Computer Weekly names the 25 most influential women in UK IT

Find out the results of Computer Weekly's Women in Technology Awards, ranking the top 25 most influential women in UK IT 2014

Computer Weekly has revealed its list of the 25 most influential women in UK IT in 2014.

The aim of compiling the annual list of the top 25 women in UK IT is to focus on the role of women in IT, to recognise the most influential role models and to discuss the vital part that female IT leaders will play in the UK’s high-tech economy.

The 25 inspirational women listed here on the 2014 list are role models for diversity and success among the tech community.

1. Dame Wendy Hall, professor of computer science at the University of Southampton, and founder of the Web Science Research Initiative

Dame Wendy Hall is founding director – along with Tim Berners-Lee, Nigel Shadbolt and Daniel J Weitzner – of the Web Science Research Initiative, a long-term research collaboration between the University of Southampton and MIT. 

She is a fellow of the BCS, the Royal Academy of Engineering, the Institute of Engineering and Technology, and the Royal Society. She was awarded a DBE in 2009 and a CBE in 2000.

2. Dame Stephanie Shirley

Dame Stephanie “Steve” Shirley is a British businesswoman and philanthropist who in 1962 founded software company FI Group (later Xansa, subsequently acquired by Steria). She created work opportunities for women with dependants, and predominantly employed women – only three out of FI’s 300-odd programmers were male – until the Sex Discrimination Act 1975 made that illegal. 

She adopted the name “Steve” to help her in the male-dominated business world. 

In 1993, she officially retired at the age of 60 and has taken up philanthropy since then. She was awarded an OBE in 1980  and made a Dame (DBE) in 2000. 

She set up the UK-based Shirley Foundation in 1986 with a substantial gift. Its mission is to facilitate and support pioneering projects with strategic impact in the field of autism spectrum disorders, with particular emphasis on medical research.

3. Joanna Shields, non-executive director at the London Stock Exchange Group and chair of Tech City

Joanna Shields is an American-British non-executive director at the London Stock Exchange Group. Before that she was CEO and chair of Tech City Investment Organisation and the UK government’s business ambassador for digital industries. Since stepping down, she has stayed on at Tech City UK as chairman. 

Before that she was vice-president and general manager of Facebook in Europe. She has also been president of people networks at AOL, a position she assumed after AOL’s acquisition of Bebo. At Bebo, she served as CEO, and before that was managing director for Google Europe, Russia, Middle East and Africa. 

In February 2013, she was rated one of the 100 most powerful women in the UK by Woman’s Hour on BBC Radio 4.

She was also recently awarded an OBE in the New Year's Honours list. 

4. Chi Onwurah, shadow Cabinet Office minister for digital government

Chinyelu Onwurah is shadow Cabinet Office minister for digital government, including cyber security. She is also leading Labour’s pre-election review of digital government policy. 

She was elected at the 2010 general election as MP for Newcastle upon Tyne Central. 

A chartered engineer and former head of telecoms technology at UK telecoms regulator Ofcom, she became shadow minister for business, innovation and skills (innovation, science and digital infrastructure) in 2010. She is co-chair of the Parliamentary ICT forum (Pictfor) and board member of the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology.

5. Maggie Philbin, CEO, TeenTech CIC

Maggie Philbin has worked in radio and television for over 30 years on a wide range of science, medical and technology programmes. She is co-founder and CEO of TeenTech CIC, an award-winning organisation that helps young people, their parents and teachers understand more about the real opportunities in science and technology. 

In 2012, she was awarded an honorary doctorate from De Montfort University for her contribution to the intellectual and cultural life of the nation and for stimulating interest in science and technology. 

She reports on science and technology for the BBC’s Bang Goes The Theory, provides analysis and comment on technology for BBC Webwise, and is a regular reporter on BBC 1’s Inside Out. She has a unique resonance with audiences, having presented on much loved shows such as Swap Shop and Tomorrow’s World.

6. Catherine Doran, CIO, Royal Mail Group

Royal Mail's third CIO in 18 months, Catherine Doran inherited a controversial IT transformation programme, as well as the government’s partial sell-off of the Post Office as part of its reorganisation of the UK postal service. 

She is responsible for devising and delivering the IT strategy to transform the technology estate. She joined Royal Mail from Network Rail where she led a company-wide transformation programme.

