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WACL NED Talk – ‘Digital in the boardroom’ in conversation with Martha Lane Fox- 10 June 2021 @12:30 – Members only event

Jun 10, 2021

Digital continues to transform businesses across all sectors yet digital remains one of the big gaps on boards.  Keeping current and staying relevant in such a dynamic area is a challenge even for the most experienced, especially as it spans broad areas of expertise from communication and Ecommerce to cyber and overall business transformation. So what are the questions that boards should be asking when it comes to digital? Where does digital transformation sit in the hierarchy of a board agenda today? How can we stay current and relevant?

Join us for a conversation with ‘Queen of Digital’ Martha Lane Fox on Thursday 10 June from 12.30 – 1.30pm, when Mel Exon will be asking these important questions and more.

The Baroness Lane-Fox of Soho CBE, co-founded Europe’s largest travel and leisure website, lastminute.com with Brent Hoberman in 1998, which they took public in 2000 and sold in 2005. She founded Doteveryone, a charity that has provoked change in how tech is made and used responsibly.

Martha sits on the boards of Twitter, Chanel and is Chair of WeTransfer.  Her other Non-Executive Director roles include the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction and The Queen’s Commonwealth Trust.  She also co-founded and chairs Lucky Voice.

Martha entered the House of Lords as a crossbencher in 2013 and was appointed Chancellor of the Open University in 2014.  In 2019, she was named as the most influential woman in Britain’s digital sector from the past quarter of a century.

The event will be held on Thursday 10th of June 2021 from 12.30pm until 1.30pm as a video conference.

Key takeaways from the session

Baroness Martha Lane Fox shared her insights and experience across her impressive career and frankly answered WACLers questions in an excellent session led by WACL member Mel Exon on 10 June 2021. Her key points were:
  • She encouraged us to not feel boxed in or defined by any one particular role, but to continue to be inspired by people around us and maintain an entrepreneurial mindset.  Deeds not words.
  • She talked about the importance for Boards to represent a wider group of people across society.  Not only ensuring a more inclusive culture, including across all the types and ways of working ,but also doing the hard work of ensuring people feel welcome through every aspect of the organisation –from the initial recruitment ad and induction through to the provision of ongoing services.
  • Is it a modern business or not?  Does the business have the right processes and systems, organisational structure, culture, ways of working – that makes it most resilient and adaptive as it could be?  Is the broader question to ask rather than focus on any one particular digital aspect.  As a board member, always maintain the long strategic view.
  • She also gave us advice about building your recruiter network relationships, not relying on a strong CV and covering letter, when the recruiters can still be so influential.
  • Focus on *strategic* skills – don’t hold back. You aren’t there to run the company, above all you’re there to provide advice on the strategic direction
  • Make sure you’ve really connected the company objectives listed in any brief to your strategic skills, not just talked about those in the abstract
  • Ask the ‘So what?’ question and understand the unintended consequences of proposed strategies.
  • Encourage healthy discussion within the boardroom and discourage cliques. Nuke the politics and talk to people!

Speaker Biographies

Martha Lane Fox

Mel Exon

CEO / Writer / Trustee

Mel is a writer and creative business leader, with a background in advertising, entertainment and technology. In 2019 She was made a Trustee of Doteveryone, the responsible technology think tank founded by Martha Lane Fox. From 2016-2018 she was the Group CEO of the brand and entertainment company, Sunshine. Before joining Sunshine, Mel spent 19 years at BBH, latterly as their London Managing Director and, prior to that, their Chief Digital Officer. In 2008 she also co-founded and then ran BBH Labs, the company’s progressive innovation arm. With 25 years of award-winning advertising and entertainment marcomms under her belt, Mel has helped global brands as diverse as Levi’s, Tesco, British Airways, SoundCloud, Grey Goose, Yeo Valley and Johnnie Walker define and activate their brand purpose. She is deeply interested in how companies foster egalitarian, ‘high challenge, high support’ cultures and is particularly passionate about gender equality. She is currently taking a year out to enjoy a second life as a writer. Having already penned a children’s book in aid of Help Refugees, her new novel is set in 1970s Pakistan. She speaks German and Russian, is mother to two daughters, enjoys flipping pancakes and loves the very old and the very new.


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June 10
12:30 pm– 1:30 pm
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Video Conference
United Kingdom


Francesca Ecsery