Emma Robertson

CEO, Transform

Transform’s CEO, Emma Robertson, has worked with some of the UK’s biggest organisations, helping blue chip and emerging companies to re-orientate their businesses around the ever-changing customer.

Emma has extensive experience of digital transformation and her knowledge of eco-system thinking has resulted in a strong track record in high profile, customer-centred, results-driven projects for market leading companies including Hammerson, P&O, Homebase, Argos, eBay, BT and Tesco.

A regular face in the press, Emma has appeared as a guest on Sky Sunrise and Sky News, was invited to speak at Retail Week’s Tech festival and has commented in publications including MediTel, WARC and ITPro.

Winner of Management Today’s Best CEO Leadership in DE&I 2023.

1. What values are most important to you as a leader? 

Integrity – by far. For me if you hold your integrity that naturally encompasses honesty, authenticity, responsibility, and fundamentally talks to your truth, demonstrating you stand for what you believe in.

At the same time – this is more easily said than done.  It’s not always easy to dial into your integrity, especially if (like many women) you have the people-pleasing gene hard wired into your psyche . What you think and believe can get lost in trying to reflect what others believe and want so listening to your heart and your gut (as well as your head) is important.

2. Who or what is your biggest inspiration?

The older I get, the more I have honed in on my Mum as a source of inspiration for a lot of my life and choices. Certainly my persistence, determination and work ethic are from her – she never let me get away with “I don’t want to” –  and instilled a real sense of responsibility for my choices and actions.

She also totally rocked as a female coder, something which I totally took for granted and never realised how rare and impressive that was. I grew up in a house where my Mum was a computer programmer, and thought that was a normal job for a Mum. Considering only 18% of the technology community are women today, I am in awe of what she achieved.

3. Best piece of advice you have been given?

“It’s not all about you”. Early in my career a great manager took me aside to show me how inward looking I was, and whether something was good or bad, I had a habit of taking it upon myself. He showed me the power and importance of collaboration, and how you can achieve much more individually when part of  a team. Although it sounds obvious, this was a really pivotal moment for me and even now when I slip back into “woe is me” moments, I remember it.

4. What would you tell your younger self?

Have more self-belief and confidence. My default especially under stress is to worry and overthink but this doesn’t move a situation forwards. I would tell this to me today as well 😊

5. What has been your most important or profound lesson as a leader?

I think 2 things:

  1. You have to sort yourself out first. To deliver an outcome needs a team, the team needs direction and leadership, and leadership starts with you. When you step into the role of leader (which could be a job title, a project role or running a single workshop), you need to take a breath and own what comes next.
  1. Change is constant. This means you are never ‘done’. It can be easy to slip into thinking “I just need to finish this, then…”  or “We just need to win that, then…” or  “Once we complete the other, then…”. The reality is that leadership is not found in completing the tasks, and there is never a breathe-out moment where your work here is done. So you must enjoy the journey, and celebrate the wins along the way.