Computer Weekly announces the Most Influential Women in UK Tech 2019

Computer Weekly has announced the 2019 list of the 50 Most Influential Women in UK Tech, including this year’s winner Debbie Forster

Computer Weekly has announced the 2019 list of the Most Influential Women in UK Technology, including this year’s winner Debbie Forster, CEO of the Tech Talent Charter.

The list, which is now in its eighth year, was introduced in 2012 to shine a light on the non-male role models in the technology sector.

Originally only showcasing 25 women, the list was extended in 2015 to include 50 women to make more female role models accessible and visible.

Computer Weekly also names several Rising Stars, and annually updates the list of women on its Hall of Fame – women who have made a lifetime contribution to the cause of diversity in tech.

Topping the list to claim the title of Most Influential Woman in UK Technology 2019 is Debbie Forster, CEO of industry initiative Tech Talent Charter, who began her career as a teacher and has since moved on to tackle the challenge of making the tech sector as diverse and inclusive as possible.

The top 50 were chosen from a longlist of more than 300 women, with this year being the third year the longlist of every woman nominated has been published.

1. Debbie Forster, CEO, Tech Talent Charter

Forster is CEO of government-backed initiative Tech Talent Charter, which aims to boost diversity and inclusion in the tech sector. She is also director at consultancy Novel Design, and director for international development at NCSSS.

Initially an English teacher, Forster has been involved in the tech sector for a decade, working as co-CEO for student-focused initiative Apps for Good, as well heading up education for e-skills UK.

In 2017, Forster received an MBE for digital innovation, and was named WISE woman of the year in 2016.

2. Anne-Marie Imafidon, CEO, Stemettes

Imafidon founded volunteer organisation Stemettes in 2013 to encourage young women into science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). She is also a board member at several STEM- and art-based companies and organisations.

As well as hosting the Evening Standard’s Women Tech Charge podcast, Imafidon was awarded an MBE in 2017 for her services to STEM, and is a trustee of the Institute for the Future of Work.

Imafidon appeared on Computer Weekly’s Rising Stars list in 2014.

3. Alice Bentinck, co-founder, Entrepreneur First

Bentinck is the co-founder of Entrepreneur First, a firm focused on supporting technology startups from around Europe. As part of the Entrepreneur First initiative, Bentinck also co-founded Code First: Girls, an organisation that provides part-time coding courses across university campuses.

She was on the advisory board of Founders4Schools for two years, and is on the Computer Science Department Industrial Liaison Board for Imperial College London.

Bentinck appeared on Computer Weekly’s Rising Stars list in 2014.

4. Tabitha Goldstaub, co-founder, CognitionX

Goldstaub is the co-founder of CognitionX, a platform and network that helps to build and accelerate the adoption of artificial intelligence (AI) and data-driven systems.

She is a serial entrepreneur, having co-founded several businesses, and has also worked with organisations such as Founders4Schools and Teens in AI, and is the chair of the government’s AI Council.

5. Jo Twist, CEO, UKIE

Twist is CEO of UKIE, the games industry trade body that aims to make the UK the leader in games and interactive entertainment.

With a long career in the entertainment industry, Twist was previously commissioning editor for education at Channel 4, and was multi-platform commissioner of entertainment and Switch for the BBC in the early 2000s.

In 2016, she received an OBE for her contribution to the creative industries.

6. Cindy Rose, CEO, Microsoft UK

Rose was appointed CEO of Microsoft in the UK in 2016, responsible for the firm’s product, service and support offering across the region.

Previously, Rose worked in senior roles across the technology and digital sectors, at firms such as Vodafone, Virgin Media and Disney’s Interactive Media Group.

In early 2019, she was awarded an OBE for services to UK technology.

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

Wright has been part of HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) since 2017, leading the department’s digital transformation programme as its chief digital and information officer.

She has a history of holding high-powered tech positions, such as corporate vice-president for Microsoft, CIO at BP and a CIO at GE.

8. Sarah Wilkinson, CEO, NHS Digital

In 2017, Wilkinson was appointed CEO of NHS Digital. Before that, she was chief technology officer (CTO) at the Home Office, where she led many of the most critical IT systems supporting UK borders and policing.

