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UKtech50 2019 – the most influential people in UK technology

Computer Weekly has announced the 10th annual UKtech50 – our definitive list of the movers and shakers in the UK tech sector

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Computer Weekly has announced the 10th annual UKtech50, our definitive list of the movers and shakers in UK technology – 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 – and of IT professionals across the country – as we enter a new decade.

Here is the list of the 50 most influential people in UK technology for 2019:

1. Demis Hassabis, founder & CEO, DeepMind

Demis Hassabis founded artificial intelligence (AI) company DeepMind in 2010. The company, which was bought by Google in 2014 for about £400m, is involved in several AI projects across sectors, including the NHS. Before founding DeepMind, Hassabis completed a PhD in neuroscience at UCL. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society, Royal Academy of Engineering and the Royal Society of Arts, and in 2018 was awarded a CBE for services to science and technology. DeepMind is a British pioneer in a field that is set to dominate the IT scene in the decade to come.

Meet the UKtech50 winner

Click here to read our profile of UKtech50 winner Demis Hassabis, and read what he had to say on learning he had been announced as the most influential person in UK technology 2019.

2. Cindy Rose, CEO, Microsoft UK

Cindy Rose was appointed 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. In 2019, she was awarded an OBE for services to UK technology.

3. 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 UK Data Protection Act, the UK’s implementation of the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Her role is taking ever greater prominence as technology heightens public concerns around privacy and data protection. Before 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.

4. Matthew Gould, CEO, NHSX

Matt Gould became CEO of a new health service digital unit, NHSX, in July 2019, tasked with leading the NHS technology vision introduced by secretary of state Matt Hancock. Gould previously worked for Hancock as director general of the digital economy unit in the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) from October 2016. Before 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.

5. 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 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. In the past year, she has been one of the leading voices promoting the UK tech sector and has advised the government on digital policy. She also chairs the board of Digital Leaders.

6. 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. Before setting up Starling Bank, Boden worked in various roles in the banking industry, including a stint as COO for Irish Allied Bank.

7. Philip Jansen, CEO, BT

Philip Jansen became CEO of BT in 2019, replacing long-term chief executive Gavin Patterson. Jansen was in charge of Worldpay since 2013, overseeing both its 2015 flotation and a merger with e-commerce firm Vantiv. Before that, he spent time in the catering trade at Brakes and Sodexo Group, as well as a spell managing the consumer operations of Telewest, a predecessor of Virgin Media.

8. Ciaran Martin, CEO, 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 was 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.

9. Matthew Postgate, chief technology & 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 led the BBC’s project to consolidate the technology teams for BBC Digital, BBC Engineering and BBC Worldwide. Before 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.

10. Joanna Shields, CEO, BenevolentAI

Joanna Shields is CEO of BenevolentAI, a leader in the development and application of AI and machine learning to understand the underlying causes of disease, accelerate drug discovery, and develop new and more effective medicines. She previously served as the UK’s first minister for internet safety and security, as a government special adviser on the digital economy, and was chair and CEO of TechCityUK.

The top five women in UKtech50 2019

This year’s UKtech50 list contains its highest-ever proportion of women – 46% – offering hope that the best female talent in the UK is finally breaking through the glass ceiling of a male-dominated sector.

  1. Cindy Rose, CEO, Microsoft UK (2nd)
  2. Elizabeth Denham, UK information commissioner (3rd)
  3. Jacqueline De Rojas, president, TechUK (5th)
  4. Anne Boden, CEO, Starling Bank (6th)
  5. Joanna Shields, CEO, BenevolentAI (10th)

11. Tom Blomfield, CEO, Monzo

A serial entrepreneur in financial services technology, Tom Blomfield founded challenger bank Monzo in 2015 after working for rival Starling Bank. In 2013, he was co-founder of another fintech, GoCardless. The mobile-only Monzo has gathered more than three million customers and has proved particularly popular among young people and millennials.