7. Susan Cooklin, CIO, Network Rail

Susan Cooklin is CIO at Network Rail. Her career spans over 20 years in financial services, leading business, technology and operational teams across global organisations. 

Last year, she took on the added responsibility for finance and HR shared services at the rail operator, with her team expanding from 600 to 1,000 people. 

Cooklin ran a business change programme in the corporate banking division of Barclays, where she worked for seven years before joining Network Rail in 2006 as head of IT delivery.

8. Denise McDonagh, CTO, Home Office

Denise McDonagh took up the role of Home Office CTO in 2013, having been programme director for the government’s G-Cloud cloud computing scheme. The cross-government G-Cloud programme aims to transform the direction and procurement of IT across the UK public sector, and reduce Home Office IT expenditure by 30%. 

McDonagh was previously director of Home Office IT, and represents a new breed of leaders, enabling innovation and focusing on building high-performing teams composed predominantly of civil servant IT professionals. 

She has more than 25 years’ experience in central government, including Defra and the Home Office, delivering high-profile IT programmes with budgets worth hundreds of millions of pounds. She is also the government representative on many senior supplier forums. 

She was awarded a CBE for services to IT in 2013.

9. Sue Black, founder and CEO, Savvify

Sue Black is CEO of Savvify and a senior research associate in the department of computer science at University College London. 

She originally set up Savvify as the GOTO Foundation, a non-profit organisation which aims to make computer science more meaningful to the public through projects such as #techmums. 

Black has been widely acclaimed for her role in campaigning to save Bletchley Park, the home of the UK’s secret codebreakers in the Second World War. She founded BCSWomen in 2001, which now has more than 1,200 members.

10. Claire Vyvyan, general manager and executive director, large institutions, Dell UK

Claire Vyvyan is general manager and executive director, large institutions, at Dell UK, and recently acted as general manager for Dell’s public sector business. She was previously director and general manager of Dell’s commercial business group in the UK and Netherlands between 2002 and 2009. 

Before rejoining Dell in April 2011, she was responsible for Microsoft’s global business relationship with BT, spanning market partnerships to consumers around TV, music and gaming. 

She has also held sales management roles in the public sector and commercial businesses for Compaq, as well as sales and marketing positions at Mars Group, including running Mars Electronics’ northern European distribution business.

11. Lyn Grobler, VP and CIO, functions, BP

Lyn Grobler is BP's vice-president and CIO of IT strategy and corporate functions and alternative energy and shipping businesses. 

With an extensive career in IT, she has been responsible for projects in banking, trading and energy environments for companies including ICL, Ralph M Parsons, Chase Manhattan Bank, and Koch Supply and Trading. 

She is a member of Women in Technology and leads the Women in IT&S group within BP.

12. Rebecca George, partner, Deloitte

Rebecca leads Deloitte’s Public Sector Health practice in the UK and is co-leader of Deloitte’s global Health Care strategy.  She is responsible for the work Deloitte does with the Department of Health and its ALBs, Health Regulators, and the NHS.  She leads Deloitte’s relationships with the Department of Health and Monitor, with organisations Deloitte partners with in Public Sector Health and in IT enabled transformation in health. 

Rebecca has worked exclusively with the Public Sector for over ten years.  She is a senior business manager with practical experience of managing businesses and improving operational efficiency.  She joined Deloitte as a Partner in 2006 after spending nearly 20 years at IBM in a variety of roles including sales, business process reengineering, and HR, in the UK, EMEA and globally.

Rebecca has been involved in activities to increase the participation of Women in the IT industry since the mid-1990s.  She is a VP and Trustee at the BCS, the Chartered Institute for IT, where she is a Fellow, and Chairs the Policy and Public Affairs Board.  She has the overall lead on Inclusivity and is leading a programme to roll out unconscious bias training across the Institute, which she will then take on to 29 other Professional Engineering Institutes across the UK.  She is a Liveryman at the Worshipful Company of IT.

She was honoured with an OBE in 2006 for work she did for the Government on Sustainable Communities. Rebecca is married with two sons aged 21 and 19.  Her husband gave up work as an academic in 1995 to be a house husband when they moved to the USA.  He has recently qualified as a lawyer.

