383 year in review: Our highlights, challenges and top moments from 2019

A look back on the last 12 months from the 383 leadership team.

As we kick off a new decade, I spent some time with the 383 leadership team to talk about our highlights, challenges and proudest moments from the past 12 months. Here’s a recap of our year, with a look ahead to what’s in store for 2020 and beyond.

Putting our people first

Sukhi Dehal, Founder –
In 2019, we made some brave calls at 383. That included turning down a big, valuable RFP because the work didn’t fit with our aspirations and our values as an agency. On paper, it wasn’t an easy decision to make, as the client in question contributed a significant proportion of our revenue. But, when it came down to it, 383 will always be about our people, and putting them first was a no-brainer. It was the right move for the business and our people.

Ben Shearon, Finance Director –
Not many businesses are fortunate enough to have that choice. I’ve been in a similar place with previous employers where the business made the decision to continue with relationships that weren’t the best fit, driven by revenue. The fact that the welfare of our people was at the forefront of our decision-making process makes me immensely proud of 383 – not forgetting the hard work from all departments which put us in the luxurious position of being able to make that choice.

Ollie Disney, Commercial Director –
We made a conscious effort in 2019 to move away from just winning any old new business, regardless of whether it is right for us or not. We’ve focused on forming partnerships with clients who share our values and our ambitions – people we can work with, not just for.

Another outstanding Canvas Conference

Ollie –
Ask anyone here and they will all say how much they look forward to Canvas conference. It’s a fantastic day of learning for our team and a huge source of pride for everyone at 383.

2019 was our best year yet, without a doubt. We sold out in record time, and audience of 350 people enjoyed genuinely insightful and informative talks from industry-leaders at Virgin Atlantic, National Express, City Mapper, Rightmove, Busy Bees and more (which you can access and watch in full here).

Feedback was resoundingly positive, but we always look for improvements every year. For 2020 and beyond, our focus is on how we can keep upping the standard of our content, whilst enhancing the Canvas experience – not only on the day of the conference, but throughout the year as well.

We are on the cusp of announcing the new 2020 line-up and some changes we think will really resonate with our community. Watch this space.

Building product partnerships

Ollie –
We generated new business growth of over 30% in 2019, the majority of which came from long-term agile partnerships, focused on product development and driving innovation at pace. What I am most proud of is the major decisions we have made about who we do and don’t work with, and our focus on growing partners that are bang on proposition.

Leon Barrett, Product Director
2019 was a transformational year for us at 383, as we continued on our journey from a digital agency to a digital product studio. Whilst the change may seem semantic, the devil is in the detail. We moved from fairly transactional project relationships to having fully formed product teams that partnered on long term engagements with our clients.

A great example of this is our work with Busy Bees developing an industry-leading digital learning platform – check out my talk with Yvonne Smillie at Canvas this year to hear more about the journey so far.

Liz Hemes, Head of Client Services –
12 months ago, the 383 leadership team set lofty goals to control the work we do, who we do it for, and how we function as a business, to ensure a passion and energy from 383-ers, the best outcome for end users and, most importantly, clients who believe in and rely on 383.

Throughout this process we have had to make both difficult choices and surprisingly easy ones to stay focused on our plans, and the outcome for us has been a true partnership with our clients. Sure, it’s what lots of studios talk about but it genuinely feels like we’ve nailed it in 2019. We work together on all levels, from the project team to the C-Suite. Our client NPS has risen each month, backed up with comments of how we adapt and push boundaries to meet their goals.

I love working with you as an organisation, and specifically the team I have day-to-day exposure to. Your values are bang on, you know your stuff, and you make everything relevant and enjoyable. I look forward to working more and more with you.

Client NPS feedback

Working with best of the best

Liz –
As I reflect on 2019 and what it has meant for me professionally, I realise how proud I am of my team. It’s not a shock realisation as I am proud of them on many occasions – every time they immerse themselves in new industries, passionately work on user issues needing resolution, meet their targets, and how are consistently there to support each other. A true team.

I’m proud to say I’m Head of Client Services at 383, because of the partnership we have with our clients, and because of the way my team adapts to everything asked of them, delivering on our promises to ourselves and our people. I’m genuinely excited to continue this into 2020 and beyond.

Glen Duncan, Operations Director –
We’ve had eleven new people join the team in 2019, and with a number of roles still to fill, I’m looking forward to seeing the team grow to nearly 60 in the first half of 2020. We also welcomed our first remote 383ers to our team – Bjorn in Singapore, Christine in Greece, and Natalie in Spain.

Sadly, we also had a few leavers. This is agency life, and while we’re always disappointed to see people move on, it’s been great to see them embark on new adventures and acknowledge their contributions to 383.

What I’m really proud of in the past year is that our people have started to write about 383 as a place to work, and not just about working on the products that we build. Two posts really hit home to me were Liz’s article on her relationship with the 383 team, and strategist Nick’s post on his journey from newbie to 383er. They show how we’re not just here to build products, but that we’re also building a business that our team cares about, and want to be a part of. Posts like this make me happy!

Sukhi –
Every year we plan where we need to be as a business for the next 2-3 years and beyond. We’ve got lots of exciting plans that I’m eager to see come to life, but, more importantly, we also have the right people within the business to share my journey with.


We’ve got big plans in store for 2020. If you want to be a part of them, take a look at our open roles.

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