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UKtech50 2018 – the most influential people in UK IT

Computer Weekly has announced the ninth annual UKtech50 – our definitive list of the movers and shakers in the UK IT sector

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Computer Weekly has announced the ninth annual UKtech50, our definitive list of the movers and shakers in UK IT – the CIOs, industry executives, public servants and business leaders driving the role of technology in the UK economy.

Our aim was to identify the 50 most influential leaders in UK IT. An expert judging panel representing every aspect of the IT profession helped decide the results, along with a reader vote, to determine who holds the most influence over the future of the UK tech sector in the next 12 months – and the future of IT professionals across the country. 

Here is the list of the 50 most influential people in UK IT for the next 12 months:

1. Jacky Wright, chief digital and information officer, HMRC

Jacky Wright joined HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) as its chief digital and information officer (CDIO) in October 2017, where she leads the department’s digital transformation programme – one of the biggest in the public sector in Europe. Wright joined the department following several years at Microsoft, where she served as corporate vice-president. Previously, she was a CIO at BP for three years, and a CIO at GE for eight years. She is also an advocate for women in technology.

2. Sarah Wilkinson, CEO, NHS Digital 

Sarah Wilkinson joined NHS Digital as its CEO in 2017, when she took over from former NHS Digital boss Andy Williams. In her role as CEO, she is responsible for leading on digital transformation across health and social care. Prior to this, Wilkinson was chief technology officer at the Home Office, where she led many of the most critical IT systems supporting UK borders and policing. Wilkinson was previously managing director and head of corporate systems technology at Credit Suisse for over two years, having previously worked at HSBC, UBS and Deutsche Bank in various senior IT roles.

3. Jacqueline de Rojas, president, TechUK

Jacqueline de Rojas has 25 years’ experience in leading technology businesses. In 2015, she took over as president of IT industry trade association TechUK, where she is also board champion for women. The same year, she was also voted the “most influential woman in UK IT” in Computer Weekly’s annual poll, and in 2016 she entered the Most Influential Women in UK IT Hall of Fame.

4. Ciaran Martin, head of the National Cyber Security Centre 

Ciaran Martin was director general for government and industry cyber security at GCHQ, before becoming head of the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC). The centre, which officially launched in October 2016, aims to bring together the UK’s cyber expertise to transform how the country tackles cyber security issues. Martin is also a member of the GCHQ board. He joined GCHQ in 2014, following a role as constitution director at the Cabinet Office. He also spent three years as head of security and intelligence at the Cabinet Office.

5. Elizabeth Denham, UK information commissioner 

As information commissioner for the UK, Elizabeth Denham is responsible for ensuring information rights are in the public interest and leads the office dealing with the 1998 Data Protection Act. Prior to becoming information commissioner, Denham was the information and privacy commissioner for British Columbia, responsible for compliance with public and private sector privacy legislation and access to information law.

6. Cindy Rose, CEO, Microsoft UK

Cindy Rose was appointed the CEO of Microsoft UK in July 2016. As part of her role, she is responsible for all of Microsoft’s offerings and products in the UK. Before joining Microsoft, Rose spent three years heading up Vodafone’s UK consumer division, following her role as executive director of digital entertainment at Virgin Media. She has also held several senior executive positions at the Walt Disney Company.

7. Gerard Grech, CEO, Tech Nation

Gerard Grech succeeded Joanna Shields as CEO of Tech City in February 2014, having previously held a global marketing role at BlackBerry. In his current job, he leads the promotion and support of UK startups now that Tech City’s remit has expanded beyond its original east London base. He has supported technology entrepreneurs for several years.

8. Stuart Birrell, CIO, Heathrow Airport 

Stuart joined Heathrow in 2015 from McLaren Technology Group as CIO, leading the transformation of Heathrow to implement the emerging digital, big data and automation capabilities through innovation, skills and organisation planning. He has previously held several IT leadership roles across several industries and companies, including Gatwick Airport and Pepsico UK. 

9. Sharon White, CEO, Ofcom

Sharon White took over as chief executive of telecoms regulator Ofcom in March 2015 after spending two years as the second permanent secretary at HM Treasury – the first black person and the second woman, to hold the position. Prior to working with the Treasury, White had board-level positions at the Ministry of Justice and the Department for International Development, and was a civil service adviser at the prime minister’s Policy Unit.

