Kathryn Parsons

Co-founder and co-CEO, Decoded

Kathryn is the founder of Decoded, a world-leader in technology education.  Decoded’s leadership workshops, technology immersions and skills bootcamps have educated over half a million people in code, data, AI and cyber literacy and skills over the past decade.  Her clients span the Global 2000 and policymakers in Washington and Whitehall.  

Kathryn is on a mission to put the knowledge, tools and skills of the future in people’s hands, so that they can thrive in an increasingly technology driven world. Described as an “economic force”, in addition to founding her business, Kathryn successfully campaigned for coding to be added to the UK National Curriculum in 2014, making it one of the first countries to do so.  Millions of children have subsequently been introduced to computational thinking in the classroom.  As a result, Kathryn was awarded an MBE for Services to Education from The Queen.

Kathryn has sat on the boards of The UK Department for Business, Number Ten Downing Street, His Majesty’s Treasury, The London Mayor and Royal United Services Institute advising policymakers in Washington and Whitehall on the future of work and decoding emerging technologies such as AI.

Kathryn reports on the innovations and news in technology from Silicon Valley for media including The Times of London and Financial Times.

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

1. Simplicity: No jargon, no cliches; less is more. Decoded embodies simplicity in both name and behavior.

2. Excellence: Deliver world-class products and services. It’s easier to sell a product you believe is the best at what it does.

3. Impact: Excellence is measured by impact. What is the return on investment of your products?

4. Integrity: Never sell a client something they do not need. Be honest about what you can and cannot do.

5. Fun: Are your products enjoyable to experience and use? Bring joy to your customers’ working lives.

2. Who or what is your biggest inspiration?

My mother and father will always be my greatest inspiration. They brought me and my sister up with an ethic of hard work, with the opportunity to have a fantastic education, to live in the United Kingdom and with a steadfast belief that as women we could achieve anything we put our minds to.

3. Best piece of advice you have been given?

To be honest, 99% of the advice I have received from anyone (other than my family) has been of dubious quality. Educate yourself. Learn how to think critically. Be confident in your process and know what advice to seek and what to discard.

4. What would you tell your younger self?

She simply wouldn’t believe it if I told her everything she was going to achieve and experience.  

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

I work in technology.  It’s all data this, AI that.  But at the end of the day, leadership is about human beings.  The squishy, difficult, emotional stuff.  That’s what matters most.