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UKtech50 2017 - The most influential people in UK IT

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

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Computer Weekly has announced the eighth 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 tech sector in the next 12 months – and 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. Mayank Prakash, chief digital and information officer, 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.  

2. Sarah Wilkinson, CEO, NHS Digital 

Sarah Wilkinson became the new CEO of NHS Digital earlier this year when she took over from former NHS Digital boss Andy Williams. Prior to this, Wilkinson was the chief technology officer at the Home Office, where she led many of the most critical IT systems supporting UK borders and policing. Wilkinson was previously 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, and is a non-executive director at the Police ICT Company.

3. 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 completed last year. In 2016, he faced 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).

4. Simon Segars, CEO, ARM Holdings

Simon Segars took over as chief executive of chip designer ARM in July 2013. Segars, who topped the UKtech50 list in 2016, 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 (IoT) devices. Last year, Arm was acquired by Japanese technology firm Softbank Group.

5. Matt Hancock, minister of state for digital, Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport

Matt Hancock was appointed as the minister for digital and culture in the July 2016 cabinet reshuffle, taking over from Ed Vaizey. In this role, Hancock’s responsibilities include broadband, cyber security, digital strategy for enterprise and technology, and data protection. Prior to his appointment, Hancock was Cabinet Office minister and paymaster general.

6. Demis Hassabis, founder and CEO, DeepMind

Demis Hassabis founded artificial intelligence (AI) company Deepmind in 2010. The company, which was bought by Google in 2014 for around £400m, is involved in several AI projects across sectors, including the NHS. Prior to founding Deepmind, Hassabis completed a PhD in neuroscience at UCL.

7. Sherry Coutu, angel investor; founder of ScaleUp Institute; founder of Founders4Schools

Sherry Coutu is one of Britain’s most successful angel investors, investing in and working with entrepreneurs to use digital technology to develop marketplaces, as well as working with students and teachers in education technology. She advises and serves on the boards of companies, charities and institutions such as the London Stock Exchange, Cambridge University, Raspberry Pi and Zoopla. As an angel investor, she has made direct angel investments in more than 50 companies and holds investments in three venture capital firms. She founded and chairs the not-for-profit Founders4schools.org.uk, and co-founded Silicon Valley Comes to the UK.

8. Christina Scott, CTO, News UK; deputy CTO, News Corp

Christina Scott was appointed chief technology officer for News UK at the beginning of 2016 to assist with its digital initiatives, and is also deputy CTO for parent company News Corp. Prior to 2016, Scott was CIO for the Financial Times for over three years, where she was responsible for technology across the FT Group, leading a 400+ global team responsible for building and operating the infrastructure, business applications, data and consumer products across multiple platforms. Scott has more than 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.

9. Cathal Corcoran, CIO, Gatwick Airport

Cathal Corcoran joined Gatwick Airport as its CIO in May 2016. Prior to joining the airport, Corcoran spent more than 15 years leading digital projects across several sectors such as oil and gas, aerospace and defence. Previous job roles include CIO for Castrol and BP’s global business services, as well as working for Accenture and KPMG as a management consultant.

10. 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.

The top five women in the UKtech50 2017

  1. Sarah Wilkinson, CEO, NHS Digital (2nd)

  2. Sherry Coutu, angel investor; founder of ScaleUp Institute; founder of Founders4Schools (7th)

  3. Christina Scott, CTO, News UK; deputy CTO, News Corp (8th)

  4. Jacky Wright, chief digital and information officer, HMRC (11th)

  5. Elizabeth Denham, UK information commissioner (15th)

11. Jacky Wright, chief digital and information officer, HMRC

Jacky Wright joined HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) in October 2017, where she is now leading the department’s digital transformation programme – one of the biggest in the public sector in Europe. Wright joined the department following several years at Microsoft, where she served as corporate vice-president. Previously, she was a CIO at BP for three years, and a CIO at GE for eight years. She is also an advocate for women in technology.

