Meet the MD: Lou Cordwell, magneticNorth

Meet the MD: Lou Cordwell, magneticNorth

Lou particularly loves the variety that comes with running a digital design studio where no two days are ever the same. We hear how she moved across from comms to digital, and what's next.

What is it the company does?

magneticNorth is a digital design studio based in Manchester. We specialise in digital strategy, UX and prototyping, building ‘magnetic’ digital experiences for a diverse mix of clients including, the BBC, British Film Institute and the Co-operative Group.

Describe your role in no more than 100 words

I'm the founder and CEO of magneticNorth.

As the CEO, I’m responsible for leading and inspiring the team as well as making sure that we stay true to our original purpose and values. Our focus is where is where it’s always been - on building an internationally respected digital design studio out of in the city we love.

Give us a brief timeline of your career so far – where did you start, how did you move on?

I started out in the communications industry before the arrival of digital, working on everything from press to radio for large multinational networks like WPP. It was becoming clear that the internet was changing the way we interacted with each other and it was this that attracted me to the world of digital. I believed that it would transform the way that people, companies and brands would communicate with one another so I set up magneticNorth in 2000.

What do you believe makes a great leader?

Three things; vision, tenacity and humanity .

As a leader, you need to set the pace for the people who work with you and to keep the hunger and passion alive. You also need to keep your eyes on the bigger picture and what you stand for as a brand. All of this needs to be achieved whilst remaining approachable and personable to your team and your clients and remembering that we’re all human beings (with our own strengths and weaknesses!). I think the key to achieving all of these is finding a career that you love.

What has been your biggest challenge in your current position?

Running my business and having two young children has been a real challenge (just as it is for lots of people!).

I’m really lucky in that I have a great support network both at work and at home.

How do you alleviate the stress that comes with your job?

Every business owner I know finds the job stressful at times but it’s important to keep the bigger picture perspective and remember that no matter how much we want the make the best possible work we can, it’s never a life or death situation!

When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?

I wasn’t set on one profession when I was child. I would want to be a hairdresser one day, a vet the day after and a barrister the week after!

That’s probably why I started my own business - no two days are ever the same!

Any pet hates in the workplace? What do you do about them?

I get very uncomfortable whenever I see a lack of tolerance and respect in a team. Surrounding yourself with colleagues who bring different strengths and expertise is the only way to grow a successful business.

At magneticNorth, we’ve worked hard to build a team based on a set of shared beliefs - we very much put collaboration and collective gain at the heart of the culture.

Where do you see the company in five years’ time?

magneticNorth’s ambition is to continue delivering sector leading work for our clients. We also want the team and company to stay true to our fundamental purpose and beliefs as we continue to grow!

What advice would you give to an aspiring business leader?

Always do it for love - never for the money!