kentoh - stock.adobe.com
Young girls often regret not studying science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) subjects, with many getting down the line and thinking it’s “too late” to pursue tech, and we know seeing people like ourselves in a role can act as encouragement that it is something we could also achieve.
Each year, Computer Weekly aims to highlight female role models of all levels through its list of the Most Influential Women in UK Tech, its list of Rising Stars, and its Hall of Fame.
While the Rising Stars are women coming up in the industry, and the most influential list comprises the 50 top movers and shakers in the tech and/or diversity in tech space, the Hall of Fame was launched in 2015 to celebrate women who have spent their career going above and beyond to improve diversity and inclusion to the tech industry, and to make meaningful contributions to the technology space in general.
This year, Computer Weekly is proud to recognise the lifetime achievements of 11 new members of the Hall of Fame:
Poppy Gustafsson, CEO, Darktrace
Last year’s winner of the title Computer Weekly’s Most Influential Woman in UK Tech, Gustafsson is the current CEO of cyber artificial intelligence (AI) firm Darktrace. As an organisation, Darktrace has high female representation compared to the industry average, with women making up 30-40% of employees.
During her winner’s interview, Gustafsson pointed out that there are many different routes into the technology sector, and that women should not be “apologetic” about having non-traditional skillsets while making their way into tech roles.
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 chief operating officer (COO) before becoming CEO in 2016.
Gustafsson has been featured in lists such as the Management Today 30 under 35 and was a winner in the Veuve Clicquot Business Woman Awards in 2019.
Andrea Palmer, principal consultant, Infosys Consulting; BCS fellow; chair, BCS Women
Palmer has had a long career in business change and digital transformation, having held various roles at energy firm BP over 15 years.
She is currently chair of BCS Women, sits on the BCS society board and in 2021 volunteered as a programme manager for iSAW International.
In previous years, she has served as one of Computer Weekly’s expert judges for the Most Influential Women in UK Tech list, dedicating a lot of time, both in and outside her work, to furthering the conversation around getting more women into the tech sector.
Anne Boden, CEO, Starling Bank
Boden founded digital challenger bank Starling in 2014 to build an organisation focused on customer experience. She is currently CEO and a member of its board of directors.
Prior to Starling, Boden was COO at Allied Irish Bank and head of EMEA global transaction services for RBS.
Her book, The money revolution, was released in 2019 and aims to help people manage their money in a digitally driven world.
Anne Marie Neatham, COO Kindred – powered by Ocado Group, Ocado Group
Neatham has just started a new role at Ocado Group as the chief operating officer of Kindred, the AI robotics firm acquired by the group in 2020.
She is a true believer that to get young girls into technology careers, encouragement needs to start early in the education system.
Previously, Neatham led Ocado Technology’s teams focused on robotics and automation in her role as commercial director for the office of the CTO at Ocado Technology. She has been with Ocado since 2001, originally as a software engineer, then head of Ocado Technology in Poland in 2012, where she set up the firm’s Polish arm.
She became chief operating officer of Ocado Technology in 2014, and has previously been a software engineer in software and retail firms around the world.
June Angelides, investor, Samos Investments
Angelides founded, and until 2017 was CEO of, Mums in Tech when on maternity leave from Silicon Valley Bank, where she held roles as an associate for accelerator growth and an associate for entrepreneur banking.
She is an investor at Samos Investments, a board adviser for Cajigo App and was a founding ambassador of the FiftyFiftyPledge, among many other non-executive positions.
She is an honorary fellow at the Institute of Engineering and Technology, an Oxford Foundry mentor at Oxford University, an ambassador at Huckletree and a board observer for both Global App Testing and Everpress.
Angelides was previously chosen as a Computer Weekly Rising Star.
Nicola Blackwood, chair, Genomics England
Blackwood is chair of the board of Genomics England, a mentor for the Creative Destruction Lab, and board trustee for the Alan Turing Institute.