12. Matthew Gould, director general for digital and media policy, DCMS

Matthew Gould was appointed director general for the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) in October 2016. He leads the department’s digital and media policy brief and its work to improve the digital and technology skills of the general public. His role also includes working on improving connectivity and infrastructure, building digital ecosystems and reducing the skills gap across the country. Prior to joining DCMS, Gould was the UK’s ambassador to Israel where he launched the UK Israel Tech Hub. He has previously led the cyber security unit at the Cabinet Office.

13. 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.

14. Ciaran Martin, head of the National Cyber Security Centre

Ciaran Martin was the director general for government and industry cyber security at GCHQ, before becoming head of the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC). The centre, which officially launched in October 2016, aims to bring together the UK’s cyber expertise to transform how the country tackles cyber security issues. Martin is also a member of the GCHQ board. He joined GCHQ in 2014, following a role as constitution director at the Cabinet Office. He also spent three years as head of security and intelligence at the Cabinet Office.

15. Elizabeth Denham, UK information commissioner

As information commissioner for the UK, Elizabeth Denham is responsible for ensuring information rights are in the public interest and leads the office dealing with the 1998 Data Protection Act. Prior to becoming information commissioner, Denham was the information and privacy commissioner for British Columbia, responsible for compliance with public and private sector privacy legislation and access to information law.

16. James Dyson, CEO, Dyson

The founder and CEO of Dyson, James Dyson, is a newcomer to the UKtech50 list. Dyson is one of the country’s largest investors in robotics and artificial intelligence. In 2002, he set up the James Dyson Foundation, which aims to inspire young people to study engineering. He is also a patron of the Design and Technology Association.

17. Liam Maxwell, UK national technology adviser, HM Government

Liam Maxwell is national technology adviser for the UK government, responsible for promoting and supporting the digital and technology industry in the UK and internationally. Maxwell’s role links the cross-government drive to improve government technology with the DCMS’s work to grow the digital sector, support emerging technologies and create the environment for digital enterprises to flourish. Previously, Maxwell was CTO for the government, from 2012-2016, working in the Government Digital Service. The changes to technology that his team introduced across government helped to save £3.5bn in the last four years of the 2010 Parliament. 

18. Kevin Cunnington, director general, Government Digital Service

Kevin Cunnington was appointed director general of the Government Digital Service (GDS) in the summer of 2016 after three years at the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) where he led the business transformation function. At GDS, Cunnington is responsible for delivering a new government digital transformation strategy. Prior to joining the government, Cunnington held leadership positions at Vodafone Group and Lebara.  

19. Eileen Burbidge, government special envoy for fintech; Tech City chair; venture capitalist, Passion Capital

Eileen Burbidge is a partner at Passion Capital, the London-based venture capital firm she established with Stefan Glaenzer and Robert Dighero. She brings extensive operational experience to her investment activities, gleaned from business and product development roles at Yahoo, Skype, PalmSource, Openwave, Sun and Apple. She also serves as chair for Tech City UK and is the special envoy for financial technology (fintech) for HM Treasury, as well as a member of the prime minister’s business advisory group.

20. Theo Blackwell, chief digital officer to the Mayor of London

Theo Blackwell was appointed London’s first chief digital officer in August 2017, where he is helping to develop a Smart London Plan. He is also working to promote pan-London collaboration on connectivity, digital inclusion, cyber security and open data, and contribute to plans for a London Office for Technology and Innovation. Blackwell has spent 15 years as a councillor in the London Borough of Camden, where he has led the implementation of an ambitious digital strategy for the borough. In 2010, he advised the then UK digital champion, Martha Lane Fox, on local government engagement. 

21. 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 (IoT), 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 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.

22. Jacqueline de Rojas, president, TechUK

Jacqueline de Rojas has 25 years’ experience in leading technology businesses. In 2015, she took over as president of IT industry trade association TechUK, where she is also board champion for women. The same year, she was also voted the most influential woman in UK IT in Computer Weekly’s annual poll, and in 2016 she entered the Most influential women in UK IT Hall of Fame.  

23. Chi Onwurah, shadow minister for industrial strategy, science and innovation

Chinyelu Onwurah is shadow minister for industrial strategy, science and innovation. She led Labour’s pre-2015 election review of digital government policy. She was first elected at the 2010 general election as MP for Newcastle upon Tyne Central. 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 former board member of the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology (Post). She is an advocate for digital skills and digital enablement.

