5 of the most influential women in Scottish tech right now

If you were asked to picture someone working in Scotland's thriving digital technology industry, then you'd be forgiven for imagining a bearded geek sitting behind a computer screen, dressed in a dirty T-shirt and untied trainers.

Vicky Brock, founder and chief executive of Clear Returns
Vicky Brock, founder and chief executive of Clear Returns

But you’d be wrong – working in the tech sector isn’t restricted to the caricatures presented on television programmes like The Big Bang Theory or The IT Crowd. Women are at the forefront of Scotland’s digi-tech sector, from running their own companies to leading larger organisations.

Vicky Brock, founder and chief executive, Clear ReturnsOnline businesses lose £20 billion of sales each year when customers return unwanted goods, which can also have a knock-on effect on the data companies use to make their decisions. Step forward Vicky Brock, who launched Clear Returns in 2012.

The Glasgow-based data company helps retailers to spot patterns among their returned items, allowing them to take remedial action at an earlier stage.

Brock has been named by both Forbes.com and Bloomberg as one of the nine top female tech chief executives to watch and sits on the Scottish Government’s data management board.

Gillian Docherty, chief executive, The Data Lab

In 2015 Gillian Docherty became the chief executive of The Data Lab, one of the eight innovation centres created by the Scottish Funding Council.

With £11.3 million of funding, The Data Lab is charged with helping companies and organisations to create at least 250 jobs and generate a further £100 million for Scotland’s economy.

It’s Docherty’s job to lead a team that will help the public and private sectors to harness the power of data. She was recently listed as one of the most influential people in data-driven business by DataIQ.

During her 22-year career at IBM, Docherty held a variety of sales and leadership roles across the UK.

Leah Hutcheon, founder and chief executive, Appointedd

Leah Hutcheon came up with the idea for Appointedd when she couldn’t find a hairdresser that would accept an online booking.

Spotting a gap in the market, Hutcheon created a service for small businesses that would allow them to book appointments through their websites.

Appointed has grown arms and legs and now offers a full suite of services, from email and text message marketing through to online payments to companies of all shapes and sizes.

Hutcheon is now encouraging others to follow in her footsteps as an ambassador for Women’s Enterprise Scotland and director of future leaders for membership body Entrepreneurial Scotland.

Morna Simpson, founder and programme lead, Girl Geek ScotlandSince founding Girl Geek Scotland in 2008, business consultant Morna Simpson has grown the network into a community for people who are working and studying in the creativity, computing and enterprise areas.

The organisation now has three teams working on panel events, mentoring, and short courses and hackathons.

Its events focus on cyber security, fintech and legal tech and aim to help people from start to finish in setting up their own businesses.

Simpson began her career in the tech sector in 1998 as a user-experience designer and front-end developer.

Rebecca Pick, founder and managing director, Pick Protection Rebecca Pick is preparing to launch the personal guardian, a discreet personal alarm that notifies police of the location of an attack.

Her company, Pick Protection, was founded in 2014 and its device is already attracting interest from individuals and from companies with lone-workers.

Pick became the first undergraduate winner of the Converge Challenge – the business start-up competition for students, graduates and staff at Scotland’s universities – and has gone on to raise £60,000 from Gabriel Investments and £744,000 from Equity Gap, as well as collecting a Scottish Edge prize along the way.

Scotland’s female tech stars are working on some big things. Want to join them? Find out more about Scotland’s thriving tech sector here.