Previously, she worked in the public sector, originally as the first female MP for Oxford and more recently as minister for innovation in the Department of Health and Social Care.
She has been a chair of the Human Tissue Authority, a board member for Oxford University Innovation, an advisory board member for Eagle Genomics, sat on the board of directors for the Campaign for Science and Engineering, and was deputy chair of Public Policy Projects.
Priya Guha, venture partner, Merian Ventures
Guha is a serial adviser and non-executive director, and in 2021 received an MBE for services to international trade and women in innovation.
In 2019, she joined Merian Ventures as a venture partner, having previously been ecosystem general manager for the London campus of Silicon Valley-born co-working space RocketSpace.
Guha also acts as an adviser for Tech London Advocates and The Youth Group, as well as being a member of the international committee at the Royal Academy of Engineering and a previous council member for InnovateUK.
Rav Bumbra, founder, Structur3dpeople; founder, Cajigo
Bumbra founded Structur3dpeople in 2015 to help organisations to recruit a more diverse workforce for technology, digital and leadership roles, and is still director there.
Since then, she has founded Instagram Live chat show Women Talk Tech to showcase the experiences of women across different types of tech industry roles, and is also founder of mobile learning platform Cajigo, which helps women of all ages gain the skills they need for tech roles.
Bumbra was named a women in tech Rising Star by Computer Weekly in 2018.
Sarah Luxford, partner (DDaT), GatenbySanderson; co-founder, TLA Women in Tech
Luxford is co-lead and co-founder of Tech London Advocates’ women in tech group and was co-founder of Croydon Tech City. She is now a partner (digital, data and technology) at advisory firm GatenbySanderson.
Before her current role, Luxford was director at recruitment company Global Resourcing, and as director at Nexec Leaders from 2015 to 2017, she worked with founders, investors and business leaders to find the talent they needed.
She was named as one of Computer Weekly’s Rising Stars in 2015.
Sharon Moore, global technical lead for government, IBM Technology
Moore is currently the global technical lead for government at IBM Technology, where she aims to use technology to help the government to develop better outcomes for people across the UK.
Previously at IBM, she was chief technology officer (CTO) for public sector at IBM UK and, prior to that, focused on designing technical solutions for IBM’s clients in the travel and transportation industry, incorporating engagement, internet of things (IoT) and analytics technologies, in her role as industry technical leader for travel and transportation.
Moore is also chair of the BCS council, deputy chair of BCS Women and is the BCS Women Scotland lead, as well as a justice and emergency services management committee member for TechUK.
In 2018 she was awarded an MBE for services to women in technology-based industries.
Vanessa Vallely, CEO and founder, WeAreTheCity
In 2008, Vallely founded WeAreTheCity, an organisation that provides working women with help and resources to support their careers. The organisation has evolved to include many branches, such as WeAreTechWomen, GenderNetworks, WeAreVirtual and SheTalksTech.
She is CEO of WeAreTheCity, as well as visiting lecturer at the University of Warwick Business School, a public speaker for Women Inspired Limited and a companion of the Chartered Management Institute.
Vallely has a background in technology and finance, is author of Heels of steel, and in 2018 was awarded an OBE for services to women and the economy.
The existing members of the Hall of Fame are:
Amali de Alwis
Winner of Computer Weekly’s Most Influential Woman in UK Tech accolade in 2018, De Alwis is currently CEO of climate startup accelerator Subak.
Prior to that, she was CEO of the Founders Forum, before which she was UK managing director of Microsoft for Startups, and was previously CEO of coding training programme Code First: Girls, which not only aims to increase diversity in the tech sector, but in 2018 was teaching more women in the UK to code than the UK’s university system.
De Alwis sits on the board of trustees for the Raspberry Pi Foundation and is a board member at Ada, the National College for Digital Skills.
She is a member of the diversity and inclusion board at the Institute of Coding, and a founding member at Tech Talent Charter.
