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How I Found my place in the tech world

desk-with-laptopTina Judic is the CEO of digital growth agency Found, leading a team of growth partners, analysts, data scientists and creatives, who design data-driven strategies to rapidly take brands from the here and now to significant growth.

Multi-award winners, Found specialises in SEO, PPC, Data, Content & Social Media and works with brands including Fender, My 1st Years and PwC. Tina is also an investor and board member of several exciting digital start-ups.

My career in digital

I started my digital career at affiliate network Commission Junction in 2002, as one third of the UK team, based in a tiny office in Mayfair (I literally had to bend down to sit at my desk each day!) Initially hired to create and build an account management team, I hung up my CJ boots in 2006, leaving a company of 50 as Operations Director. Staying within the group, I set up ValueClick Search and became Country Manager of Mediaplex in 2007, a fantastic tech platform that really entrenched the power of data at the core of everything I’ve since gone on to do.

I left ValueClick in 2008 and joined Found (then Artemis Eight) as Managing Director in the autumn of that year, again, another small team of smart individuals looking to make a difference in digital. I also took the opportunity to move away from the Big Smoke and down to sunny Brighton!

The journey with Found has been immense. Starting out as small PPC affiliate, we transformed the business into a digital performance agency in 2010, offering PPC and SEO services to a number of clients, our first being Lastminute.com. And we’ve continued to transform - adding more services to our offering, retaining and adding new clients to our books, whilst winning awards along the way. I’ve got a fantastic team at Found - one of the reasons I love my job so much - they’re switched on, engaging,future-thinking and never afraid to ask or to contribute, enabling us to move fast and work smart.

Fast forward to 2020 and Found is a 60-strong digital growth agency, working with clients to achieve their digital goals. We’re now living in unprecedented times where everyone is working remotely, where businesses are ripping up their 2020 plans and leaning on agencies like Found to help navigate growth. It’s probably been the most testing time in my career - being apart from my team and clients - but I’m really pleased with how everyone has responded and really stepped up to deliver.

What made you stick at it?

I’m inquisitive. I like to solve problems. I like to engage people. And I happen to love digital. The culmination of all of these makes this job just, well, brilliant. With the pace of the space, there’s always a new challenge on the horizon (perhaps never as much as right now!) Digital never stands still, and an agency can’t afford to either - this is a great motivating force.

Part of the challenge of leading an agency is to be truly agile, delivering against promises whilst also having an eye on what you should be doing next. This, in itself, keeps me on my toes and stops the work from ever getting tiresome. I also take great pride in nurturing a fantastic team. There’s nothing more rewarding than seeing teammates succeed.

What do you think makes a great leader?

Honesty, clarity, inclusion and focus.

I'm a firm believer in building a strong team around you; a team that brings the skills to the business that will make a difference and empowers people so they can take ownership and flourish. At Found, I'm surrounded by digital specialists, financial smarts, creative thinkers and above all, people motivators. All of them bring a level of brilliance to the business that, in turn, facilitates empowerment of their team too.

Inclusion shouldn’t be something you have to actively consider, it should instead be intrinsically woven into the very fabric of how a good team works together. Creating an ‘ownership culture’ is paramount to how people view their experience at work; the difference between simply being a job to something that people very much feel a part of. By creating a sense of importance and inclusion, the team starts to think like the company is 'theirs', and that's when the great ideas are sparked, when there is a sense of always being able to contribute, achieve and do more. And you can’t include people effectively  if you’re not honest. I make a point of speaking to the team regularly - in Friday meetings and, in much more detail, in quarter reviews. It’s important for me that everyone in the business understands our goals, where we are heading, how we’re going to get there and how we are performing.

At the very top level, it’s about having a desire to lead. If it comes natural to you, it can be the most rewarding career. But I suppose you’d have to ask my team if they think I’m any good at it! :)

Any particular elements about being a female leader in such a male dominated industry?

At Found, we’ve made an effort to create an environment that’s fair and inclusive for all, regardless of gender. In an industry that has always been very male-dominant, we always knew we wanted to create an environment where women could truly excel. But it’s not just about women; we create an environment and culture that is inclusive for all; which means that women at Found will always have the same opportunities, be recognised, trusted and supported at all times. We’re really pleased that our team split is around 50:50 male/female and roles are all paid comparably, irrespective of gender.

As for myself, being a woman hasn’t really put me at a disadvantage (not one that I know of!) when it comes to doing a great job. By being strong and sticking to my principles, I’ve been able to achieve what I have without constantly feeling like I'm swimming upstream. Yes, I’ve encountered prejudice and I’ve been dismayed and disappointed at times, but the key thing for me is to lead by example, show that it isn’t holding me back and, by doing that, hopefully inspire other women to not let it hold them back either.

Building a Female Friendly Team

Found have been recently named as no. 3 in the UK’s Best Workplace for Women by the Great Places to Work team which is a huge accolade but also demonstrates how much we put into ensuring ‘fairness’ in the workplace. Found’s ongoing success is borne out of our shared passion, determination and overwhelmingly collaborative approach. It might sound like a cliche, but it’s true. To achieve this, we’ve built a team who exude talent and have a real passion for their work. Having women on the senior management team is an important part of this for balance, to provide inspiration to the junior members of the team and to demonstrate that there is equality right through to the top level in the agency.

Final Thoughts

I love my job as CEO of Found and continue to thrive on the challenges and opportunities that it brings on a daily basis. My tips for aspiring women in the digital space is to be yourself, be inclusive and to empower those around you to succeed.

About the author

Tina JudicKnown for her boundless energy and inspirational leadership, Tina has been an intrinsic part of digital for over 20 years. From helping to establish the UK affiliate space, she’s consistently championed performance as a key component and with her team at digital growth agency Found she continues to change the rules and hold digital to account. With her eye firmly on building an agency for the future, now, she leads a 60-strong team of growth partners, analysts, data scientists and creatives who are renowned for moving fast, working smart and delivering stand-out results. Tina is also one of the two masterminds behind one of our industry’s most exciting initiatives, Digital Disruptors, which aims to inspire and guide our next generation of digital pioneers.