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UKtech50 2024: The most influential people in UK technology

Computer Weekly has announced the 14th annual UKtech50 – our definitive list of the movers and shakers in the UK tech sector

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Computer Weekly has announced the 14th 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.

This year, for the first time in the UKtech50’s history, the winner is not someone who is a part of the technology world in the traditional sense. However, the judges and our readers were in strong agreement on this year’s winner: Alan Bates, Post Office scandal campaigner and chair of the Justice for Subpostmasters Alliance.

It has been 24 years since the former subpostmaster began fighting to uncover the Post Office Horizon IT scandal, and earlier this year, he was offered, and accepted, a knighthood. Now, he can add UKtech50 winner to his list of achievements.

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 to 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.

While Bates has won the coveted top spot, the rest of the top 50 list also reflects the incredibly hard work of organisations and individuals during a turbulent year.

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 artificial intelligence (AI) and the importance of ethics in the IT sector. The judges were keen to promote diversity in the tech community, in terms of gender, ethnicity, geography, industry sector and company size.

This year saw a record number of nominations, which made the judging particularly tough, with all nominees being of such high quality with long lists of achievements.

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

Here is the list of the 50 most influential people in UK technology for 2024.

1. Alan Bates, Post Office scandal campaigner; chair, Justice for Subpostmasters Alliance

Former subpostmaster Alan Bates fought for decades to expose the Post Office Horizon IT scandal, before spearheading a group litigation against the Post Office in 2018, finally proving the subpostmasters were right. Bates continued to push for a public inquiry and was successful, leading to a massive, seven-phase inquiry, revealing the truth and scale of the scandal. Bates was also the hero of the recent ITV drama, Mr Bates vs the Post Office.

2. Demis Hassabis, founder and CEO, Google DeepMind

Demis Hassabis founded artificial intelligence 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.

3. Richard Corbridge, CDIO, Department for Work and Pensions

Richard Corbridge joined the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) as its chief digital and information officer (CDIO) 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. Corbridge is also member of the BCS Fellows Technical Advisory Group (F-TAG). 

4. Mustafa Suleyman, CEO, Microsoft AI

Mustafa Suleyman was announced as Microsoft’s head of AI in March this year. The newly created Microsoft AI will focus on advancing the Copilot family of generative AI assistants and other consumer AI products and research at Microsoft. Prior to joining Microsoft, Suleyman co-founded Google Deepmind, as well as another AI company, Inflection AI.

5. Alex Kendall, CEO, Wayve

Alex Kendall is the CEO and co-founder of Wayve, the UK startup using artificial intelligence to build a next-generation autonomous driving system. Under Kendall’s leadership, Wayve has quickly grown from a small startup to a genuine competitor and disruptor in the autonomous vehicle industry. Wayve recently secured $1bn in investment funding to develop its technology.

6. Daljit Rehal, CDIO, HM Revenue & Customs

Former Centrica IT chief Daljit 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. Rehal is also the deputy president of BCS, the Chartered Institute for IT.

7. Anne Keast-Butler, director, GCHQ

Anne Keast-Butler joined GCHQ as 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 the security service’s operational, investigative and protective security work, including the agency’s response to Russia’s war on Ukraine. She also previously spent time seconded to GCHQ as head of counter-terrorism and serious organised crime.

8. Allison Kirkby, CEO, BT Group

Allison Kirkby joined BT Group as its CEO in February 2024, succeeding Philip Jansen, who left the position. Kirkby, who is the first woman to hold the job of BT CEO, came to the telco from Swedish telecoms provider Telia, where she also served as CEO. She has been on the board of BT Group since 2019 as a non-executive director.

9. Melanie Dawes, chief executive, Ofcom

Melanie Dawes has headed up Ofcom since 2020 following her previous role as permanent secretary at the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, as well as many other roles across the civil service. She has previously been a trustee at Patchwork Foundation, which aims to encourage under-represented young people to participate in democracy, and a non-executive director of consumer group Which?