Prior to her roles within the public sector, Wilkinson had many jobs in the finance industry, including managing director and head of corporate systems technology at Credit Suisse, as well as various IT roles at HSBC, UBS and Deutsche Bank.

9. Elizabeth Denham, information commissioner

Denham’s role as information commissioner sees her responsible for ensuring that information rights are in the public interest and she leads the office dealing with the Data Protection Act 2018 – the UK’s implementation of the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

Before becoming information commissioner, Denham was the information and privacy commissioner for British Columbia, Canada, responsible for compliance with public and private sector privacy legislation and access to information law.

In 2018, she was awarded a CBE for services to information protection.

10. Sarah Luxford, director, Global Resourcing; co-founder, TLA Women in Tech

Luxford is director at Global Resourcing, and previously worked to help firms find talent as part of her role with Nexec.

Previously noted as a Computer Weekly Rising Star, Luxford is a co-lead of Tech London Advocates’ women in tech group, and was co-founder of Croydon Tech City, the second fastest-growing tech cluster in the capital.

11. Janet Coyle, director of trade and growth, London & Partners

Coyle holds several roles, including leading the export and growth strategy for London & Partners, leading the annual summit for Silicon Valley comes to the UK, and acts as co-chair for the Tech London Advocates Scale Up Group.

She is also an adviser for charity Founders4Schools and is working on a programme for the mayor of London to change how the capital’s high-growth companies can conduct business overseas.

12. Sarah Turner, founder, Angel Academe

Turner is currently CEO of Angel Academe, a pro-women and pro-diversity angel investment group focused on technology.

As well as founding Angel Academe, she co-founded a digital strategy consultancy in 2007, is a chair or a board member for several other groups and organisations, including the Low Carbon Innovation Fund and UK Business Angels Association.

13. Helen Milner, chief executive, Good Things Foundation

Milner is founder and CEO of not-for-profit the Good Things Foundation (formerly the Tinder Foundation) which aims to help the digitally excluded become comfortable using digital and online technologies.

Milner was previously a specialist government adviser of digital engagement for the Public Accounts Committee, and was awarded an OBE in 2015 for services to digital inclusion.

14. Priya Guha, venture partner, Merian Ventures; chair of board of trustees, Modern Muse

Guha has a history of working with startups, taking the role of venture partner at Merian Ventures at the beginning of 2019, having previously been ecosystem general manager for the London campus of Silicon Valley-born co-working space RocketSpace.

At the end of 2018, she became chair of the board of trustees for everywoman-backed charity Modern Muse, a digital platform which aims to inform girls about possible career choices.

Guha also acts as an adviser for Tech London Advocates and Big Youth Group, is a council member for InnovateUK, and is an ambassador for London Tech Week 2019.

15. Sarah Burnett, executive vice-president and distinguished analyst, Everest Group; chair, BCS Women

Burnett is the executive vice-president and distinguished analyst at Everest Group, where she uses her skills to lead the group on global service delivery automation research and European practice across its global services research areas.

Before joining Everest Group, Burnett was vice-president of research at Nelson Hall, covering areas such as infrastructure IT outsourcing, cloud, and government business process outsourcing. Burnett is now chair of BCSWomen and in 2017 launched the BCSWomen AI Accelerator.

16. Anne Boden, CEO, Starling Bank

Boden founded Starling Bank in 2014, where she is now CEO and a member of its board of directors, with the aim of creating a bank as focused on customer experience as possible.

She has a history in financial services, having previously worked for both Allied Irish Bank and RBS, and has just released a book, titled The Money Revolution, which aims to help people manage their money in a digitally driven world.

17. Carrie Anne Philbin, director of education, Raspberry Pi Foundation

As director of education, informal learning and educator support, Philbin has several responsibilities within the Raspberry Pi Foundation, including leading strategy, continuing professional development programmes and learning resources. Her various board member and chair roles are all aimed at making computer science more accessible for everyone.

Philbin is also a YouTuber, writer and secondary-level computing and ICT teacher. She creates a number of online resources for teenagers to help them use Raspberry Pi technology, and was one of Computer Weekly’s 2016 women in tech Rising Stars.

18. Sharon Moore, CTO for public sector, IBM UK

Moore is CTO for public sector at IBM UK, and has worn many hats during her 18 years at the firm, including leading on technology for its transport and travel department, and leading on digital engagement for the firm in the UK.