12. Sarah Wilkinson, CEO, NHS Digital

Sarah Wilkinson joined NHS Digital as its CEO in 2017. In her role, she is responsible for leading on digital transformation delivery across health and social care. Previously, Wilkinson was chief technology officer at the Home Office, where she led many of the most critical IT systems supporting UK borders and policing. She 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.

13. 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 founded similar organisations under the Global Tech Advocates banner in 16 locations worldwide. He has since been appointed 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.

14. Debbie Forster, CEO, Tech Talent Charter

Debbie 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. She was voted Computer Weekly’s most influential woman in UK technology for 2019.

15. Andy Isherwood, EMEA managing director, Amazon Web Services

Isherwood is a UK IT industry veteran who took over running the European arm of Amazon Web Services in March 2018. He previously held a similar role at Hewlett Packard Enterprise, and was head of HP’s UK and Ireland business until April 2016. He worked for HP since 2001.

16. Joanna Davinson, chief digital, data and technology officer, Home Office

Joanna Davinson became chief digital, data and technology officer at the Home Office in November 2017. She oversees IT across the department, which includes UK borders, immigration, biometrics, security and law enforcement. She previously led IBM’s cognitive consulting, process consulting and business process outsourcing businesses in Europe, part of a 28-year career with IBM and PricewaterhouseCoopers.

17. Marta Krupinska, head, Google for Startups UK

Marta Krupinska has run Google’s UK startup support organisation since December 2018. Previously, she co-founded fintech startup Azimo in 2012, to make sending money easy and accessible for everyone. She has also been entrepreneur in residence for govtech accelerator Public and co-founded FreeUp.io, an “ethical fintech” firm that was acquired by fintech investor Greensill in October 2019.

18. 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. In the past year, David has been one of the leading voices representing the tech sector’s views on Brexit, and has advised the government on tech policy.

19. Jane Moran, CIO, Unilever

Jane Moran, global CIO at Unilever, was the first winner of Computer Weekly’s Most Influential Woman in UK IT when it was launched in 2012. At the time, Moran was CIO at Thomson Reuters, where she took part in the Thomson Reuters Women’s Network, Women in Technology International and the National Centre for Women in Technology. Alongside her duties as CIO of Unilever, Moran is a non-executive director for JP Morgan Securities and Institutional Cash Distributors, actively participating in the IT community, and is an advocate for leadership skills and ensuring more women consider a technology career. In 2014, Moran was placed first on the annual Computer Weekly UKTech50 list.

20. 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 role, he is both 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.

The top five IT leaders in UKtech50 2019

  1. Matthew Postgate, chief technology & product officer, BBC (9th)
  2. Joanna Davinson, chief digital, data and technology officer, Home Office (16th)
  3. Jane Moran, CIO, Unilever (19th)
  4. Bob Strudwick, CTO, Asos (20th)
  5. Aidan Hancock, CIO, Network Rail

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

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.

22. Aidan Hancock, CIO, Network Rail

Former BP technology chief Aidan Hancock became CIO of Network Rail in May 2019, where he leads a £969m IT plan supporting the continued modernisation of the UK’s railway system. Hancock spent 12 years at oil and gas giant BP, where he held a range of senior technology roles, including chief network architect and, most recently, CIO and vice-president for BP Middle East.

23. Poppy Gustafsson, co-CEO, Darktrace

Gustafsson has had several roles at AI and cyber security 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.

24. Alison Pritchard, director-general, Government Digital Service

Pritchard took over as interim director-general of GDS after the departure of predecessor Kevin Cunnington in summer 2019. She was previously director for EU exit and transformation at GDS. A career civil servant since 1987, prior to GDS, Pritchard was director of transformation at the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, and has worked across a range of departments, including the Ministry of Defence, HM Treasury, the Cabinet Office, the Home Office and DCMS.

25. 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 and big data.

26. 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 MoD role, 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.

27. Jeni Tennison, CEO, 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 CEO of not-for-profit the Open Data Institute. In 2014, Tennison was awarded an OBE for services to technology and open data.