24. John Manzoni, CEO, HM Civil Service; permanent secretary, Cabinet Office

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

25. Robert Elsey, CIO, Bank of England

Robert Elsey joined the Bank of England in October 2015 as chief technology officer. He took over as CIO in January 2016, becoming responsible for the technology division at the bank following former CIO John Finch’s departure. Elsey was previously head of IT at Vodafone. 

26. Matthew Postgate, chief technology and product officer, BBC

In his role as chief technology and product officer, Matthew Postgate is in charge of the BBC’s technology and systems. He is also leading the BBC’s project to consolidate the technology teams for BBC Digital, BBC Engineering and BBC Worldwide. Prior to becoming the BBC’s CTO, Postgate was part of the management team that launched iPlayer and worked with BBC Mobile to build the firm’s mobile services for customers.

27. Will Smart, CIO, NHS England

In a joint appointment between NHS England and NHS Improvement, Will Smart is CIO for health and care in England, providing strategic leadership on digital technologies across the entire NHS in England. Prior to taking up the national CIO role, Smart was CIO at the Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust for six years and has previously worked as a management consultant.

28. John Seglias, group chief digital and information officer, Defra

The chief digital and information officer (CDIO) for the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra), John Seglias, joined the department in 2016 to create a shared digital, data and technology services function, bringing it all together under one umbrella. Seglias was previously CIO at transport operator Abellio.

29. Sharon White, CEO, Ofcom

Sharon White took over as chief executive of telecoms regulator Ofcom in March 2015 after spending two years as the second permanent secretary at HM Treasury, the first black person, and the second woman, to hold the position. Prior to working with the Treasury, White had board-level positions at the Ministry of Justice and the Department for International Development, and was a civil service adviser at the Prime Minister’s Policy Unit.

30. Nicola Mendelsohn, managing director, Facebook Europe

Nicola Mendelsohn has been vice-president of Europe, Middle East and Africa operations at Facebook since 2013. She is responsible for growing Facebook’s advertising revenue and improving relationships with brands across the region. She has served as the president of the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising (IPA) and Women in Advertising and Communications London (WACL). Mendelsohn was executive chairman and partner of advertising agency Karmarama for five years. 

The top five public sector figures in the UKtech50 2017

  1. Mayank Prakash, chief digital and information officer, DWP (1st)

  2. Sarah Wilkinson, CEO, NHS Digital (2nd)

  3. Matt Hancock, minister of state for digital, DCMS (5th)

  4. Jacky Wright, chief digital and information officer, HMRC (11th)

  5. Matthew Gould, director general for digital and media policy, DCMS (12th)

31. Caroline Nokes, minister for government resilience and efficiency (including digital government)

Caroline Nokes took over ministerial responsibility for digital government following the 2017 election. Her role includes leading the digital agenda across Whitehall, such as the government’s ambitious transformation strategy. Nokes, who is MP for Romsey and Southampton North, previously held the role of parliamentary under secretary for the DWP. 

32. Ian Levy, technical director, National Cyber Security Centre

Ian Levy is the technical director for the newly opened National Cyber Security Centre. The centre, which opened in October last year, has five areas of focus, including engagement, strategy and communications, incident management, operations, and technical research and innovation. Previously, he held the position as GCHQ technical director for cyber security and resilience, where he was responsible for the technical strategy of GCHQ’s security mission. 

33. Martha Lane Fox, entrepreneur, founder of Dot Everyone

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 in 2015 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 last year she launched Dot Everyone, an initiative to promote digital skills in public life.

34. Darryl West, group CIO, HSBC

Darryl West took over as HSBC CIO in 2015, leaving his previous role as CIO of Barclays, a position he had 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.

35. Maggie Philbin, CEO, TeenTech

Maggie Philbin has worked in radio and television for more than 30 years on a wide range of science, medical and technology programmes. She is co-founder and CEO of TeenTech, an award-winning organisation that helps young people, their parents and teachers understand more about the real 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 BBC1’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. She was the winner of Computer Weekly’s Most influential women in IT 2016. 

