Values Determine the Future

Aaron Leigh

“Design creates culture. Culture shapes values. Values determine the future.”

Robert L. Peters’ famous maxim sums up how I had begun to think about my own role as a designer in the months before becoming aware of the Saltire Scholars Programme. As I approached the transition from the academic world to the commercial, what culture did I want to contribute to? One concerned only with profit, or one motivated by a strong, positive mission? What kind of values did I want to promote, and what future did I want my work to create?

My Saltire Scholarship at Cyacomb, joining the company as a Marketing & Comms Intern, was the perfect opportunity to work within an organisation that shares this mindset; at the core of their mission is harnessing the power of data and technology, so often employed in commercial contexts only to benefit narrow self-interests, to make the online world a safer place by finding and blocking harmful content.

Having joined Cyacomb during a major rebranding, my goal was to bring a fresh perspective and skillset to the company’s visual communications, promoting their ever more ambitious visions and solutions for a safer online future to those on the front line of protecting vulnerable people from online harms. I’d like to share three values fundamental to how the organisation works, and how these shaped a life-changing internship experience:


Working in a professional commercial environment can often come with high stakes, with Cyacomb’s role in protecting vulnerable people online being no exception. The necessity of working rigorously to find effective solutions, while challenging and time-consuming, was also a great opportunity to refine my skillset and knowledge within my area of work; every round of feedback on an animation I created demonstrating the benefits of Cyacomb’s digital forensics products, for example, deepened my understanding of the technology and key audiences in the sector, as well as honing my ability as a visual communicator. The experience of developing solutions that stood up to scrutiny at a professional level was a great means of building confidence in my own abilities and expanding my ambitions for the impact I could make with my work.


The Saltire Scholars Programme offers a unique opportunity to gain first-hand experience working within some of the world’s most innovative companies, with my internship embedding me into a disruptive start-up pushing the boundaries of what has traditionally been considered possible within the online safety tech sector. Being part of a rapidly scaling organisation gave me great insight into approaches towards breaking into new markets and sectors, especially with regards to understanding their needs and expectations, while the challenge of communicating pioneering technology to a range of technical and non-technical audiences improved my clarity and adaptability as a communicator. Perhaps most important, though, is the agency Saltire Scholars are given to lead and break their own ground; my experience with more in-depth graphic design processes meant I was soon leading projects from icon design to website content development, representing an invaluable opportunity to make tangible contributions to real-world outcomes.


A significant advantage of working in a values-driven organisation, where everyone involved is committed to achieving a common goal, is the tight-knit nature of the team this brings about. The necessity of communicating ideas and developing solutions across varying fields of expertise was incredibly beneficial and inspiring for me, as I quickly found myself gaining understanding of aspects of the company well beyond my initial job description, from UI/UX to the intricacies of digital forensics investigations. Observing how these dynamic interactions developed into innovative solutions, as well as having the opportunity to attend networking sessions at tech incubator CodeBase, strengthened my appreciation and enthusiasm for the future of innovation and entrepreneurship in Scotland, and for how my own knowledge and skillset could contribute.

My Saltire Scholar experience at Cyacomb was truly unforgettable, and I’m glad to say I will be continuing to work with the team over the next year alongside returning to university in September. My time with the company has undoubtedly expanded my confidence and ambition for how I can turn my own values into positive solutions and outcomes, and I’m excited to see projects I’ve been privileged enough to work on launch and develop over the coming months.

I would encourage anyone applying to the Saltire Scholars Programme to use this unique opportunity to seek out companies whose values align with your own, regardless of whether they lie within the traditional scope of your degree subject or previous experience; there’s no better way to make your work feel meaningful and really get the most out of your summer. What kind of future do you want to see?

Written by: Aaron Leigh
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