Inspirational Woman: Joanne Thurlow | Global Head of IT, Siemens Energy Industrial Application Solutions & Board Member, Digital Isle of Man

Joanne ThurlowCanadian born, Joanne has spent 15+ years living in multiple European countries, making Isle of Man home since early 2021.

As Head of IT for Siemens Energy, Industrial Application Solutions (SE IA), she partners with business providing strategic, innovative, cost sensitive and engineering-centric, global IT environments. As leading Energy transformation towards sustainability, SE IA engineers innovative electric, automation, and digital products, solutions and services for multiple markets including Oil & Gas, Marine, and more.

Joanne further commits her time to providing leadership, inspiration, motivation, strategic consulting, and market insights through various avenues: As a Digital IOM Executive board member; committee member of LOVE TECH (IOM), volunteers committed to promoting STEM careers for girls & young women; or as a global speaker at various conferences.

With 30+ years in Tech, Joanne has an extensive knowledge of IT. Today’s focus is on innovation, solutions, digital business transformation, IoT, tech-enabled sustainability, agile working and new organizational models.

Tell us a bit about yourself, background and your current role

Canadian born, I have spent 15+ years living in multiple European countries, making Isle of Man home since early 2021. With 30+ years in Tech, I have an extensive knowledge of IT. Today’s focus is on digital business transformation, IoT, tech-enabled sustainability, agile working, and new organizational models.

As Head of IT for Siemens Energy, Industrial Application Solutions (SE IA), I partner with business providing strategic, innovative, cost sensitive and engineering-centric IT environments in over 40+ countries. As a leading organization in energy transformation, SE IA engineers innovative electric, automation, and digital products, solutions and services for multiple markets including Oil & Gas, Marine, and more.

I further commit my time providing leadership, inspiration, motivation, strategic consulting, and market insights through various avenues: As a Digital IOM Executive board member; committee member of LOVE TECH (IOM) promoting STEM careers for girls & young women; or as a global speaker at various conferences. I am now working on my first business book ‘Team Management – as learned from the back of a Dog Sled’  to be published early 2022.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

Yes, at key intervals as milestones were reached and circumstances changed.  My academic choices provided equal skills in science and business. I set position and earning targets by certain ages. At one point, not being sure what was next for me, I invested in a career consultation process where I deep dived into all aspects of personality, vocational interests and more – the best investment I made in myself. I did not plan to be at the level I am today. That has been part of the evolution of my career.

Have you faced any career challenges along the way and how did you overcome these?

Careers, as life, are full of challenges. My biggest challenge came in moving to UK. A complete restart - no job, no working visa, no business network and only one contact.  I researched the job environment, working culture and volunteer opportunities, went to local business events, etc. I approached industry leaders for advice (not jobs), was clear on what I had to offer, and what I did not.  A few years with  Siemens, a promotion to Global IT coordinator based me in Norway. A few months after that, organization changes led to my current role and to Germany. Many openly questioned my ability or my right to be in this role; cultural expectations stated promotions were the ‘entitlement’ of years of service. I was ‘unknown and unproven’, new to Siemens. The biggest challenge was Imposter Syndrome - accepting I could do this role, that it was ok not to know everything, that I would develop the knowledge and skills – and most importantly – the confidence to do it.

What has been your biggest career achievement to date?

Where I am today – Completely restart my career in another country and continent; secure a C level management position with global responsibility for one of the world’s most respected companies. Be appointed to the Digital IOM Executive Board who, in partnership with the DIOM Agency, will set direction for the digital industry of country. It is such an honour to be a part of that! That’s a big thing to say! To help inspire young girl & women in tech careers through LOVE TECH (IOM), public speaking, and writing – I have the privilege of providing leadership, inspiration, motivation to the inspiring young women in tech today.

What one thing do you believe has been a major factor in you achieving success?

Being willing to get out of my comfort zone, take calculate risks and accept/deal with the consequences thereof.  That includes anticipating, planning, mitigating those risks and working through the inevitable setbacks.

What top tips would you give to an individual who is trying to excel in their career in technology?

First, understand YOU – your personality, vocational interests, and overall aptitudes. Knowing what you are good at, interested in - or not - contribute greatly to setting direction.

Next – understand your DIRECTION/GOALS – Where do you want to go in your career? What is the ideal role you imagine for yourself? What does your perfect ‘day at the office’ look like to you? Use this as a start point, work backwards to understand what will get you there.

Thirdly, understand how OTHERS SEE YOU. We are usually unaware of how others see us and what value we bring. Make use of tools such as 360degree interviews to begin to understand this.

Last, get clear on what your strengths, weaknesses, gaps are, your goals and revisit these often. Review frequently – are you on track or not? Realign, revisit, learn from your failures as much as your successes.  Never stop learning!

Do you believe there are still barriers for success for women working in tech, if so, how can these barriers be overcome?

Yes, there are still barriers for women in tech, as with other minorities. Creating lasting change will need action at many levels – individual, society, corporate culture and through government policy.

We actively need to attract girls/women to the Tech industry by raising awareness of the many interesting opportunities that exists. Diversity and inclusion targets and programs within corporations’ help keep them there. Too often, women leave through insensitive policies and cultures, which make it difficult to manage their family, work, harassment, biases etc.

By creating environments that allow women to ‘strive and thrive’, more women will be in place to help achieve the quota targets set out by governmental policies. At this level, promoting women into C level roles and onto Director Boards, where they can more readily influence the strategic outcomes of an organization.

What do you think companies can do to support to progress the careers of women working in technology?

There is no one action that can be recommended. Organizations – and industries – will be at various degrees of progression is creating a supportive and enabling environment. We need to create environments that allow women to ‘strive and thrive’

Awareness programs educating all management and employees on unconscious bias is a great place to start. ‘Getting to know you’ programs to ‘spotlight’ individuals within an organization is another inclusive way to raise awareness. Championing programs go beyond mentoring by actively raising the awareness of talent – this opens many ‘doors to the old boys club’.

However, it is not the sole remit of an organization. Women themselves, inadvertently become the barrier by hesitating to apply for higher roles if they do not feel they most of the requested skills; fear it could take away from family responsibilities’ resulting in guilt: Imposter syndrome steps in and many step back.  Women need to be encouraged to self-promote and take more risks.

There is currently only 17 per cent of women working in tech, if you could wave a magic wand, what is the one thing you would do to accelerate the pace of change for women in the industry?

Give women the personal soft skills to self-promote, be confident and take risks. If personally empowered, they will excel, be excited, prove the ‘nay-sayers’ wrong. This will go a long way to keeping the women currently in tech in the game, have them go further, and subsequently encourage other women to step into the industry.

What resources do you recommend for women working in tech?

There are many resources available in multiple formats. It is important to find ones that resonate with where you are today. That said, I do have a few ‘go to’ favourites which include:

Conferences:  in person/virtual/networking

https://www.women-in-technology.com/   and https://www.europeanwomenintech.com/

These events are top drawer. The quality of speakers, relevancy of topics, and the sheer opportunity to meet so many other like-minded women is brilliant!  I find the audience here is varied in age and role and attracts more senior level women.

Online platform in concert with Women in Tech events - https://ascend.women-in-technology.com/

Online virtual event - https://www.womentech.net/  This event rocks! A completely online event, it is attended globally by over 100,000 attendees.  Attended by a wide variety of women, it does seem to resonate more with the younger women.

Some reading material I often recommend:

  • The Secret Thoughts of Successful Women: Why Capable People Suffer from the Impostor Syndrome and How to Thrive in Spite of It by Valeria Young
  • How the World sees you by Sally Hogshead – great tool for understand how others see you and creating your own value statements
  • Business Model YOU, written by Tim Clark (part of Stratgyzer series of books)

WeAreTechWomen has a back catalogue of thousands of Inspirational Woman interviews, including Professor Sue Black OBE, Debbie Forster MBE, Jacqueline de Rojas CBE, Dr Anne-Marie Imafidon MBE and many more. You can read about all our amazing women here


Inspirational Woman: Marina Ruggieri | IEEE Fellow & Professor of Telecommunications at University of Roma “Tor Vergata”

Marina RuggieriI am a full professor of telecommunications engineering at the University of Roma “Tor Vergata” and chief strategic innovation officer of CTIF, an interdisciplinary research center on information and communications technology and its verticals.