10. Michelle Donelan, secretary of state for innovation, science and technology, DSIT

Michelle Donelan was appointed secretary of state for the Department of Science, Innovation and Technology (DSIT) in February 2023, prior to which she was secretary of state in the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport. Donelan was last year’s UKtech50 winner.

11. Peter Kyle, shadow science, innovation and technology minister, Labour

Peter Kyle, the Labour MP for Hove, was appointed shadow secretary for science, innovation and technology in 2023, and is working on creating Labour’s AI Strategy, due to be published shortly. The strategy aims to build trust with the public by being open and transparent about its own use of AI and algorithms.

12. Clare Barclay, CEO, Microsoft UK

Clare Barclay is CEO of Microsoft UK, where she is responsible for all of the software giant’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 Microsoft’s UK chief operating officer for four years.

13. Mike Potter, chief digital officer, UK government

Mike Potter was appointed as the government’s chief digital officer in July 2022. Prior to taking on the role, 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 at the Cabinet Office and Future Border System programme director at HM Revenue & Customs.

14. Laura Gilbert, director of i.AI, the Incubator for AI at 10 Downing St

Laura Gilbert joined 10 Downing Street as its director of data science in 2020, before adding on the role as the director of the Incubator for AI (i.AI) in November 2023. She is also joint chief analyst for the Cabinet Office and senior responsible owner for the AI for Public Good programme. Gilbert holds a doctorate in particle physics and computing, is a visiting professor at LSE, and holds fellowships of the Institute of Physics and the Institute of Analytics. Prior to working in government, she ran medical tech company Rescon together with her husband.

15. Nicola Hodson, CEO for UK&I, IBM; deputy president, TechUK

Nicola 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.

Top five female tech leaders

  1. Anne Keast-Butler, director, GCHQ
  2. Allison Kirkby, CEO, BT Group
  3. Melanie Dawes, chief executive, Ofcom
  4. Michelle Donelan, secretary of state for innovation, science and technology, DSIT
  5. Clare Barclay, CEO, Microsoft UK

16. Matt Clifford, chairman, Advanced Research and Invention Agency

Matt Clifford has been the chair of the Advanced Research and Invention Agency (ARIA) since its creation in 2022. The agency, backed by £800m in government funding, aims to champion and take risks on research, development and innovation. Clifford is also the founder of Entrepreneur First, an organisation investing in and supporting innovative startups to grow, and sits on the board of Code First Girls. Previously, Clifford led the design work for the UK Frontier Taskforce. He was awarded an MBE for his services to AI in 2024.

17. Anne Boden, founder, Starling Bank

Tech entrepreneur Anne Boden founded mobile-only Starling Bank in 2016. She previously held the role as CEO of the bank, but stepped back from the role in 2023. Before setting up Starling Bank, Boden worked in several different roles within the banking industry, including a stint as COO for Irish Allied Banks.

18. Alan Chang, founder and CEO, Fuse Energy

Chang is the founder of Fuse Energy, a full-stack renewable energy company, aiming to speed up global renewable energy transition. He may be best known for his previous role as chief revenue officer for banking disruptor Revolut, where he was instrumental to the company’s success. Chang left Revolut to start up Fuse together with co-founder Charles Orr.

19. Chi Onwurah, shadow minister for science, research and innovation, Labour

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

20. Toni Scullion, computing science teacher; founder, dressCode

Toni Scullion is a serial founder, having founded dressCode, a not-for-profit that encourages young women in Scotland to consider a career in computer science, and co-founded the Ada Scotland Festival, which aims to use collaboration to close the gender gap in computer science education in Scotland.

21. Adrian Blundell, CDIO, Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office

A career civil servant, Blundell, who started his career as an IT project manager for the Department for International Development (DFID), has spent the past 35 years championing IT and technology transformation in government. This includes leading work on developing a single platform following the merger of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and DFID in 2020.  

