NAME: Leanne Sherry
ACTION/SECTOR: Science, Health, Research & Technology
ORGANIZATION: Saltire Foundation
My Background and Career
My background is in media marketing, working for the UK’s largest pay TV provider BskyB. I joined Sky on their graduate marketing programme, which, in that year, had 1,200 applicants for only 6 positions.
The programme gave me the opportunity to work in different areas of marketing, including customer acquisition, brand and internal communications. Most recently I was involved with their launch of the new internet TV company NOW TV. It’s set to be one of the biggest new brand launches in the UK this year.
My time at Sky taught me that I love creating new things. I was lucky to work with a company who were leading the way in entertainment and it gave me a passion for digital technology, customer communication and marketing.
The coming together of content, network and device, through the digital convergence has brought huge opportunities in my career.
Working for Sky gave me first-hand experience of being on the front end in the entertainment industry. In the last 5 years, the way we have been consuming and sharing content has completely changed.
I was lucky to work for a company who invested in R&D and choose to work in marketing teams who were launching new products or communicating new innovations. It allowed me stay close to changing customer behaviour and boosted my profile internally.
The digital convergence is touching every industry and it’s an area I want to remain close to in my future career
My mum works in a local school and my dad retired from ill health this year from a regional housing manager position. Neither went to university, neither worked overseas, neither particularly ‘enjoyed’ their job. As a result, they have been hugely supportive – both emotionally and financially – in every choice I have made.
I studied a joint honours degree in business management and geography from 2005 – 2009 at the University of Glasgow. The Business Management half has been the key to the front door for my career. People often ignore the geography part but for me this has been the bigger influence of the two.
My favourite classes were geographies of women and geo-politics of the global economy. They have taught me the importance of people, place and culture and has filled me with questions about the world. It continues to be the lens I use and has helped me think global from the outset.
Now I am studying entrepreneurship at Babson College, ranked the number 1 college in the world for entrepreneurship 16 years running. It is a hands-on entrepreneurship and leadership course, where I’m learning from people who have been there and done it. I feel privileged to be part of the Babson community and it’s refreshing to see a collage take such a hands-on approach to learning.
"I feel I have a lot to contribute to mentoring, coaching and motivating young people about to start their career.
I am a very resilient, determined and relentlessly positive person. This pushes me on to do more, be different and continue to have a smile and sense of humour. My character has helped me stand out, given me the confidence to network with people at the top of their industries and build and maintain a strong network of connections.
While my family provide me with support, my previous manager provides a critical eye on everything I do. I can go to him with any opportunity / concern I have and know I’ll get an unbiased discussion (and sometimes grilling) on whether it’s the best path. I think it’s healthy to have someone outside of your friends and family circle who you have this level of trust with and who isn’t afraid to be honest with you.
I also place huge value on the Saltire Foundation network I am part of. The group has around 900 ‘GlobalScots’ – senior business women and men around the world dedicated to helping Scotland’s businesses. The group of Fellows I have met through the programme will also be a lifelong support network for me, 20 people from different backgrounds – people I am currently living, working and studying with.
Hints & Tips
Lucky Phrase: You can go fast & go alone or go far & take others with you.
Advice to others –
• Cash flow is the most important thing for entrepreneurs. As a growing company, you can be a profitable business but unless you make cash, you can still go out of business.
• Attract & grow talent – you’re only as good as the people around you.
• Rapid prototyping. Don’t worry about working on something until it is perfect. Get customers & work with them to develop the product / service. It should never be seen as a finished article.
Assets to be developed - Perceptions on entrepreneurship. Governments & businesses need to start seeing entrepreneurship & intrapreneurship as critical success factors to help today’s economy. Thinking differently, challenging the status quo & disrupting industries are not negatives– they are essential for how we are going to survive & thrive.
We need to create a supportive social movement for entrepreneurs, to connect people & make them proud of what they are doing. In Boston I’m lucky to be immersed in one of the world’s most famous entrepreneurial ecosystms in the world. I’d love to take this back to Scotland & Europe to engage people on how powerful an entrepreneurial culture can be.
Weaknesses to overcome: For me, the key weakness to overcome is the thought that it’s best to hold ideas close to our chest. There is still a belief that sharing our ideas is a bad thing, possibly a mixture of fear of critique & someone stealing the idea.