INTERVIEW: Robin Knowles, Founder of the Digital Leaders programme


Robin Knowles is a founder of the Digital Leaders programme, a resource network for individuals and organisations across the UK and beyond who are committed to delivering sustainable and innovative digital transformation.

We recently caught up with Robin to discuss the work of Digital Leaders and its involvement in this year’s Digital Leaders 100, organised in conjunction with Digital by Default News (click here to cast your vote now).

How did the Digital Leaders programme come into being?

We started Digital Leaders in 2010 because we could see that a lot of our leaders, particularly in the public and non-profit sectors were being told to use digital to transform what they did.

While, like me, not from a digital background, they knew they could no longer delegate “digital” out of the boardroom and away from the heart of their organisation’s decision making, strategies, policy direction and services, but they needed a safe and analogue way to access good ideas and their peers to avoid the pitfalls of isolation, reinvention and the more disruptive elements of this change.

Digital Leaders provides a free-to-participate-in, cross-sector network that gives access to physical events where leaders and senior civil servants across the public sector, industry and NGOs (and who are actually far from digital people) can engage with digital and, as a result, use it to change their strategy and policy mind-set, planning of services and their own organisational structures.

Can you tell us a bit about the key activities of Digital Leaders?

The Digital Leaders network spans over 9,000 people, including central and local government representatives, private/third sector organisations, parliamentarians, SMEs and academics.

This network also involves international contributors currently from across three continents, and cuts across traditional political, geographical, hierarchical and gender divides.

Our on-going mission is to expand this network to make it ever more representative of the rich spectrum of views and perspectives surrounding digital transformation.

We deliver a programme of three conferences, events like the Annual Lecture in parliament, monthly salons, monthly webinars and monthly networking events in London and now the UK regions. These equip leaders with the digital leadership knowledge, information, inspiration and networks needed to transform the use of technology in the UK’s public services and civic society.

What inspired the Digital Leaders 100 and what are your hopes for this year’s event?

The Digital Leaders 100 was inspired by the digital leaders themselves, who showed a real enthusiasm for the awards last year, voting in droves. The final list last year was excellent and contained those who are the undoubted leaders across the sectors, but also celebrated relatively unknown new leaders. The digital leaders called for two changes: new categories to allow more segmentation of the community, in response to which we have added 5 categories; and more time to nominate, which we are giving this year.

We are using the Digital Leaders dinner that traditionally takes place after the National Digital Conference to announce the list and give the awards.

My hope for the 2014 list is that it inspires all the digital leaders to get more involved and to encourage and reward those that are demonstrating exceptional outcomes and delivery for excellence. I hope all of us are about to discover some great new individuals and services.

 Cast your vote here now for this year’s Digital Leaders 100.

The Digital Leaders 100 is also a great opportunity for your company to get significant brand exposure. Join CACI, Siteimprove and Sopra Group and become a sponsor. Download the sponsorship package here for full details of how to get involved.

 Digital Leaders 100 is sponsored by:

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