Leading in a Digital World

The application process is open from 1 December 2022 until 6 January 2023.

This programme supports senior leaders to transform their organisation by addressing the challenges and opportunities presented by our digital world. Applications are welcomed from those working in the Scottish public and third sectors.



The future of Scotland as a thriving digital nation, as illustrated in the Digital Strategy A changing nation: how Scotland will thrive in a digital world relies on everyone being equipped with the best possible learning to empower them to do their job effectively and with confidence.

The Covid-19 pandemic has escalated the pace and scale of digital transformation, and this will only continue in the coming months and years. We want to be confident that Scotland is in a strong position to meet the challenges and realise the opportunities that this presents, and to further our reputation as an inclusive and outward-looking digital nation.  The Leading in a Digital World programme, with its mixture of academic input, real world insight and learning from digital leaders, will help you ensure that you are well equipped to serve your service users and communities, now and in the future.


About the programme

The 5-day programme is delivered over several weeks through in person and online sessions. It has been designed to lead you through a range of digital themes that underpin a senior leadership role, with a focus on supporting transformation. The programme was opened in 2022 by Mr Ivan McKee MSP and Minister for Business, Trade, Tourism and Enterprise, and is supported by Lesley Fraser, Director General Corporate and Geoff Huggins, Director Digital at the Scottish Government. Those completing the programme are eligible to enter the Scottish Digital Academy Alumni.

  • Day 1 – Transformation
  • Day 2 – System Leadership
  • Day 3 – Culture and Digital Skills (online)
  • Day 4 – Service Design and Agile Sprints
  • Day 5 – Challenges, opportunities and looking forward


Learning objectives

During the programme, you will:

  • Learn what is meant by public sector transformation, digital leadership, and how these terms relate to your current strategic and operational priorities, and broader policies in the Scottish context.
  • Explore digital maturity and identify your own challenges.
  • Learn how digital methods can support human and team-centred approaches to design, and how these can lead to innovation and enhance digital customer (and employee) experience.
  • Run through a strategic challenge to understand the interconnections between technology, organisational change and service delivery.
  • Reflect on the skills, capabilities, ethical considerations and behaviours modern leaders need to enable digital transformation.
  • Learn how to identify, nurture and recruit digital talent, set up teams and establish roles to stimulate a digital culture.
  • Learn about new platforms that can be used as enablers to better integrate into existing processes to support digital transformation, including: processes, digital collaboration tools and the use of physical/online spaces.
  • Explore digital and information governance approaches.
  • Learn about underlying conditions and investment needed to embed digital culture, new ways of working, processes and platforms within organisations.
  • Gain understanding of the digital funding and investment landscape.
  • Learn about system leadership and the value of continued collaboration.
  • Identify other common challenges faced by Scottish public sector leaders and begin to create a tangible action plan to take forward in your own context.
  • Explore the Scottish Approach to Service Design, the Digital Scotland Service Standard and the Scottish Government Design Toolkit.


How to apply

There are two concurrent cohorts due to run as outlined below. You must apply for your preferred cohort. Should you need to change cohort later, please contact us and we will do our best to accommodate you.

You must complete the application form and submit a personal statement which illustrates your role as a senior leader and how you feel the programme would benefit you and your organisation.

For an informal discussion about the programme, contact maryanne.mcgoldrick@gov.scot.



Apply for Cohort 18

Cohort 18 will run for 5 days from 14 February to 19 April as follows:

  • Day 1 (in person) 14 February 2023
  • Day 2 (in person) 15 February 2023
  • Day 3 (online) 14 March 2023
  • Day 4 (in person) 18 April 2023
  • Day 5 (in person) 19 April 2023



Apply for Cohort 19

Cohort 19 will run for 5 days from 28 March to 10 May as follows:

  • Day 1 (in person) 28 March 2023
  • Day 2 (in person) 29 March 2023
  • Day 3 (online) 25 April 2023
  • Day 4 (in person) 9 May 2023
  • Day 5 (in person) 10 May 2023


Frequently asked questions

What are the benefits?

This programme will help you to:

  • Gain a broader understanding of your role as a senior leader supporting transformation.
  • Look at digital leadership from a more holistic viewpoint, understanding the actors and organisations involved in the landscape and the institutions that shape it.
  • Reflect on the capabilities needed by senior leaders to foster a digital culture in your team and organisation.
  • Understand the ways and means of investing in a digital culture, beyond technology and how that drives your strategy.
  • Operationalise human-centred and digital methods within your team and organisation.
  • Actively reflect on how pressing current and future challenges can impact your work and understand what your role should be in those contexts.
  • Connect to other leaders and share knowledge and experience as well as explore opportunities for collaboration.

Who can apply?

Applications are invited from senior leaders working in the public and third sectors in Scotland. There is no specific job role, title or grade that defines a senior leader, but typically you will be responsible for budget and spending decisions, and you will lead teams and people supporting transformation. The programme explores themes such as culture and ways of working, so you must be in a position to influence this within your organisation.

Can I attend with others from my organisation?

Yes. However, each person must submit their own application and we ask you to inform us if more than one person intends to apply from the same organisation.

At the moment, we cannot offer more than four places to the same organisation.

How much does it cost to join the programme?

The programme is funded by the Scottish Digital Academy. You will be responsible for travel and accommodation where this is required. Lunch and refreshments will be provided.

There is a non-attendance and late cancellation fee of £1,000. It is therefore important to commit to the programme once your application has been accepted. More information can be found in our terms and conditions.

See all FAQs

"The leadership programme was hugely helpful in terms of my strategic understanding of what digital actually was and how it could be used for the benefit of my organisation.”

David Pirie, Executive Director, Evidence and Flooding at the Scottish Environment Protection Agency

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