"I won't give you the sort of answers that most people will."
I'm assured this fervently by the charismatic Jennifer Arcuri at the outset of our interview. The refreshingly frank founder of thought leadership network InnoTech and cyber security outfit Hacker House is quite the firebrand - and not one to mince words. It's precisely why I wanted to feature Arcuri in the second of a digital economy themed mini-special within the wider, long-running Digital Futures series.
American expat Arcuri is the creator of the InnoTech network, where a consistently open and unorthodox approach means she manages to get policy-makers (Boris Johnson is a regular) in the same room as influential founders and investors. More critically, there are no highfalutin, time-wasting keynote speeches or panels brimming with representatives from event sponsors. Instead, Arcuri determinedly gets government and tech industry folk debating the pressing challenges affecting the industry and committing to take real action.
Her other great passion is Hacker House: a security venture that identifies and nurtures a crack team of ethical hackers, aiming to provide best-in-class solutions. Then there's the Pink Sheet Database where Arcuri invites dynamic women in the digital sector to swap formal industry meet-and-greets for honest banter in an informal, anything-goes environment.
I pinned Arcuri down for what proved to be a high-octane dialogue, quizzing her on a gamut of issues to do with the digital economy: how does Britain now stack up to Silicon Valley? What skills will non-digital natives need to realistically compete in a surging digital economy? Is the "not enough women in tech" lament getting old and what can we do about it?
Arcuri offers her frank, firm stance across this spectrum of topics, including where you as a startup need to be if you want to go global, white hat hacking and how we'll truly rally more young girls to consider Stem (science, technology, engineering and maths) careers. Watch the playful yet insight-packed interview here!