In addition to this, I am principal investigator of the 40/50 GHz TPD#5 communications experiment on board the satellite Alphasat, an IEEE technical expert and fellow for contributions to millimeter-wave satellite communications.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

I have taken some key-decisions in crucial moments and then followed the logical and practical path forward. For example, I decided to run for an academic position of research and teaching assistant after winning a competition. I intrinsically strived forward for the position of professor, but only when I have felt fully ready for it.

Have you faced any career challenges along the way and how did you overcome these?

Sure, as I believe everyone has. In the presence of big challenges, I try to concentrate and focus on the goal and understand the nature for any obstacles along the way. I have also tried to remain humble, because this approach is a strong ally in identifying your own mistakes and weak points, and thus improving.

What has been your biggest career achievement to date?

The context to become a full professor. I started my academic career when I was pretty young and, consequently, both the context for the position of associate professor and full professor happened when I was still young both in age and in comparison to most of my colleagues in the same role. It has been a big challenge but also an immense joy.

What one thing do you believe has been a major factor in you achieving success?

Enthusiasm and determination – this is an important blend for most activities. Obviously, to be determined is a promising asset, but determination mixed with passion, enthusiasm and inspiration is another matter!

What top tips would you give to an individual who is trying to excel in their career in technology?

Technology is a neutral ally and an enabler of promising potentials for humanity. We have the opportunity to shape technology for either the most benefit or the most damage. The pandemic has taught us a huge lesson to us all. Those are the starting thoughts to shape a career in technology being both useful and sensitive to the urgent needs of humanity and the planet.

Do you believe there are still barriers for success for women working in tech, if so, how can these barriers be overcome?

I am not aware of the specific barriers in the tech environment. What I have sometimes experienced in my professional activity has been to be the first woman to cover specific roles.

What do you think companies can do to support to progress the careers of women working in technology?

Allies of effectiveness and harmony in a working environment can support any career progress. To this respect, meritocracy is always the best approach. Furthermore, as mentioned, technology is neutral and this characteristic is an advantage in terms of diversity and inclusiveness. Finally, the pandemic has shown that smart working can be a valuable asset and might become a systemic support to parents.

There is currently only 17 per cent of women working in tech, if you could wave a magic wand, what is the one thing you would do to accelerate the pace of change for women in the industry?

I would organise events focused on the neutrality of technology and the consequent responsibility and beauty of becoming an experts who can shape technology for the benefit of the world. This argument should be irresistible to anyone!

What resources do you recommend for women working in tech?

The main resource I would recommend is curiosity, which allows individuals to identify the topics, events and reading materials of interest. Sustainability and the urgency to implement it properly should be the driving force to focus on the right topics and contribute to the right tracks. I would say taking the time to read technical books is essential as they are a source of ideas which increase awareness around what needs to be done to meet the ambitious goals of saving our future.


WeAreTechWomen has a back catalogue of thousands of Inspirational Woman interviews, including Professor Sue Black OBE, Debbie Forster MBE, Jacqueline de Rojas CBE, Dr Anne-Marie Imafidon MBE and many more. You can read about all our amazing women here


Inspirational Woman: Trish Blomfield | General Manager, Intel UK

Trish BloomfieldIn her current role as UK General Manager, Trish is responsible for all elements of Intel’s operations in the United Kingdom.

Trish’s remit spans UK sales, acting as Intel’s main UK media spokesperson, building the UK customer pipeline, and managing the overall financial performance of the UK business.

Trish is a passionate advocate of the importance of customer-centricity, having held integral sales roles at Intel in both the UK and in Asia. Trish passionately believes that in the era where the customer is an active business stakeholder, she needs to work with Intel clients to enable them to excel in delivering this new, unspoken contract between the client & their consumer.

Trish is also a major champion of Intel’s diversity and inclusion initiatives. She is integral to Intel’s progressive mindset in creating an inclusive company culture and environment that sets senior female executives up to thrive.

Tell us a bit about yourself, background, and your current role

My career has always been in technology and I’ve now been with Intel for over 15 years. Before taking on the UK Country Manager role, I was based in Asia where I held sales roles across Intel’s Asia-Pacific operations. Most recently, I ran sales for Intel’s Internet of Things Group in Asia, and prior to that, I held Sales Director positions in Taiwan, growing business with Intel’s major client and data centre customers, and in the PRC, partnering with the fast-growing China technology ecosystem.

I have spent much of my time at Intel with our customers, listening, learning, and anticipating their needs. Focus on customers is my north star and it’s more exciting than ever to work with our innovative partners in a world that’s increasingly digital.

When I took on my current role, it represented a return to the UK in many ways - my father was British, I received my university education here, and my first job in technology was also in the UK. In my role today, I’m responsible for Intel’s business growth across all segments of the market for technology solutions in the UK, and it feels wonderful to be back.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?  

No, but I’ve always been curious about what’s next, and keen to learn and grow. As an undergraduate, I was lucky to be offered programming electives and to have heard Prof. Peter Haggett lecture at Bristol on infectious disease modelling. His comments, so topical now, on how data and fast, reliable models could better inform disease control have stuck with me. It’s that constant innovation to solve big problems, with new and better things always coming up, that fuels Intel’s purpose of creating world-changing technology to enrich the lives of every person on earth.

While I didn’t sit down and plan a career, I do try to sit down and think about ‘what’s the next thing coming and what do I need to know about it?’ I’ve applied this approach to how we work with partners, understanding what’s keeping them up at night, and what we can do to meet their needs. Thinking about technology today and what I think is coming up next, it’s about AI, cloud, connectivity and intelligent edge – these are the transformative ‘superpowers’ that Intel’s working to address in our portfolio.

For anyone considering a career in this business, get ready for constant change and keep your hunger to understand the technologies changing and shaping our futures.

Have you faced any career challenges along the way and how did you overcome these? 

During the dot.com era, I worked at a startup, completed two merger and acquisitions, and structured a recovery from bankruptcy, in the space of about four years. I should clarify that the bankruptcy was unrelated to the other activities, but each of these was a major undertaking. There were many anxious periods, but through these you learn to overcome challenges that might feel unsurmountable. Those periods of intensity, or when things may feel quite low, can also be the moments where you’re propelled onto the next high. During those defining periods, you learn what you’re capable of, you forge relationships, and these can set the stage for the next big career trajectory.

What has been your biggest career achievement to date?

Becoming Intel UK Country Manager has been a significant achievement for me. I am lucky to be leading a sales organisation filled with world-class talent, driving innovation and positive change in one of the biggest markets for technology, and with some of the biggest customers in the world. On a personal level, when I told my mother about this appointment, she told me this was a wonderful opportunity to give back, and I like to think that my British father would have been proud of me.

What one thing do you believe has been a major factor in you achieving success?

Not standing still has been a constant for me in my career, and that probably rings true for anyone with a successful career in technology. You have got to keep adapting, innovating, learning, and moving forwards. Whether it’s looking inwards and identifying the skills or technologies you need to master or looking externally at the products and services that you need to make available to your customers.

This is a mindset that’s integral to successful technology businesses: without a growth and innovation mentality, and, of course, a focus on customers, success can’t last.

What top tips would you give to an individual who is trying to excel in their career in technology?

Come join us at Intel! And don’t stand still once you’re in. From day one, keep learning.

Someone asked me recently “what does Intel think about upskilling”, and I told them that the day I joined Intel I had a learning programme handed to me, and it’s continued ever since.

Do you believe there are still barriers for success for women working in tech, if so, how can these barriers be overcome?

Yes, there are still barriers. It’s heartening to see more women in leadership in so many sectors of society, but we have more work to do on female representation in the tech sector.

The UK’s technology industry is thriving, and we want women to thrive with it. We want to encourage women to enter the industry, contributing their diverse perspectives to the UK’s success, and to thrive in their technology careers. In 2020, 47% of all our UK hires were female, an increase of 2% YoY – but we recognise there is more work to do. We need to start early with education, to counter gender stereotypes that discourage girls from STEM, and to have recruitment into the industry that’s unbiased.

And once women are in, we need to ensure that the tech industry culture is inclusive and supportive of female progression into senior leadership roles. Gender pay equity is a critical part of this and Intel, including the UK organisation, has achieved gender pay equity globally since 2019. Also, having female role models is so important - Intel’s working to our 2030 goals of increasing the number of women in technical roles to 40%, and doubling the number of women and underrepresented minorities in senior leadership.