Rising stars

The judging panel also selected five rising stars – women whose growing influence is likely to make them candidates for the top 25 in the coming years:

  • Sheree Atcheson, software engineer at Kainos and founder of Women Who Code UK and Belfast
  • Alice Bentinck, co-founder, Entrepreneur First
  • Cristiana Camisotti, co-founder, Silicon Milkroundabout
  • Anne-Marie Imafidon, enterprise collaboration strategist at Deutsche Bank and and head stemette at Stemettes
  • Charlotte Keens, project manager, UBS

13. Christina Scott, CIO, FT

Christina Scott was appointed CIO for the Financial Times in 2012. She is responsible for technology across the FT Group, working closely with editorial and commercial areas. She has a 400+ global team responsible for building and operating the infrastructure, business applications, data and consumer products across multiple platforms. 

Scott has over 20 years’ experience across the media, IT and engineering industries, plus a strong track record in designing and delivering commercial and editorial services and innovations. Before joining the FT, she worked in technology across a number of media companies, including the BBC, BT Vision, News International and ITV Digital, and spent several years as a consultant at Accenture.

14. Angela Morrison, CIO, Direct Line Group

Angela Morrison has been CIO of Direct Line Group – formerly known as RBS Insurance – for four years, managing business technology services, which shapes, builds, runs and governs IT for the company. 

Insurance was a new sector for Morrison. She had previously spent over 18 years in food retail and IT, including a decade at director level. She was also a member of Sainsbury’s operating board, responsible for insourcing the IT function and its subsequent transformation to support the business’s recovery plans. 

She started her career in a software house and spent seven years in consultancy before joining Asda, where she held a number of director roles, including establishing its home delivery grocery business, being CIO during the transition of systems from Asda to Wal-Mart, and latterly as European strategy director for Wal-Mart.

15. Hannah Dee, lecturer in computer science. Aberystwyth University

Hannah Dee has a degree in cognitive science, a master’s in philosophy and a doctorate in computing, all from the University of Leeds. Her research areas are computer vision for the analysis of human behaviour, the detection of shadows and reasoning about shadows, and student attitudes to the study of computer science. 

She has held post-doctoral positions in Grenoble (France), Leeds and Kingston upon Thames. 

She is also a women in computing activist and deputy chair of BCSWomen, the chartered institute for IT's group for women. She set up the BCSWomen Lovelace Colloquium, the UK's main conference for female undergraduates, which she has run for the last seven years.

On the judging panel

The list of the 25 most influential women in UK IT was selected by a judging panel of employers and IT leaders from across the industry, including:

  • Kayleigh Bateman, special projects editor at Computer Weekly and editor of CW Europe
  • Maggie Berry, founder of Women in Technology
  • Eileen Brown, chair of Intellect’s women in technology committee, and CEO of Amastra
  • Sheila Flavell, COO, FDM Group
  • Bryan Glick, editor in chief of Computer Weekly
  • and a reader vote on

16. Jacqueline de Rojas, non-executive director of Home Retail Group, and TechUK board member

Jacqueline de Rojas is non-executive director for Home Retail Group and a board member of TechUK. 

Previously, she was vice-president and general manager, UK and Ireland, at CA Technologies, responsible for sales, marketing and service. 

She joined CA Technologies in 2012 from McAfee, where she helped the business move away from a heavy reliance on renewal revenues towards a greater focus on new business. Her success in enabling this transition within just 30 months of appointment helped her win McAfee’s “vice-president of the year” award. 

Prior to this, she was managing director, UK and Ireland, at Novell UK. She has also held leadership roles at Cartesis, Business Objects, Legent and Informix.

17. Ursula Morgenstern, CEO, Atos UK and Ireland

Ursula Morgenstern has been CEO at Atos UK and Ireland since January 2012. In 2013 she was also appointed global CEO of Canopy, the Atos cloud and enterprise software service line.

She joined Atos Origin in 2004 as head of enterprise solutions, having previously been a partner at KPMG for four years and general manager at K&V Information Systems.

18. Emma Mulqueeny, founder, Rewired State

Emma Mulqueeny founded Rewired State and Young Rewired State. She is also a commissioner for the Speaker’s Commission on Digital Democracy and a Google fellow. 

