Joanna is Founder & Managing Director at Hyden, SThree PLC
“I’m driven by the passion to see real and lasting change. My mission is to continue to steer the diversity agenda and create a more inclusive environment in creative industry for people from a
myriad of ethnicities and backgrounds. From the boardroom, all the way down to entry-level.”
Joanna Abeyie is in a class of her own, a new breed of business leader, she is an award-winning, agenda-setting Diversity champion and recruiter, social campaigner, TV executive, broadcaster and journalist.
Aged just 29, there are few under 30s that can claim similar achievements, one of which being among Broadcast magazine’s hotshots of 2016. Joanna founded the award-winning creative industry diverse talent recruitment business Shine Media in 2009, which recently morphed into Hyden (taken from the old English word for ‘hidden’), as part of leading global recruiter SThree PLC. Having helped to place more than 3,000 people from diverse backgrounds in permanent and freelance jobs in the creative industries, it is Joanna’s efforts in improving the creative industry’s diversity that truly have made her stand out.
As a campaigner for diversity within the publishing, TV, Radio, Digital and Creative Industries, Joanna is regularly at the centre of the diversity agenda, leading conversations around inclusion and representation. She is often called upon to steer, lead, plan, create or participate in established industry events or radio and TV discussions around the diversity conversation. Joanna worked as a consultant and became a key diversity partner for the BBC, ITV, ITN, Channel 4, Sky and The Guardian among others.
Joanna grew up in South London to a Ghanaian civil servant father and English mother. It was a working class family and she regularly witnessed a dearth of opportunities amongst her local community. Following graduation from Reading University where Joanna studied English and Sociology, these observations continued into her working life as she worked in a string of roles at many of the big magazine publishers, going onto do a Masters in Magazine Journalism at London’s City University.
“I noticed that in every one of my placements, everywhere I went the workplace had little or no variety. Where was the working class, where were the ethnic minorities? I was 17 years old, and I decided I wasn’t going to rest on my laurels. I wanted to do something to help bring about change.”
Displaying a rare work ethic, creative vision and sheer drive for someone so young, Joanna co-founded employment charity Elevation Networks aged just 19 while studying English & Sociology at Reading University. The charity still exists today and is a multi-award winning youth employment charity that develops the leadership potential in talented young people.
Joanna’s story doesn’t end there. She also harboured a passion to tell stories that challenge preconceptions of stereotypes and unearth hidden social subcultures. This saw her set up own production company LH Productions in 2014. It has seen her produce and present programmes on children of alcoholics for ITV This Morning at the end of 2016, as well as segments on female ex-offenders struggling to find employment for BBC Inside Out. In 2016, Channel 4 gave Joanna her biggest commission to date with Hip Hop Millionaires, a series of C4 shorts co-produced by LH with Sugar Films, Big Head Productions and supported by The TV Collective.
“It was a really exciting time for me, to get my first big commission from Channel 4, my aim with my TV work is to create spiky factual content, it isn’t always comfortable to watch, but I feel I have to find those stories, those individuals that are hidden from the rest of society and help them find a voice.”
“Joanna is a really exciting talent,” enthuses Sugar Films managing director Pat Younge “She combines her important work off-screen with a growing portfolio of commissions on a range of stories and subjects. She is definitely one to watch.”
The final string to Joanna’s bow is being a multi award-winning journalist and broadcaster with over ten years of experience in current affairs, news and entertainment news both in the UK and America. Joanna has interviewed some of the business and entertainment world's most reputable and successful professionals, politicians and celebrities for the BBC, ITV, Sky News, The Times Online, The Mail Online, BBC Radio 5 Live, BBC London, The Sun and Daily Mirror. Joanna also presents her own Sunday evening news and events roundup on BBC Radio London’s Dotun Adebayo show.
Joanna’s social campaigning has seen her gain a seat on the NUJ’s Black Members Council, a role on the Board of Director’s for The Lord Mayor’s Appeal, The Media Council, Investor in People and the board of advisers for Ghana-based leadership and upskilling initiative Cedi Street. She has also been a judge for awards including Audio Production Awards, Professional Publishers Association New Talent Awards, Royal Television Society Awards to name just a few.
Joanna’s TV work stands out in that it will decidedly be away from the worlds of showbiz and entertainment, but instead the purpose of her content will be not primarily to entertain, but to educate and inform. This strategic mission to create, lead and inspire, in tandem with Joanna’s ambitions for Hyden, reveals a visionary approach. So what’s next for Joanna Abeyie?
“I feel that I have a social responsibility to keep campaigning for change. I am passionate about helping individuals achieve their full potential regardless of background. My ultimate goal is to facilitate social change through my work.”
List of awards:
Nubian Times MBC Winner For Contribution To Media
Nubian Times Media, Business and Community Awards October 2013
Women4Africa Media Professional Of The Year May 2013
Precious Awards Best Social Enterprise Business 2012
Best Print Journalist GUBA AWARDS 2011
Powerful Media's Future Leader 2010/11
Black British Business Awards Rising Star in Media & The Arts Nov 2014
Future Of Ghana Under 30 Pioneer, ME FIRI GHANA March 2015
Excellence in Diversity shortlisted nominee
Excellence in Diversity Awards - The Diversity Group November 2015
Positive Role Model nominee
National Diversity Awards 2015
Excellence in Diversity Awards 2015
Diversity Champion Award
The Excellence in Diversity Awards March 2016
FIPP Rising Star Award 2017
Federation of periodicals and publishers
TVC Leaders List 2017
TV Collective Top BAME Leaders