What I’ve learned interviewing Digital Leaders

Tom Scott


July 2, 2019
Design Leadership

From Amsterdam, New York City, London to Berlin I’ve been travelling for a few months interviewing digital leaders encompassing designers, Innovation Directors, MD’s and CEO’s.

Here are a few things I’ve learned:

It doesn’t matter if you’re an introvert

It was refreshing to speak with Jens Riegelsberger from Google who opens up about being an introvert, and as long as you can inspire, lead, mentor, coach and foster a strong culture there is no reason why it should even be up for debate regarding being an introverted leader.

They coach

This can be executives, colleagues, teams or their mum. They live and breathe what they do, and they’re capable of selling in their craft.

They adapt to who they are speaking to

From asking for a multi-million-pound budget to hiring an intern. Better listener than a speaker. They listen to what’s happening in the business outside of their teams, on the project, and within their teams? How do they solve these?

It’s all about their team

You can’t be a leader of one, you’re only as good as your team. They shield their team from business politics enabling great design. They believe in Mentoring and set up teams and process to allow people to grow, allowing others to take the limelight.

A clear lack of female leadership in design

11% of leadership in design is female, but 53% of designers are female. How can we solve this massive problem? Mental stat.

They know what design is and able to create and execute a vision, methods and supporting a business through change

They break silos and empower the team to close the gap. For example, when working in cross-functional teams, is the collaboration between design and development smooth?

They build world-class teams. They build a team who know each others’ strengths and weaknesses and step up at the appropriate point, not one full of drama

They are big on value-based recruiting, hire for attitude and dislike BS ego.

Micro-management isn’t in their dictionary

Leaders empower people, managers manage things.

They have battle scars

They’ve been around the block. Sorry, not sorry.

Efficient with resources

Makes do with budgets but push for more with solid reasoning if they feel it necessary.



My podcast is called Digital Insider where I speak to a variety of leaders in the field, not just design related on insights into their lives, experience, advice to help others bridge the gap into a leadership role.

I’ve got some exciting episodes coming up including Tom Goodwin at Publicis, Sarah Mills at ConsenSys and a true celebrity of the design world. Keep your eyes peeled for that one! 😉