My Digital Hero: Cat Leaver, Brand Scotland

Cat Leaver is Director of Brand Scotland, an initiative to develop Scotland’s national identity across VisitScotland, Scottish Development International and the Scottish Government. She was previously Head of Strategy at digital agency After Digital and co-ran TEDxGlasgow, for which she remains an ambassador.

Who is your digital hero?

Gillian Docherty, CEO of DataLab Scotland.

What has she done to win hero status in your eyes?

Gillian has been a force to be reckoned with in the technology and digital sector for over 25 years, as a leader in a largely male-dominated IBM senior team before joining one of Scotland’s innovation centres DataLab as CEO.

But beyond her CV she works tirelessly to raise the profile of women in technology, champion diversity of thought and challenge the status quo. After years of support for our TEDx work, I had the pleasure of first working with Gillian back in 2017 when she took to our TEDxGlasgow stage to deliver her 2017 talk.

Since then she’s gone on to be recognised as one of the top digital leaders in the UK, amongst the top ten of DataIQ’s 100 most influential data driven business professionals and been awarded (deservedly so) an OBE for her services to information technology and business.

And she coolly juggles all of that with being a wife, a mother and a thoroughly nice human being.

How has her heroism helped drive digital?

Gillian is a role model for women (and men) aspiring to digital careers, in a world that is severely lacking in visible female digital heroes.

In her work she seeks to fuel innovation through collaboration and disrupt archaic ways of working, introducing digital/data as a means to drive positive change in industry and the public sector. And her impact since joining DataLab has been evident – just look at the scale of the DataFest now for one example.

What’s more, Gillian is always open to a challenge and, through this, helps drive thinking and digital advancements.

What are the biggest challenges in digital we need another hero to solve?

Diverse talent attraction and development.

The digital landscape will inevitably continue to change and evolve at lightning pace and our best response to this is to continue to nurture curious minds that approach problems in new and exciting ways.

What is your most heroic personal achievement so far in digital?

I’m not sure I would call anything I’ve done to date hugely heroic – hopefully that feat is still to come.

When I worked agency side I worked with a lot of clients on their digital transformation programmes and that required a certain degree of bravery and conviction, as recommendations and roadmaps could outline routes that were not always palatable to the client but were absolutely the right way to go.

I’m proud that we never compromised on our experience just to go down an easier path.  And thankfully the results speak for themselves.

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