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UKtech50 2015 - The most influential people in UK IT

Computer Weekly has announced the sixth annual UKtech50 – our definitive list of the movers and shakers in the UK IT sector

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Computer Weekly has announced the sixth annual UKtech50, our definitive list of the movers and shakers in UK IT - the CIOs, industry executives, public servants and business leaders driving the role of technology in the UK economy.

Our aim was to identify the 50 most influential leaders in UK IT. An expert judging panel representing every aspect of the IT profession helped decide the results – along with a reader vote – to determine who holds the most influence over the future of the UK technology sector in the next 12 months – and hence the future of IT professionals across the country.

Here is the list of the 50 most influential people in UK IT for the next 12 months:

1. Gavin Patterson, CEO, BT

Gavin Patterson was appointed CEO of British telecoms giant BT in September 2013, having led BT’s retail arm since 2008. He oversees BT’s often controversial roll-out of superfast broadband, and the firm’s billion-pound investment to become a major player in sports broadcasting. In 2015 he led the £12.5bn acquisition of EE, which is expected to complete next year. In 2016, he faces the outcome of the Ofcom communications market review and is leading the fight to stop BT being broken up. Prior to BT, Patterson worked at Telewest (now Virgin Media).

Click here to read our exclusive interview with UKtech50 winner Gavin Patterson.

2. Mark Dearnley, chief digital and information officer, HMRC

HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) appointed Mark Dearnley, former CIO of Vodafone, as its chief digital and information officer in October 2013. He took responsibility for one of the biggest IT estates in the UK – a £500m-a-year IT operation that serves 45 million individuals, 4.8 million businesses and 65,000 HMRC employees. He is responsible for implementing HMRC’s £200m digital strategy that underpins an organisation-wide transformation, and for moving away from the £800m–a-year Aspire contract, one of the largest outsourcing deals in the UK.

3. Simon Segars, CEO, ARM Holdings

Simon Segars took over as chief executive of chip designer ARM in July 2013, succeeding Warren East, a former UKtech50 winner. Segars has worked for ARM since 1991 and led the development of a number of the firm’s processor designs. ARM has become central to the mobile revolution, with its chip architectures powering most of the smartphones and tablets worldwide, while the firm is vying to make a similar impact on the emerging market for internet of things devices.

4. Eileen Burbidge, government special envoy for finance technology; Tech City chair; partner, Passion Capital

Eileen Burbidge is a partner at Passion Capital, the London-based venture capital firm she established with Stefan Glaenzer and Robert Dighero. In the past year she has become one of the most prominent people in the UK tech startup scene, taking over as Tech City chair from Joanna Shields, and appointed by George Osborne as the government’s special envoy for the finance technology (fintech) sector. She previously worked in business and product development roles at Yahoo!, Skype, PalmSource, Openwave, Sun and Apple.

5. Mayank Prakash, director general for digital technology, DWP

Mayank Prakash joined the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) in November 2014 from investment bank Morgan Stanley, where he had worked since 2011, most recently as managing director of wealth and asset management technology. He is responsible for technology delivery to support the DWP’s digital services and is leading the digital transformation of key benefits such as Universal Credit and Personal Independence Payments. Prakash has a background in the IT industry, serving as CIO of software firm Sage for four years, and in CIO roles at suppliers iSoft, Avaya and Alcatel-Lucent.

6. Jane Moran, CIO, Unilever

Jane Moran was the 2014 winner of the UKtech50 poll, having taken over as CIO of consumer goods giant Unilever in June 2014, after four years as global CIO at Thomson Reuters. At Unilever, she is involved with some of the most innovative technology developments in industry – the internet of things, 3D printing and a programme to fund and work with technology startups. She is also a major supporter of efforts to encourage more women into IT – in 2012 Computer Weekly readers voted her as the most influential woman in UK IT that year. At Unilever, Moran is helping to reshape one of the UK’s most important companies for the digital world. 

