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UKtech50 2022: Vote for the most influential person in UK technology

Our judges have selected the top 50 leaders from a shortlist of over 250 people – now it’s your chance to tell us who you think is the most influential person in UK technology

It’s now your opportunity to vote for the 2022 edition of Computer Weekly’s annual UKtech50, our definitive list of the movers and shakers in UK technology – the CIOs, industry executives, public servants and business leaders driving forward the UK’s digital economy.

Whoever tops the list will be the person who, in the opinion of our judges and readers, holds the most influence over the future of the UK tech sector in 2022 – and hence the future of IT professionals across the country.

Our expert judging panel has selected a shortlist of 50 leaders shown below – chosen from a record 250 nominations that were suggested by readers, the Computer Weekly team, and the judges themselves. Now we want your vote on who you think deserves the coveted top spot on this year’s list.  

The judges’ selection of the top 50 was influenced by several important tech trends, not least the importance of the private sector in leading the UK’s recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic. The list reflects the growing influence of sustainability and ethics in the IT sector, as the digital revolution continues to transform the way we all live and work. And judges were keen to promote diversity in the tech community – in terms of gender, ethnicity, geography, industry sector and company size.

The work undertaken by IT leaders in every sector during the pandemic showed resilience and innovation, and the top 50 list reflects the hard work organisations and individuals are putting in to rebuild under today’s challenging economic conditions.

In 2021, the 11th annual UKtech50 saw Sarah Wilkinson, CEO of NHS Digital, top the list, in recognition of the incredible efforts of the health service IT community to support colleagues, patients and the public with digital innovation during the coronavirus crisis. Wilkinson has since moved on to become CIO of Thomson Reuters, based in Switzerland.

Whoever tops the list in 2022 will be the person who, in the opinion of our judges and readers, holds the most influence over the future of the UK’s digital economy. The winner will be announced online at the end of June.

Read more about UKtech50 2022 here and submit your vote now – simply click on the button next to the person you wish to vote for and click the “submit” button below the list. Voting closes at 5pm on Friday 17 June 2022.

Our thanks to the team at Nash Squared for their support with this year’s UKtech50.

The full shortlist is also shown in alphabetical order, with short biographies, at the end of this article.

Judging the UKtech50

The judging 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. The judges were:

  • Adam Thilthorpe, director for professionalism at BCS, the Chartered Institute for IT.
  • Joanna Poplawska, CEO at CITF, the collaboration, innovation and technology forum.
  • Sue Daley, director of technology and innovation at TechUK.
  • Rhona Carmichael, regional managing director at Harvey Nash UK North & Ireland.
  • Andy Heyes, UK South managing director at Harvey Nash.

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?

The UKtech50 2022 shortlist:

Names are listed in alphabetical order.

Anne-Marie Imafidon, CEO, Stemettes

Imafidon is CEO, founder and head stemette at social enterprise Stemettes, which aims to encourage young women to choose careers in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM). She has become a high-profile advocate and campaigner, taking part in racing driver Lewis Hamilton’s commission to encourage a more diverse workforce in engineering, and appeared on the Channel 4 show Countdown while regular mathematician Rachel Riley was on maternity leave. Imafidon was voted the most influential women in UK technology in 2020.

Bella Abrams, director of IT, University of Sheffield

Abrams joined the University of Sheffield as director of IT in 2019. She has 19 years’ experience working in IT in the public and private education sector. Most recently, she was CIO at Sheffield College and held a number of roles developing and delivering online education and assessment services.

Bev White, CEO, Nash Squared

As CEO of Nash Squared – formerly known as Harvey Nash Group – White heads up the global firm which provides IT recruitment, technology solutions and leaderships services out of 36 offices across the world. White has a long background in the tech sector, having previously held roles as CIO and director of IT, as well as completing a degree in computer science.

Brent Hoberman, entrepreneur; chair of Founders Factory & Founders Forum

Serial entrepreneur 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 and has sat on the board of several companies, including EasyCar and Shazam. In 1998, he co-founded together with Martha Lane Fox.

Caroline Gorski, CEO, R² Factory at Rolls-Royce

Gorski is a technology leader of more than 25 years’ experience, with a background in strategy consulting, market development and commercial decision-making at FTSE 100 board-level. She is co-founder of the Emergent Alliance, a not-for-profit global data collaboration initiative focusing on economic recovery analytics in response to Covid-19. She is also CEO of R² Data Labs, the data innovation and artificial intelligence catalyst inside Rolls-Royce.

