Vineeta and I founded Wholegrain together in 2007 when we were naive, idealistic twenty-somethings filled with positive energy and enthusiasm to make the world a better place. Our dream was to create a design agency that could help the most inspiring and impactful organisations tell their story and successfully challenge the status quo. We believed that environmental and social responsibility should not be niche approaches and that organisations committed to better practices needed to be able to appeal to the widest possible audience. We wanted to help make this happen.
We didn’t know how to do it and we had minimal relevant experience. What we did have was fire in our bellies and a deep belief that we needed to make this happen. More than 16 years later, I look back and wonder how on Earth we actually managed to pull it off. We have a world renowned sustainable digital agency with an incredible team and clients that we literally dreamed of when we were starting out.
The journey to getting here involved Vineeta and I teaching ourselves pretty much everything we needed to know. It’s been a non-stop intensive course in business management and personal development, during which we’ve made a great many mistakes and had to constantly self-correct. On balance though, it seems that our commitment to self-education has led us to a good place and through it, we’ve learned that there is no “right” way of doing anything. Perhaps more importantly, it’s taught us that our own instincts are often the best guides. Somehow by trusting our guts, we’ve built a company that’s true to our own ethos and has not just survived but thrived through seemingly endless turbulence such as the 2008 financial crash, Brexit and most recently Covid.
After 16 years of leading from the front as founders, owners and a married couple, our instincts are now telling us that our roles within the company need to change. Wholegrain is a lot bigger than Tom and Vineeta now and it’s started to feel like we are holding it back. We love it as much as ever and we want to see it fulfil its potential, and that means taking some big decisions. I’ve long believed that different types of leaders are suited to different stages of an organisation’s lifecycle and that one day the business might outgrow us. Wholegrain is now a well established business and it needs a leadership team best suited to take it through the next stage of its evolution.
That’s why we are excited to announce that we have officially passed the baton of Managing Director to Chris Lewis, a self-proclaimed “plant powered and process obsessed leader” who truly understands the ethos of Wholegrain and has the skills and passion to make it even better. Chris shares our passion for what Wholegrain represents and sees how much further it can go. Together with May and Georgie, we now have an incredible senior leadership team ready to take our talented team on the journey ahead.
While it’s a challenge for Vineeta and I to let go of the reins after so many years, we know deep down that it’s the right thing at this time and that it will open up new and exciting possibilities for everyone. Chris has only been with us for a couple of weeks and is already honing in on opportunities to drive progress and solve challenges that we have struggled with. Looking ahead with Chris’s leadership, I believe that Wholegrain can deliver more impactful work and better service for our clients, improved quality of life and growth opportunities for our team, as well as create even more positive ripples in the world.
As for Vineeta and I, we will still be here at Wholegrain supporting this next phase of its life, but in new roles. These roles haven’t been finalised yet and they’ll evolve in the months ahead, but we can already see that it will include elements of outward communication, knowledge exchange, supporting the vision, maximising impact and protecting the integrity of the organisation as its long term guardians. If all goes to plan, we’ll also be taking some time out as a sabbatical in early 2024.
I’m immensely grateful to Chris for taking a leap of faith to join us on this adventure and to our team and clients for being so supportive of the move. The future is full of possibility and a better world beckons.