28. Matt Brittin, president, EMEA business & operations, Google

Matt Brittin has been 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.

29. Robin Tombs, CEO, Yoti

Tombs is CEO and co-founder of Yoti, a free digital identity app. Previously, he was co-founder of Gamesys, an online gaming operator with more than 1,100 staff and offices in six countries. He worked at PwC as a chartered accountant from 1993 to 1997 in London before co-founding IDM with Noel Hayden, a web game business which they sold in 1999.

30. Mohamed Hammady, group CTO, Sky

As group CTO, Hammady owns the Sky-wide technology strategy. His team oversees all the technology systems underpinning Sky’s European TV services, broadband, mobile and digital platforms, as well major strategic programmes such as cyber security. He joined Sky in 2007 as director of network services, leading the team that built and operated the UK network, which now delivers broadband and telephony to several million Sky UK customers.

The top five public sector leaders in UKtech50 2019

  1. Elizabeth Denham, UK information commissioner (3rd)
  2. Matthew Gould, CEO, NHSX (4th)
  3. Ciaran Martin, CEO, National Cyber Security Centre (8th)
  4. Sarah Wilkinson, CEO, NHS Digital (12th)
  5. Joanna Davinson, chief digital, data and technology officer, Home Office (16th)

31. Reshma Sohoni, founding partner, Seedcamp

Reshma Sohoni is managing partner at Seedcamp, a venture capital firm that specialises in early-stage investments in tech startups. She co-founded the company in 2007 after working for 3i and in commercial strategy for Vodafone. She is also a senior adviser to Anthemis Group.

32. Rachel Coldicutt, CEO, Doteveryone

Since 2016, Rachel Coldicutt has been chief executive of Doteveryone, a UK think-tank working to make the internet, and digital society, a fairer place. She is stepping down from the role by the end of this year. Coldicutt has previously worked for Microsoft, Encyclopaedia Britannica, the BBC, BT, the V&A, Endemol and the Royal Opera House. She has also worked as a consultant in finance, energy, healthcare and the third sector.

33. Adrian Joseph, partner, EY

Adrian Joseph is a partner at EY, where he leads on artificial intelligence in financial services across the UK and Europe, and also sits on the consultancy’s UK advisory executive committee. He joined EY in 2017 after 10 years working in a variety of roles at Google. Joseph is also a non-executive director to the Home Office on developing its data, digital and diversity strategies.

34. Jo Twist, CEO, UKIE

Jo 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.

35. Adam Banks, group CTIO, Maersk

Adam Banks joined Maersk in August 2015 as vice-president and head of simplification in Maersk Line, before being appointed CIO for the shipping firm in 2017. He was previously CTO at Visa Europe, where he worked for 16 years. He is based in Copenhagen and spends time in the IT centres across Denmark, the UK and The Hague.

36. Damian Collins MP, chair, Digital, Culture, Media & Sport Committee

Damian Collins came to prominence in technology as chair of the Commons Digital, Culture, Media & Sport Committee, which has conducted a high-profile investigation of Facebook and other tech giants. He has been Conservative MP for Folkestone and Hythe since 2010.

37. Eileen Burbidge, chair, Tech Nation; partner, Passion Capital

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 was special envoy for fintech for HM Treasury, as well as a member of the prime minister’s business advisory group.

38. Brent Hoberman, entrepreneur; chair, Founders Factory & 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 with Martha Lane Fox.

39. Phil Swan, CIO and digital lead, Greater Manchester Combined Authority

Phil Swan was appointed CIO for the new Greater Manchester metropolitan region in 2017, working for mayor Andy Burnham. He has been a leading figure in local government IT for many years, following a six-year stint at Accenture.

40. Nigel Toon, CEO, Graphcore

Toon is co-founder and CEO of Graphcore, a rapidly growing British semiconductor company that specialises in accelerators for AI and machine learning. He was CEO of two venture capital-backed silicon companies before founding Graphcore – Picochip, which was sold to Mindspeed in 2012, and XMOS, in which Graphcore was incubated for two years before being established as a separate entity in 2016.