In 2019, she was awarded an MBE for services to diversity and training in the tech industry.
Imafidon was originally named one of Computer Weekly’s Rising Stars in 2014, going on to win the title of Most Influential Woman in UK Tech in 2020.
Imafidon is CEO of Stemettes, which she founded to encourage young women to consider careers in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM).
Outside of her work with Stemettes, she is a commissioner for the Hamilton Commission, an initiative set up by racing driver Lewis Hamilton to address the lack of black people both in UK motorsport and in the STEM sectors.
She has appeared as a co-presenter on ITV’s Countdown, and is also a regular podcast host on the Evening Standard’s Women Tech Charge podcast.
Imafidon is also a fellow of the RSA, a council member of Research England, a visiting professor at the University of Sunderland, and a member of the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport’s (DCMS) Digital Skills Partnership Board.
Carrie Anne Philbin
Another alumna of Computer Weekly’s 2016 Women in Tech Rising Stars, Philbin has several responsibilities within the Raspberry Pi Foundation, including leading strategy, continuing professional development programmes and learning resources.
As well as her work at Raspberry Pi, she is a fellow of the Python Software Foundation, and her various experiences in board member and chair roles – including her time as a board member for Computing at School and her stint as chair of CAS #include – have all been aimed at making computer science more accessible for everyone.
She is also a YouTuber, writer and secondary-level computing and ICT teacher.
Onwurah is the MP for Newcastle upon Tyne Central and shadow minister for digital, science and technology.
She has held many roles focused on technology, including shadow minister for culture and the digital economy, shadow Cabinet Office minister leading on cyber security, social entrepreneurship, civil contingency, open government and transparency, and shadow minister for innovation, science and digital infrastructure.
Previously, Onwurah worked in several connectivity and telecoms-based businesses, including Ofcom, Teligent, and Cable & Wireless.
In 2020, Rose was appointed president of Western Europe for Microsoft, having served as CEO of Microsoft UK since 2016, where she was 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, and is currently a non-executive director for communications firm WPP.
Forster is an award-winning diversity, tech and education advocate and CEO of the Tech Talent Charter, an industry-led membership group of 700-plus signatories working to improve D&I in the tech ecosystem.
She received an MBE in 2017 for services to digital technology and tech development and was named 2019’s Most Influential Woman in UK IT by Computer Weekly.
Forster also chairs the Institute of Coding’s Diversity Board and sits on the steering group of #TechSheCan, as well as the government's Digital Economy Council and Money and Pensions Service Advisory Board.
Burbidge is a partner at London-based venture capital firm Passion Capital, where she offers experience gained from various tech roles throughout her career.
Her career in technology has spanned 15 years and includes roles at companies such as Yahoo!, Skype, PalmSource, Openwave, Sun Microsystems and Apple.
Alongside her role at Passion Capital, Burbidge is the special envoy for fintech for HM Treasury, a non-executive director at Currys plc, and was a co-founder/startup angel and adviser for White Bear Yard, and is a non-executive director for many small and growing businesses, such as Monzo.
Until 2020, she was chair of Tech Nation, and was previously a member of the prime minister’s business advisory group.
Until last year, Denham was the UK’s information commissioner, leading 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.
Arnold is managing director of IT recruitment firm Tectre, which is aimed specifically at supporting women in technology roles.
Previously chair of BCSWomen, she is now a non-executive director of the BCS, and a board member for the Industrial Advisory Board for the School of Computing and Communications at the Open University.
In her 30-plus-year tech career, Arnold has spent time as chair of the European Women in IT taskforce, aimed at developing best practices and Europe-wide activities to increase the number of women in the tech industry.
As well as having chaired a forum for IT trade body Intellect (now TechUK), Arnold used to be a board member at Wise, which supports women in STEM.
Dee is an information security and databases lecturer at Aberystwyth University, where she researches computer vision, and is also a founding member of online STEM magazine Scientists Are Humans.
