Interviews, insight & analysis on digital media & marketing

My Digital Hero: Claire Hollands, Managing Director, MullenLowe London

Claire Hollands is the recently-appointed Managing Director of MullenLowe London. She joined from Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO, where she spend fifteen years. We asked her who her digital hero is.

Who is your digital hero?

Kathryn Parsons. The Founder and co-CEO of Decoded, a technology education company founded with a mission to improve digital literacy.

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

Code is the building block of the world around us today. Technology is transforming every industry, and our lives are being rapidly affected by the pace of technological change – it’s the languages of billions now. But how many of us can say that we truly feel confident or empowered by the technologies behind the screen?

Kathryn saw this as an opportunity and started Decoded with a very simple but challenging mission: could you teach anyone and everyone to code in a single day? 

With only a credit card to get the business started, ‘Code In A Day’ quickly caught on. Ten years on, their work teaching code, data and cyber skills has reached over half a million people, in 85+ cities worldwide and has a growing community online.

How has her heroism helped drive digital?

At its heart, Decoded is about digital education and literacy.

By making the complex simple, Decoded has become the go-to for leaders looking to rapidly transform the digital capability and culture of their businesses. Unilever, Nike, HSBC and Burberry are just a few of the global brands that have invested in the digital literacy of their employees and to great effect.

Closer to home, Kathryn also campaigned for coding as mandatory on the UK National Curriculum. It was successfully introduced in 2014, making the UK one of the first countries in the world to do so. It means that by 2025, a generation will leave school for whom computational thinking is the norm.

With my daughter starting school in September, I am extremely grateful code will become a second ‘language’ in her school day. For that reason alone, Kathryn is my hero.

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

Covid has accelerated the role of digital in our day-to-day lives – be that working from home, connecting with global colleagues, hosting events, or hanging out with family at a distance.

Whilst there are many social positives, this accelerated shift, is leading to a bigger risk – digital exclusion. Usually perceived as a generational issue, its impact is widening, with the most vulnerable in society becoming increasingly exposed to the challenges of not being able to access online services. At worst, people are becoming trapped in non-digital “poverty”, unable to interact easily with banks or utility providers.

With the cost-of-living challenges facing many families, the importance of having access to digital services to run essential elements of their lives is growing, with many likely to have to make tough choices about trade-offs to retain that access. Clearly, there is no simple fix to this but as we tap away on our Macbooks it’s very easy to forget the day-to-day digital reality for many.

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

Getting both my parents onto WhatsApp and being fluent in Emojis and GIFs. Admittedly a small digital win but it’s a big step from the land-line!