10 ways to unlock leadership & innovation in tech

Held at Scale Space White City with over 100 attendees, our annual London Tech Week event, in collaboration with Imperial Business Partners, attracted a diverse mix from corporates, start-ups, university professors, and students eager to understand the world of tech entrepreneurship.

Brilliantly chaired by Sophie Devonshire, CEO of The Marketing Society, the panel featured a stellar lineup of speakers each brought a unique perspective on integrating innovative practices into corporate culture, highlighting strategies to enhance leadership and drive technological advancements. 

Our panel was made up of: Dr. Shakiba Kaveh (CEO, MitraBio), Laura Keith (CEO, Hive Learning), Professor Markus Perkmann (Vice-Dean, Imperial College Business School), Jasper Joyce (Director of People Acceleration, Blenheim Chalcot)

The session kicked off with a keynote address from Stephen Cowan, Leader of the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham, setting out how the Hammersmith and Fulham’s Industrial Strategy has contributed to the incredible economic growth seen in the White City Innovation District. 

From pioneering non-invasive skin health technology to revolutionising learning platforms and exploring science-based entrepreneurship, the insights were both insightful and actionable.

Here’s a recap for everyone who didn’t get the chance to make it to this sold-out event:

  1. 🛍️Customer engagement is crucial: Customers aren’t just there to keep your business afloat – they are the lifeblood of your innovation.! Engaging with your audience isn’t just a polite ‘how do you do?’ – it’s a deep dive into their minds. By actively listening and incorporating their feedback, you’ll create products or services that truly solve real problems, rather than inventing things that gather dust.
  2. 🛣️Leadership by example: Effective leadership is about norming the context and setting the gold example for behaviour within the team. This isn’t just the CEO’s job – it is a practice that should permeate every level of the organisation. A good leader reflects on and defines the right attitudes, communication styles and approaches to meetings, emotions and conflicts.
  3. 🏎️A little more competition: Sometimes the best way to tackle a challenge is through a little healthy competition. By assigning multiple teams to work on the same problem, organisations can benefit from a wide range of solutions. While not every attempt will guarantee success, the collective effort boosted by the competitive spirit can lead to breakthroughs
  4. 🧗🏽‍♀️Encourage risk-taking: Leaders need to create an environment where taking bold leaps aren’t isn’t just allowed – it’s encouraged and celebrated. A culture where failure is seen as a stepping stone rather than a stumbling block is one that will succeed in the long term. You don’t get to the moon by playting it safe – you aim for the stars and cross your fingers for a soft landing.
  5. 🥁🎷🎻Foster Diversity: In 2024, diversity can feel like a buzzword, but it’s crucial for us not to become stagnant. Imagine a band where everyone plays the triangle. Sure, it might be harmonious, but it’s no symphony. Bringing together people with different backgrounds, perspectives, and skills can lead to creative solutions that you’d never dream up in a monotonous echo chamber.
  6. ❤️Human connection drives innovation: At the heart of every great innovation is a deep understanding of human needs. Empathy isn’t just for therapists – it’s for anyone who wants to create something meaningful. Whether you’re a startup founder or a corporate leader, it is undisputed that building strong relationships with your stakeholders is key to understanding their real problems and needs. With empathy as your guide, you’ll be better equipped to design and pitch solutions that truly resonate.
  7. 🏃‍♀️Don’t be left behind by AI: In the past two years large language models have revolutionised human relationships with computing. While this tech is amazing, honestly it is also a bit terrifying for some. But the key is to embrace these advancements and ensure you are using them to enhance processes and experiences in your organisations to stay ahead and efficient. Ignore this tech revolution at your peril; it’s like trying to ignore the internet in the ’90s.
  8. 🌈Maintain Optimism: In a world where bad news sells, maintaining an optimistic outlook is not always easy. But books like Hans Rosling’s ‘Factfulness’ remind us that things aren’t as bleak as they seem. This optimistic perspective however isn’t about ignoring problems but seeing opportunities for improvement, sometimes amidst the chaos. An optimistic leader inspires their team to look for silver linings, even in the darkest clouds.
  9. 🔌Empower the younger generation: Young people are the solution, not the problem and empowering younger generations through mentoring ensures a continuous flow of fresh ideas. And mentorship isn’t just about the old teaching the young – it’s a two-way street.! Knowledge exchange is magical even if it means you’re being taught about the latest TikTok trends (which, surprisingly, might be useful).
  10. 🧳Bring Value not Quantity: It’s not about the flash – it’s about the function. Remember, the wheelie suitcase wasn’t a marvel of technology, but it sure revolutionised travel. Often, it is these smaller, subtler innovations that bring the most value to society.