Moore is also a non-executive director for Censis – Innovation Centre, a board member of Scotland Women in Technology, and deputy chair of BCSWomen.

19. Jeni Tennison, CEO, the Open Data Institute

Tennison’s career has been focused on the collection and use of data, having been a technical architect and lead developer for Legislation.gov.uk, a member of the Open Data User Group, and an executive director for Open Addresses UK, as well as her position as CEO of not-for-profit the Open Data Institute.

In 2014, Tennison was awarded an OBE for services to technology and open data.

20. Pip Jamieson, founder and CEO, The Dots

Jamieson founded, and is CEO of, The Dots, a network designed to help people connect with creative professionals.

She is an advocate for diversity, and describes herself as “delightfully dyslexic”. The community at The Dots is made up of more than 68% women, 31% BAME, and 16% LGBT+ members.

21. Rioch Edwards-Brown, founder, So You Wanna Be In Tech?

Edwards-Brown, entrepreneur and founder of not-for-profit So You Wanna Be on TV?, is an advocate for diversity and has extensive media experience.

She began So You Wanna Be on TV? as a community outreach programme after her son was shot and stabbed at school, and uses the platform to tackle the lack of diversity and social mobility in TV by providing free employability skills through partnerships between TV, brands, corporates and the local community. Based on her already successful model, she launched So You Wanna Be In Tech? in 2016.

22. Bethany Koby, CEO and co-founder, Technology Will Save Us

Entrepreneur Koby founded Technology Will Save Us to encourage young people to be creators of technology rather than passive consumers. She is CEO of the organisation, and has an extensive background in the arts.

She is also a founding faculty member of the Vermont College of Fine Arts, and before her current work was the social impact director for brand consultancy Wolff Olins.

23. June Angelides, venture capitalist, Samos Investments

Angelides is an entrepreneur who went from a career in banking to a role as a venture capitalist at Samos Investments, and is a founding ambassador of the Fifty Fifty Pledge.

Angelides previously founded Mums in Technology, an immersive learning experience which helps mums learn to code and look after their children at the same time. She has been named a Rising Star by Computer Weekly in the past.

24. Sheila Flavell, COO, FDM Group

Flavell is chief operating officer (COO) and executive board member of IT service firm FDM Group, which aims to help the technology sector recruit people from more diverse backgrounds, including women and returners to work.

She is a non-executive director of TechUK and advises government committees on various issues, especially around the digital skills gap.

25. Naomi Timperley, board member, Capital Pilot; co-founder, Tech North Advocates

Timperley is the co-founder and director of Tech North Advocates, a collection of tech experts aimed at growing the tech sector outside of the London bubble.

Previously a Computer Weekly women in technology Rising Star, Timperley is a freelance consultant and board member at several tech-focused organisations.

26. Helen Wollaston, CEO, WISE

Wollaston has been chief executive of not-for-profit WISE since 2012, focused on helping more women to take roles in STEM. In her role, Wollaston has led campaigns to encourage young girls into STEM subjects, and helped companies to ensure women have the same opportunities as their male counterparts.

As well as her work at WISE, Wollaston owns a consultancy company, Equal to the Occasion, and is a non-executive director for Zero Waste Scotland.

27. Anne Marie Neatham, COO, Ocado Technology

Neatham has had a long career in the technology sector, starting as a software engineer in software and retail firms around the world. She’s now the COO of Ocado Technology, responsible for infrastructure and operations in the UK and Poland.

To encourage more girls into STEM, Neatham believes exposure to technology education from a young age is essential.

28. Sue Daley, head of AI, cloud and data analytics, and associate director of technology and innovation, TechUK

Daley leads TechUK’s work on cloud, data, analytics and AI and has been recognised in the UK Big Data 100 as a key influencer in driving forward the big data agenda.

As well as being a regular industry speaker, Daley is also a judge in the annual UK Cloud Awards. Before joining TechUK in January 2015, she was responsible for Symantec’s government relations in the UK and Ireland. She has spoken at events including the UK-China Internet Forum in Beijing, UN IGF and European RSA, on issues such as data usage and privacy, cloud computing and online child safety.

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

Burbidge is a partner at London-based venture capital (VC) firm Passion Capital, where she brings 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, is the special envoy for fintech for HM Treasury, and was previously a member of the prime minister’s business advisory group.