There is currently only 17 per cent of women working in tech, if you could wave a magic wand, what is the one thing you would do to accelerate the pace of change for women in the industry?

Unfortunately, there is no magic wand – this is going to take real hard work to address all the barriers that we talked about earlier. It also takes an industry working together in partnership for D&I. As an example, Intel launched the Alliance for Global Inclusion in 2021. The belief is we can accelerate inclusive business practices by having collective goals, transparency in reporting progress, and sharing best practice.

There is something magical about Intel’s Women at Intel Network though. This year we’re celebrating 25 years of our WIN and the magic is from a community that supports women to achieve their full potential. Our UK WIN chapter is open to men and women who support the WIN mission to promote, empower, and retain female talent. More than 20% of our workforce engage in the annual WIN Conference, tech talks, newsletters, podcasts, networking, and leadership trainings, and through the pandemic we’ve increased support on mental health topics.

What resources do you recommend for women working in tech?

Absolutely I recommend having a supportive network. I am so thankful for Intel’s [email protected] community and I really encourage any woman working in technology to make the best use of any internal resources available to them. If that’s unavailable, be proactive – reach out to women you admire, seek mentorship, read biographies of women you find inspirational.

I like to jog and will often listen to podcasts out on a run like the HBR Women at Work and the Exponential View podcasts. And, of course, your customers are a fantastic resource – listen to them and find out what they’re excited about and figure out how to help.

I’m glad that resources like We Are Tech Women are available to women in the UK as a platform to lift each other up. We will achieve faster progress as an industry if we support each other and work together.


WeAreTechWomen has a back catalogue of thousands of Inspirational Woman interviews, including Professor Sue Black OBE, Debbie Forster MBE, Jacqueline de Rojas CBE, Dr Anne-Marie Imafidon MBE and many more. You can read about all our amazing women here


Cecilia Harvey

Inspirational Woman: Cecilia Harvey | Chief Executive Officer, Hyve Dynamics

Cecilia Harvey - CEO of Hyve Dynamics (1)Cecilia Harvey is the Chief Executive Officer of Hyve Dynamics. With over 20 years experience in finance and technology, Cecilia is an advocate for responsible technology leadership that seeks to inspire, elevate and disrupt global businesses and communities.

Graduating from Wellesley College in Wellesley, Massachusetts, Cecilia Harvey was soon captivated by the energy of Wall Street and the lure of a career in banking. After working her way up in the banking industry, her roles have since included being the COO of Citigroup Markets and Securities Services Technology, and positions with Morgan Stanley, Barclays Capital and IBM.

Cecilia’s recent achievements include being featured in Forbes Magazine in 2019 as a leading lady in technology, a 2018 WeAreTechWomen TechWomen100 winner. Cecilia is also the founder and chair of Tech Women Today, a professional organisation focused on connecting and advancing women across various areas of technology.

Tell us a bit about yourself, background and your current role

If you would have told me that I would have a career in technology I would have told you that you were absolutely crazy. For the last 20 years I’ve been working in banking and technology. Today I am the CEO of Hyve Dynamics, a sensor technology company. As a child I l played chairman of the board with my barbie dolls and I was practically attached to my Commodore 128 computer so I guess it was inevitable that I would one day be the CEO of a technology company.

After I graduated from university (Wellesley College) I worked in Fixed Income Derivatives origination at Lehman Brothers in New York.  Although I was on the trading floor, technology was the foundation of capital markets businesses. Trading systems, electronic trading, eCommerce, and data were all critical to the growth of capital markets businesses.  So very early in my career I was learning how to think strategically about technology in order to grow a business. Eventually I moved onto roles at companies where I was managing global banking technology programs.

I’ve held various roles in large organisations that have helped to prepare me for entrepreneurship and understand how to run technology as a business. Being the COO for markets and securities services technology at Citigroup which was a tech organisation of over 8,400 people globally, over 1,000 systems across over 50 sites is an example of previous roles that helped me to understand how to run technology as a business. You are working in a highly regulated environment and need to focus on governance, risk and controls, budget efficiency, and people management.

Also in previous roles, I engaged with various vendors that were often tech companies. Large banks partner with and make strategic investments in technology companies. So in my previous roles I saw the good, the bad and the ugly in regards to tech start-ups and scale ups.  I witnessed strategy, management and client service that worked and did not work in terms of them receiving investment, getting the sale and building strong relationships. I saw the growing pains and challenges of those tech companies.

Eventually I worked directly with tech start-ups and scale-ups. My combination of large corporate and tech start-up experience prepared me to be the CEO of a technology company. So my journey was very unique and that experience was priceless.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

I never planned my career, I planned my life. I wanted to design a life that I loved and my career was a small component of that life. I created my own definition of success. My definition of success was not according to what the industry or others defined as “success”.

Ultimately whatever job I chose had to align to the type of life I wanted to live or else I knew I would leave that role. So designing a life I love is about being the best version of myself.

Have you faced any career challenges along the way and how did you overcome these?

My biggest career challenges started with me and ended with me.  I overcame them by learning how to get out of my own way.  I learned to focus on things I could control and to be accountable for where I went wrong. I had the power to decide if I was going to let various distractions get in my way. Those distractions included fear, doubt, naysayers, toxic work environments and toxic people. These distractions were not the challenges. My ability to tune out these distractions and move forward was the challenge and once I learned this I realised there is no challenge I cannot overcome. It’s not the water surrounding the boat that sinks the ship. It’s the water that gets in that sinks the ship.

What has been your biggest career achievement to date?

Becoming the CEO of Hyve Dynamics has been my biggest career achievement to date. I recognize in this position as a female technology founder I have a responsibility to be a force for change in the technology industry and to be a role model for other women and specifically black women aspiring to have careers in technology.

One of the reasons why I feel so privileged and passionate about being the CEO of Hyve Dynamics is to be leading an organization that is focused on healthcare equality and saving lives though medical remote monitoring.

As a sensor technology company, our sole focus is optimising our patented sensor skin technology and improving the precision of the data that is wirelessly collected in real time from the sensor skin. Hyve’s sensor technology is addressing issues such as the COVID 19 pandemic and making basic medical care accessible to all. Being the CEO of a company that is truly delivering “tech for good” and leveraging this platform to be a force for change has been a significant career achievement.

What one thing do you believe has been a major factor in you achieving success?

Iron sharpens Iron. A major factor in achieving success has been having a strong personal and professional support network. I am so blessed to have an amazing family and friends that keep me humble and grounded.  Also professionally I have worked with talented individuals and teams that have helped to keep me sharp.

What top tips would you give to an individual who is trying to excel in their career in technology?

Overall,  people need to create options for themselves:

  • Have your “Career Emergency Kit” ready: (a) names of 3 headhunters, (b) updated CV, (c) linkedIn Updated, (d) alerts set up for open roles at various career site.
  • Interview even if you are happy with your current role: Interviewing keeps you sharp and allows you to connect with people. You understand what hiring managers are looking for and you keep pace with what is going on in the industry. Also peolpe may remember you for roles that may open in the future.
  • Understand the difference between sponsorship vs. mentorship: Find sponsors that are key decision makers that will refer you for career opportunities.
  • Know Your Worth: What is the salary for someone in your role and with your level of experience? If you are not getting paid the market rate salary, what are you going to do about it?
  • Don’t stay in a bad situation: Go with your instincts. If you feel you are not in a place where you will progress, recognise your power and start exploring your options.

Do you believe there are still barriers for success for women working in tech, if so, how can these barriers be overcome?

Focus on what you can control and influence. For me the ability to overcome barriers involved me thinking of ways of how I strengthen myself to jump over those barriers or find a way around them.

What do you think companies can do to support to progress the careers of women working in technology?

  1. Powering Your Pipeline - Build a diverse talent pipeline and provide the pipeline with the right resources and support to prepare them for promotion opportunities and to successfully fill future leadership positions.
  2. Invest in and sponsor female technology founders - Having more female founders will encourage more women to enter the technology industry.
  3. Diversify suppliers -  Support economic inclusion of technology suppliers with diverse leadership. Companies should ensure they are working with suppliers that have diverse leadership.