She has recently been included in the 166th annual edition of Who’s Who, been voted onto the Wired 100 list, the Tech City 100 and the BIMA Hot 100. The Guardian newspaper named her as one of its top 10 women in technology and she features in the top 10 Tech Heroes for Good by innovation charity Nesta. 

Mulqueeny writes regularly for the British press and her own blog, speaks on radio and on television, is best known for her  “Year 8 is Too Late” campaign to encourage girls to take technology subjects, and for relentlessly pushing the potential of open data.

19. Kathryn Parsons, founder, Decoded

Kathryn Parsons is co-founder of Decoded, which teaches people to code in a day. Having launched this entirely self-funded business in 2011, she is now overseeing its international expansion and launching new products. Over 50% of Decoded staff are female.

20. Nicola Mendelsohn, managing director, Facebook Europe

Nicola Mendelsohn has been vice-president of Europe, the Middle East and Africa operations at Facebook since 2013. She is responsible for growing Facebook's advertising revenue and improving relationships with brands across the region. 

She has served as the president of the IPA (Institute of Practitioners in Advertising) and WACL (Women in Advertising and Communications London). She was executive chairman and partner of Karmarama advertising agency for five years. 

Her career in advertising began in 1992. She also serves as director of the Fragrance Foundation and is a board member of Cosmetic Executive Women. She is chair of the corporate board of Women's Aid.

21. Bindi Karia, vice president, Accelerator, Silicon Valley Bank

Bindi Karia leads Silicon Valley Bank’s early stage efforts as vice-president for its origination and entrepreneur commercial banking arm Accelerator. 

She has spent much of her career in and around the startup ecosystem, most recently as the venture capital/emerging business lead at Microsoft UK. For five years she led BizSpark in the UK (now known as Microsoft Ventures), concentrating on early-stage technology businesses, as well as being responsible for working alongside venture capitalists and angels on behalf of Microsoft. 

She sits on many industry advisory boards and has been recognised in many industry league tables over the years. She has recently been appointed a trustee for Startup Weekend Europe and is an active mentor and supporter of many of London’s top incubators, including Seedcamp, TechStars, Startupbootcamp, Wayra, Entrepreneur First and Level39.

22. Gillian Arnold, chair of BCSWomen, founder of Tectre

Gillian Arnold has 30 years’ experience in the IT industry, including 22 with IBM, and has undertaken customer-facing technical, sales, business development, strategic marketing and consultancy roles. She has managed and established teams for new products, and built teams with cross-industry and cross-platform experience across Europe and the UK. 

She has now retired from IBM. She has significant interest in encouraging more women into the science and technology sectors and has chaired a forum for IT trade body Intellect. She sits on the board of directors for the UK Resource Centre for Women in SET, and is currently chair of BCSWomen, which is part of BCS, the chartered institute for IT.

23. Edel McGrath, UK CIO, KPMG

Edel McGrath is the CIO for KPMG UK, one of the “big four” audit firms. She sits on the firm’s global IT steering group and has a key role in the EMA region CIO network. 

She has been with the firm for 20 years, having originally joined in an admin role. Today she is a role model in a KPMG programme designed to support female managers in their career progression. 

She has worked hard to understand the business issues to support the development of KPMG's IT strategy and deliver technology to make colleagues’ lives easier and to enhance productivity. 

24. Debbie Forster, UK managing director, Apps for Good

Debbie Forster is UK managing director at Apps for Good, an education and technology charity, overseeing business and daily operations. Apps for Good teaches young people to create apps that can change their world. 

She also serves as CDI Europe's lead expert on education, public sector and policy. Forster has 20 years of educational experience, 13 of them in leadership roles, including serving as headteacher of a mixed comprehensive school. 

At e-skills UK, she led on education policy and strategic engagement, working with employers, educators and policymakers in the technology sector.

25. Christine Ashton, SVP technology, Thomson Reuters

Christine Ashton is senior vice-president of Thomson Reuters. She joined the company in 2013 as global vice-president for MIS centres of delivery. 

Previously, she was the regional CIO for BG Group, responsible for IT strategies across this global energy company. Prior to joining BG, she was group strategy and technology director at Transport for London. From 2001 to 2008, she held senior IT positions at BP. She is a fellow of the BCS.


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