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General election 2015: Unruly COO Sarah Wood – I’m voting as…

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In her role as a technology entrepreneur, Wood is heavily involved with both public and private initiatives to create a more favourable climate for businesses to grow in. She joins our “I’m voting as…” series and shares some valuable insight.

Who are you and what does your business do?

Hello! I’m Sarah Wood, and I’m the COO and co-founder of video ad tech company Unruly. We help 84 per cent of Ad Age 100 brands get online video campaigns watched and shared across the web. So if you’ve ever watched roller-skating babies, singing kitties or moonwalking ponies online, chances are it’s our technology that’s powered the viral spread.

How has your business changed over the last five years?

This time five years ago there were five of us in a leaky London office with a golf umbrella over the server for when it rained. Now we have 200 employees across 15 offices around the world and we’re the leading platform for social video advertising. It’s been insane.

What are your growth plans for the next five years?

Looking ahead is key to survival in such a rapidly evolving digital media landscape. We’re always exploring new ways and new places to help brands reach audiences, wherever they’re watching or sharing videos

Unruly is the only ad technology company that connects the content stack with the programmatic stack. In five years’ time, we’ll be recognised internationally as the team that transformed digital advertising for the better.

What kind of government would you like to see elected?

Political parties have a habit of alienating voters in the run-up to the general election – here’s too much finger pointing, nitpicking and blaming each other for past failures. And not enough vision.

I’d like to see a collaborative, agile government with a clear understanding of the digital opportunity and a strong vision for the future of Great Britain. Given that 8 per cent of our GDP now comes from the tech sector and knowing that 27 per cent of all job growth in London comes from the digital sector, I’m looking for policies that support digital business, fuel the digital economy, prioritise digital inclusion and equip our children for a digital future.

This is why I am an ambassador of the Your Life campaign: we need to be proactive and encourage children to study subjects which will open up career paths in this digital age.

Read other “I’m voting as…” features:

Do you think government in general is doing enough to support businesses of your size?

The UK is a great place to do business and I’m confident that will continue to be the case whichever party is in Number 10. The current government has nurtured the tech ecosystem with the launch of Tech City and in particular the Future 50 programme, which has brought together a network of the most IPO-able companies in the UK. The startup ecosystem is extremely vibrant and the challenge now is to help successful businesses reach the next stage of growth and realise their full potential on an international stage. In other words, more needs to be done to help the UKs scale-ups grow.

The UK economy as a whole may be growing faster than any other G8 nation, but recent data shows that we lag behind the US and other leading economies in the extent to which our companies scale. To help close the scale-up gap, we’d like to see more done to build digital skill sets (the Digital Business Academy is a great initiative, which already has 12,000+ online students and a completion rate of 26 per cent) and improve London’s painfully slow broadband speeds, which lag behind the rest of Europe.

Has the impending general election caused any uncertainty regarding how you run your company?

It hasn’t really impacted Unruly. The only potential area of concern is the prospect of a referendum on Europe, which would be extremely unsettling for us as two-thirds of our revenues come from overseas, we have offices in several European cities, and we depend upon the skills and frictionless movement of our people across our various European offices to share best practices.

In one sentence, please finish this line: “I’m voting as…”

I’m voting as a mum of three, an employer of 200, an advocate of the digital economy and a passionate believer in equal opportunities for all.

Read more from our general election coverage:

Do you agree with Sarah Wood? Is there anything you’d like to add? Please let us know in the comments box below.

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