Stepping Up by Sarah Wood and Niamh O'Keefe Published Today

"Sarah is one of the most inspiring leaders I know, anyone wanting to become one too should read this book." - Baroness Martha Lane Fox, founder of, Chancellor of The Open University, Board Member of Twitter.




By Sarah Wood and Niamh O’Keeffe

FT Publishing
19 October 2017

Stepping Up is a breakthrough leadership manifesto which urges everyone to transform business culture for the better. It's a call to arms and a practical toolkit for building quality leadership. The book asserts the need for more diverse leaders at all levels and from all backgrounds in today’s business world.


The book is written by tech entrepreneur Sarah Wood, co-founder and CEO of Unruly and experienced leadership advisor Niamh O’Keeffe. As one of the world’s most innovative ad tech companies, Unruly employs 300 people globally and was acquired by News Corp in 2015 for £114m.  


In an era defined by technological innovation, globalisation and greater job uncertainty, the UK labour market has witnessed a notable move away from traditional models of work, with an upsurge in self-employment and meteoric rise of the gig economy. In this setting, career success is defined less by climbing the corporate ladder and more by criss-crossing multiple roles and companies, possessing a continuous appetite for learning and taking on new opportunities and responsibilities.


This supportive, how-to book asserts that traditional management texts are no longer fit for purpose and only serve to lock out people and possibilities. It’s a call to arms that dares everyone and anyone to step up and lead in a disrupted world where success depends on harnessing technology, embracing our humanity and leaning into change


Stepping Up is for everyone who wants to have an impact in their business and its principles can be applied equally to those taking on their first leadership or management role, changing their job, or starting a new business. It is about empowering people at all stages of their career to understand and respond to the fast-changing world of work and develop the skills they need to lead themselves and others through it.   


The book is structured around a five point framework to help readers fulfil their ambitions:

1.       Vision – understanding fundamental changes in your industry and how to turn them to your advantage
2.       Values – developing a leadership mission and understanding why you want to lead
3.       Velocity – investing in yourself- the skillsand capabilities you need to be a leader
4.       Votes – finding, building and inspiring a brilliant team
5.       Victories – working as a leader to enable and deliver the best results


Stepping Updares more people to consider stepping up into leadership roles, asserting the need for more diverse leaders at all levels, of all ages and from all backgrounds in today’s business world. 


“This book suggests small steps for leaders that will help to bring about the big step-changes required by business today.”
— Sarah Wood, Co-Founder and CEO, Unruly
“This book is so needed. A manual for the leadership generation that want to create their own future.”
— Kathryn Parsons. Co-Founder & Co-CEO, Decoded


About the authors

Dr Sarah Wood is the co-founder and CEO of Unruly

Based in London’s Tech City and led by co-founders Scott Button, Sarah Wood, and Matt Cooke, Unruly is one of the world’s most innovative ad tech companies, getting videos seen, shared and loved across the open web. Its proprietary technology brings emotional intelligence to digital advertising in order to increase viewer engagement, brand performance and publisher revenues.

Driven by an interest in the creative and collaborative opportunities afforded by the social web and internet culture, Sarah, Scott and Matt could see that online video was about to pop. Together, they successfully developed the company, opening 20 offices and working with 90% of Ad Age 100 brands before being acquired by News Corp in 2015 for £114m. Unruly now employs over 300 people globally, who step up every day to #DeliverWow for brands and agencies.


Niamh O’Keeffe is a leadership advisor, published author and founder of First100. Niamh provides advice on key moments in the leadership role lifecycle; how to get promoted, how to have a great first 100 days, how to stay the course and legacy projects.

Niamh is the founder & Managing Director of First100 – a niche advisory business supporting leaders in the first 100 days of a new role appointment. She has a track record of over 25 years’ career experience, including eight years as a strategy consultant with Accenture, two years as an executive search consultant in the city of London, and over 12 years advisory experience as Founder and Managing Director of First100


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