Charles Forte, CIO, Ministry of Defence

Forte became CIO at the Ministry of Defence (MoD) in January 2018. 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.

Chi Onwurah, shadow minister for science, research and digital, Labour

Chi Onwurah is the Labour MP for Newcastle upon Tyne Central and is the shadow digital minister. A chartered engineer and former head of telecoms technology at UK regulator Ofcom, she is vice-chair of the Parliamentary ICT Forum (Pictfor) and former board member of the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology.

Chris Philp, minister for tech and the digital economy, DCMS

Philp is the UK government minister responsible for tech and the digital economy, covering digital and tech policy, online safety, international strategy, gambling and lotteries, and legislation. He was appointed to his role at the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) on 17 September 2021.

Cijo Joseph, chief technology and information officer, Mitie

Joseph was appointed CTIO at facilities management provider Mitie in April 2019, having previously served as director of strategy and solutions. Prior to Mitie, he was in senior application development roles at Centrica/British Gas.

Cindy Rose, president, Microsoft Western Europe

Rose was recently appointed the president of Western Europe for Microsoft, having served as the CEO of Microsoft UK since 2016, where she was responsible for the firm’s product, service and support offering across the region. Last year, she was added to the Computer Weekly women in technology hall of fame.

Clare Barclay, CEO, Microsoft UK

Barclay is CEO of Microsoft UK, where she is responsible for all of Microsoft’s product and service offerings in the UK and for supporting the success of its commercial customers and partners. Prior to October 2020, she was the software giant’s UK chief operating officer for four years.

Daljit Rehal, CDIO, HMRC

Former Centrica IT chief Rehal was appointed chief digital and information officer (CDIO) at HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) in September 2020. He is responsible for a budget of over £1bn and oversees some of the highest-profile IT systems in government, such as taxes, national insurance and the customs applications at the UK’s complex post-Brexit borders.

Dara Nasr, managing director, Twitter UK

Nasr originally joined Twitter back in November 2012, heading up its sales team, before becoming managing director in 2016. Prior to joining Twitter UK, Nasr oversaw the sales team for YouTube and Display at Google.

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. She was voted the most influential woman in UK technology in 2019. 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.

Demis Hassabis, founder & CEO, DeepMind

Hassabis founded 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 previous UKtech50 winner, in 2019.

Ed Alford, CTO, New Look

Alford was appointed to the newly created role of CTO at New Look in April 2021. He is responsible for the fashion retailer’s omnichannel strategy as well as its technology investment, engineering and IT functions. He was previously CIO for Digital Transformation at BP.

Elena Sinel, founder, Acorn Aspirations and Teens in AI; member, APPG on AI

Sinel founded Teens in AI and Acorn Aspirations to help young people understand how to use artificial intelligence, virtual, augmented and mixed reality to solve real-world problems. She has won awards for her work, including CogX 2017 Award in Using AI for Social Good Projects, and is currently an education taskforce committee member for the All Parliamentary Group in Artificial Intelligence.

Geoff Huggins, digital director, Scottish government

Huggins was appointed to lead the digital team in the Scottish government in July 2021, succeeding Colin Cook. He has held a number of senior digital government roles in Scotland, including director, digital third sector transformation, director of NDS Scotland – a directorate of NHS Education for Scotland – and director of health and social care integration.

George Freeman, minister for science, research and innovation, Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy

Freeman was appointed as a minister in the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy on 17 September 2021. His responsibilities include science and research and the associated agencies UK Research and Innovation and the Advanced Research and Invention Agency, as well as the Office for Artificial intelligence, jointly with DCMS. He was previously a minister in the Department for Transport.

Gill Whitehead, CEO, Digital Regulation Cooperation Forum

The Digital Regulation Cooperation Forum – which consists of the Competition and Markets Authority, the Financial Conduct Authority, the Information Commissioner’s Office and Ofcom – was formed in July 2020 to strengthen the working relationships between the watchdogs and establish a coordinated regulatory approach to the UK’s digital services and economy. Appointed CEO in November 2021, Whitehead will play a key rule in emerging UK regulation of the online world.

Glyn Jones, chief digital officer, Welsh government

Jones was appointed chief digital officer and director for analysis at the Welsh government in July 20202. He is head of the DDAT profession for Wales, responsible for corporate IT services, and acts as policy lead on digital strategy for Wales, working with CDOs for local government, health and the Centre for Digital Public Services.