7. Liam Maxwell, government CTO

A UKtech50 winner in 2013, Liam Maxwell is leading the reform of how technology is bought, implemented and managed in central government. As such, he has direct influence over much of the billions of pounds of taxpayers’ money spent on Whitehall IT. He promotes the greater use of open standards, open source and cloud computing, using smaller IT contracts and more SME suppliers, in an attempt to break the stranglehold of the oligopoly of large companies that have dominated government IT.

8. Phil Smith, Cisco UK CEO; chair of Innovate UK; chair of Tech Partnership

Phil Smith is a respected industry figure who combines several high-profile roles. He is chairman of Innovate UK – formerly the Technology Strategy Board - the government-backed innovation agency charged with dispersing millions of pounds of public sector funds to boost science and technology. He chairs the industry-led skills group The Tech Partnership, and for his day job Smith runs Cisco in the UK.

9. Didier Lebrat, CTO, Sky

Since Didier Lebrat joined Sky in December 2006, the broadcaster has become one of the leaders in the digital transformation of home entertainment and communications. He leads the technical strategy, development and operations for broadcast, IT, internet and network platforms. Before joining Sky, Lebrat was CTO at Vodafone Italy and, before that, CTO at Orange UK.

10. Ed Vaizey, minister of state for culture and the digital economy

Ed Vaizey became minister of state for the digital economy, in the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), in July 2014 – a position he kept after the 2015 general election. He is responsible for government policy on technology skills, support for technology startups, growing the digital economy and the superfast broadband roll-out.

The top five IT leaders in the UKtech50 2015

  1. Mark Dearnley, chief digital and information officer, HMRC (2nd)
  2. Mayank Prakash, director general for digital technology, DWP (5th)
  3. Jane Moran, CIO, Unilever (6th)
  4. Liam Maxwell, government CTO (7th)
  5. Didier Lebrat, CTO, Sky (9th)

11. Joanna Shields, minister for internet safety and security

Baroness Joanna Shields was appointed minister for internet safety and security at DCMS after the 2015 general election. She was formerly a digital economy advisor to the prime minister. She was CEO and chair of Tech City and the UK government’s business ambassador for digital industries. Before that she was vice-president and general manager of Facebook in Europe. She is a former winner of Computer Weekly’s most influential woman in UK IT award.

12. Mike Stone, CIO, Ministry of Defence

Mike Stone was named as CIO for the Ministry of Defence (MoD) in May 2014, having previously been CEO of Defence Business Services, an outsourced contract from Serco providing corporate services to the MOD. He introduced a new “defence as a platform” strategy to improve and cut the costs of MOD IT, as well as renegotiating the ministry’s main IT outsourcing deals, the Defence Information Infrastructure (DII) and Defence Fixed Telecommunications Service (DFTS) contracts.

13. Jacqueline de Rojas, TechUK president; area vice-president Northern Europe, Citrix

Jacqueline de Rojas has 25 years of experience in leading technology businesses. She is area vice-president and general manager, Northern Europe at Citrix and, in 2015, took over as president of IT industry trade association TechUK, where she is also board champion for women. De Rojas is also an active member of the Prince's Trust Technology Leadership Group, which gives vulnerable young people support to develop self-esteem and skills for work. This year, she was voted the most influential woman in UK IT in Computer Weekly’s annual poll.

14. Beverley Bryant, director of strategic systems and technology, NHS England

Beverley Bryant’s role is to set the national direction for NHS technology and informatics and promote technology leadership and innovation across the NHS in England. She leads several NHS England technology initiatives, such as Integrated Digital Care Records, NHS E-referrals, Patient Online and electronic prescriptions. With the departure of her former boss, Tim Kelsey, she is the most senior IT leader in NHS England, leading the introduction of digital healthcare technologies.