There is currently on 17 per cent of women working in tech, if you could wave a magic wand, what is the one thing you would do to accelerate the pace of change for women in the industry?

More investment and sponsorship for female technology founders.

What resources do you recommend for women working in tech, eg Podcasts, networking events, books, conferences, websites etc?

Resources for remaining relevant. Reinforcing your network with individuals that can provide knowledge on career opportunities and industry trends. These types of resources keep you relevant and and ready for new career opportunities.

How would you describe what it means to be a tech leader?

For me being a tech leader is about being a force for change and demonstrating responsible leadership. The days of not being accountable for the impact of your technology on the general public are over. The days of being hands off are over. The days of being silent on social issues are over.

This is not just for technology. However because tech is such a fast growing industry and because technology has such an impact on everything we do as individuals, businesses and societies it is important that leaders are responsible in terms of how they evolve their tech and lead their teams.

We can no longer have this naive optimism about technology.  Can your technology be potentially cause harm to the general public. If so what are you doing to mitigate that risk?

Also it terms of leadership,  it’s not just technically and operationallly are you doing the right thing but also socially and environmentally. The same way we push the limits in terms of what our technology can do, we need to push from a social impact perspective in terms of how we as tech leaders can navigate our organisations. With this type of leadership, those are the companies people will want to work at. Those are the companies that clients will want to do business with.  Those are the companies that will lead the industry.


WeAreTechWomen has a back catalogue of thousands of Inspirational Woman interviews, including Professor Sue Black OBE, Debbie Forster MBE, Jacqueline de Rojas CBE, Dr Anne-Marie Imafidon MBE and many more. You can read about all our amazing women here.


Tam Hussey featured

Inspirational Woman: Tam Hussey | European Head of Strategy, WONGDOODY

Tam HusseyTam Hussey is European Head of Strategy at WONGDOODY, the human experience company powered by Infosys.

Tell us a bit about yourself, background and your current role

Since November 2020 I have been the European Head of Strategy at WONGDOODY, the human experience company powered by Infosys, where I am responsible for evolving the strategy offering, delivering impactful digital strategy for clients and supporting and mentoring my team. I also play an active role in DE&I and Sustainability.

Prior to this role I worked at Infosys, primarily in the Consumer, Retail and Logistics area of the business. I have helped close over $30m of new business, supported senior management on evaluating acquisitions and strategic partnerships, co-created our innovation offering, contributed to a key WEF Whitepaper, sat on panels and spoken at numerous events.

I haven’t always worked in strategy. After studying Psychology at university, I was about to start law school when a chance drink with a friend led me to join a mobile startup (this was in 2002 so pre iPhones). I was number three in and stayed there for five years, taking on a range of responsibilities; legal, marketing, content, licensing, experience, sales, client relations and so on. We started off providing content and tech to network operators in the early days of mobile - then when the walls came down and content became free we decided to expand into mobile marketing. I set up and ran Flix Marketing for just over three years delivering campaigns for clients including Warner Brothers, Nivea, Texaco and London City Airport.

I then joined WPP as an Account Director as part of their mobile agency Joule, where I sold creative, media and production, but mainly strategy – which I also delivered - building that up to become the biggest part of the business.

After having two babies in close succession my career took a curve ball as my trajectory to MD was disrupted by an acquisition, resulting in me being given a purely sales / account management role which I did not enjoy – I wanted to be solving problems. After much thought, I decided to take a big leap and joined Infosys as Senior Digital Strategist, jumping off the management track into a strategy role for a technology company.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

I tried (as I love a plan). My original plan, after my Psychology degree at Bristol, was to be a lawyer. I had it all planned – had got into law school, had done work experience and was on my way to getting a training contract but I just couldn’t do it. Law, to me then, appeared to be more about spotting potential problems and I wanted to work on fixing them. Luckily, an interesting opportunity presented itself during dinner with a friend. After that I became a strategist by stealth - in every job I did I naturally gravitated towards digging into what the actual challenge or opportunity was and then finding ways to fix it. At the early stages I didn’t really understand what strategy was but I just naturally leaned into it – it is only later when I look back that I see my career path was dictated by my natural inclination towards strategy. I was lucky enough to find jobs that allowed me to shape my own career and move into that role more formally.

Have you faced any career challenges along the way and how did you overcome these?

Yes, after my second child I was brought back into a sales and account management role. I didn’t enjoy being separated from solving the problem. I was at a career crossroads at a time when my confidence was low, after having two children in quick succession. I leaned into my network to ask for help, asking people if I could pick their brains about their roles and career paths. People were incredibly generous with their time – something I will never forget – and through these conversations I was able to clearly visualise my options and make plans. I took the risky route moving off the management track at WPP and doubling down on Strategy as a career, becoming a Digital Strategist at Infosys, which has a very different culture, product set and client from my previous employers. I am so happy today that I took that decision.

What has been your biggest career achievement to date?

I still think my biggest career achievement was Flix Marketing – one of the earliest pure play mobile agencies. To have built out an agency proposition in my 20s, in an immature market and grow it to a point where it had significant revenue, an impressive roster of globally recognised clients and award-winning work was quite an achievement. I didn’t realise it at the time which is probably why I was successful – I didn’t feel that pressure!

What one thing do you believe has been a major factor in you achieving success?  

My desire to collaborate and through that building up a network of great people that I can depend upon. I truly feel that it is only through strong collaborations that we can achieve great things, which is why I love working with Infosys at WONGDOODY. We have the most amazing people working within the company with an incredibly broad array of skills that we can tap into for our clients and which give me and my team a constant source of opportunities to learn.

What top tips would you give to an individual who is trying to excel in their career in technology?  

  • Don’t feel you need to know all the answers before you feel confident enough to get involved – you will never know all the answers and whilst you wait to learn them you will miss out on a bunch of opportunities from which you would learn a lot
  • Lean into other people and collaborate. Find the pockets of people with whom you can - between you - unlock the most value, be inspired by and from whom you can learn. And keep them close!
  • Tend your network well inside and outside your organisation. I have leaned into my network again and again for support and it has always delivered. Try and ‘pay it forward’ whenever you can, especially with the women who are rising up behind you. Do what you can, whenever you can to reach a hand behind you and pull them up the ladder. There are very few of us within the tech world and even fewer in senior positions so we need to support and celebrate each other whenever we can.

Do you believe there are still barriers for success for women working in tech, if so, how can these barriers be overcome? 

The data tells us there are still barriers. According to the ONS, in the UK, 31% of tech jobs are held by women, while women make up just 10% of leadership roles in technology (Harvey Nash Tech Survey 2021).  There are both common and unique barriers within individual tech companies and a few quick fixes such as increasing the number of women you interview or running coaching sessions for women, will not fix the root causes. Companies need to take the time and effort to truly understand the barriers within the organisation at each stage, create strategies to address them, implement those strategies and measure their success iterating them over time. Then share the learnings (and the benefits of implementing such strategies) with other tech organisations to enable us to move faster as an industry.

Another significant and multi-faceted barrier is supply - according to UCAS just 35% of STEM students in higher education in the UK are women - we ultimately need to fix the root cause of why less girls opt for STEM education.

What do you think companies can do to support and progress the careers of women working in technology?  

The first step is to find and really understand the barriers women face within a company. At Infosys we have identified key ‘points of intervention’ specifically around retention, where we can have the most impact. We address these points in a very focused way with a range of initiatives for each. For example: focused interventions around supporting women to come back into work after they have had a baby; strengthening participation in areas of the business, such as digital, which are experiencing the most growth to enable women to rise further, faster; and focused training for women at a specific level of seniority to strengthen the talent for the executive pipeline. We have targets we want to hit and are rigorous about measuring how we are getting on. In some cases we are behind, in others ahead, but the important thing is that we are committed to making a change and are measuring what we are doing and iterating it as we go.

There is currently only 17 per cent of women working in tech, if you could wave a magic wand, what is the one thing you would do to accelerate the pace of change for women in the industry?

I would wave a wand and remove the ‘I can’t do that’ voice in women’s heads. I know this is a generalisation but what we hear time and time again is that women tend to have less confidence in their own capabilities and as a result underestimate what they can achieve. And right now if we could remove that voice for all women at all levels of seniority in tech I think the value we would unlock would be immeasurable not only for the % of women working in tech but for the organisations themselves.