She founded the BCSWomen Lovelace Colloquium in 2008 as a conference for female undergraduates. Now deputy chair of the colloquium, Dee helped run the first Women in Tech Cymru summer conference in 2019.
She has won awards in teaching and received a Suffrage Science award in 2018.
Dee sits on the committee of BCSWomen, and until 2020 was secretary of BCS Mid-Wales. She has had a long career in science and technology.
Milner is founder and CEO of not-for-profit the Good Things Foundation (formerly the Tinder Foundation), having founded the charity in 2011 to help the digitally excluded become comfortable using digital and online technologies.
Most of her work is focused on building tech inclusion for digitally excluded people. She is a board member of both FutureDotNow and the DCMS Digital Skills Partnership Board, and is on the Advisory Group for the UK’s Money and Pension Service.
Milner was previously a specialist government adviser of digital engagement for the Public Accounts Committee, was named Digital Leader of the Year in 2017, and was awarded an OBE in 2015 for services to digital inclusion.
Jacqueline De Rojas
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 a company and board member of another, as well as non-executive director of several more, but is also married and has three children and two dogs.
De Rojas is president of Digital Leaders, board member of TechUK, co-chair of the governance board for the Institute of Coding, and non-executive director of Rightmove, IFS, Costain Group and FDM Group.
She acts as a business adviser and mentor and was awarded a CBE in 2018 for services to international trade in technology.
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.
Now she is the non-executive director of JP Morgan Europe, having stepped down as Global CIO of Unilever, a position she held for almost seven years.
Moran is also a non-executive director for JP Morgan Securities and was previously a non-executive director for Institutional Cash Distributors.
She actively participates 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, a showcase of the top movers and shakers in the UK IT industry.
Twist is CEO of UKIE, the games industry trade body that aims to make the UK the leader in games and interactive entertainment.
As well as being deputy chair of the British Screen Forum, Twist is vice-president of games charity Special Effect, and chairs the games committee at Bafta.
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.
The 2013 winner of Computer Weekly’s Most Influential Woman in UK Tech, Shields is now CEO of artificial intelligence company BenevolentAI, which aims to train computers to change how medicine is developed.
She was previously parliamentary under-secretary of state at the DCMS, and until early 2018 was UK minister for internet safety and security.
From December 2016, Shields acted as the prime minister’s special representative on internet crime and harms, driving a more international approach to internet safety and security.
Formerly CEO of accelerator programme Tech City, Shields founded not-for-profit WeProtect.org in 2013 to fight online child abuse and exploitation.
Formerly European chief of Facebook, Shields has had several roles as an adviser on digital. She believes the UK must address digital transformation properly if it is to remain a leader in digital development.
Russell has been writing about technology since the mid-1990s, and is seen as a subject matter expert when it comes to the technology sector. Before her career in TV presenting and journalism, she sold CD manufacturing to computer game companies.
Russell is a frequent events speaker and works with organisations that aim to increase the number of young people who pursue a role in the tech sector, such as TeenTech.
She has published many books, including Working the cloud, Elite: mostly harmless and A bookkeeper’s guide to practical sorcery.
Parsons founded Decoded in East London in 2011 “with a credit card and a mission to teach code in a day”. The coding school has taught people in businesses worldwide about the inner workings of technologies such as code, data, AI and cyber security.
Parsons launched the Decoded Data Academy in 2018 and wants Decoded’s efforts to increase digital literacy in businesses and government, and fill the data skills gap.
Until early 2021, she was a non-executive board member for the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, and until 2020 sat on the business advisory boards for the London mayor and 10 Downing Street.
Parsons was awarded an MBE in 2016 for her work in campaigning for code to be introduced into the UK’s curriculum.
Berry is the director of Heart of the City, which works with small businesses to help them develop business programmes aimed at promoting diversity and supporting local communities, among other things.