10. Amali de Alwis, CEO, Code First: Girls

Amali de Alwis is CEO of coding education initiative Code First: Girls, which teaches women of all backgrounds how to code. De Alwis also acts as a CommonwealthFirst mentor for the Commonwealth Enterprise and Investment Council, providing mentorship and encouragement to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). Working to align education, skills and employment, De Alwis is also on the membership committee for working women’s club AllBright, and acts as a mentor for many startups. She was the winner of Computer Weekly’s Most Influential Women in UK IT 2018.

11. Demis Hassabis, founder and CEO, DeepMind 

Demis Hassabis founded artificial intelligence (AI) company Deepmind in 2010. The company, which was bought by Google in 2014 for around £400m, is involved in several AI projects across sectors, including the NHS. Prior to founding Deepmind, Hassabis completed a PhD in neuroscience at UCL.

12. Andrew Brammer, IT and shared services director, Allen and Overy

Andrew Brammer has been the director for IT and shared services at law firm Allen and Overy for the past four years, where he’s driving digital transformation in the legal sector. He has spent 16 years in various different roles within the company, managing technology, infrastructure, software development and governance, among other things.

13. Conor Whelan, group CIO, JLT 

Conor Whelan joined financial services firm Jardine Lloyd Thompson (JLT) as its group CIO in 2015. In his role at the firm, he is driving a programme to transform its IT function and digital transformation. Prior to taking on the role at JLT, Whelan spent four years at TNT Express, where he was chief operating officer.

14. Mike Potter, director, EU exit capability, Cabinet Office 

Long-standing civil servant Mike Potter is the director for EU exit capability at the Cabinet Office, a role he took on in February 2018. Prior to that, he became the director of the Future Border programme at HMRC in October 2017, where he was in charge of the department’s border technology plans, following a stint as the department’s interim CDIO. Potter first joined the civil service in 2004.  

15. Julian David, CEO, TechUK 

Julian David was appointed director general of technology trade body Intellect in March 2012 and led its relaunch as TechUK in November 2013. He has introduced a strategy for TechUK that aims to establish the organisation as the leading representative of the IT sector to government and a major influence over the role of technology in the UK economy.

The top five IT industry figures in the UKtech50 2018:

  1. Jacqueline de Rojas, president, TechUK (3rd)
  2. Cindy Rose, CEO, Microsoft UK (6th)
  3. Gerard Grech, CEO, Tech Nation (7th)
  4. Amali de Alwis, CEO, Code First: Girls (10th)
  5. Demis Hassabis, founder and CEO, DeepMind (11th)

16. Russ Shaw, founder, Tech London Advocates and Global Tech Advocates

Russ Shaw founded Tech London Advocates in April 2013, as a private sector group promoting London’s technology sector and connecting startups with enterprises. He has since been appointed as a London tech ambassador by the Mayor’s Office and a member of the Tech City Advisory Group, as well as being part of the London Technology Week steering group and a member of the UK Digital Skills Taskforce.

17. Charles Forte, CIO, Ministry of Defence

Charles Forte became CIO at the Ministry of Defence (MoD) in January 2018, replacing Mike Stone who left the department in March 2017. Before taking on the role at the MoD, Forte spent six months as interim CIO at Thames Water. Previously, he was CEO of group IT services at Prudential from March 2015 to the end of 2016, and before that, deputy group CIO and CIO of global operations at BP – as well as spending time as an independent consultant.

18. Bob Strudwick, CTO, Asos 

In 2015, Bob Strudwick became the first ever chief technology officer for online fashion retailer Asos, following various other roles within the company. In his post, he is creating and driving a technology strategy across the company. This includes transforming the retailer’s software design and development capabilities, ensuring it stays on top of the rapid transformation of the sector.   

19. John Seglias, group chief digital and information officer, Defra

The CDIO for the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra), John Seglias, joined the department in 2016 to create a shared digital, data and technology services function, bringing it all together under one umbrella. Seglias was previously CIO at transport operator Abellio.

20. Simon Segars, CEO, ARM Holdings

Simon Segars took over as chief executive of chip designer ARM in July 2013. Segars, who topped the UKtech50 list in 2016, has worked for ARM since 1991 and led the development of a number of the firm’s processor designs. ARM has become central to the mobile revolution, with its chip architectures powering most of the smartphones and tablets worldwide, while the firm is vying to make a similar impact on the emerging market for internet of things (IoT) devices. In 2016, Arm was acquired by Japanese technology firm Softbank Group.

21. Anne Boden, CEO, Starling Bank

Tech entrepreneur Anne Boden founded mobile-only Starling Bank in 2016. As CEO, she oversees the bank’s leadership team and drives forward her vision of building the best bank account in the world. Prior to setting up Starling Bank, Boden worked in several different roles within the banking industry, including a stint as COO for Irish Allied Bank.

