Alex Bird has now retired from Co-operative and Community Business Development and Advice after over 40 years senior management experience in Commercial Business, Social Enterprise, Public and Voluntary Sectors at Board and Practitioner level.
Hie is now specialising in Research and Policy Advice, as well as working to develop a mutual community bank for Wales, Banc Cambria, of which he is Chair. Banc Cambria is working in partnership with the Community Savings Bank Association and the RSA.
He started his working life in 1965 as a Power Engineer on the fast-track management programme at the CEGB. After 11 years working in Nuclear and coalfired stations, including the technical development team at Aberthaw PS, he rose to the position of Shift Manager at Rogerstone Power Station.
In 1974 he left to co-found a printing co-operative in Cardiff specialising in work for labour movement, trades-union, voluntary, charitable and campaigning organisations, during which time he also founded and edited a Trades Union newspaper (Union Eyes), which became the highest circulation left of centre paper in Wales.
After 17 years in ‘the print’ Alex took up the position of Community Enterprise Development Officer for Cardiff County Council, which included a secondment to the Prince’s Trust (Business) to manage their Pan-Wales contract to deliver the ‘New Deal for the Self-employed’ where he won a special award for quality from the Employment Service.
In 2001 Alex moved to Innovate Trust as CEO of a charity which provides a range of services to people with disabilities. Whilst there, he founded Social Firms Wales, became a Trustee of Social Firms UK and co-founded ‘Pan‑disability Wales’, a partnership of leading disability charities in Wales. He devised and implemented the Charity’s first 5 year Strategic Business Plan in its 35 year history and increased turnover from £1.7m to over £3.5m, and payroll to 130 permanent staff.
Alex left in 2005 to establish himself as a freelance consultant specialising in co‑operatives and social enterprise. He is a Fellow of the RSA, and a Member of the Institute of Economic Development, and operates to their Code of Ethics & Professional Conduct.
He has been an occasional Visiting Lecturer on the Social Economy at both Cardiff University and Cardiff Metropolitan University, and an experienced and committed worker co-operator having founded three worker co-ops and earned his living through them for almost 30 years.
He was until 2019 Chair of Cardiff YMCA Housing Association, which runs the largest homeless hostel in Wales, and until 2022 a Member of Glas Cymru, the not-for-profit organisation that supplies Welsh Water. He stepped down from the YMCA after 17 years on the Board in November 2019.
Alex was also Chair of Co-operatives and Mutuals Wales (the affiliate of Co-operatives UK in Wales) for 15 years, and of Development Co-operative Ltd, a consortium of the majority of local co-op development bodies in the UK until 2018.
He was the founder and Secretariat of the Welsh Assembly’s Cross Party Group on Co‑operatives from 2009 to 2015 when he passed the Secretariat to Wales Co-operative Centre. During this time he organised 19 meetings including 2, which brought together the equivalent Groups in the UK’s three devolved Parliaments.
Alex was also a Board Member of Co-operatives UK and a member of the UK Co‑operative Forum until 2017 after serving for six years.