36. Phil Smith, Cisco UK chairman; 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 also chairs the industry-led skills group The Tech Partnership. Smith is also former CEO and is now chairman of Cisco in the UK.

37. Jeremy Vincent, CIO, Network Rail

Jeremy Vincent replaced Susan Cooklin as CIO in October 2016. As part of his role, Vincent leads the delivery of customer-focused enabling technology and back-office IT, as well as being part of the route services senior management team, providing services to each of Network Rail’s eight routes. Prior to joining Network Rail, he spent eight years as CIO at Jaguar Land Rover

38. Brent Hoberman, entrepreneur; chair of Founders Factory and Founders Forum

Serial entrepreneur Brent 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.

39. Mike Potter, director, Future Borders Programme

Formerly interim chief digital and information officer at HMRC, Mike Potter became director of the Future Borders Programme earlier this year. Leading the Brexit-focused programme, Potter is in charge of the department’s border technology plans, including a project exploring technologies such as blockchain to coordinate interventions at the border.

40. 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.

The top five figures from the IT industry in the UKtech50 2017

  1. Gavin Patterson, CEO, BT (3rd)

  2. Simon Segars, CEO, ARM (4th)

  3. Demis Hassabis, founder and CEO, DeepMind (6th)

  4. Sherry Coutu, angel investor; founder of ScaleUp Institute; founder of Founders4Schools (7th)

  5. Gerard Grech, CEO, Tech City (10th)

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. Stuart Birrell, CIO, Heathrow Airport

Stuart joined Heathrow in 2015 from McLaren Technology Group as CIO, leading the transformation of Heathrow to implement the emerging digital, big data and automation capabilities through innovation, skills and organisation planning. He has previously held several IT leadership roles across several industries and companies, including Gatwick Airport and Pepsico UK.

43. Joanna Shields, government advisor on internet safety and security

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. After the 2017 election, Shields relinquished her ministerial role to become an advisor to the UK government on internet safety and security.

44. Gavin Jackson, UK and Ireland managing director, Amazon Web Services

Gavin Jackson joined Amazon Web Services (AWS) in 2015, where his is responsible for UK and Ireland. Prior to joining AWS, Jackson spent several years at VMware and has more than 16 years’ experience working in various technology companies. He also spent 10 years in several leadership positions at EMC.

45. Joanna Davinson, chief digital, data and technology officer, Home Office

Joanna Davinson was appointed Home Office chief digital, data and technology officer (CDDTO) in October this year, following the departure of Sarah Wilkinson. Davinson joined the Home Office from IBM, where she led the company’s cognitive consulting, process consulting and business process outsourcing businesses in Europe. 

46. Angela Morrison, IT and supply chain director, Debenhams

Angela Morrison joined Debenhams as IT and supply chain director in April 2017. Prior to joining the department store, Morrison was CIO at the Direct Line Group, following five years as CIO of the operating board for Sainsbury’s.

47. David Davis, secretary of state for exiting the EU

Conservative Party politician David Davis was appointed secretary of state for exiting the EU in 2016, following the EU referendum, and is responsible for negotiating the UK’s Brexit deal.

48. Dave Aron, global research director, Leading Edge Forum

In his role as global research director, Dave Aron guides several research intiatives to help CIOs “reimagine their organisations for a tech-driven future”. He has previously spent 12 years at Gartner where he focused on strategy and CIO leadership issues.

49. Thomas Nielsen, chief digital officer, Deutsche Bank

Thomas Nielsen joined Deutsche Bank as its chief digital officer (CDO) in September 2017 to drive to drive the bank’s global transaction banking digitisation strategy. Prior to joining Deutsche Bank, he spent three years as CDO at Tesco.

50. Morteza Mahjour, group CIO, Lloyds Banking Group

Lloyds Banking Group’s CIO Morteza Mahjour has spent three years at the bank, working to drive cultural change and end-to-end transformation. He joined Lloyds in 2014 after spending most of his career in various roles at the Royal Bank of Canada.

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