22. Chi Onwurah, shadow minister for industrial strategy, science and innovation

Chinyelu Onwurah is shadow minister for industrial strategy, science and innovation. She led Labour’s pre-2015 election review of digital government policy. She was first 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 is co-chair of the Parliamentary ICT Forum (Pictfor) and former board member of the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology (Post). She is an advocate for digital skills and digital enablement.

23. Brent Hoberman, entrepreneur; chair of Founders Factory and Founders Forum

Serial entrepreneur Brent Hoberman is the chairman and co-founder of Founders Factory, a London-based accelerator and incubator. He is also a non-executive director and co-founder of Made.com and has sat on the board of several companies, including EasyCar and Shazam. In 1998, he co-founded Lastminute.com together with Martha Lane Fox.

24. Eileen Burbidge, chair of Tech Nation; partner, Passion Capital; government special envoy for fintech

Eileen Burbidge is a partner at Passion Capital, the London-based venture capital firm she established with Stefan Glaenzer and Robert Dighero. She brings extensive operational experience to her investment activities, gleaned from business and product development roles at Yahoo, Skype, PalmSource, Openwave, Sun and Apple. She also serves as chair for Tech Nation and is the special envoy for financial technology (fintech) for HM Treasury, as well as a member of the prime minister’s business advisory group.

25. Matthew Gould, director general for digital and media policy, DCMS

Matthew Gould was appointed director general in the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) in October 2016. He leads the department’s digital and media policy brief and its work to improve the digital and technology skills of the general public. His role also includes working on improving connectivity and infrastructure, building digital ecosystems and reducing the skills gap across the country. Prior to joining DCMS, Gould was the UK’s ambassador to Israel where he launched the UK Israel Tech Hub. He has previously led the cyber security unit at the Cabinet Office.

26. Charles Ewen, CIO, Met Office 

Charles Ewen is responsible for the development and implementation of Met Office IT strategy and for the internal technical teams in the Technology Information Services Directorate, as well as working closely with the weather forecaster’s science teams to operate its high-performance computing (HPC) capability. He has been CIO since January 2013, and has worked for the Met Office since 2008.

27. Matt Hancock, secretary of state for health and social care

Matt Hancock took over from Jeremy Hunt as secretary of state for health and social care in the July 2018 Cabinet reshuffle. Hancock had previously held the role as DCMS secretary of state since January 2018, when he was promoted from digital minister, looking after digital policy, following his role as Cabinet Office minister. As health and social care secretary, Hancock is making IT a crucial part of the reforms he wants to introduce across the NHS, with the launch of his “technology vision”.

28. Gavin Jackson, managing director of UK and Ireland, Amazon Web Services

Gavin Jackson joined Amazon Web Services (AWS) in 2015, where he is responsible for UK and Ireland. Prior to joining AWS, Jackson spent several years at VMware and has more than 16 years’ experience working in various technology companies. He also spent 10 years in several leadership positions at EMC.

29. Tim Berners-Lee, World Wide Web inventor; director of Open Data Institute

Undoubtedly the most famous UK computer scientist, Tim Berners-Lee has taken a high-profile global role as an advocate for the open web, net neutrality and online privacy, and an outspoken critic of government internet surveillance policies. As well as his evangelising of the web, he advises the government on open data as a director of the Open Data Institute. 

30. Mike Young, group CIO, Centrica

Mike Young joined Centrica as its group CIO in 2016, following several years as group CIO for the Dentsu Aegis Network and COO at the Post Office. At Centrica, Young is heading up a team at the very forefront of data science, driving the company’s data strategy.

The top five women in the UKtech50 2018: 

  1. Jacky Wright, chief digital and information officer, HMRC (1st)
  2. Sarah Wilkinson, CEO, NHS Digital (2nd)
  3. Jacqueline de Rojas, president, TechUK (3rd)
  4. Elizabeth Denham, UK information commissioner (5th)
  5. Cindy Rose, CEO, Microsoft UK (6th)

31. Christina Scott, CTO, News UK; deputy CTO, News Corp

Christina Scott was appointed chief technology officer (CTO) for News UK at the beginning of 2016 to assist with its digital initiatives, and is also deputy CTO for parent company News Corp. Prior to 2016, Scott was CIO for the Financial Times for over three years, where she was responsible for technology across the FT Group, leading a 400+ global team responsible for building and operating the infrastructure, business applications, data and consumer products across multiple platforms. 