30. Elizabeth Varley, co-founder and CEO, TechHub

Varley is the CEO of TechHub, a tech entrepreneur community which aims to help East London-based startups and boost investment in the UK tech sector.

As well as setting up TechHub operations in Bangalore, Bucharest, Berlin and Riga, she has worked on setting up other sites around the UK in cities such as Manchester and Swansea.

Varley sits on many boards and has extensive experience with entrepreneurship, having previously set up Online Content UK and acted as a founding steering committee member of the DigitalEve women in technology organisation in the UK.

31. Hayaatun Sillem, CEO, Royal Academy of Engineering

Sillem previously held roles as CEO and director of strategy, director of programmes and fellowship, and head of international activities at the Royal Academy of Engineering, being appointed its CEO in 2018.

She is the commissioner and chair, expert stakeholder’s panel for Made Smarter UK, chair of judges for the St Andrews Prize for the Environment, and a trustee of EngineeringUK.

32. Tara Donnelly, CDO, NHSX

Donnelly heads up digital for the UK health service’s digital unit, NHSX, where she leads the team responsible for liaising with tech firms and digital health innovators.

Alongside her work with NHSX, Donnelly is a member of the board of trustees at health charity Nuffield Trust, president of the Health CEO’s Club, and chief executive of the Health Innovation Network.

33. Hilary Leevers, CEO, EngineeringUK

Leevers has a long history of work in science and education, holding roles at organisations such as the Campaign of Science and Engineering before becoming chief executive of EngineeringUK at the beginning of 2019, where she focuses on helping young people to become engineers.

She was previously head of education and learning at the Wellcome Trust, where she led a team that worked to develop a programme to improve science education.

34. Nicola Mendelsohn, vice-president EMEA, Facebook

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 is well known for being an advocate of women both within and outside of the technology sector, having served as president of the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising (IPA) and Women in Advertising and Communications London (WACL), as well as chair of the corporate board of Women’s Aid and director of the Women’s Prize.

35. Elena Sinel, founder, Acorn Associates and Teens in AI

Sinel founded Teens in AI and Acorn Associates to help young people solve real-world problems using artificial intelligence (AI), virtual reality, augmented reality and mixed reality technology.

She has won multiple awards, and before working on Acorn Associates and Teens in AI, Sinel was a consultant for several firms, including the British Council and the Ethiopian Cultural Heritage Project.

36. Poppy Gustafsson, co-CEO, Darktrace

Gustafsson has had several roles at AI firm Darktrace including chief financial officer and chief operating officer, before becoming co-CEO in 2016.

She is recognised in the sector for her work across firms such as HP Autonomy, Amadeus Capital Partners and Deloitte, earning her places in lists such as the Management Today 30 under 35 list, and was a winner in the Veuve Clicquot Business Woman Awards in 2019.

37. Suki Fuller, founder, Miribure

Fuller founded Miribure in 2015. The company uses data gathering and analytics to promote strategic decision-making in firms.

She is focused on increasing the number of women in the venture capital space through her work as co-lead of the FiftyFiftyPledge, and is co-founder and CEO of incubator and accelerator Salaam Ventures, which focuses on assisting ethical startups.

38. Trudy Norris-Grey, chair, WISE

Norris-Grey has spent most of her career focused on technology and digital transformation across firms such as BT, Sun Microsystems, Oracle and Eastman Kodak, where she held senior executive posts.

She is now chair of WISE (Women in Science, Engineering and Technology) and until 2019 was global managing director of local regional government, smart cities and connected infrastructure in Seattle, US, followed by a role as deputy CEO of enterprise and global partnerships at AXA.

39. Sarah Winmill, CIO, British Transport Police

Winmill has been with the British Transport Police since 2016, originally as acting CTO and now acting CIO. She has a history of working with not-for-profit organisations, having been head of IT at the Royal Academy of Arts, head of information systems services at the Victoria and Albert Museum, and chair of Charity IT Leaders.

40. Marija Butkovic, founder and CEO, Women of Wearables

Butkovic is CEO of Women of Wearables, an organisation which aims to act as a bridge for women involved with technologies such as wearable tech, fashion tech, internet of things (IoT), virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) fields. She is a digital marketing, technology and business consultant, as well as a serial entrepreneur and an advisory board member for the Independent Fashion Advisory Board (IFAB).

