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UKtech50 2023: Vote for the most influential person in UK technology

Our judges have selected the top 50 leaders from a shortlist of more than 300 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 2023 edition of Computer Weekly’s annual UKtech50, our definitive list of the movers and shakers in UK technology – the chief information officers, 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 2023 – 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 more than 300 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 technology in a challenging economic climate. 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. 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 over the past year has shown resilience and innovation, and the top 50 list reflects the hard work of both organisations and individuals.

Last year, the 12th annual UKtech50 saw Lindy Cameron crowned the winner. As the CEO of the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), Cameron has faced several cyber incidents head-on, leading the centre through a series of challenges.

Whoever tops the list in 2023 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 in June.

Submit your vote

Read more about UKtech50 2023 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 25 May 2023.

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.

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.

The UKtech50 2023 shortlist:

Names are listed in alphabetical order:

Adrian Joseph, chief data and AI officer, BT Group

Adrian Joseph joined BT three years ago, where he leads a large team, working across data and artificial intelligence (AI). Prior to taking on the role at BT, Joseph was a partner at Ernst & Young, where he was the UK financial services head of AI.

Alistair Forbes, CEO, Scottish Tech Army

Tech entrepreneur Alistair Forbes founded the Scottish Tech Army as a response to the Covid-19 pandemic, with the aim of using it as a platform to contribute to the challenges it created. Working with recruitment agencies, the initiative aims to identify IT volunteers whose skills can be used to support public sector organisations that are developing digital projects to help tackle the outbreak of the virus and the management of the recovery process.

Andy McClintock, chief digital information officer, Social Security Scotland

McClintock is the chief digital information officer (CDIO) at Social Security Scotland, where he is responsible for leading the design, digital transformation, build and delivery of digital services for social security in Scotland.

Anne Keast-Butler, director, GCHQ

Keast-Butler joined GCHQ as its director in May 2023, becoming the first woman to lead the organisation, succeeding Jeremy Fleming. Prior to joining GCHQ, Keast-Butler served as the MI5 deputy director general, and has a long history as an intelligence expert. In her role at MI5, Keast-Butler led on MI5’s operational, investigative and protective security work, including the agency’s response to Russia’s war on Ukraine. She has also previously spent time seconded to GCHQ as head of counter-terrorism and serious organised crime.

Bella Abrams, director if 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.

Brent Hoberman, entrepreneur and chair of Founders Factory and 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 Made.com and has sat on the board of several companies, including EasyCar and Shazam. In 1998, he co-founded Lastminute.com together with Martha Lane Fox.

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.

Cindy Rose, president, Microsoft Western Europe

Rose was appointed the president of Western Europe for Microsoft in 2022, 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. In 2021, 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 at HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) in September 2020. He is responsible for a budget of more than £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.

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 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.

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.

Demis Hassabis, founder and 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.

Euan Blair, founder and CEO, Multiverse

Blair founded tech startup Multiverse in 2016. The company aims to create a diverse group of future leaders by building an alternative to university and corporate training. The edtech startup delivers apprenticeships across the technology sector and helps businesses embrace digital transformation.

Franziska Bell, SVP digital technology, BP

Bell is BP’s chief technology officer where she leads on software and platform engineering, data science, AI, data science, data engineering, data management, UX research, design and change management. Prior to joining BP, Bell spent several years as director for data science at Uber.

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 Science, Innovation and Technology

Freeman was appointed as a minister in the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology on 7 February 2023, but previously held the same role at the Department for Business, Energy and the Industrial Strategy. 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.

Guus Dekkers, CTO, Tesco

Guus Dekkers has been the CTO of Tesco since 2018, and is responsible for all consumer-facing and enterprise technologies, across online, stores and the supply chain. During the Covid-19 pandemic, his technology team worked to handle a huge increase in online shopping and deliveries.

Helen Kelisky, managing director for Google Cloud, UK and Ireland

In her role as managing director for Google Cloud, UK and Ireland, Kelisky oversees the business and its sales strategy across the region. As part of her role, she leads development of Google Cloud’s go-to-market business and sales operations, working with her team to support customers on their digital transformation journeys.

Helen Thomas, CEO, Digital Health and Care Wales

 Thomas joined Digital Health and Care Wales as CEO in 2021, prior to spending a year as the interim director of the NHS Wales Informatics Service where she led the organisation’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic. Digital Health and Care Wales aims to enable digital transformation within the NHS in Wales, and deliver high quality technology and data products and services.

Ilan Gur, CEO, Advanced Research and Invention Agency

Ilan Gur is the CEO of the Advanced Research and Invention Agency, which was set up by the government in February 2021 and aims to support high-risk research that has the potential to make a high impact on society. Gur also has a PhD in materials science and engineering from the University of California, Berkeley, was founder and CEO of non-profit organisation Activate, a US organisation that supports scientists and engineers bringing research to market.

