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What I’ve Learnt: Anna Heyes, CEO, Active Profile

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Anna Heyes is CEO at Liverpool-based marketing and PR agency Active Profile.

With experience working with investors and global brands for over 20 years, she founded the agency from her kitchen table in 2004 which was named as one of Prolific North’s Top 50 PR Agencies last year.

As well as growing the agency, Anna also leads Tech Climbers and Inspired Spaces North projects.

Here, Anna shared all the lessons she has learnt across her career…


Which single daily habit or practice could you not do without?

It has to be coffee. I love the ritual of making one first thing in the morning, or the treat of having one made for you.

What’s been your luckiest break?

Meeting my husband Matt.

What’s your best failure?

We’ve certainly learnt our lesson from believing a confident brief about a tech product that needs a go-to market strategy and launch.

We’ve taken on the contract only to find out that the product is nowhere near ready to market and is really only a prototype. Seeing, feeling, and using the tech is a rite of passage now before the pen goes near a proposal or pitch.

What is the best investment you’ve ever made, either financial or time?

Buying our office space in the Baltic Triangle, Liverpool. It’s a wonderful space to collaborate and spend time as a team. A couple of years ago, we also went on a trip to Copenhagen, to absorb how other businesses do things in a different country. It was very freedom setting and we’ve done a lot because of that.

Which book would you recommend others to read and why?

Let It Go by Dame Stephanie Shirley. Her story from being a refugee to an entrepreneur was incredibly touching and made me stop the car whilst I was driving.

What one piece of advice would you give your 21-year-old self?

Value your time and what you know, because people can take the pi**! – Be confident in yourself.

Who or what has had the single biggest influence on your working life?

My mentor Gill Shaw was with me for 10 years, from day dot. Some of the clients we still have today can be traced back to her. She was the scariest, yet kindest person – she taught me how to be challenged, and the power of using your network. Sadly I lost her a few years back, but I still often ask myself, what would Gill do?… it’s a nice connection to have still to her.

Tell us something about you that would surprise people.

I used to run a club night called Freak Out when I was at uni, which gave out free chips at midnight and 50p Tequila!

How will the COVID crisis change work for the better?

I believe COVID helped us get to know who we really are during that time. There is better productivity throughout the team, and we have a deeper relationship with clients, too. That time to focus, helped us get to where we are now.

What does success look like to you?

I think success changes, but for me, at the moment it’s all about living our brand ethos of going ‘all in’

I want to look back and see that we’ve hit our goals for the year. A recent example of success must be how our clients adopted our new brand and seeing them buy in to what we are all about.

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