LDC Top 50 2022
The Data Shed
“I worked in marketing and it drove me bananas that I couldn’t get my hands on the data and insights to do my job properly,” says Anna Sutton. She started Leeds-based The Data Shed with her husband Ed in 2013 – when she was eight months pregnant.
The pair have since built a successful data consultancy with 65 employees, allowing them to self-fund the development of The Data Refinery, an all-in-one data platform launched this year. “I’m a badge-wearing feminist,” says Sutton. “We need to encourage more women into tech. If we don’t have diversity in the sector, we’ve got the wrong people building the wrong things.”
I’m a badge-wearing feminist. We need to encourage more women into tech. If we don’t have diversity in the sector, we’ve got the wrong people building the wrong things.”
Where does your entrepreneurial spirit come from?
My granddad was a miner and was absolutely determined that my father wouldn’t follow him down into the pits. So my dad started his own printing company. He was a huge inspiration when I was growing up; lots of conversations around the dinner table were about running a business. I did the Young Entrepreneurs Programme at school and studied management at university. I was set on owning my own business one day, too.
What drives you?
I want to break down barriers. Everyone should be able to access and activate the full value of data to do their jobs, regardless of their technical skills. It’s about having the right tools and training everyone to use them. Data shouldn’t be scary, and it shouldn’t just be for techies. It’s an enabler.
What’s been your toughest moment in business?
It wasn’t until 2018, when our youngest son started school, that I began working full-time at The Data Shed and stepped up to CEO, while my husband Ed moved into the CTO role. I found that transition really difficult and had a huge amount of imposter syndrome. I worked with a business coach on leadership and how to redefine my weaknesses as strengths. When you find yourself in the deep end, you learn to swim fast.