Co-owner close up, Ewelina Niziolek-Wilson

By Ewelina Niziolek-Wilson

In this Co-owner close-up, we learn more about Castlefield's Head of People and Training, Ewelina Niziolek-Wilson. Ewelina discusses her passion for employee ownership and shared values, along with how she balances her roles of representing the board of our shared ownership trust and leading Castlefield's internal development programmes. 

I have been a co-owner for over 6 years, initially starting as a manager and progressing to Head of People and Training.  

Castlefield is an employee-owned business, and it has always been clear to me that employee ownership is key to our company’s success. Developing this ownership structure is what excites and motivates me.  

As an employee-owned business almost 50% of Castlefield shares are owned by an Employee Share Ownership Trust (ESOT, called Piccadilly Trust). The trust holds those shares for the potential benefit of past, present and future co-owners. So, I was delighted to be successful when I applied to become a PTL Director when the role became available.  

The Employee Share Ownership Trusts’ stake in the company has significantly grown during my time here and further 27% of shares are owned directly by employees. This gives employees a large majority of the shares in the business.  

 Over that period, my understanding and appreciation of our ownership has increased proportionally. I have become an advocate and proud supporter of employee ownership. 

This is partly a result of my experience of working in standard ownership structures in the past. In my view, traditional ownership has several limitations. From a people profession perspective only, I frequently saw detachment from purpose, patchy motivation and a weak sense of commitment. I have found the opposite to be true with Castlefield’s  ownership structure. 

It is clear to me that an increased sense of ownership can help build a more positive culture. Castlefield’s structure and its clear purpose and shared vision make it unique and special. My motivation for this role comes from a desire to continue to develop the employee ownership structure and its role in growing the business. 

In my role as a PTL Director I represent the Trust as a major shareholder on Castlefield board.  I also assemble and chair the Employee Ownership Committee, which is a formal sub-committee of the Castlefield board tasked with developing and implementing a range of projects which we’ve collectively decided are critical to the long-term success of our business.  

I am very lucky to be able to work with fantastic group of very skilled co-owners who joined EOC in September; Amelia, Efy, Helen, Tom & Bill. Together we seek to assist the board in securing the continuation of Castlefield as a successful, independent, and professionally managed collection of trading enterprises, in keeping with Castlefield's values and especially our Employee Ownership ethos. 
We do this by working on different project streams:  

  1. Culture - Upholding and reporting on the extent to which the Values of the group are alive and well; 
  2. Diversity, Equity and Inclusion - Developing and promoting diversity and opportunity;
  3. Give Back Group - Developing and promoting activities around charity and community outreach;
  4. Net Zero - Developing and articulating our plans for Net Zero;
  5. Supporting the business in the implementation and ongoing management of company initiatives. This year we focus on The Year of the Client. 


Now a few months in, we are able to share our successes!  

From the highest engagement scores (91% vs 84% last year!) recorded in our Winter 2022 Engagement Survey organised by the Culture group; a series of Employee Ownership educational events run for all co-owners; our Menopause policy launch; becoming an Age Friendly Employer; to getting the NET Zero plan together; launching the Bank of Good ideas and having a Castlefield Charitable Foundation Constitution ready – the Employee Ownership Committee has been so busy and I am so proud of the work we have done.  

We have a robust plan for the rest of the year, and I’ll be happy to keep you updated with our progress.