Kathryn Parsons

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Kathryn Parsons
Kathryn Parsons (cropped).jpg
Parsons in 2014
Kathryn Parsons

1982 (age 36–37)
Highgate, London, United Kingdom
EducationBA Classics, Downing College, Cambridge
OccupationCo-ceo of decoded
Years active2011—present

Kathryn Parsons MBE (born 1982)[1][2] is a British tech entrepreneur. She is the co-founder and co-CEO of Decoded, a London-based tech startup which aims to increase digital literacy. Decoded's signature one-day course claims to train participants without any background in computers to "code in a day".

Early life and education[edit]

Kathryn Parsons grew up in Highgate, where she still resides.[3][4] She was interested in languages in her youth and studied Japanese in night classes at the School of Oriental and African Studies.[3] From 2000 to 2003 she studied classical languages, literatures, and linguistics at Downing College, Cambridge, graduating with a BA in Classics.[1][5]


From 2004 to 2007 Parsons worked as UK head of channel planning for Ogilvy.[1][6] In 2008 she co-founded an advertising agency, Scarlett Mark,[7] which applied digital technology to branding; one of its notable brands was the virtual/real-world character "Cherry Girl" for MTV.[5][8]


In January 2011[4] Parsons, together with Alasdair Blackwell, Steve Henry, and Richard Peters, founded Decoded to help increase digital literacy.[7][8] Each of the founders provided start-up funding.[4] After eight months of testing the curriculum the Shoreditch-based company started teaching the course,[1] which claims to teach participants to "code in a day". It conducted its first workshop for 10 participants in August 2011.[7][8] By the end of the workshop, participants – who may be complete novices at coding – can build their own app, using programming languages such as HTML, CSS, and JavaScript.[8][9]

As of 2013, Decoded had been attended by 2,500 employees from over 450 companies;[7] attendance had risen to over 8,000 by September 2014.[10] Large clients, who send "scores of employees" to take the course, include Google, eBay, and Microsoft; other participating companies include "the creative departments of advertising agencies, investment banks and entertainment firms".[7] Employees of Facebook, BBC, Guardian Media Group, Accenture, TalkTalk, Unilever, WPP, UBS, Lloyd's of London, Thomas Cook, and McKinsey & Company have also taken the course.[4][10][11][12] Additionally, over 500 teachers have participated.[10] Decoded has opened branches in New York City and Sydney, and has "pop up" locations in 30 cities, including Shanghai, Hong Kong, Melbourne, and Los Angeles.[10][12][13]

In addition to its Code in a Day workshop, Decoded offers Data in a Day, Hacker in a Day, Innovation in a Day and Tech in a Day.[6][14] It has also created "codeED in a day" for teachers,[15] and open-sources its materials online for use by UK schoolteachers.[6] In spring 2014, the Guardian Media Group bought a 15 percent stake in Decoded.[16][17]

Honours and awards[edit]

In 2012 Parsons became the first winner in two categories in Red magazine's Hot Women's Award. She won in both UK Start-Up Entrepreneur of the Year and Digital Business of the Year.[18]

In 2013 she received the Veuve Clicquot New Generation Award[7] and the Women of the Future award in Technology.[19] She was named one of the 30 Most Important Women in Tech Under 30 by Business Insider,[6] one of the 35 Women Under 35 by Management Today,[2] one of The 1000 – London's Most Influential People 2014: Tech stars by the Evening Standard,[17] one of the "Ten women in tech you need to meet" by The Guardian,[20] and a "Rising Star" in Computer Weekly's UKtech 50.[11]

In 2014 she won Marie Claire magazine's Women at the Top award for top tech pioneer[21] and was included on The Sunday Times's Britain's Top 30 Female Power List[22] and The Telegraph's Britons of the Year 2014.[23] In March 2014 Parsons was named an ambassador of Tech City by London mayor Boris Johnson.[6][24]

In 2015 the Evening Standard included her on their Progress 1000: London's Most Influential People – Digerati,[25] and the Inspiring Fifty organisation named her one of the Fifty Most Inspiring Women in European Tech.[6]

She was appointed MBE in the 2017 New Year Honours.