Top five startup leaders in UKtech50 2019

  1. Anne Boden, CEO, Starling Bank (6th)
  2. Joanna Shields, CEO, BenevolentAI (10th)
  3. Tom Blomfield, CEO, Monzo (11th)
  4. Russ Shaw , founder, Tech London Advocates and Global Tech Advocates (13th)
  5. Tabitha Goldstaub, co-founder, CognitionX (21st)

41. 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.

42. Mark Holt, CTO, Trainline

Holt is chief technology officer for Trainline, the train ticketing app that floated on the London Stock Exchange this year. He is responsible for the systems that support 80 million people every month from 173 different countries buying 204 tickets every minute. After spending his working life fulfilling roles in a range of entrepreneurial businesses, Holt became CTO Trainline in 2014.

43. Shashi Verma, director of strategy and CTO, Transport for London

Verma is director of strategy and chief technology officer at Transport for London (TfL). He has been CTO since March 2016, responsible for the IT systems that run public transport across the capital, including the Oyster card scheme. He has worked at TfL since 2002. He was previously at consultancy McKinsey.

44. Sarah Burnett, vice-president, research, 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, 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.

45. Alexandra Bolton, executive director, Centre for Digital Built Britain

Alexandra Bolton has been CDBB’s executive director since the centre moved to Cambridge in August 2017. Most recently, she has held roles within the Department of Engineering at the University of Cambridge. Previously, she has worked in industry and the City. CDBB is a partnership between the Department of Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy and the University of Cambridge to deliver a smart digital economy for infrastructure and construction.

46. Sherry Coutu, angel investor; founder, ScaleUp Institute; founder, Founders4Schools

The 2017 winner of Computer Weekly’s Most Influential Woman in UK Tech title, Coutu is a serial entrepreneur, having founded or co-founded companies such as Founders4Schools, Workfinder, the Scaleup Institute and Silicon Valley Comes to the UK. She now chairs these companies, is an angel investor, and sits on the boards of several companies, charities and universities. Coutu is a non-executive member of Pearson, DCMS, the Royal Society, Raspberry Pi Trading and the London Stock Exchange.

47. Dame Wendy Hall, professor of computer science, University of Southampton; UK’s AI skills champion

Hall holds several positions at the University of Southampton, including professor of computer science and pro vice-chancellor (international engagement), and is an executive director of the university’s Web Science Institute. She was named a Dame CBE in 2009, and is a fellow of the Royal Society. As well as being a member of the prime minister’s Council for Science and Technology, Hall was co-chair of the UK government’s 2017 AI Review, and was appointed as the UK’s first skills champion for AI.

48. 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.

49. 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.

50. Matt Warman, digital minister, DCMS

Warman was appointed minister for digital and broadband in July 2019, responsible for government policies such as online harms, digital skills and cyber security. He became a Conservative MP in the 205 election, having previously worked as a technology journalist at The Telegraph.

Judging the UKtech50

The judging panel was chosen to represent different perspectives in technology – so each individual acted both as an impartial and expert judge, as well as an advocate for their area of interest. The judges were:

  • Adam Thilthorpe, director for professionalism at the BCS.
  • Joanna Poplawska, CEO at CITF, the collaboration, innovation and technology forum.
  • Sue Daley, associate director, technology & innovation at TechUK.
  • Toby Macfarlane, team leader, executive search at our event partner, Spinks.
  • Paul Hunt, pre-sales director at our event sponsor, NashTech.
  • Bryan Glick, editor in chief, Computer Weekly

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 technology, 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 technology?
  • 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 tech?
  • Leadership: Does the person demonstrate the skills and experience necessary to be seen as a leader in the development of the tech community in the UK? Do they have a leadership role and does that help them develop the role of technology in the UK?
  • Potential: How likely is it that the person will have a significant impact on UK tech in the next 12 months? Will their authority and responsibility grow?

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