What resources do you recommend for women working in tech?

  • Each other – my network of women in tech who support and guide me
  • Podcasts: Brene Brown – Dare to Lead
  • TED talks

WeAreTechWomen has a back catalogue of thousands of Inspirational Woman interviews, including Professor Sue Black OBE, Debbie Forster MBE, Jacqueline de Rojas CBE, Dr Anne-Marie Imafidon MBE and many more. You can read about all our amazing women here


Emma Mahy featured

Inspirational Woman: Emma Mahy | CEO & Co-Founder, IoT Solutions Group

Emma MahyMy career started in nursing and, while I have shifted fields more than once, that desire to make a positive difference to society and individuals has always driven what I’ve done.

After I decided to leave my nursing career behind me as a result of injury, I worked in technology for a period of time, managing operational roll-outs. It was a great basis for the future but, after seven years, I felt I needed a fresh outlet for my passion and energy.

It was then that I moved into the charity sector, fundraising and event planning. A period of my life that exposed me to many interesting people and projects. It was truly inspirational to work with others who were making such a positive impact.

After 14 years I decided that I wanted to reignite my career in the world of technology so moved to the network provider, WND. It was there that I met my current business partner, Neal Forse.

Our combined frustration with the IoT market led us to join forces and develop a service that would make the Internet of Things accessible for the masses – helping to realise the potential that it offers to change society and the lives of individuals.

I am now the CEO of IoT Solutions Group and am thoroughly enjoying growing a hungry and talented team and proposition, as we gain more traction and demonstrate the effectiveness of our solutions.

The last three years have been exciting and inspiring. I’ve met and worked with many amazing people who have taught me so much and been a constant source of inspiration. We have developed some genuinely life-saving solutions in the field of adult social care. We have also deployed transformational solutions in fields such as social housing, waste management, smart parking and compliance – all with the intention of improving public services and saving organisations money.

With my background in nursing and charities, the tech world may seem a strange step but, as we’re demonstrating, tech can be for good and I am delighted that all the work I have put in is making a positive impact on the lives of individuals and society as a whole.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

At the beginning yes. I planned to be a nurse but then, after a period of time I decided I needed a change and, to some extent, my subsequent career has ‘happened’! By that I mean I didn’t have a specific plan, other than wanting to be involved in work that makes a positive difference.

The roles I have undertaken have arisen as a result of my relationships. Getting to know people, helping others out, exploring opportunities and so on. The more I explored, the more doors opened.

The career choices I have made, whilst not planned from the beginning, are a result of hard work and strong relationships nurtured over time.

Have you faced any career challenges along the way and how did you overcome these?

The biggest challenge I faced was when I sustained an injury that meant I had to halt my career in nursing. I was 18 and all the studying I’d done and the work experience I’d gained to that point had been focused on that career path. It was devastating to me at the time.

I had to stop, reassess my life and decided what I was going to do next. I took the opportunity to travel around Australia and Asia and think about what I wanted to do. I made a point of opening my mind to new opportunities, built my networks and explored all options.

My future turned out to be hugely positive but, as a young woman whose chosen career had come to a sudden dead end, it was a significant mental challenge to overcome and required calmness, friends, family and a great deal of patience to make the next step.

What has been your biggest career achievement to date?

Without doubt it is being bold enough to set up IoT Solutions Group. Evolving the company from a micro business with embryonic ideas to an organisation that is scaling and employing people fills me with enormous pride.

We produce our own UK manufactured devices, have developed our own data analytics and reporting platform, work with a fantastic team of employed and contracted champions in engineering, sales, marketing and administration and, most importantly, we have solutions in the field with a range of clients making a huge difference…saving lives, improving environments and more.

If you’d told me five years ago that I’d be sat here now telling you this story, I’d have laughed at you. It’s been stressful, challenging, exciting, tiring and rewarding – often all at the same time!

The journey has been exciting but also hugely educational. Every day I learn something new, be it about PCB components, the world of adult social care or PR…it’s refreshing and inspiring to work across so many areas of the business.

I’ve made a difference in many places but to establish and grow the business as I have with my business partner, Neal, is truly exhilarating.

What one thing do you believe has been a major factor in you achieving success?

Relationships. Without doubt, connecting with people, listening to their challenges and needs, being an open door and establishing trust is the number one factor.

I have a wide and varied network and love talking to people. Asking questions and understanding other people’s goals has created so many opportunities. One conversation leads to an introduction or a follow-up meeting, out of which a long-lasting relationship is built. Other conversations lead to invitations to speak at events, from which new sales leads appear or expert advice is uncovered.

No successful person achieves success alone – even the biggest names out there have mentors, coaches and critical friends to call upon.

I’m truly grateful to those that have helped me on my journey.

What top tips would you give to an individual who is trying to excel in their career in technology?

There three elements I’d emphasise.

1 – As per the previous question – relationships and networks. Put yourself out there, meet people, be brave, ask questions and be curious.

2 – Tenacity – simply put, don’t give up. If you have a passion and a meaningful problem to which you have a solution, go for it! If you have a good idea, it may need refining, but there are people out there who can, and want to, help you. Persist and connect - you’ll find the support you need.

3 – Look after yourself. Any career path can be challenging and, in the fast-moving world of technology it is easy to feel overwhelmed or out of your depth. In truth, most people are in the same boat; they have a good idea or a particular passion but need to learn. No-one has all the answers so don’t be hard on yourself.

Cut yourself some slack, keep a trusted group of friends close to help you and also take time out to give your mind a rest. Burnout doesn’t help anyone.

Do you believe there are still barriers for success for women working in tech, if so, how can these barriers be overcome?

Sadly, yes. There are barriers for women across all industries, relating to age old cultures and societal norms, such as women traditionally being the ones to take parental leave and promotions being hard to come by as a result.

Whilst improving, unconscious bias still exists and women are not treated as equals. Most women will be able to relate to situations of men talking to their male colleagues, even if the colleague is the more junior or less experienced member of staff.

I am hopeful that cultures are improving, but there is still a way to go.

To overcome these barriers though we have to be ruthless in demonstrating our competence. Take the podium when opportunities arise, open doors through strong relationships, get your name out there in the media and on social networks. Don’t take no for an answer and maintain your self-belief.

Only by raising your head above the parapet can you prove to the world that you have something to contribute. As I said before, if you have a good idea and energy, you will make it. It may be harder to make the cut through as a woman, but it can be done.

What do you think companies can do to support to progress the careers of women working in technology?

The starting point has to be cultural. Leadership teams need to genuinely embrace inclusive ways of working. It’s not just about saying the right things, but genuinely valuing the input and views of the whole workforce.

By opening conversation and welcoming challenge from across the organisation, ways of working are improved and opportunities are available to all. This culture has to be lived throughout all levels of management and be genuinely adopted by the whole team – lip service is not sufficient.

Alongside a true culture of inclusivity and openness, organisations then need to look at more practical methods of helping women in tech progress. Parental leave policies need to give women the chance to return to their careers after having a baby, without penalty. Support in training and development needs to be made available to those that want to embrace it and networks developed that allow women to access the expertise and support that will help them progress.

If entrenched barriers are removed and support provided then we can progress. To my mind though, it’s a case of ensuring the institutional barriers at corporate and societal level are dismantled.

There is currently only 17 per cent of women working in tech, if you could wave a magic wand, what is the one thing you would do to accelerate the pace of change for women in the industry?

Making science and technology be seen as gender neutral in schools. If we can move away from STEM subjects being seen as the domain of boys and embed initiatives that open them to all, the change will come.

The nature of children is that they want to do things that are fun and don’t separate them from their peers, so if we can make STEM subjects ‘cool’ for all, we’re on to something.

What resources do you recommend for women working in tech?

I don’t have one or two particular go-to places. I have progressed by having a broad range of inputs so networking groups and accelerators such as Barclay’s Eagle Labs are valuable, organisations such as Digital Catapult also offer opportunities to meet inspirational people you can learn from.

I also find that local networking groups offer great opportunities to build strong relationships, as it’s easier to connect with them more frequently on a personal level. Hailing from Dorset, I’m extremely lucky, as it is a hotbed of technological innovation, but there are more and more innovation centres popping up around the UK, so seek them out and jump in with two feet.