15. Martha Lane Fox, entrepreneur; founder of Dot Everyone; chair, Go On UK

Martha Lane Fox is known best for co-founding Lastminute.com, and was entered into Computer Weekly’s inaugural Most Influential Women in UK IT Hall of Fame this year for her efforts in transforming the lives of millions as a UK Digital Champion and for supporting the notion that women should be at the heart of the technology sector. She promotes digital issues through her place as Baroness of Soho in the House of Lords, and this year launched Dot Everyone, an initiative to promote digital skills in public life.

16. Sarah Wilkinson, CTO at the Home Office

The Home Office appointed Credit Suisse's head of corporate systems technology, Sarah Wilkinson, as its chief technology officer (CTO) in February 2015. At the Home Office she is responsible for many of the most critical IT systems supporting UK borders and policing. Wilkinson was managing director and head of corporate systems technology at Credit Suisse for over two years, having previously worked at HSBC, UBS and Deutsche Bank in various senior IT roles. She also sits on Telefonica’s startup accelerator Wayra as a board adviser.

17. John Finch, CIO, Bank of England

John Finch has been CIO and executive director for projects, data and technology at the Bank of England since 1 November 2014. He is responsible for all aspects of technology delivery across the bank and for delivering the organisation's cyber security programme. Finch was previously global CIO of Experian.

18. Robert Hannigan, director, GCHQ

Robert Hannigan succeeded Iain Lobban in 2014 as the director of intelligence gathering facility GCHQ, one of the three UK intelligence agencies, working with MI5 and MI6 to protect the UK's national security interests. His role has grown in the public eye more than ever since the revelations about GCHQ’s role in US internet surveillance programmes. GCHQ is taking a more proactive and collaborative role in helping companies and public sector bodies tackle growing cyber threats.

19. Gerard Grech, CEO, Tech City

Gerard Grech succeeded Joanna Shields as CEO of Tech City in February 2014, having previously held a global marketing role at BlackBerry. In his current job, he leads the promotion and support of UK startups now that Tech City’s remit has expanded beyond its original east London base. He has supported technology entrepreneurs for several years.

20. John Manzoni, CEO, HM Civil Service

John Manzoni, previously head of the Major Projects Authority (MPA) in the Cabinet Office, became the first CEO for the Civil Service in October 2014. His responsibilities include executive control of the Government Digital Service (GDS) and the wider digital transformation of Whitehall, in addition to the Crown Commercial Service, and cross-government shared services and civil service reform.

The top five women in the UKtech50 2015

  1. Eileen Burbidge, government special envoy for finance technology; Tech City chair; partner, Passion Capital (4th)
  2. Jane Moran, CIO, Unilever (6th)
  3. Joanna Shields, minister for internet safety & security (11th)
  4. Jacqueline de Rojas, TechUK president; area vice-president Northern Europe, Citrix (13th)
  5. Beverley Bryant, director of strategic systems and technology, NHS England (14th)

This year, 18 of the UKtech50 are women – at 36%, the highest percentage of any UKtech50 yet.

21. Ralph Rivera, director of future media, BBC

Ralph Rivera is responsible for the delivery of all the BBC's digital media products on the web, mobile devices and internet-connected TV platforms. His remit includes overseeing the development of the BBC's digital products – such as the iPlayer – and enabling ways in which these products can be experienced on desktops, mobiles, tablets and connected TVs. Rivera is also responsible for shaping and leading the BBC's R&D activities.

22. Christina Scott, CIO, Financial Times

Christina Scott was appointed CIO at the Financial Times in 2012. She is responsible for technology across the FT Group, working closely with editorial and commercial areas. She has a 400+ global team responsible for building and operating the infrastructure, business applications, data and consumer products across multiple platforms. Scott has over 20 years’ experience across the media, IT and engineering industries – before joining the FT, she worked for the BBC, BT Vision, News International and ITV Digital, and as a consultant at Accenture.

23. Susan Cooklin, CIO, Network Rail

Susan Cooklin is CIO and director of shared services at Network Rail. Her career spans over 20 years in financial services, leading business, technology and operational teams across global organisations. Last year, she launched Could IT Be You? a competition for girls aged between 16 and 18, that asks them to explain how technology can improve their lives and make things better. The winning girl had her first-year university fees paid for by Network Rail. Three runners-up received two weeks of paid work experience and mentoring with the Network Rail IT team.

