What would you tell your younger self?
‘Take more risk.’ We all know that we regret the things we didn’t do. I have learned to take more calculated risks and always ask – what is the opportunity to grow here? I generally think the times I have said ‘yes’ to things where I didn’t really know how I’d tackle them have been the most rewarding.
4. What excites you most about the future of your industry?
Retail is going through a period of sustained and fundamental disruption – accelerated by the pandemic. Whilst this brings its challenges and can at times be painful, it also brings real opportunity. I am excited about that. I am also intrigued by what we are seeing from customers – they want more than products and services – they want to believe in why we are here and what we stand for.. Being purpose-led at a time of change is a huge opportunity – the John Lewis Partnership can play a bigger role in improving lives and building a more sustainable future. That is very inspiring.
5. Who or what is your biggest inspiration?
My mother and my daughters. My mother because she had her prospects curtailed only because she was a woman in a conservative culture – and because she is simply the most adaptable, resourceful person I know. At 88 she is still a seamstress, can do complex arithmetic in her head at speed and plays bridge like a demon. My daughters because they are fearless, idealistic and curious – and they teach me something new every day.