WeAreTechWomen has a back catalogue of thousands of Inspirational Woman interviews, including Professor Sue Black OBE, Debbie Forster MBE, Jacqueline de Rojas CBE, Dr Anne-Marie Imafidon MBE and many more. You can read about all our amazing women here


Inspirational Woman: Dr Shruti Kohli | Lead Data Scientist, DWP Digital

Dr Shruti Kohli I am Dr Shruti Kohli, currently working as a Lead Data Scientist in the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).

I am standing on a strong foundation of my education credentials which include PhD in Computer Science, with over a decade of professional experience in both the private and public sectors encompassing a variety of roles.  My work experience spans across academia and industry, leading digital transformation, data innovation, leadership and culture change projects.    Being from a research background it’s in my DNA to be more curious and understand things from a 360-degree view. Since transitioning from academia to industry,  I’ve been looking for ways to implement my learning to create a tangible difference. My current Civil Service job provides an opportunity to use my data learning for social good.  And that’s the purpose that keeps me motivated to serve the department and people across the UK.

I also lead DWP’s Innovation Lab. This includes horizon scanning, and identifying the data and technology in the external ecosystem that can help the department to innovate and improve their services. As we speak I am working on a couple of interesting data-driven projects in the lab, one of these is a programme to understand use the of synthetic data as a data-sharing tool.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

I have always taken a proactive approach towards my learning and development which I’ve brought into every workplace.  I create new opportunities for myself and accept every opportunity that comes my way.   Being an academic in the past has given me a good appetite to learn quickly and share. I have always taken the initiative to enrich myself by using Civil Service learning, attending professional training such as the Oxford Leadership Executive program, and doing technical certifications to be a step ahead.   My career developments have come a long way through receiving and giving mentoring, leading data and tech-driven projects, and building relationships.

Have you faced any career challenges along the way and how did you overcome these?

In one of roles during my early days of my career, at a certain time I was making multiple errors in my deliverables, and it took me a while to understand what was going wrong. I consulted my mentor, who helped me to develop practice to say ’no’ more often.  I was in a hurry to take on more projects to grow quickly, but at the same it was hampering my creativity. I had an open discussion with my manager, looked at my bucket list and agreed on priority projects which created a win-win environment for everyone.

What has been your biggest career achievement to date?

If I had to single out one, it would be my PhD degree.

What one thing do you believe has been a major factor in you achieving success?    

Learn to unlearn.

What top tips would you give to an individual who is trying to excel in their career in technology?

Dream big, grow your network, have a mentor at every step of your career. Humility and strong will is a solid combination. Don’t forget to pull up others to grow.

Do you believe there are still barriers for success for women working in tech, if so, how can these barriers be overcome?

The number of women reaching the boardroom has risen significantly in the last few years. Organisations have also begun to realise the benefit of inclusive growth.  Yes, I agree, there is gender gap in the technology sector, and there’s a big role to play for schools to promote STEM careers more to women. But there’s also the opportunity to use industry touch points to create interest in students at the early stages.

What do you think companies can do to support and progress the careers of women working in technology?

Coaching and mentoring sessions always play an important role.

There is currently only 17 per cent of women working in tech, if you could wave a magic wand, what is the one thing you would do to accelerate the pace of change for women in the industry?

School have the magic wand, where they can promote STEM subjects to girls at early stages of their career.

What resources do you recommend for women working in tech?

Start something even if it’s small, that’s the first step to success. Pick two technologies, and if they complement each other, that’s the cherry on the cake. Listen to webinars, do projects, engage in short courses to open up your horizons. Networking is the key, so join in with meetups and hackathons.


WeAreTechWomen has a back catalogue of thousands of Inspirational Woman interviews, including Professor Sue Black OBE, Debbie Forster MBE, Jacqueline de Rojas CBE, Dr Anne-Marie Imafidon MBE and many more. You can read about all our amazing women here. 


Inspirational Woman: Verity Chinnery | Senior Director of GRC Implementations, SureCloud

Verity ChinneryVerity Chinnery has had a passion for tech for as long as she can remember.

Despite reading biology at university, she joined PwC as a Technology Risk Associate following her successful application to the company’s world-renowned graduate scheme. Today, just seven years into her career in tech, Verity is the Senior Director of GRC Implementation at SureCloud, and she’s agreed to join us to share details about her journey in the industry  and her wider thoughts about women in technology.

Tell us a little about yourself, your background and your current role

I’ve been working with SureCloud for over 3 years now. I’m responsible for the Governance, Risk and Compliance (GRC) implementations function, so when a customer buys a SureCloud GRC software solution, it’s up to my team to ensure that our customers have a smooth implementation experience and their business outcomes are met. I currently manage 11 excellent consultants, and our team is growing fast with a further graduate intake occurring later this year. My main responsibilities include leading the GRC service delivery strategy, overseeing the teams activities and providing coaching as well as supporting other parts of the business such as sales, presales and product.

Before I joined SureCloud, I worked at PwC as a Technology Risk Senior Associate where I was an SME for the GRC Practice, responsible for the technical implementation of industry leading enterprise GRC platforms. I studied biology at university so didn’t have a tech-focussed degree, but that didn’t prevent me from applying to the grad scheme and eventually finding success with it. It’s surprising how many routes into tech there actually are these days, and so many skills you pick up at university are directly transferable.

What kind of challenges did you face getting into tech? 

I actually failed at my first attempt at the PwC grad scheme, which they run annually. Like a lot of other grad schemes, they ran assessment centers where graduates had to compete and put their cases forward. At the time, I lacked confidence and wasn’t very assertive with my views, something that echoed in their feedback at the time. I really wanted to get onto the grad scheme, so instead of giving up, I decided to take a year out and really work on improving those skills. I came back a year later, more confident with more life experience, and was successful.

Were tech roles popular among women when you were at university? 

At university it wasn’t really a common path for women to take, at least not among my cohort, which was a shame. My barriers to getting into the tech world had nothing to do with the fact that I was a woman, but I can see how easy it could be to miss out on certain opportunities because they’re simply not readily accessible - in many instances, you have to go out of your way to find these great schemes and initiatives.  When I finally got onto the grad scheme at PwC, there seemed to be a relatively even split between male and female candidates, which is obviously great!

What needs to change to get more women into tech? 

To say it was a level playing field would perhaps be overstepping, but it certainly seems much better than it was. There are some amazing schemes out there - and not just grad schemes. I recently learned of an amazing organization called CodeFirstGirls which provides free coding courses for women in the UK. Their messaging around helping women to “rewrite their future” is inspiring, and we could definitely do with more schemes and initiatives like this - and they certainly need to be shouted about.

I’m proud to be leading on a refresh of the women’s forum at SureCloud that will aim to encourage strong support networks, provide resources to empower women and boost self esteem, create mentoring opportunities and develop greater awareness of the female career challenge in the organisation.

Tell us about your approach to leadership and your management philosophy

I believe in a fairly hands-off approach to management with appropriate coaching measures in place. I think individuals should be afforded the space and freedom to prove themselves and establish unique ways of doing things which also encourages innovation. If mistakes are made, we learn from them as a whole team and I prioritise coaching my team not only on how to develop as implementations consultants but also career progression within SureCloud and beyond.

What’s your proudest achievement? 

That’s a really good question. Here at SureCloud, I have established a successful grad scheme which got up and running in record time and is now on its fifth graduate intake. I love the idea of putting a ladder down whenever success is earned to help others climb up, and I feel that’s what we’re helping to achieve with our grad scheme. It feels very rewarding to see its success, having benefited from one myself at the start of my career. It also provides invaluable experience for our more senior consultants who are encouraged to contribute.

One piece of advice for those looking to get into tech? 

I’ll go one better and give your readers two bits of advice. First, always persevere. Resilience is so key in this industry, particularly as those that shout loudest often get the most attention. Believe in yourself and keep trying if you don’t succeed. Second, get a support system around you of work colleagues or university peers that won’t mind you sound-boarding ideas with them. Thinking aloud about potential career options and getting their honest feedback is a great way to figure out the early steps of your career.