24. Catherine Doran, CIO, Royal Mail Group

Catherine Doran joined Royal Mail in 2011, and inherited a controversial IT transformation programme, as well as the government’s sell-off of the postal service. Her five-year IT strategy has successfully improved the technology estate. In a large-scale recruitment initiative, Doran targeted 30% of new starters to be women, and now 31% of her 500 IT staff are female. She joined Royal Mail from Network Rail where she led a company-wide transformation programme.

25. Darryl West, CIO, HSBC

Darryl West took over as HSBC CIO this year, leaving his previous role as CIO of Barclays, a position he held since November 2013. Prior to that he was CIO of Lloyds Banking Group. He has also worked for JP Morgan Chase, National Australia Bank and Accenture.

26. Carl Dawson, CIO, Marks & Spencer

Marks and Spencer hired Tesco's former internet-retailing leader as its IT director in July 2014. Dawson, who has also held the role of group CIO at Shop Direct and Thomas Cook, replaced Darrell Stein who had held the position since 2006.

27. Derek White, chief design & digital officer, Barclays

Derek White is responsible for Barclays’ global digital estate, bringing disruptive technologies and startups in to transform the bank’s IT. He designed, launched and runs Barclays’ mobile applications, including the Pingit money transfer app, and launched Barclays’ in-house startup accelerator programme. He is also a London technology ambassador for the Mayor of London.

28. Sharon White, CEO, Ofcom

Sharon White became CEO of telecoms regulator Ofcom in March 2015, joining from HM Treasury, where she was second permanent secretary, responsible for managing the UK's public finances. One of her first tasks was to take over the Ofcom review of the UK communications market, analysing the state of telecoms, broadband, mobile and TV services to ensure they remain competitive. The outcome of the review could have significant ramifications for every major telco in the UK.

29. Paul Clarke, director of technology, Ocado

Paul Clarke is responsible for technology strategy at online grocer Ocado, a position he has held since 2012. Ocado runs mostly in-house systems and sees technology as a key differentiator. The technology estate includes real-time control systems, robotics, machine learning, simulation, data science, forecasting systems, routing systems, inference engines, big data and more.

30. James Findlay, CIO HS2; technology leader, Department for Transport

James Findlay is widely recognised as one of the top digital leaders in central government. His main task is building and providing the IT infrastructure and management information to support the engineering, design and environmental work for the controversial High-Speed 2 train line. He was previously IT leader at the Maritime and Coastguard Agency.

The top five public sector figures in the UKtech50 2015

  1. Mark Dearnley, chief digital and information officer, HMRC (2nd)
  2. Mayank Prakash, director general for digital technology, DWP (5th)
  3. Liam Maxwell, government CTO (7th)
  4. Ed Vaizey, minister of state for culture and the digital economy (10th)
  5. Joanna Shields, minister for internet safety & security (11th)

31. Tim Berners-Lee, World Wide Web inventor; director of Open Data Institute

Undoubtedly the most famous UK computer scientist, Berners-Lee has taken a high-profile global role as an advocate for the open web, net neutrality and online privacy, and an outspoken critic of government internet surveillance policies. As well as his evangelising of the web, he advises the government on open data as a director of the Open Data Institute.

32. Matthew Hancock, Cabinet Office minister

Matt Hancock was appointed as the minister for the Cabinet Office and paymaster general during prime minister David Cameron’s post-election cabinet shuffle, replacing Francis Maude. He is responsible for digital government issues, as well as efficiency and reform of the public sector, government transparency and cyber security.

33. Stephen Foreshew-Cain, executive director, the Government Digital Service

Stephen Foreshew-Cain took over as executive director of the Government Digital Service (GDS) after predecessor Mike Bracken’s surprise departure in September 2015, having served as Bracken’s chief operating officer since April 2014. He previously worked for Capgemini, ITV, Accenture and Thoughtworks.

