Our employee ownership learning journey to Renfrewshire and Lanarkshire is taking place on 28 & 29 February 2024.

To help give a flavour of what to expect as part of the learning journey we caught up with guest speaker and workshop leader Dave Routledge, a passionate employee ownership advocate for most of his career who has held leadership roles in a number of employee-owned companies, as well as serving on the board of the Employee Ownership Association.

Photo of Dave Routelege

Dave began his career as a Bobbin Boy for ICI straight from school, progressing through the ranks to the role of Production Manager, at which point he was headhunted to join pharmaceutical business Sterling Health as Divisional Training and Development Manager, covering operations in the UK, USA and Puerto Rico. He was then promoted to HR Director and led a successful £40m management buyout. The business was subsequently acquired for £500m. Dave had designed and implemented an innovative all employee stock option programme, which  delivered significant rewards for all staff and was externally recognised, winning the prestigious ProShare award for best international business.

His first experience of full employee ownership was with Eaga, first joining on a part-time basis as strategic advisor to the board, and then appointed to the main board in 2004 with responsibilities including: Organisational Development, Risk Management, HR, Strategic Planning, Corporate and Government Affairs, Remuneration Committee, Governance and Business Transformation.  Eaga grew from a turnover of £100m (£3.5m EBITDA and 450 staff) in 2002 to £800m turnover (£50m EBITDA and 5000 employees in 2011. Unusually for an employee-owned business, Eaga listed on the Stock Exchange, resulting in a distribution to Trust beneficiaries of £100m in cash and shares. The company then sold to Carillion and in what was a controversial move at the time, did not distribute the proceeds of the sale, but invested the cash to build value for the future.  14,000 former employees, their spouses and children now benefit from a £110m trust. In addition to cash payouts, the former employees and their families benefit for help towards childcare costs, and bursaries are available should the children want to go to university.  There are also 35 5-star heavily subsidised holiday homes available for booking.  

Dave now holds a number of non-executive chairmanships, directorships across a variety of sectors including employee-owned companies WCF, Gripple, Loadhog and Glide as well as a portfolio of angel investments. He counts amongst his key achievements as building and sustaining high engagement culture within the organisations he’s worked with and implementing sustainable community engagement programmes. 

A mid/late life adventurer, having ridden a motorcycle off road for over 1,000 miles in South Africa. He has also completed a 150km cross-country ski expedition across Norway’s Hardangervidda plateau. He is currently planning a motorcycle trip from Alaska to Patagonia and is considering riding a vintage bike in speed trials on the Bonneville salt flats. To relax he plays the classical guitar (badly).

Dave will be sharing his employee ownership experiences and lessons learned at the event next week. He will be delivering the after dinner speech on the evening of 28 February as well as running a workshop on the morning of 29 February 2024 on ‘Achieving a Sustainable Ownership Culture’.

Find out more about the learning journey and sign up here.