Heena Mistry, chief digital officer, United Utilities

Mistry joined United Utilities in January 2021 as chief digital officer, with the aim of delivering the company’s ambition to become a “digital utility company”. She has worked in various industries, such as defence and aerospace, steel and logistics, she has helped deliver IT transformation at companies such as Babcock, Rolls-Royce and Harsco.

Ian Levy, technical director, National Cyber Security Centre

Levy has been the technical director for the National Cyber Security Centre since its formation in 2016. Previously, he was technical director of cyber security and resilience at GCHQ. At NCSC, he leads on developing defences to manage cyber threats.

Jacqueline De Rojas, president, TechUK

The 2015 winner of Computer Weekly’s Most Influential Woman UK Tech, De Rojas insists that you “can have it all” – she is not only president of two companies and non-executive director of several more, but is also married and has three children and two dogs. De Rojas is president of both TechUK and Digital Leaders, co-chair of the governance board for the Institute of Coding, and non-executive director of Rightmove, IFS, Costain Group and FDM Group.

James Matthews, CEO, Ocado Technology

Matthews spent several years with the online supermarket before becoming CEO of Ocado Technology in April 2018. Since taking on the role, Matthews has worked to develop Ocado Technology into a leading UK technology company, helped drive the Ocado Smart Platform and mature the company’s technology. He heads up a team of more than 2,000 technologists.

Jeremy Fleming, director, GCHQ

Fleming is the director of GCHQ, the UK’s Intelligence, Cyber and Security Agency. He was appointed in 2017 and is the 16th person to hold the role. He oversaw the creation of the National Cyber Security Centre with a mission to make the UK the safest place to live and do business online.

Joanna Davinson, executive director, Central Digital and Data Office, UK government

Davinson was appointed executive director of the government’s new Central Digital and Data Office in 2021, leading the strategic centre for digital, data and technology (DDaT) across government. In her role, she is in charge of the government’s 18,000 digital, data and technology professionals and leads the DDaT function for government. Prior to this role, Davinson was chief digital, data and technology officer at the Home Office. She is due to step down from her current job later this year.

John Edwards, UK information commissioner

New Zealand’s former privacy commissioner John Edwards was selected by the UK government to succeed Elizabeth Denham as information commissioner when she stepped down from the post in October 2021. Edwards, who served two five-year terms in New Zealand, was appointed to that post in 2014, and oversaw the introduction of the country’s 2020 Privacy Act. He was also chairman of the Global Privacy Assembly – previously the International Conference of Data Protection and Privacy Commissioners – from 2014 to 2017.

Julia Lopez, minister of state for media, data and digital infrastructure, DCMS

Lopez is the government minister responsible for telecoms and digital infrastructure, data policy and reform, cyber security and digital identity, and media and creative industries, and was appointed in the reshuffle of December 2021. She was previously a junior minister in the Cabinet Office, where she was responsible for the Government Digital Service.

Julian David, CEO, TechUK

Julian David is the CEO of technology trade association TechUK. He was appointed as the director general of Intellect in March 2012 and led its transformation to TechUK in November 2013. Julian has spent over 30 years in the technology industry, mostly working for IBM in various roles including vice-president for small and medium business in the UK, Ireland, Netherlands and Africa and then for five years as vice-president for public sector in the UK, Ireland and South Africa.

Justin Lewis, VP incubation, BP

Lewis leads and operates a business incubation unit at BP to test and grow business models, such as the energy giant’s efforts in charging points for electric vehicles. He was previously at Tesla and Google, where he claims to have been the most prolific inventor at the search firm with over 400 software utility patents filed.

Lindy Cameron, CEO, National Cyber Security Centre

Cameron became CEO of the National Cyber Security Centre in October 2020 following more than two decades of national security policy and crisis management experience. She was previously a director-general in the Northern Ireland Office and at the Department for International Development (DFID).

Mark Logan, adviser to Scottish government, Scottish technology ecosystem

Former Skyscanner chief operating officer Mark Logan completed a review for the Scottish government in August 2020 that examined opportunities for the country’s tech ecosystem. He was subsequently appointed as an adviser to help with implementing his recommendations. The programme aims to establish Scotland as a world-class technology hub, backed by £7m in funding.

Mark Martin, co-founder of UKBlack Tech; assistant professor in computer science & education practice, New College of the Humanities

Martin is a teacher, educational technology evangelist and founder of UK Black Tech. In 2018, he won the Diversity Champion Award at London Tech Week and in 2019 was honoured by the mayor of London for his efforts to make technology more diverse.