34. Paul Coby, IT director, John Lewis

Paul Coby was appointed IT director at John Lewis in March 2011. He has led the modernisation of IT to deliver an omni-channel customer experience; Johnlewis.com passed £1bn revenue per year in April 2013, and today online retail comprises about a third of John Lewis’s sales. Coby was previously CIO at British Airways for 10 years, where he helped to develop BA.com into a major force in the airline industry.

35. Eben Upton, founder, Raspberry Pi Foundation

The idea behind a tiny and cheap computer for children – the Raspberry Pi – first came in 2006, when Eben Upton, Rob Mullins, Jack Lang and Alan Mycroft, based at the University of Cambridge’s Computer Laboratory, became concerned about the decline in the numbers of A-level students applying to read computer science. Since then, Upton has become the public face of the Raspberry Pi device, which aims to change IT education from a young age and get more kids coding. More than five million devices have been sold to date.

36. Gerry Pennell, director of IT, Manchester University

Gerry Pennell, the former CIO for the London 2012 Olympics, started as director of IT at Manchester University in July 2013, where he is leading an IT transformation programme. He was formerly CIO at Co-operative Financial Services and IT director for the 2002 Commonwealth Games in Manchester. He was awarded an OBE for his role in the successful delivery of the 2012 Olympics.

37. Sherry Coutu, angel investor and founder of Founders4Schools

Sherry Coutu is one of Britain's most successful angel investors, investing in and working with entrepreneurs. She advises and serves on the boards of companies, charities and institutions such as the London Stock Exchange, Cambridge University, LinkedIn, Raspberry Pi and Care.com. She founded and chairs the not-for-profit Founders4schools.org.uk, Silicon Valley Comes 2 The UK and serves on the board of the Francis Crick Institute.

38. Tony Singleton, director, Digital Commercial Programme, Government Digital Service

Tony Singleton took over the government’s G-Cloud programme in June 2013, responsible for growing the purchasing framework that claims to save IT buyers up to 50%, compared to previous public sector prices. He has since expanded his remit to the wider Digital Marketplace, which includes the provision of digital services and the Crown Hosting Service.

39. Michael Ibbitson, CIO, Gatwick Airport

Michael Ibbitson has helped to make Gatwick perhaps the most technology-enabled airport in the UK, contributing to a big increase in passenger numbers. He was appointed as CIO in May 2012, after leading the IT team at Abu Dhabi Airport and Mumbai International Airport.

40. Kevin Cunnington, director general for business transformation, DWP

Kevin Cunnington became the Business Transformation Group director general at the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) in October 2013. He is responsible for the development and oversight of the department’s business transformation strategy and building digital capability across the DWP. He was previously global head of online for Vodafone and interim digital chief at mobile service provider Lebara.

The top five figures from the IT industry in the UKtech50 2015

  1. Gavin Patterson, CEO, BT (1st)
  2. Simon Segars, CEO, ARM (3rd)
  3. Phil Smith, Cisco UK CEO; chair of Innovate UK; chair of Tech Partnership (8th)
  4. Jacqueline de Rojas, TechUK president; area vice-president, Northern Europe, Citrix (13th)
  5. Eben Upton, founder, Raspberry Pi Foundation (35th)

41. Julian David, CEO, TechUK

Julian David was appointed director general of technology trade body Intellect in March 2012 and led its relaunch as TechUK in November 2013. He has introduced a strategy for TechUK that aims to establish the organisation as the leading representative of the IT sector to government and a major influence over the role of technology in the UK economy.

42. Helen Milner, CEO, Tinder Foundation

Helen Milner is founder and CEO of the Tinder Foundation, a not-for-profit, staff-owned mutual society that aims to help the 11 million people on the wrong side of the UK’s digital divide to become confident with digital and online technologies. In 2014, Tinder won a government contract to support its digital inclusion strategy.