Parsons speaks Japanese, Mandarin, French and Italian.[4]

In August 2015 Parsons revealed that she had imposed a personal ban on using email at work for three months, relying on the Slack real-time messaging system to communicate with her team.[8][23][26] After three months, she began accepting external emails but continued to refrain from internal email communication.[8]


  1. ^ a b c d Whittingham, Clive (13 November 2012). "Parsons the codebreaker makes it plain". Tech City Insider. Retrieved 5 November 2015.
  2. ^ a b de Vita, Emma (7 July 2013). "35 Women Under 35: Meet your next boss". Haymarket Media Group. Retrieved 5 November 2015.
  3. ^ a b "Kathryn Parsons: the woman on a major mission to teach us all how to code". London Evening Standard. 2 May 2013. Retrieved 5 November 2015.
  4. ^ a b c d e "Work Life: Kathryn Parsons, Co-Founder Of Decoded". Stylist. 2015. Retrieved 3 November 2015.
  5. ^ a b Cutruzzula, Kara (27 August 2013). "Month of Visionaries: Breaking into the tech boys' club". Refinery29. Retrieved 5 November 2015.
  6. ^ a b c d e f "Meet the Fifty Most Inspiring Women in European Tech". Inspiring Fifty. 2015. Archived from the original on 25 September 2015. Retrieved 5 November 2015.
  7. ^ a b c d e f Peacock, Louisa (5 May 2013). "Kathryn Parsons Cracks the Code to a Promising Business". The Sunday Telegraph. Retrieved 2 November 2015.
  8. ^ a b c d e f Packham, Amy (28 August 2015). "Kathryn Parsons, Co-Founder of Decoded on Her Email Ban And Why Tech Will Solve Our Digital Addictions". The Huffington Post UK. Retrieved 2 November 2015.
  9. ^ Clements, Brandon (29 December 2014). "Could you learn to code in a day?". CNN. Retrieved 3 November 2015.
  10. ^ a b c d Prevett, Hannah; Sandy, Emilie (1 September 2014). "Kathryn Parsons' Decoded is going the distance". Elite Business. Retrieved 5 November 2015.
  11. ^ a b Baldwin, Caroline (4 December 2013). "Rising Star: Kathryn Parsons co-founder Decoded (code in a day)". Computer Weekly. Retrieved 2 November 2015.
  12. ^ a b Medeiros, Joao (11 July 2013). "Kathryn Parsons's one-day Decoded courses are introducing corporates to coding". Wired. Retrieved 3 November 2015.
  13. ^ "Decoded Opens Doors in Sydney". The Australian Business Review. 7 October 2015. Retrieved 5 November 2015.
  14. ^ Davies, Jessica (27 September 2013). "Girl Guides: Kathryn Parsons on destroying the myths around digital coding". The Drum. Retrieved 5 November 2015.
  15. ^ Ashman, Sairah (10 July 2013). "Five questions with...Kathryn Parsons". Wolff Olins. Retrieved 5 November 2015.
  16. ^ "Decoded's Kathryn Parsons on demystifying the digital world (video)". The Guardian. 26 February 2014. Retrieved 2 November 2015.
  17. ^ a b "The 1000 – London's most influential people 2014: Tech stars". London Evening Standard. 24 October 2014. Retrieved 5 November 2015.
  18. ^ Andreou, Elena (28 November 2012). "Winners 2012". Red magazine UK. Retrieved 3 November 2015.
  19. ^ "2013 Awards". Women of the Future. Retrieved 5 November 2015.
  20. ^ Minter, Harriet (15 October 2015). "Ten Women in tech you need to meet". The Guardian. Retrieved 5 November 2015.
  21. ^ Rice, Francesca (1 October 2014). "Your Career How-To Guide From Our Women at the Top Award Winners". Marie Claire. Retrieved 5 November 2015.
  22. ^ "Kathryn Parsons". The Drum. 2015. Retrieved 3 November 2015.
  23. ^ a b "Britons of the Year 2014, part 1". The Daily Telegraph. 29 December 2014. Retrieved 5 November 2015.
  24. ^ Doshi, Vidhi (13 March 2014). "Boris Announces Vision for London's Tech City". Tech City News. Retrieved 5 November 2015.
  25. ^ "The Progress 1000: London's most influential people 2015 – Digerati". London Evening Standard. 17 September 2015. Retrieved 5 November 2015.
  26. ^ Godwin, Richard (2 September 2014). "Tech star Kathryn Parsons has deleted her email – do you dare?". London Evening Standard. Retrieved 3 November 2015.

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