Joanne Reid

Joanne Reid is Delivery Director at Graphite Digital. She is a passionate, proactive leader with a decade of experience in project management and the digital agency space.

Her role at Graphite is to manage the production process and elevate the internal delivery function; aligning to client needs, building a resilient team, and supporting the agency’s rapid growth whilst fostering future leaders and innovators.

Some of Joanne’s core interest areas are around how leadership teams can utilise the delivery function for problem-solving, and educating on the value of exceptional project management and clear processes for business success.

She works closely with senior stakeholders at organisations including Amryt Pharma, CSL Behring, NHS, Pfizer, Vhi Healthcare and others.

Tell us a bit about yourself, your background and your current role

I’m 34 years old, born in Malaysia and grew up in Perth, Australia. I moved after graduating from university for love, with no job secured but a dream to just find my passion in life. I studied Journalism and Marketing at University and knew that Marketing was my calling. It must have been the grades I got!

When I moved to England I worked in London for a few months in office administration and knew that I could do so much more with my life and career. We travelled each weekend to Kent (where my husband is from)  and one day my in-laws proposed that we move in with them!

We decided it was the best financial decision we could make and left our jobs (with no future job secured) and relocated to Kent.  I applied for a Marketing Assistant role at Interactive Red, a small digital agency in Canterbury, knowing nothing about building or selling websites, to my surprise – I got the job!

It was an agency of five people, specialising in full-service Digital delivery and bespoke PHP CMS (open source). This was a totally new experience for me however through perseverance, hard work, and determination I was able to naturally upskill, specialise and support the growth of the business.

As we grew, I was able to specialise in Project Management as it came naturally to me and I was passionate about it.

After several years I decided to move on to a .net tech house to expand my knowledge and support my professional development. .net was seen as the ‘bee’s knees’ and had more complex / higher paying clients than open source platforms so I was keen to learn.

Then I moved to Lightmaker as a Project Manager and happily commuted 2 hours a day to work in Tonbridge Wells. Our clients were all utilising Sitecore – an enterprise-level CMS. so I learnt about how to manage a very complex and powerful tool set. Unfortunately as the last one in I was the first one out when redundancies had to happen, which knocked my confidence. Until I changed my perspective, just accepted the situation and forged my own destiny. I did that and within two days, got a new job offer at Sagittarius as the second Project Manager in the team.

Within the first three months, I became the only Project Manager to manage the whole portfolio of clients. I sustained this for several months until I started to build my team as we were going through rapid growth. Sagittarius is a full-service Digital experience provider that specialises in Sitecore. It was a challenging journey to say the least, but super rewarding in terms of personal growth. Over six years, I built a successful delivery team of Project Managers and Scrum Masters and implemented processes and tools to improve efficiencies not only in my team but across the board.

I learnt a lot about Operations, EOS, KPIs, commercials, Project Management, Client Management, Growth, resourcing with overseas teams, tools sets, and more. It was a pivotal moment in my career and an experience I cherish.

I became a BIMA 100 in 2021 under the Client Service and Project Management category and my world of opportunities opened. From there I pushed myself to build my personal brand, overcome limiting beliefs within myself and step outside my comfort zone. The recognition I strived for was given to me and it landed me my next role as Delivery Director for Graphite Digital.

Now my role is to elevate, train and build the Delivery function. Even though we focus on design and research in the Pharma and Healthcare space, my approach to development has always been to set them up for success above and beyond. I sit on the Senior Leadership team to help with our agency’s growth. My previous experiences and diverse background has allowed me to be rounded and commercially savvy with data and business decisions.

When I reflect on my journey to where I am today, I am really proud of my achievements over the past decade in Digital Agency land. Age is but a number – don’t let that limit your potential.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

I never planned to get into Digital or Tech but I did plan my future since I was 18. I wanted to be financially independent and an inspiration to others. I didn’t know how, but I put that out in the universe and stayed true to who I am. I was always told by my father and husband to follow my passion and heart – success will follow.

