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What I’ve Learnt: Grace Nolan, Head of Performance, Embryo

Grace Nolan

Grace Nolan works at Manchester-based digital marketing agency Embryo, named as one of Prolific North’s Top 50 Digital agencies in 2022

She has worked at the agency since 2020, first joining as digital project manager before being promoted to head of performance in December 2022.

Grace shared all the lessons she has learnt.


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

When it comes to managing my daily tasks I like to put together a to-do list as having this structure allows me to manage my time more efficiently. Listing my tasks in level priority allows me to stay on top of deadlines and feel more productive. 

What’s been your luckiest break?

In 2012, I took the plunge to apply for an apprenticeship role as a digital project assistant. Since I decided to take that leap of faith, I’ve been to progress in my career and develop the skills that I needed in order to become the head of performance at Embryo. I’ve also been fortunate enough to be introduced to some incredibly talented people at the agency including James Welch who has been so supportive and has helped me get to where I am now.

What’s your best failure?

One of my biggest challenges that I had to face was learning to say no. Over the years, I’ve understood the importance of being a good communicator and how this can help you become a good leader. Being able to have the confidence to lead a team, delegate tasks and deliver on projects is something I’m proud of achieving and I’ve been able to achieve this by learning from mistakes and improving my ways of working. 

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

In my previous role at Embryo (Digital Project Manager) I headed up the Creative team and managed five people. I found that giving them all the time they needed from me to learn, train and improve was well worth the investment. I always made myself available to the team whenever they needed me as I’ve been able to share my knowledge, which as a result has helped them grow and develop. 

Which book would you recommend others to read and why?

When I started at Embryo, Cicely Ward, our wonderful Head of HR, recommended that I read ‘The Five Dysfunctions of a Team’. As I was new to management, it was a great introduction to how senior management teams should work together and what pitfalls they could face in a growing business. This one is great for new managers or new members to a growing team/organisation.

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

Slow down. Because I started out in the world of marketing straight from college, by the time I got to 21 I thought I knew everything. I was so wrapped up in day-to-day life that I never really slowed down to look at the bigger picture.

This is what my job now revolves around and I’m grateful for it. I have time to slow down and think before I make a decision and it’s made a huge difference to how I tackle problems and implement new processes rather than diving in head first and making mistakes.

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

My dad. I have learnt a lot from him, especially around work ethic, dedication and applying myself. He was a great role model when I was growing up, he showed me that if you work really hard and strive for what you want, you can achieve anything.

What does success look like to you?

Making a difference.

No matter what role I have been in throughout my career, I have also strived to make a difference and always feel successful when I do so. Whether that’s helping a colleague to solve a problem, implementing a new process or even making someone a cup of tea – making a difference to people and being supportive makes me feel successful.

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