Prior to this, she was executive director for Europe at WEConnect International, where she helped the firm to develop its corporate and public sector support, and grow its network of more than 1,500 women-led businesses to connect to the corporate supply chain.
Berry previously ran online job board for recruitment and networking womenintechnology.co.uk, and is an advocate for diversity in the tech industry. She was awarded an OBE in 2019 for her services to women in technology and business. She is also a committee member of the Walsworth Community Centre and, until early 2021, was a diversity advisory committee member for Founders4Schools.
The 2016 winner of Computer Weekly’s Most Influential Woman in UK Tech, Philbin is founder of TeenTech and has spent more than 30 years reporting on STEM subjects for television and radio.
She co-founded TeenTech with the aim of helping young people be inspired by – and seek a future career in – technology by solving real-world problems with technology.
A huge advocate of diversity in the tech sector, Philbin has received eight honorary degrees and an OBE to recognise her services in this area – although she insists those honours belong to her “amazing and dedicated” team.
Originally on track to become a secretary, Ross, a professor at Southampton Solent University, went on to gain degrees in mathematics, which eventually led her to programming and computing.
Although semi-retired, alongside her work at Southampton Solent, Ross is involved in BCS and BCSWomen.
In 2009, she was awarded an MBE for services to education.
Martha Lane Fox
Co-founder of Lastminute.com, serial entrepreneur Martha Lane Fox continues to promote the cause of women and diversity in the IT industry.
She also works for digital skills parity and believes more should be done to ensure the 12 million adults who cannot use the internet can achieve even the most basic tasks involved in a digital future.
Lane Fox intends her Doteveryone project – which she launched during her speech at the 2015 Dimbleby Lecture – to act as a platform to fuel the discussion around startups, governments, gender and skills.
A firm believer that the internet should be used as an enabler for change, Lane Fox has used her position as chancellor for the Open University, a member of the board of advisers for the Government Digital Service, and crossbench peer in the House of Lords, to speak out about the need for diversity and digital enablement.
She is now a director at Twitter, having joined the firm’s board in 2016, and was appointed a distinguished fellow by the BCS, the Chartered Institute for IT, alongside Wendy Hall.
Max Benson and Karen Gill
Benson and Gill launched Everywoman in 1999 to act as an online community for women across the UK and provide a network, support and resources for women wanting to start their own businesses.
The network eventually grew to support not only female entrepreneurs, but also women in sectors such as retail, travel, transport and logistics, and insurance and risk.
In 2010, it expanded further to cater to women in the technology sector, and Benson and Gill launched the Everywoman in Technology Awards to showcase the sector’s role models and shine a light on the different types of roles and careers in the sector.
As part of Everywoman, the pair also launched the Tech Hub, which aims to give women in the tech sector access to resources and connections that will help them further develop leadership skills and advance their careers.
Benson and Gill were awarded MBEs in 2009 for services to women’s enterprise.
Mendelsohn is vice-president of the Global Business Group for Facebook parent company Meta, and was previously vice-president of Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) operations at Facebook, where she focused on growth areas in the region.
As well as her role at Meta, Mendelsohn is a chairperson for the Follicular Lymphoma Foundation, non-executive director of consumer goods firm Diageo and co-president of charity Norwood.
Previously, she was industry chair of the Creative Industries Council and a director of the Women’s Prize for Fiction.
Mendelsohn has had a long career in technology, as well as advertising and marketing in roles such as executive chairman and partner at the Karmarama advertising agency.
In 2015, she was awarded a CBE for services to the creative industry.
Until spring 2021, George was the managing partner for government and public services at Deloitte, leading the firm’s public sector practices across Europe.
Previously, she was lead public sector partner at Deloitte, where she was responsible for projects such as helping the public sector improve efficiency and develop best practice, and was a board member of the City Mental Health Alliance until last year.
George is an independent chair for the Skills Reform Board at the Department for Education, and in 2006 she was awarded an OBE for her work on sustainable communities.
