Poppy Gustafsson



  • Top SaaS CEO 2021


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Poppy Gustafsson is the CEO of Darktrace. He first joined the company in 2013 as founder and CFO. Darktrace is a world leader in autonomous cyber AI, having created the first, at-scale deployment of artificial intelligence for the enterprise.

Previously, Gustafsson was a corporate controller at HP Autonomy and before that a fund accountant at Amadeus Capital Partners. Earlier in his career he worked with Deloitte as an assistant manager.

Gustafsson earned an undergraduate degree in mathematics from the University of Sheffield.



  1. Poppy Gustafsson is CEO of Darktrace, the world’s leading cyber AI company, a business she co-founded with Cambridge mathematicians and government intelligence experts in 2013. A cloud-native company, Darktrace protects over 4,500 organizations around the globe from the full range of cyber-threats. A maths graduate and a chartered account, Poppy started her career in finance, becoming CFO for Darktrace in 2015, before being promoted to CEO. Her mathematical and data-driven mindset drives her decision-making yet she balances her affinity with numbers and logic with an empathy for employees and social awareness that is renowned within the company. She believes that “instincts lead you, but you need data to test your assumptions and decisions’’. Poppy is a prominent example of a female CEO, but she has also helped build an organization that is leading the way in gender diversity across all levels of seniority. 40% of Darktrace employees are women, with many fulfilling technical roles, such as sales engineers and cyber analysts. Her advocacy for women in technology is important in an industry that tends towards under-representation of women and has driven Darktrace to do more to promote STEM subjects to girls and young women. Under Poppy’s direction, Darktrace became a sponsor of WISE, a social enterprise that aims to increase female participation in science and technology. In 2019, Poppy was awarded an OBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours for her services to cyber security. She was also winner of 2020 Women of the Year Awards’ Woman of the Year for Technology and Innovation and Entrepreneur of the Year at the 2020 Inspiring Women in Business Awards. Poppy is above all an inspiration to this growing workforce and to the technology sector at large, and particularly to women. Balancing family life (she has two daughters) with her demanding role, Poppy pioneers a new model of leadership – one that couples a fiercely ambitious growth strategy with humility and compassion.

    Staff, submitted on

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