22. Sarah Cardell, CEO, Competition and Markets Authority

Sarah Cardell was appointed the CEO of the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) in December 2022, but held the role as an interim from July 2022. Prior to being named CEO, Cardell was general counsel at the authority for eight years. The CMA is taking an increasing interest in the tech sector, not least in a recent decision to block Microsoft’s $68bn acquisition of video game giant Activision Blizzard, an investigation into emerging AI markets, and is examining the public cloud sector.

23. Bev White, CEO, Nash Squared

As CEO of Nash Squared – formerly known as Harvey Nash Group – White heads up the global firm that provides IT recruitment, technology solutions and leadership 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.

24. 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.

25. John Quinn, CIO, NHS England

Quinn was officially appointed CIO for NHS England in June 2023, following a stint as its interim CIO. He was previously the executive director of IT operations and enterprise services at NHS Digital, which merged with NHS England last year. In his role as CIO, Quinn has been responsible for putting together a new, merged digital and technology team at NHS England, as well as delivering digital technology across the NHS. Before joining the NHS, Quinn spent eight years in various leadership roles at the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).

26. Ian Hogarth, chair, AI Safety Institute

Tech investor and entrepreneur Ian Hogarth was asked to chair the government’s AI Foundation Model Taskforce in June 2023. As chair of the AI Safety Institute, Hogarth has overseen the development of the institute’s evaluations platform, Inspect, which was launched in May 2024.

27. Karl Hoods, group CDIO, Department for Energy Security and Net Zero

Hoods joined the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero as its CDIO in June 2023. His role covers responsibility for digital and shared services functions across both his department and DSIT, the provision of core productivity services to the Department for Business and Trade, as well as other public bodies. Prior to this, Hoods spent five years in the (then) Department for Business, Energy and the Industrial Strategy (BEIS) as its CDIO before transitioning into his current role. He was previously the CIO for Save the Children UK.

28. Gill Whitehead, group director, online safety, Ofcom

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, Gill Whitehead will play a key role in emerging UK regulation of the online world.

29. 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 the health crisis 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.

30. Greg Jackson, CEO, Octopus Energy

Jackson founded and launched Octopus Energy in 2016. The company’s green tech platform sits at the heart of its success, and the company has gone from strength to strength over the years. Octopus Energy is now the second largest energy provider in the UK.

Top 5 digital leaders in the devolved nations

  1. Alistair Forbes, CEO, Scottish Tech Army
  2. Mark Logan, chief entrepreneurial adviser to Scottish government
  3. John Campbell, chief operations officer (IT), The Scottish Government
  4. Helen Thomas, CEO, Digital Health and Care Wales
  5. Colin Birchenhall, chief digital officer, Glasgow City Council; chief technology officer, Digital Office for Scottish Local Government

31. Debbie Forster, CEO, Tech Talent Charter

Debbie Forster is an award-winning diversity, tech and education advocate and CEO of the Tech Talent Charter, an industry-led membership group of over 700 signatories working to improve diversity and inclusion in the tech ecosystem. She received an MBE in 2017 for services to digital technology and was named 2019’s Most Influential Woman in UK IT by Computer Weekly.

32. Lisa Heneghan, global chief digital officer, KPMG

After 12 years with KPMG, Heneghan took on the role of global CDO in 2022, having been the UK CDO for four years previously. In her current role, she oversees the firm’s $5bn investment in technology, people and innovation, accelerating the organisation’s digital transformation programme. She also sits on the firm’s executive committee. Heneghan has more than 30 years’ experience in the technology industry, and is a member of the World Economic Forum’s Chief Digital Officers Community.

33. 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 more than 30 years in the technology industry, mostly working for IBM in various roles, including vice-president for small and medium businesses 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.

34. Mark Logan, chief entrepreneurial advisor to the 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, including the Scottish Techscaler programme, aiming to establish Scotland as a world-class technology hub.