Burnett is a founding partner and non-executive director at management consultant firm Emergence Partners, where she is head of technology immersion and insights.
Before this, she was an executive vice-president and distinguished analyst at Everest Group, where she used 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. Until last year, she was chair of BCSWomen, and in 2017 launched the BCSWomen AI Accelerator.
Burnett is an industrial advisory board member for the Open University School of Computing and Communications, and chief technology evangelist for KYP.ai.
Wood founded global advertising marketplace Unruly, where she was CEO until 2015 when it was acquired by News Corp.
She is the non-executive director of Signal AI, senior independent director of Tech Nation, and is a business mentor for The Hatchery at University College London.
Wood is author of Stepping up: How to accelerate your leadership potential, which she describes as a career handbook for the millennial generation.
In 2016, she was awarded an OBE for services to technology and innovation.
A member of the tech sector for 30 years, Flavell was appointed chief operating officer of IT services firm FDM Group in 2008, and is an executive board director of the firm where she spearheads FDM’s Global Women in Tech campaign and FDM’s Getting Back to Business programme, aimed at providing opportunities for returners to work.
She is current president of TechUK, a council member for the Digital Skills Council, and is frequently called to advise government committees on various issues, especially around the digital skills gap.
She won Leader of the Year at the Everywoman in Technology Awards in 2012, and in 2019 was awarded a CBE for services to gender equality in IT and the employment of graduates and returners.
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 is still involved with many of these companies, is an angel investor, and sits on the boards of several companies, charities and universities.
Coutu is an independent non-executive director of Pearson and Raspberry Pi.
In 2013, she was awarded an OBE for services to entrepreneurship.
In 1962, Shirley developed a “software house” for female freelance programmers, which eventually employed more than 8,000 people and paved the way for flexible working.
When she launched the firm, she began signing her name as “Steve” to overcome male preconceptions about women in business.
Shirley appears in both the Bletchley Park and California computing museums, was the first female president of the BCS, a master of the Worshipful Company of Information Technologists, and co-founded the Oxford Internet Institute in 2001.
In 2016, Black launched her book Saving Bletchley Park, which details her campaign to stop the historic Bletchley Park from falling into disrepair.
In 2015, she was awarded an OBE for her services to technology, and is an outspoken advocate for ensuring more women and girls take an interest in technology.
Black currently acts as the founder and chief evangelist of the TechMums initiative, which aims to encourage more children into technology by ensuring mothers gain confidence and skills in using IT.
She also acts as a mentor for startups at Google Campus for Mums and an adviser for the UK’s Government Digital Service.
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.
She is co-chair of the National Data Strategy Forum, which aims to put the UK at the forefront in data, and has acted as a judge for several awards, such as the Loebner Prize in AI, UKtech50 and the Annual UK Cloud Awards.
Before joining TechUK in January 2015, she was responsible for Symantec’s government relations in the UK and Ireland.
In 2016, Daley swam the English Channel.
Norris-Grey’s career has been focused on technology and digital transformation across firms such as BT, Sun Microsystems, Oracle and Eastman Kodak, where she held senior executive posts.
She now splits her time between the US and the UK and is chair of Wise (Women in Science, Engineering and Technology), as well as chair of the UCAS board of trustees.
Until 2019, Norris-Grey was global managing director of local regional government, smart cities and connected infrastructure for Microsoft in Seattle, US, followed by a role as deputy CEO of enterprise and global partnerships at AXA.
Hall holds several positions at the University of Southampton, including professor of computer science and associate vice-president (international engagement), and is an executive director of the university’s Web Science Institute.
Hall was named a Dame CBE in 2009, and is a fellow of the Royal Society.
She has held several prominent positions in the STEM sector, including president of the ACM and senior vice-president of the Royal Academy of Engineering.
As well as having been a member of the UK prime minister’s Council for Science and Technology, Hall was co-chair of the UK government’s 2017 AI review, and was announced by the government as the first skills champion for AI in the UK.