41. Christina Scott, chief technology officer, News UK; deputy CTO, News Corp

Scott has held several roles across the media, IT and engineering sectors, including jobs at the BBC, BT Vision, News International and ITV Digital, and as a consultant at Accenture.

She was appointed chief technology officer for News UK at the beginning of 2016 to assist with its digital initiatives, and was previously CIO at the Financial Times.

42. Magdalena Krön, ‎head of Rise London and FinTech platform lead, Barclays; co-founder, Geek Girl Meetup UK

Krön heads up Rise London, the Barclays Shoreditch Fintech hub which aims to connect the bank with London startups. She is also the vice-president of open innovation at the bank.

She co-founded Geek Girl Meetup in the UK, a network for women and girls interested in technology and design startups, and prior to Barclays, Krön was head of operations and investment manager at Capital List and the London Co-Investment Fund where she helped more than 300 startups with early stage business strategy.

43. Sophie Deen, CEO, Bright Little Labs

Deen’s book Detective Dot, produced at social enterprise Bright Little Labs where she is CEO, aims to use story-telling to inspire children to explore technology with an analytical eye.

With a background in law and education, Deen founded Bright Little Labs to create educationally valuable, gender-neutral and ethically sourced toys and materials.

In 2017, Bright Little Labs announced a funding partnership with Turner International.

44. Jess Wade, postdoctoral research associate, Imperial College London

Wade, a postdoctoral research associate at Imperial College London, conducts research into polymer-based light emitting diodes (LEDs), and has been published in several scientific journals.

To help tackle gender imbalance on Wikipedia, and to shine a light on women in STEM, Wade ran a year-long campaign to add profiles of women in STEM to Wikipedia.

Previously, Wade served on the WISE Campaign Young Women’s Board and the Women’s Engineering Society Council.

45. Priya Lakhani, founder and CEO, Century Tech

Lakhani founded Century Tech as a teaching and learning platform focused on subjects such as artificial intelligence, cognitive neuroscience, big data analytics and blockchain, where she is also CEO.

A frequent speaker, she is a member of the board of advisors at Heathrow, and a non-executive director at the Teaching Awards Trust.

She was awarded an OBE in 2014.

46. Kim Nilsson, co-founder and CEO, Pivigo

Nilsson is CEO at Pivigo, a marketplace which connects data scientists with companies that want to outsource data science and AI-based projects.

With a history in data, Nilsson is interested in data’s impact on people’s lives; she has previously chaired the big data and skills working group at TechUK, and is an advisory board member for Corndel, offering advice about the Corndel Data Analytics Diploma.

47. Debbie Wosskow, co-founder, AllBright; former CEO, Love Home Swap

Wosskow is chairman and co-founder of AllBright, a platform designed to help support and fund female entrepreneurs in the UK. She is also co-founder of digital platform Lifestyler.me and former CEO of home-exchange platform Love Home Swap.

Until March 2017, Wosskow acted as chairman for Sharing Economy UK, the trade body that represents the UK’s sharing economy businesses.

She was awarded an OBE in 2016 for services to business.

48. Rebecca George, lead public sector partner, Deloitte

George has been lead public sector partner at Deloitte since 2006, where she is responsible for projects such as improving citizen outcomes, helping public sector organisations improve efficiency and developing best practice. She is also Deloitte’s lead partner for government and public services, and NWE board member.

Before joining Deloitte, George held several roles at IBM, and is a vice-president and trustee of the BCS. In 2006, she was awarded an OBE for services to IT.

49. Wendy Tan White, vice-president, X – Alphabet’s Moonshot Factory; board trustee, Alan Turing Institute; member, Digital Economy Council

Tan White is vice-president at X, Alphabet’s Moonshot Factory, a group of investors and entrepreneurs aiming to use technology to save lives.

Tan White co-founded and was CEO of Moonfruit, a DIY website and online shop builder for small businesses, until 2015. She was awarded an MBE in 2016 for services to technology and business.

50. Margot James, former digital minister

Until July 2019, James was the government’s digital minister, covering issues such as broadband, telecoms, broadcasting, the creative industries, cyber security, tech startups and the tech industry.

She was previously minister for small business, consumers and corporate responsibility at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.