32. Didier Lebrat, CTO, Sky

Since Didier Lebrat joined Sky in December 2006, the broadcaster has become one of the leaders in the digital transformation of home entertainment and communications. He leads the technical strategy, development and operations for broadcast, IT, internet and network platforms. Before joining Sky, Lebrat was CTO at Vodafone Italy and, before that, CTO at Orange UK.

33. Jeremy Wright MP, secretary of state for DCMS

Jeremy Wright was appointed DCMS secretary of state in the prime minister’s July 2018 Cabinet reshuffle, taking over from Matt Hancock.  Wright, who is the MP for Kenilworth and Southam, served as attorney general for four years, prior to taking on the role at DCMS. Before his role as attorney general, Wright was the parliamentary under-secretary at the Ministry of Justice.

34. Steve Millward, global CIO, BAE Systems

Steve Millward was appointed CIO of BAE Systems in 2012, where he is responsible for information management and technology. As global CIO at the defence manufacturer, Millward is at the forefront of changes in an industry that is increasingly driven by technology and innovation. He has previously run BAE’s global business development and UK defence businesses.

35. Margot James, digital minister, DCMS 

Former business minister Margot James took over as digital minister in January 2018. Her remit covers issues such as broadband, telecoms, broadcasting, creative industries, cyber security, tech startups and the tech industry. 

36. Theo Blackwell, chief digital officer to the Mayor of London 

Theo Blackwell was appointed London’s first chief digital officer in August 2017, where he is helping to develop a Smart London Plan. He is also working to promote pan-London collaboration on connectivity, digital inclusion, cyber security and open data, and contribute to plans for a London Office for Technology and Innovation. Blackwell has spent 15 years as a councillor in the London Borough of Camden, where he has led the implementation of an ambitious digital strategy for the borough. In 2010, he advised the then UK digital champion, Martha Lane Fox, on local government engagement.

37. David Henderson, director of technology and operations, Global

In his role at the Global Media and Entertainment group, David Henderson leads on digital transformation in the company. Henderson has been a CTO, CIO and COO for over 15 years. Prior to his role at Global, Henderson worked at the Daily Mail newspaper group.  He also runs an annual technology summer school at the University of Cambridge and has been a long-time diversity in technology campaigner, a mentor at Brunel University and an early signatory of The Tech Talent Charter.

38. Philip Jansen, incoming CEO, BT

Philip Jansen will take on the role as CEO of BT in early 2019, replacing outgoing chief executive Gavin Patterson. Jansen has been in charge of Worldpay since 2013, overseeing both its 2015 flotation and last year’s merger with e-commerce firm Vantiv. Prior to that he spent time in the cost sector catering trade at Brakes and Sodexo Group, as well as a spell managing the consumer operations of Telewest, a predecessor of Virgin Media.

39. Maggie Philbin, CEO, TeenTech

Maggie Philbin has worked in radio and television for more than 30 years on a wide range of science, medical and technology programmes. She is co-founder and CEO of TeenTech, an award-winning organisation that helps young people, their parents and teachers understand more about the real opportunities in science and technology. Reporting on science and technology for the BBC’s Bang Goes The Theory, providing analysis and comment on technology for BBC WebWise and a regular reporter on BBC1’s Inside Out, she has a unique resonance with audiences, having grown up with them on much-loved shows such as Swap Shop and Tomorrow’s World. She was the winner of Computer Weekly’s Most influential women in IT 2016. 

40. Greg Clark, secretary of state for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy 

Greg Clark was appointed business secretary in 2016, and is responsible for delivering on the government’s Industrial Strategy, as well as ensuring the country is at the forefront of science, research and innovation. Prior to getting involved in politics, Clark worked for the Boston Consulting Group.

41. Debbie Forster, CEO, Tech Talent Charter

Debbie Forster is CEO of government-backed initiative Tech Talent Charter, which aims to boost diversity and address gender imbalance in technology roles. She is also director at consultancy Novel Design, and director for international development at NCSSS. During her time as co-CEO at Apps for Good, Forster inspired hundreds of students, teachers, industry experts and sponsors to engage with the organisation. As well as scaling at an impressive rate under Forster’s leadership, Apps for Good is working hard to tackle diversity in science, technology, engineering and maths (Stem) education. The course has achieved and maintained a gender balance of close to 50/50.

42. Matthew Postgate, chief technology and product officer, BBC 

In his role as chief technology and product officer, Matthew Postgate is in charge of the BBC’s technology and systems. He is also leading the BBC’s project to consolidate the technology teams for BBC Digital, BBC Engineering and BBC Worldwide. Prior to becoming the BBC’s CTO, Postgate was part of the management team that launched iPlayer and worked with BBC Mobile to build the firm’s mobile services for customers.