43. Chi Onwurah, Labour MP, shadow digital economy minister

Chinyelu Onwurah is Labour’s shadow minister for the digital economy, having been the party’s main spokesperson on digital government in the run-up to the 2015 election, after leading Labour’s pre-election review of digital government policy. A chartered engineer and former head of telecoms technology at UK telecoms regulator Ofcom, she is co-chair of the Parliamentary ICT forum (Pictfor) and board member of the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology.

44. Russ Shaw, founder of Tech London 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 since been appointed as 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. He recently supported the launch of Tech Nordic Advocates.

45. Maggie Philbin, CEO TeenTech

Maggie Philbin has worked in radio and television for over 30 years on a wide range of science, medical and technology programmes. She is co-founder and CEO of TeenTech, an award-winning organisation helping young people, their parents and teachers understand more about opportunities in science and technology. Reporting on science and technology for the BBC’s Bang Goes The Theory, providing analysis and comment on technology for BBC Webwise and a regular reporter on BBC 1’s Inside Out, she has a unique resonance with audiences, having grown up with them on much-loved shows such as Swap Shop and Tomorrow’s World.

46. Christine Ashton, senior vice-president, technology, Thomson Reuters

Christine Ashton is senior vice-president of technology at Thomson Reuters. She joined the company in 2013 as global vice-president for MIS centres of delivery. Previously, she was the regional CIO for BG Group, responsible for IT strategies across this global energy company. Prior to joining BG, she was group strategy and technology director at Transport for London. From 2001 to 2008, she held senior IT positions at BP. She is a fellow of the BCS.

47. Charles Ewen, CIO, Met Office

Charles Ewen is responsible for the development and implementation of Met Office IT strategy and for the internal technical teams in the Technology Information Services Directorate, as well as and working closely with the weather forecaster’s science teams to operate its high-performance computing capability. He has been CIO since January 2013, and has worked for the Met Office since 2008.

48. Paul Fletcher, CEO, BCS – the Chartered Institute for IT

Paul Fletcher took over as BCS CEO in September 2014, replacing long-serving predecessor David Clarke. He spent 10 years at RM Education, where he was an executive director and group managing director of the education technology division. Prior to RM, he held senior management consultancy roles with AT Kearney and KPMG.

49. Angela Morrison, CIO, Direct Line Group

Angela Morrison has been CIO of Direct Line Group – formerly RBS Insurance – for five years, managing business technology services, which shapes, builds, runs and governs IT for the company. She previously spent over 18 years in food retail and IT, including a decade at director level.

50. Wendy Hall, professor of computer science at the University of Southampton

Wendy Hall is arguably the UK’s leading computer science academic. She is a founding director – along with Tim Berners-Lee, Nigel Shadbolt and Daniel J Weitzner – of the Web Science Research Initiative, a long-term research collaboration between the University of Southampton and MIT. She is a fellow of the BCS, the Royal Academy of Engineering, the Institute of Engineering and Technology, and the Royal Society. She was voted as the most influential woman in UK IT for 2014 by Computer Weekly readers, and made an inaugural member of the women in IT hall of fame this year.

Thank you to our UKtech50 2015 sponsors

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Judging the UKtech50

The UKtech50 list was decided by a judging panel representing every area of the UK IT profession – and we also asked readers to vote on who they wanted to top the list.


The 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:

  • Blaise Hammond, marketing director, TechUK
  • Brinley Platts, chairman, CIO Development
  • Joanna Poplawska, executive director, The Corporate IT Forum
  • Adam Thilthorpe, director of policy, professionalism and public affairs, BCS

Our judging panel selected the top 50 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 IT, 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 IT?

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 IT?

Leadership: Does the person demonstrate the skills and experience necessary to be seen as a leader in the development of IT in the UK? Do they have a leadership role and does that help them develop the role of IT in the UK?

Potential: How likely is it that the person will have a significant impact on UK IT in the next 12 months? Will their authority and responsibility grow?

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