WeAreTechWomen has a back catalogue of thousands of Inspirational Woman interviews, including Professor Sue Black OBE, Debbie Forster MBE, Jacqueline de Rojas CBE, Dr Anne-Marie Imafidon MBE and many more. You can read about all our amazing women here


Inspirational Woman: Livia Benisty | Head of AML, Banking Circle

Livia Benisty15 years ago, I left the London School of Economics with a masters in Sustainable Economic Development desperate to do anything that meant I could save the world, but nobody who I thought was saving the world wanted to hire me.

I turned to the private sector and answered a job ad talking about counter terrorism and anti-money laundering in Central Africa and the former Soviet Union, which I thought was close enough. Though I was disappointed to find out the employer was a regulatory consultancy rather than MI6, it probably worked out for the best.

I am now Head of Business AML (anti-money laundering) for Banking Circle, a tech-first bank providing financial infrastructure to Banks and Payments businesses. I’m responsible for several teams engaged in mitigating Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing risk. I’m also working with data scientists and engineers to build the technology we need to be effective at AML.

Between then and now I've worked for tier 1 banks, centres of innovation, and RegTech companies. A personal highlight was managing correspondent banking AML across Europe, Middle East and Africa, working with respondent institutions, meeting with regulators and governments. I was getting an in-depth education about how international finance actually works, how money truly flows around the world, who does and doesn’t have access, and how regulation and banks contribute to that. This was the role in international development I was looking for all those years before.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

Definitely not. At best I had vague ideas, but like a lot of people starting to carve out a career path, I didn’t even know the role I’ve ended up doing existed. I fell into my first role, then I fell into the next thing, and the next, and each time I was gaining a sense of direction and learning which steps I needed to take.

In the first job, I wanted a connection to international development, so I followed companies working in relevant geographies. There I learnt about regulation and got to really understand financial inclusion. The role technology would play became clear and so I decided to move to a team working in digital payments. After that I needed to get closer to the tech and was interested in building solutions, so went on to work for a tech company. From this I knew I needed to learn how to operate in an executive capacity and for a company that would encourage me to learn and grow, whilst leveraging my specific skillset.

I keep in mind the broad arena that I want to break into and acknowledge that whatever crops up along the way are new and interesting paths to take.

Have you faced any career challenges along the way and how did you overcome these?

Absolutely! I think that entering a male dominated industry such as technology and financial services is a challenge in itself. On the very first day I started working, I felt bogged down by what I thought was the right way to act in a corporate setting, particularly as a woman.

Something I’ve always struggled with is navigating office politics and power plays. It can be hard to speak up for yourself or colleagues without fear of tarnishing your reputation. Women in tech still operate in environments where certain personality traits that don’t fit naturally to every woman are rewarded, yet if women exert masculine tendencies it is not viewed kindly (for example, women are bossy, men are strong). I’ve ultimately accepted the fact that you can’t please everyone and being true to yourself is the only way to push through.

Over the years I’ve had jobs that made me miserable, and at the time I couldn’t distinguish between having to deal with difficult circumstances and having to get out. Again, it’s all about being true to yourself. When in doubt, I like to think about the things that light me up at work, that helps lead the way forward. If you try this and can’t think of enough pros, it might be time to break out of what is no longer serving you.

Above everything though, seeking guidance and advice from people I trust and respect is what has been key to my progression. I’m so grateful to all the strong women and individuals who took me aside and said, “don’t worry, I’ve been there”. Surrounding yourself with people who speak from experience is so important.

What has been your biggest career achievement to date?

I think it would be not having been too scared to take risks, move to new countries, and go into something entirely new for me. Doing so has given me the breadth I needed to land where I am right now.

What is one thing you believe has been a major factor in you achieving success? 

I love learning about people and what they do, building relationships and making connections, for myself but also for other people. Firstly, it's amazing for learning what’s out there, what different people are working on, and making you aware of things you might not have known existed. But also, people get to know you, and see you as more than your job title.

For example, I was in a compliance role and absolutely worshipped the Head of Product there. I wanted to learn more about tech so we had fortnightly 1-2-1s. He saw I could add value beyond AML and hired me. That in turn made my transition to a tech company easier than if I had I gone straight from an AML role. I’m grateful for that experience and it shows that connections are crucial.

What top tips would you give to an individual who is trying to excel in their career in technology?

For people looking to break into technology, it’s important to note that you don’t always need to retrain to become an engineer or data scientist. There are lots of roles within tech companies that can help you get your foot in the door, and from there you can learn more about the industry whilst deciphering which areas interest you the most.

For people who are already tech trained, every industry now needs ‘tech’ which means you have the freedom to make your career path as unchartered and exciting as you please. The projects you end up working on and the problems you are trying to solve can vary so much, so if you have the option, find a niche problem set you find interesting, beyond just technology. This will give you purpose.

Do you believe there are still barriers for success for women working in tech, if so, how can these barriers be overcome?

The bottom line is, yes – despite the fact the industry has come a long way. It all starts from a young age, and I think our society still conditions girls into pursuing certain types of careers, even sometimes inadvertently (I recommend reading “Brave Not Perfect” by Reshma Saujani on this). I can’t say I’m an expert on tech education for women at school or at a university level and I’d like to think that girls are now educated and encouraged in a similar way to boys; but I’ve also read that the number of computer science degrees awarded to women has actually declined over the last decade, so it obviously isn’t that simple.

When it comes to the workplace, technology can be its own industry but often it’s within another: finance, health, education, property. The barriers to women in tech are also compounded by the barriers faced by women in the workplace on a broader scale. This includes cultures which are allowed to pervade. The continued imbalance in the proportion of men holding senior positions, the fact that it will be more expensive for a company to hire a woman of childbearing age than a man and the uncertainty around maternity leave and pay- we need to knock these walls down, as organisations will thrive if women are allowed to reach their full unlimited potential.

What do you think companies can do to support and progress the careers of women working in technology?

It all comes back to supporting women in the workplace more generally and giving them a platform. We also have to recognise that historically the workplace has not been a place of equality or diversity. Companies need to spend time assessing and structuring their company culture and working practices to make sure they don’t exclude women.

This should be implemented with a grass-roots approach targeting the first hurdle, the recruitment process. Companies need to consider how their selection processes may introduce bias when not consciously managed. People can always learn once in a role and so re-training initiatives, providing sponsorships or grants will be key. For women to progress, organisations need to make opportunities more accessible from the start and realise this is a positive investment.

There is currently only 17 per cent of women working in tech, if you could wave a magic wand, what is the one thing you would do to accelerate the pace of change for women in the industry?

I would say the same as I would for any industry. Make the cost of hiring a man of childbearing age the same cost as hiring a woman. That way, the risk of losing a key member of staff for x number of months is the same, regardless of whether you hire a man or a woman. Businesses must ensure that coming back to work after having a child is a positive experience. We need to reduce the number of women that leave the workplace early or fail to progress further because of family planning.

What resources do you recommend for women working in tech?

No matter what specific niche you’re interested in, there will be numerous newsletters and communities you can sign up to for regular tech updates and resources. I encourage you to find your passion and then research it.

On a broader level, I often refer to Wearetechwomen.com and Womenintech.co.uk. I’ve also used teamtreehouse.com to learn basic coding before and I think it’s a good way to start exploring what might interest you.

Within my space – financial and regulatory technology – my top go-to podcasts are: Breaking Banks – a fintech radio show covering hot start-ups, innovators and industry players disrupting the financial services landscape; Barefoot Innovation by Jo Ann Barefoot; and Pivot, which is more general and my point of call for staying on top of broader issues around technology globally.

Especially for women working in tech, I think it’s essential to build a network. I’m on the advisory board for Regtech Women and highly recommend joining to access the array of resources and expertise on offer. Even when starting out you will always find people who have been in your position already and able to give you the benefit of their experiences for you to learn from.


WeAreTechWomen has a back catalogue of thousands of Inspirational Woman interviews, including Professor Sue Black OBE, Debbie Forster MBE, Jacqueline de Rojas CBE, Dr Anne-Marie Imafidon MBE and many more. You can read about all our amazing women here


Kate Bingham

Inspirational Woman: Dame Kate Bingham DBE | Former Chair of the COVID-19 Vaccine Task Force

Kate Bingham

Dame Kate Bingham DBE is the former chair of the COVID-19 Vaccine Task Force.

In her role as chair of the task force, she helped steer the procurement of vaccines and the strategy for their deployment during the COVID-19 pandemic.