43. Tabitha Goldstaub, co-founder, CognitionX; chair of government’s AI Council

Tabitha Goldstaub is an expert in the impact that artificial intelligence has on society, and co-founder of CognitionX, a platform and network which helps to build AI- and data-driven systems. She also sits on the marketing council for Founders4Schools, is an advisor for The Prince’s Trust and is the co-founder of Future Girl Corp, an organisation which runs free events for future female CEOs. Goldstaub was recently appointed as chair of the UK government’s AI Council.

44. Juliet Bauer, chief digital officer, NHS England

Juliet Bauer is the chief digital officer for NHS England, and is overseeing the transformation of the NHS Choices website, and development and delivery of technology that can be used by patients and carers to manage chronic conditions such as diabetes and asthma. She is also the patient governor for the Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, and is a founding member for networking group 10 Digital Ladies. Bauer has led delivery of similar technology programmes in many sectors, including leading the move to take Times Newspapers online.

45. Ian Bromwich, CIO for digital and transformation, Lloyds Banking Group 

Ian Bromwich is driving transformation at Lloyds Banking Group, looking at how the company works across digital platforms, robotics, machine intelligence and big data. Prior to joining Lloyds, Bromwich worked for Barclaycard, where he drove the company’s digital strategy, mobile payments, innovation, apps, DevOps and cyber across the global Barclaycard businesses.

46. Martyn Wallace, CDO, Scottish Local Government Digital Office 

Martyn Wallace was appointed CDO for Scottish local government in 2016. In his role, he is working to create a step-change in the way technology is used to help deliver services to citizens across Scotland’s public sector. This includes driving the digital office aims of becoming a centre of excellence for data, technology and digital, and helping the 27 councils across Scotland to transform their services. 

47. Matt Brittin, president, EMEA business and operations, Google 

Matt Brittin has been the president of Google’s EMEA business and operations since 2014, and first joined Google in 2007. During his time working for the company, Brittin has defined himself as “fiercely supportive of the UK media landscape” and has positioned Google as a key player in a new environment where traditional publishers are still working out how to survive in the digital age. 

48. Paul Fletcher, CEO, BCS – the Chartered Institute for IT

Paul Fletcher took over as BCS CEO in September 2014, replacing long-serving predecessor David Clarke. He previously spent 10 years at RM Education, where he was an executive director and group managing director of the education technology division. Prior to RM, he held senior management consultancy roles with AT Kearney and KPMG.

49. Kevin Cunnington, director general, Government Digital Service

Kevin Cunnington was appointed director general of the Government Digital Service (GDS) in the summer of 2016 after three years at the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) where he led the business transformation function. At GDS, Cunnington is responsible for delivering a new government digital transformation strategy. Prior to joining the government, Cunnington held leadership positions at Vodafone Group and Lebara.  

50. Paul Clarke, CTO, Ocado 

Paul Clarke is responsible for technology strategy at online grocer Ocado, a position he has held since 2012. Ocado runs mostly in-house systems and sees technology as a key differentiator. The technology estate includes real-time control systems, robotics, machine learning, simulation, data science, forecasting systems, routing systems, inference engines, big data and more.

Judging the UKtech50

The panel was chosen to represent different perspectives in IT – so each individual acted both as an impartial and expert judge, as well as an advocate for their area of interest. This was combined with a reader vote where we asked our readers to vote on who they wanted to top the list. The judges were:

  • Blaise Hammond, marketing director, TechUK
  • Cathy Holley, global head of digital and technology leaders practice, Savannah Group
  • Joanna Poplawska, executive director, The Corporate IT Forum
  • Adam Thilthorpe, director of policy, professionalism and public affairs, BCS

Our judging panel chose the top 50 candidates based on the following criteria:

  • Influence: What authority or ability does the person have – either through their personal position or the role they hold – to personally influence the development of UK IT, or to influence others in positions of authority?
  • Achievements: What has the person achieved in the past 12 months to help the development of UK IT?
  • Profile: Is the person recognised as a role model for aspiring leaders? How widely are they acknowledged by their peers as an authority and influence on UK IT?
  • Leadership: Does the person demonstrate the skills and experience necessary to be seen as a leader in the development of IT in the UK? Do they have a leadership role and does that help them develop the role of IT in the UK?
  • Potential: How likely is it that the person will have a significant impact on UK IT in the next 12 months? Will their authority and responsibility grow?

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