My North East: Joanna Wake

April 6, 2016

Joanna Wake is managing director RAW Digital Training, a digital skill and social media training agency based in Stockton. She was named Sage Northern Star Awards Social Entrepreneur of the Year and won the Stockton Council Mayor’s Civic Award for Outstanding Contribution to Business in 2015, and, last month, received a special commendation by judges at the National Women in IT Awards.

I travel a lot and like to see the world, but I’ve never wanted to move to a tropical climate. The North East makes my heart feel warm, and that’s what matters to me.

The best thing about living and working in the North East is the people. The warm and kind nature of North Eastern folk is renowned and completely unique.

I love my home town of Stockton. We have some unique shops, lovely independent pubs and a really great music scene. The High Street also offers a packed calendar of cultural events which gives it a very communal feel.

I often take my eight-year-old son on the train to Newcastle city centre. We visit museums, enjoy a great lunch and then squeeze in a bit of shopping at Fenwick – if he’ll let me.

My favourite place to conduct business away from the office is Chadwick & Co at Barker & Stonehouse on Teesside Retail Park. It’s easy for me to get to, and offers great coffee and amazing ham and truffle oil sandwiches.

I always enjoy visiting the corporate facilities at the football grounds of the North East. As a huge Boro fan, though, I have to say the Riverside Stadium is the best.

I do a lot of business in Scotland and never tire of the view on the train ride following the North East coastline; it’s stunningly beautiful.

What makes the North East for me is our sense of determination as a region. We never seem to stand still; we charge forward and break the stereotype in many ways.

My ‘hidden gem’ in the North East is The Storytellers, a pub in Stockton. I adore music, and this place gives me my fix, from acoustic singers and full bands to Northern Soul and all-day music festivals. I like the eclectic mix of people and real ales and it’s somewhere I visit with several generations of my family.

I love to walk my dog in Wynyard Woodland Park and on Saltburn beach. Having the mix of the coastline and the countryside in the region is great.

If I could build anything in the North East, it would be an indoor ski slope for my son and me to get our snow fix all year round; fortunately Middlesbrough has plans for one, so, perhaps, the reality is not far off.


Joanna Wake, Managing director of RAW Digital Training