I highly recommend building a vision board!

Have you faced any challenges along the way?

Of course! It’s a challenging journey with a roller coaster of emotions. I recall at Interactive Red I used to cry in the car for most of my lunch break as I found it so hard to push through. The advice I got from my husband was – “it shows more about your character if you stay than just leave – never give up”. That experience has stuck with me to this day. I also found Line management for the first time very difficult as it was a totally different mindset, comms style, and approach which I couldn’t adjust to when I was juggling PM work at the same time. I recall crying to my CEO at Sagittarius that it was all too much for me and I will never forget his kindness and advice. Again I was able to push through.

My advice here is you will always find challenges – expect them, embrace them but most importantly surround yourself with people that will always back you and support you. Challenges are part of growth and you are never going to be perfect.

What has been your biggest achievement to date?

It’s tough to pick one as I have been so fortunate in my career but making the BIMA 100 in 2021 for the Client Service and Project Management Category was likely the pivotal achievement that drove me to give more. BIMA 100 recognises the 100 most influential individuals within Digital and Tech, an industry of over three million people and more. Within this category, thousands apply and only a handful get selected. So this is a huge achievement for me.

Since then, I have been selected to judge numerous awards for BIMA each year, had 121 interviews with several organisations and featured in a published book by Agencynomics “Grow your agency to the first £5M and beyond”

What one thing do you believe has been a major factor in your achieving success? 

It has certainly been my mindset. What changed my life in 2009 was attending the Tony Robbins – UPW (Unleash the power within) 4-day event which literally changed my life.

On a side note, I couldn’t achieve what I have without a supportive husband too, who helps me juggle work, a toddler and a family life.

How do you feel about mentoring? Have you mentored anyone or are you someone’s mentee?

I love it and support it 100%! It has helped me push outside my comfort zone and having different perspectives is really insightful especially when they are within roles that you aspire to be in one day.

Aside from mentoring my current team of seven, I mentor four individuals in my spare time ranging from a Project Manager / Delivery Director to CEO. I absolutely love to give back  – imagine if only one person believed in your potential. How much would you thrive?

If you could change one thing to accelerate the pace of change for Gender Equality, what would it be?

We have a long way to go on this issue however with more females on boards and Senior Leadership teams, and having male advocates within organisations to really elevate, champion and educate the ‘stereotypical board of middle-aged white men’, we will slowly progress this conversation. There aren’t enough females in leadership roles so putting egos aside and giving females the space to step forward and be supported will accelerate the pace of change.

If you could give one piece of advice to your younger self what would it be?

My advice would be – it will all work out.

Just stay strong, believe in yourself and follow your heart. Don’t let what ‘people think they know about you’ impact how you perceive yourself. You won’t be liked by everyone and that’s ok – just be kind, love yourself and you are good enough. You can only control how you react to situations (keep emotions in check) and always strive to put your best foot forward, the rest is out of your control and not a reflection of you or who you are.

Stay the course, follow your passion and always be grateful.

What is your next challenge and what are you hoping to achieve in the future?

My next challenge is growth – personally and professionally. At Graphite it is to help the business diversify its portfolio and expand the size/team, whilst continuing to train and create opportunities for exponential growth.

On a personal level, continue supporting and helping agency owners as well as Project Managers understand, create, grow and improve their delivery function through ‘what great looks like’. This covers account growth, forward planning, pipeline, reducing operational costs, upskilling and cross-skilling teams, innovation and automation to maximise talent.

My five-year plan involves either owning my own business or becoming a Managing Partner within a consultancy role where I have the freedom to make a significant impact (without limitations ) and help even more people within the Digital industry. Project Management is a very complex role which is undervalued because, to be honest,  we make it look easy! It’s actually a very challenging role with a lot of responsibility pinned to it in order to grow or become a profitable business. My mission is to educate the masses and share my experiences and knowledge with up-and-coming talent so they can learn from my successes and mistakes.