Indro Mukerjee, CEO, Innovate UK

Mukerjee joined Innovate UK as its CEO in May 2021. Prior to joining the UK’s innovation agency, he co-founded the UK Electronics Skills Foundation where he served as a non-executive chairman for 11 years. Mukerjee has a degree in engineering science from University of Oxford and is a graduate of the Wharton Advanced Management Program.

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.

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/John Whittingdale, minister of state for data and digital infrastructure, Department of Science, Innovation and Technology

Julia Lopez was appointed Minister Of State in the Department of Science, Innovation and Technology on 7 March 2023, prior to which she was Minister of State in the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, responsible for media, data and digital infrastructure. Lopez is currently on maternity leave. While she is on leave, John Whittingdale is the current post holder. He was previously the Minister of State for Media and Data in the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

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.

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. Cameron was last year’s winner of UKtech50.

Mark Logan, chief entrepreneurial advisor to Scottish government

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.

Matt Clifford, chairman, Advanced Research and Invention Agency

Clifford is the chair of the Advanced Research and Invention Agency, which was set up by the government in February 2021 and aims to support high-risk research that has the potential to make a high impact on society. Clifford is also the co-founder and CEO of Entrepeneur First, a pre-seed investor in deep technology startups.

Megan Lee Devlin, CEO, Central Digital and Data Office, UK government

Megan Lee Devlin was appointed executive director of the government’s new Central Digital and Data Office (CDDO) in November 2022, 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. She previously held the role of chief strategy and transformation officer in the CDDO.

Michelle Donelan/Chloe Smith, secretary of state for Innovation, Science and Technology, Department for Science, Innovation and Technology

Michelle Donelan was appointed Secretary of State for Innovation, Science and Technology in February 2023, prior to which she was Secretary of State in the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport. Donelan is currently on maternity leave. While she is on leave, Chloe Smith is the current secretary of state.

Mike Potter, chief digital officer, UK government

Potter was appointed as the government chief digital officer in July 2022, and is due to take up the post shortly. The role will be the most senior digital, data and technology leader in UK government. Most recently, Potter was the interim executive director for digital transformation and group chief information officer at Thames Water. He previously held several positions within government, including director of EU exit capability and the Cavinet Office and Future Border programme director at HM Revenue & Customs.

Nicola Hodson, CEO for UK and Ireland, IBM and TechUK Deputy President

Hodson joined IBM in January 2023 as its UK and Ireland CEO. Prior to joining IBM, Hodson spent 14 years at Microsoft in various roles, most recently as vice-president of global sales, marketing and ops for field transformation. She is also the deputy president of TechUK.

Paul Scully, minister for technology and the digital economy, Department for Science, Innovation and Technology

Scully was appointed Minister for Technology and the Digital Economy in February 2023. He also holds the role of Minister for London. In his role as technology minister, he is responsible for online safety, technology policy, digital identity policy and the government’s semiconductor strategy.

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.

Rachel Dunscombe, co-chair, OpenEHR; Member, UK government AI Council; visiting professor, Imperial College London

Dunscombe is a veteran in digital healthcare and has held several positions within the NHS and industry over the years, including CEO of the NHS Digital Academy. She is also co-chair of OpenEHR, and serves on the government’s AI Council.

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.

Richard Corbridge, CDIO, DWP

Corbridge joined DWP as its chief digital and information officer in April 2023, where he is responsible for managing an annual budget of £1.4bn, driving the department’s digital ambitions. He joined DWP from Boots where he held several roles, most recently as its CIO.

Roger Halliday, CEO, Research Data Scotland

Halliday joined Research Data Scotland as its CEO in April 2020. The organisation aims to omprove wellbeing and public health by enabling new insights and research through secure access to and linkage of data around a person, place or business. He was previously the Scottish government’s chief statistician.

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.

Sarah Cardell, CEO, Competition and Markets Authority

Cardell was appointed the CEO of the Competition and Markets Authority in December 2022, but held the role as an interim since July 2022. Prior to being named CEO, Cardell was general council at the authority for eight years.

Simon Bourne, chief digital, data and technology officer, Home Office

Bourne became the Home Office CDDTO in February 2021, where he launched its three-year digital data and technology strategy in July the same year. Prior to joining the Home Office, Bourne held the role of CIO at the Co-operative Group.

Sonia Patel, System CIO, NHS England

In her role as System CIO at NHS England, she is responsible for leading on levelling up digital infrastructure and literacy for NHS and social care. She was previously the CIO at NHSX and has also been the CIO at several NHS trusts during her career.

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 CDIO for several years, where he undertook several large technology transformation projects.

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 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.

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 had been leading its technology practice for UK and Ireland.

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 external affairs at BCS, the Chartered Institute for IT.
  • Joanna Poplawska, CEO at CITF, the collaboration, innovation and technology forum.
  • Matthew Evans, director of markets 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?

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