She was recently awarded a Damehood in the 2021 Queen’s Birthday Honours List, for her services to to the procurement, manufacture and distribution of Covid-19 vaccines.

Tell us a bit about yourself, background and your current role

I am a biochemistry-trained biotech company builder and venture capital investor, mother to three very tall young adults and married to the [very tall] MP for Herefordshire who was one of the founders of NMITE (New Model Institute of Technology and Engineering). As a Managing Partner at SV Health Investors, we develop breaking science and emerging biological understanding of diseases to develop new drugs to address unmet clinical needs. Last year I spent 7 months chairing the UK Vaccine Taskforce to help secure vaccines for the UK and internationally in the fight back against the COVID19 pandemic.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

No. I followed the areas that I enjoyed and thought would make a difference and would be fun.

One thing I can say about my own career, is that I got really excited about biochemistry when I was thinking about how you can actually translate that knowledge, for example about genetic mutations, into thinking about how you develop drugs for patients.  Suddenly you could see the practical application of what you were studying in the textbooks in terms of actually changing somebody’s life.

My career is a good example of the need to take a wide view, to collaborate with professionals from other disciplines and that you become good at something by practicing it. You learn by doing.  Which is why I am such a supporter of NMITE which really understands this and has been set up to change the way engineering is taught. It is a very interesting new way of teaching because its focus is on the practical, working in small teams and working very closely with industry.  It will ensure that these important principles are incorporated into its programmes and that will mean that its graduates will be uniquely well placed to enjoy a successful career, from day one.

You recently led the COVID-19 vaccine task force – can you tell us more about this, how you managed teams remotely, the challenges etc?

I was appointed as Chair of the VTF in May 2020 and within weeks had assembled the core team who developed the strategy and plans to secure vaccines for the UK. By July we had signed Heads of Terms agreements with BioNTech/Pfizer, Valneva, Oxford/AZ, followed shortly by GSK, Janssen, Novavax and Moderna. Remote working was actually easier as we lost no time in travel or unproductive chitchat. On December 8 2020, the UK was the first western country to start vaccinating its citizens.

Many of the challenges I faced, and the Task Force team faced, reflected those of any major project or highly complex scientific and engineering undertaking. We needed to work as a team, we needed to make decisions quickly and understand the degree of certainty we could count on when making those decisions. We needed to hone our communication skills as we were working remotely and at pace. Science and engineering, in the real world, are team sports. You need these skills to succeed.

This wasn’t about finding the perfect vaccine. It was about getting vaccines quickly. So, we had that very clear motivation to work quickly. We had the authority to build a team that had the right expertise and we were working in an industry that already was a collaborative industry.  The manufacturing companies had already got together early last year before the Vaccine Task Force was even conceived because they knew they were the ones who were going to have to scale up.

I think there’s a massive lesson about combining industrial expertise with the excellence from the Civil Service, so that we were able to build the team, which covered the vaccine selection, manufacturing clinical trials, and then the pandemic preparedness.  That was a core aspect: to make sure we would be better prepared for next time. Because of course we knew viruses mutate, so variants were expected and of course new pandemics were also expected.  We were able to combine industrial expertise with the expertise from the civil servants in procurement negotiation, in project management and actually in international diplomacy. We were very dependent on working with other countries for supply chains and for thinking about how to work cooperatively to get vaccines to those countries that needed them. I think the lessons about combining the best from industry and the best from government are ones that should be taken forward.

In my view, most of society’s big challenges will only be solved by the integrated work of a wide range of disciplines. The vaccine programme was only possible because of this integrated thinking and the teamwork of a brilliant team of professionals.  Likewise NMITE, because it is teaching “integrated engineering”, will be bringing together the various engineering disciplines and the softer skills that are so important in the real world.

Congratulations on your recent Damehood – how did you feel when you discovered you’d been awarded the Honour?

I am proud but also humbled to be recognised in a year when NHS workers have risked their health and their lives in fighting Covid, and have been at the heart of the vaccine roll out.

The development of vaccines has been a triumph of scientific and industrial collaboration. Just a year ago we were assembling an unproven portfolio of vaccines for the UK. Yet in the last seven months,  over 80m vaccine doses have provided unprecedented protection and saved thousands of lives.

It has been an extraordinary privilege to lead the brilliant Vaccine Taskforce team, and to secure doses for the UK, but which can also be shared with other countries. I am particularly proud of the NHS Registry, which helped the UK to run the vaccine clinical trials quickly. Its hundreds of thousands of volunteers will be essential for us to test pandemic vaccines in the future.

Finally, I am thrilled that so many women have made such enormous contributions to science, healthcare, manufacturing and technology during the pandemic. I hope this encourages more girls to pursue careers in these sectors

What one thing do you believe has been a major factor in you achieving success?

My unwavering view that you should act as if what do you makes a difference. Because it does. So don’t let hurdles get in your way.

What top tips would you give to an individual who is trying to excel in their career in STEM?

STEM disciplines are so important to the economy, the country and to the well-being and quality of life for us all.  My first piece of advice would be that you should be aware that you are thinking about a career in a field that is very important – STEM disciplines will equip you to make a real positive difference to the world.

Try not to constrain your thinking.  You might think STEM is not for you, perhaps because you feel uncomfortable about the maths involved, or you feel you are better at the arts and creative subjects. Please think again! Good engineers are creative thinkers and imaginative problem solvers.

NMITE’s engineering programme has been designed to include those creative and communication skills which are so important to today’s engineering challenges. If you lack the formal qualifications in maths or physics then don’t worry, because NMITE will bring you up to speed as part of its course to ensure you succeed.

Do you believe there are still barriers for success for women working in STEM sectors, if so, how can these barriers be overcome?

I do think women face different challenges and speaking for myself, I know I don’t have the same brash confidence as a man. So if I’m asked to do something, I tend to look at the reasons why I can’t do it rather than the reasons I can. I think that is something that we just need to get over.

I think you can be exceptionally good as a woman going into traditionally male dominated industries. Because I think our insight enables us to look at things in different ways and to find different solutions in ways that may not be so obvious.

NMITE is one important measure in the fight to remove these barriers to success that many women face. For a start, it is led by an accomplished female engineer and educator, it aims to achieve a fully gender balanced student population and its approach to recruiting its students, from its admissions processes to the way its programme is delivered – in teams, learning from hands on engineering work and working with real engineering employers. There will be less room for ego and much more for collaboration and communication.

What do you think companies can do to support to progress the careers of women working in technology?

Companies certainly need to ensure they have more women around their Board tables and in senior roles. In my experience, women in the C-suite and on boards are pragmatic and  solution focused.  I don’t think we would have had the same collapse if it had been Lehman Sisters.

NMITE will play a role in this, as it will produce the sort of work-ready engineers that employers need so employers should support NMITE by recommending it to their own work-force or by helping as a partner providing engineering challenges for students to tackle. In the short term, employers could help by supporting NMITE’s ambitious bursary plans to enable it to provide financial support to students who might not otherwise be able to go to University.

There are currently only 17 per cent of women working in tech, if you could wave a magic wand, what is the one thing you would do to accelerate the pace of change for women in the industry?

I would triple the pace at which NMITE grows from its launch this year! As that will make a massive difference to the opportunities available to thousands of young people, including women, who might be considering a career in engineering but haven’t to date had access to an innovative Higher Education provider. This would also benefit us all, we’d have more engineers which the country needs; more importantly, we’d have more female engineers and more engineers who are skilled and ready to tackle the great national challenges we face.

What resources do you recommend for women working in tech, eg Podcasts, networking events, books, conferences, websites etc?

Join networking groups in the STEM/tech sectors you are interested in. In my field, the BioIndustry Association has great events, conferences, training and leadership events for women.

Find a mentor who can share their experiences to help shape your career and life.

Do look at NMITE, even if you don’t plan to become a student. They run events and seminars for everyone and focus very much on the sort of topics we’ve covered in this interview. They’ll give you a taste of the current debates in engineering and the work they are doing to help increase the number of female engineers.

Dame Kate Bingham DBE was recently interviewed for NMITE where she talked about her experience chairing the Vaccine Task Force (VTF); the similarities she sees between that and the way NMITE will be working; the need for more women in engineering and the impact she thinks NMITE will achieve in the future.