Nicola Blackwood, chair, Genomics England

Blackwood is chair of the board of Genomics England, deputy chair of Public Policy Projects and board trustee for the Alan Turing Institute. Prior to this, she worked in the public sector, originally as the first female MP for Oxford and more recently as minister for innovation for the Department of Health and Social Care.

Nigel Toon, CEO, Graphcore

Nigel 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.

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 from 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.

Poppy Gustafsson, CEO, Darktrace

Gustafsson studied mathematics at Sheffield University, moving on to become an assistant manager at Deloitte, then a fund accountant at Amadeus Capital Partners. She joined Darktrace as chief financial officer (CFO) in 2013, then spent some time as the chief operating officer (COO) before becoming CEO in 2016. She was selected as the Computer Weekly most influential woman in UK technology in 2021, and led the flotation of Darktrace in April 2021.

Rene Haas, CEO, ARM Holdings

Arm announced in February this year that it had appointed 35-year semiconductor industry leader Rene Haas as chief executive, succeeding Simon Segars, who stepped down after 30 years with the company. Haas was previously president of the Arm IP Products Group since 2017, having joined the firm in 2013.

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.

Sian Jones, CEO, Correla

Correla is Midlands-based technology and data services business that aims to help to create a less complex and more sustainable energy sector. CEO and co-founder Jones set up the company in 2021 with the aim of helping the UK to decarbonise and reach net zero.

Simon McKinnon, CDIO, Department for Work & Pensions

Simon McKinnon was appointed CDIO at the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) in December 2019. Prior to taking on the role as CDIO, McKinnon was technology director for children, health and pensions services at DWP. He has led a major digital transformation of the IT supporting the UK’s welfare system.

Storm Fagan, chief product officer, BBC

Fagan joined the BBC in September 2021 as chief product officer, leading the development and delivery of the broadcaster’s audience-facing digital products, including the BBC iPlayer, and the BBC Sounds, BBC News and BBC Sport apps. She was previously chief product officer at online food delivery company Just Eat, where she worked from 2015.

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

Tabitha Goldstaub is the co-founder of CognitionX, a platform and network that helps to build and accelerate the adoption of 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.

Tanuja Randery, EMEA managing director, Amazon Web Services

A former partner at McKinsey, Randery took over Amazon Web Services (AWS) in Europe, Middle East & Africa (EMEA) in August 2021. She has previously been UK president of Schneider Electric, president of strategy, marketing and transformation at BT Global Services, and managing director at Colt. She has also spent time working in private equity for Apax Partners. She is currently a non-executive director at London First, the business campaign group for the capital city.

Tim Ferris, national director of transformation, NHS England

Ferris took up the post as the national director of transformation on 10 May 2021. He served as a non-executive director of NHS Improvement for almost three years, and now leads the new Transformation Directorate, bringing together the organisation’s operational improvement team and NHSX, the digital arm, tasked with maintaining the pace of innovation seen during the pandemic.

Tom Read, CEO, Government Digital Service

Read was appointed CEO of the Government Digital Service (GDS) in 2021, where he is at the helm of government technology. Prior to this role, Read was Ministry of Justice (MoJ) CDIO for several years, where he undertook several large technology transformation projects.

Toni Scullion, computing science teacher & founder of dressCode

Scullion’s work to raise the profile and to support computing science as a subject at schools, help inspire the next generation and to help close the gender gap has been recognised by a number of awards. She is one of Scotland’s highest profile advocates for diversity in tech, and founder of dressCode, a free lunchtime club for girls aged 11-13.

Trish Quinn, digital programme director, Directorate for Social Care & National Care Service Development, Scottish government

Quinn is part of the team setting up the setting up the National Care Service in Scotland. She was appointed to her current role in November 2021, after nearly four years as head of product and commercial in the digital directorate, where she held various leadership roles since 2015.

Zahra Bahrololoumi, CEO, Salesforce UK

Bahrololoumi was appointed Salesforce UK and Ireland CEO in November 2020, and joined in March 2021 to lead the company’s operations in both markets. She came to Salesforce from Accenture, where she has been leading its technology practice for UK and Ireland.

Editor’s note: The final UKtech50 list will be chosen by combining the decision of the judging panel with the votes of our readers. The combined reader vote will carry the same weight as that of one judge, and will provide the UK IT professional input into the order of the list. The editor’s decision on the UKtech50 list will be final.

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