35. Angela McLean, chief scientific adviser, UK government

McLean took up the mantel as the government’s first female chief scientific adviser in 2023, coming from the Ministry of Defence, where she spent four years, also as its first female chief scientific adviser. She is also the head of the government science and engineering profession. Before taking on her latest role, McLean was a professor of mathematical biology in the Department of Zoology at Oxford University and a fellow of All Souls College.

36. Felicity Oswald, interim CEO, National Cyber Security Centre

Oswald joined the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) during its inception in January 2023, helping lead the design and build of the centre as its chief operating officer. She was appointed the interim CEO of NCSC, following Lindy Cameron’s departure from the role. Prior to joining the NCSC, Oswald held several positions within the civil service since she joined in 2005.

37. Yvonne Gallagher, digital director, National Audit Office

The NAO’s digital transformation expert joined the auditor in 2013 where she leads its digital insights team. Before joining the NAO, Gallagher held several high-profile technology roles, including as the CIO of Affinity Sutton and the Ministry of Justice.

38. Zahra Bahrololoumi, CEO, Salesforce UK

Zahra 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 the UK and Ireland. 

39. 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.

40. Caroline Bellamy chief data officer, Ministry of Defence

Bellamy joined the Ministry of Defence as chief data officer in 2020, where she is responsible for transforming the use of data across the entire pan-defence estate. She was also instrumental in creating the first ever data strategy for defence. Prior to taking on the role at the MoD, Bellamy was the chief data officer for Ordnance Survey.

41. Craig Bright, group CIO, Barclays

Bright joined Barclays as its group CIO in 2020, where he is, among many other things, spearheading its work on AI. In his several decades-long career, he has held numerous high-profile positions globally, including as CTO of Citi in New York and Group CIO of Westpac in Australia.

42. Darren Jones MP, shadow chief secretary to the Treasury

Jones is currently serving as the Labour MP for Bristol North West, where he has been an MP since 2017. He became the shadow chief secretary to the Treasury following the 2023 shadow cabinet reshuffle. He is a recognised voice within technology policy and co-chaired a Parliamentary inquiry into technology ethics in 2019. He also has also led the Parliamentary Internet, Communications and Technology Forum (Pictfor).

43. Indro Mukerjee, CEO, Innovate UK

Indro 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 the University of Oxford and is a graduate of the Wharton Advanced Management Programme.

44. Helen Kelisky, managing director, Google Cloud, UK and Ireland

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

45. John Campbell, chief operations officer (IT), the Scottish government

Campbell joined the Scottish government three years ago, first as its deputy director for cloud and digital services, before heading up digital operations and becoming the chief operations officer (IT) in February 2024. He was previously the chief information security officer for Social Security Scotland.

46. Sheila Flavell, COO, FDM Group; president, TechUK

A member of the tech sector for 30 years, Sheila 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 the 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.

47. Helen Thomas, CEO, Digital Health and Care Wales

Helen 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. Thomas is also a BCS fellow.

48. Colin Birchenall, chief digital officer, Glasgow City Council; chief technology officer, Digital Office for Scottish Local Government

Birchenhall wears many hats within Scottish local government. He has been the CDO for Scotland’s largest local authority, Glasgow City Council, since 2016, and also holds the role of chief technology officer for the Digital Office for Scottish Local Government. Birchenhall also chaired the working group for the development of the Health and Care Data Strategy on behalf of The Scottish Government.

49. 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 Woman in UK Technology in 2020.

50. June Angelides, VC, Samos Investments; founder, Mums in Technology

Angelides founded, and until 2017 was CEO of, Mums in Technology 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’s currently a board observer for many firms, including Everpress, Flair and Jude, and is an investor at Samos Investments and Ada Ventures. Angelides was awarded an MBE in 2020.

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:

  • James Woodward, director of communications at BCS, the Chartered Institute for IT.
  • Matthew Evans, director of markets at TechUK.
  • Rhona Carmichael, chief commercial officer at Nash Squared.
  • Robert Grimsey, group marketing director at Nash Squared.

    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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