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Introducing: Louisa Nicholls

Updated: Jul 28, 2021

Louisa Nicholls is a digital leader with 15+ years’ experience across Ecommerce, Marketing, Trading and Strategy. Louisa is currently the Head of Marketing at John Lewis. Previous to that, Louisa was Head of Digital and Social at John Lewis.

As part of her previous experience, she has led in the Ecommerce/Online Trading, Digital Content Creation, Online Merchandising and Omni-channel propositions space.

We sat down with Louisa to take part in a Q&A session. We find out more about her journey in digital to date, why she joined the Digital Leaders Club, her biggest achievements and what she’s looking forward to in the future.

How long have you been a member of the Digital Leaders Club?

From the start! I’m going to claim founding member status! I remember Jack telling me about it cover lunch a few years ago - it’s come along way.

Why did you join?

Bringing the digital community together in a simpler, no strings attached way really appealed - for me coming together, supporting each other and driving our industry forward is what excites me most - Jack is one of the most well connected people I know so it was going to be a strong line up, a great space to share ideas, find solutions to challenges and get some invaluable advice - something easy to be a part of. I love the simplicity of the WhatsApp group in particular - we are all too aware of email fatigue. The weekly updates on the latest news, trends and industry movers & shakers is also a great read.

What's your Journey been like So far?

I have spent the majority of my career somewhere in the digital eco system. I joined in 2008 when it was a small, start-up style operation, less than 10% of sales. From that point as dot com grew, my career grew. It’s been very much about hard work, seizing opportunity, taking risks and change – this has given me so many amazing opportunities and platforms to build on.

The first 10 yrs I was immersed in website merchandising, omni and online trading – very onsite based. The last few years I have been focusing specifically in the offsite space of Trade Marketing, Digital Marketing and Social Media, leading these areas at John Lewis. I led the JL Digital and Social team throughout 2020 – as you can imagine it was full on, very pressured (overnight finding ourselves responsible for most of the marketing budget and sales for the business as non-essential physical retail temporarily shut down) but extremely rewarding.

I have been very fortunate to have worked with some incredible people, willing to give me their support, advice, time and wisdom during my journey so far and I look to pass this kindness on wherever I can.

What are you doing now?

We are currently undertaking a large scale head office transformation and I am the senior business lead for Marketing. In a nutshell this means landing the proposed new structures, building transition and transformation plans in readiness for go live; ensuring that the Partner experience is considered, fair and kind. In April I took on the Interim Head of Brand & Marketing Planning which will carry through until July. This gives me further opportunities to deepen my knowledge of 360 marketing and reinforces even more how digital plays a critical part in shaping the future.

Tell us about any interesting moments/learnings on your journey so far

My most overused phrase is 'every day is a school day'; we are all constantly learning and growing. Everyone brings something unique and I have learnt to focus on where I can add value and not to compromise on this. Focus on your soul food, your super strengths and amplify them - if you do that doors will open. For the record, mine are leadership, customer first, resilience and pace....and an obsession with all things digital.

What is your best success story?

Professionally its leading the Digital and Social team through COVID - the performance we drove and the pace in which we ran was incredible - it was a mammoth task but everyone rose to the challenge and I will look back on it as the most exhausting but one of the most rewarding times in my career.

Personally it was making the jump from the commercial world of Online Trade to Marketing. I was asked if I would move to Marketing to build out more of a digital, commercial leadership culture, it was the first time in my career that I was leading teams where I wasn't the specialist which meant I had to lean on my leadership and engagement skills - I learnt the most about my own leadership style in that first year than I ever had before.

What are your plans for the future?

Travel!!! I can’t WAIT to get away. I haven't fully switched off and recharged in over a year!

What’s one thing - either industry-related or not - you learned in the last month?

Randomly.....Flowered water is Nepals biggest export and after English, Russian is the most commonly used language on the internet (even though it’s the 8th most spoken in the world).....I discovered a company called Visual Capitalist a few years ago who specialise in creating visual content focused on emerging trends.

I love visual storytelling so to see data brought to life in such a simple way means I can very successfully lose track of time scrolling through and geeking out on random insights.

What’s the last book you read?

I tend to listen to Podcasts more! I recently came across a new Podcast series called The High Performance Podcast which I thoroughly recommend! They talk to the high performers across various industries such as business, sports, music etc.

My favourites so far and well worth a listen are Dilbagh Gill, Kasper Schmeichel and Jonny Wilkinson! I have no clue about the sports they represent in any great depth but that doesn’t matter – it’s about them and their journey, what drives them and what high performance means to them. Give it a go – I guarantee you will pick up a nugget or two!

What’s the coolest (or most important) trend you see today?

There are so many at the moment! New, emerging and reborn - One of the comeback kings from the pandemic has been the humble QR code. I saw recently a drone light show that took place in Shanghai...they used the drones to build a giant QR code in the sky where the audience could point their phones at it and access immersive content to enhance their show experience! It does open up the question of who owns the sky however.... is nowhere safe from advertisers?...I'll just leave that one out there.

What would you do (for a career) if you weren’t doing this?

Something with people at its core - coaching, consulting or perhaps performing? I love a stage but I also love getting the best out of people and seeing them reach their full potential.

Connect with Louisa Nicholls on LinkedIn

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