Lauren McKirdy | NatWest Markets

I graduated from the University of Hull in 2005 with a degree in Theatre Studies, (not the most obvious starting point for a career in tech!).

In 2006 I started my first full time professional job in the city with a small Tech start up that was based in London Bridge. The company started as a publishing house and branched out into providing online publishing software for local and central government. I was lucky enough to join at time when the company was at the start of this venture, we grew quickly and I ended up taking on a role on the support desk for the customers, who were using the software that the company was making.

I thoroughly enjoyed my time here and got a great insight into the full development lifecycle for inception to roll out, this was a career turning point for me, it was fast past, innovative and exiting and was where a Tech career began for me.

In 2008 I joined what was then the Global Banking and Markets division of the Royal Bank of Scotland as an application support analyst in Technology. I was focused on supporting the CRM tooling that the bank was using at the time. Over my 10 year career here I have had the benefit of working in various parts of the technology functions that support our Investment Banking operations and have gone on to manage global teams and project deliveries, always focused on supporting our Front Office in using the technology that supports their delivery to our clients.


Lisa Forte | Red Goat Cyber Security

I began my career in technology working in anti-piracy intelligence off the coast of Somalia. I developed tools to help gather intelligence on Somali pirate attacks. I then got recruited into British Counter-terrorism intelligence for a UK Government agency. I researched the process of online radicalisation by terrorist groups, how they used algorithms to find and target vulnerable people and the risky social engineering process undertaken by terrorist recruiters. I developed advanced skills in intelligence gathering and specific software to analyse intelligence.

I then moved into one of the UK Police Cyber-Crime Units where I got to understand cyber criminals’ methodologies and mindsets. The unit dealt with serious cyber-crime cases working closely with agencies such as the FBI. Victim companies ranged from small to multi-national organisations and almost all the cases involved social engineering (targeting staff).

In 2017 I left the Cyber-Crime Unit to start my own company, Red Goat Cyber Security, with the goal of reflecting the techniques and methodologies actually being employed by hackers. We developed the first and only GCHQ certified social engineering training for staff of all levels. I also developed a social engineering cyber security testing package for organisations. I also offer cyber-attack wargaming to companies all over the world helping them prepare for an attack and survive it. I wanted my company to also offer all of our services on a pro-bono basis to NHS hospitals and charities. These organisations struggle for funding yet their security is paramount. We help them become more secure using our free capacity in exchange for a cup of coffee!

I am an experienced cybercrime keynote speaker. I have been invited to speak at major conferences and events around the world. My blog has had a readership of over 40,000 people and I have 24,000 followers online.


Liz Hardwick | DigiEnable

After graduating from the University of Central Lancashire in 2005, Liz embarked on a career in media technology, landing a job within a community arts & media production charity Prescap as a Studio Manager. Her role was to design and build studio spaces, but also up skill individuals to feel more confident working within media and technology settings. After six years at the charity, Liz established herself as a freelance speaker and trainer, talking at events across the UK on the subject of self-promotion and marketing using emerging technologies. This led to the creation of DigiEnable, a digital training provider focused on working with those yet to see the potential of integrating technology into their businesses, or those that had seen the potential but needed to increase their staff capacity to utilise it.

DigiEnable is now an award-winning, part-digital training company, part search marketing provider, and works with businesses across the UK.

Liz’s other previous roles have included an elected seat on the Communications Committee for BECTU (Broadcast, Entertainment, Communication and Theatre Union), Community Media Association, and Lancashire Artists Network. She is currently a director and board member for Digital Lancashire, Chair of the National Women’s Committee (BECTU), National Executive Committee (BECTU), on the organising team for Women in Tech North UK and an AllBright Ambassador.

Liz is a regular blogger and has guest blogged for a number of high profile websites on the subject of using tech in business including Digital Leaders, Eventbrite and Linux Magazine. She has been featured as a chapter author for a book entitled Creative Education, Teaching and Learning published by Palgrave.


Lola Bankole | Barclays

Lola started her career as an intern on a technology summer internship scheme at Barclays. She returned to the Graduate programme the following year after graduating with an MSc Distinction in Information management and Business Technology from Loughborough University. Since then, Lola has worked on a variety of technology & regulatory projects across the bank. She has honed her skills as a Hybrid Business Analyst and Project manager. Lola was introduced to the Agile way of working in her second year at Barclays and has been an advocate ever since, introducing its practices in every team she works in.

In 2016, Lola was promoted to Assistant Vice President and worked as a project manager on the most crucial aspect of the Structural Reform Programme involving the non ring-fenced bank; Core Deposits. Lola worked closely with technology and operations to ensure that adequate technology and operational controls were put in place to prevent regulatory breach.

Lola is currently working as a hybrid Business Analyst/Project manager in the Markets Legal Technology division at Barclays. Her job mainly entails the development of a technology solution to facilitate the continuity of contracts with European Clients of the bank in anticipation of a “Hard Brexit” in March 2019. The Brexit programme represents the biggest, most critical regulatory change that Barclays is implementing currently.

In addition to her day-to-day responsibilities, Lola is involved in numerous diversity and community initiatives. Some of which include mentoring undergraduates entering the world of work in support of a non-profit which aims to support ethnic minorities in securing and excelling in corporate jobs. She is also actively involved with the Barclays Embrace Network’s Black Professionals Forum, leading on the intersectionality agenda which aims to foster collaboration between all the tenets of diversity.


Louise Doherty | PlanSnap

Louise is the CEO and founder of PlanSnap, the social planning app that gets friends together fast. Previously, Louise was a strategic marketer working with the BBC, ASOS and YO! Sushi, specialising in community-centred digital products. PlanSnap is an alumni of the world's top business accelerator, Techstars, and Louise was a finalist in the Everywoman Women in Technology Awards for Most Inspirational Startup Founder 2018. Louise is big on sports - triathlon, Crossfit, yoga and more - and it was organising it all that led her to start PlanSnap. Louise is passionate about getting women into business and sport, and building an inclusive company that values diversity.


Louise Bradley | Oliver Wyman

I’ve always been a woman in STEM.

When I was 12 I auditioned for Newsround based on an article I wrote imagining the news reports around the first human cyborg!

When I was 18 I left home to study biological sciences at the University of Oxford, a highlight of which was getting access to a scanning electron microscope – it was an analogue machine from the 70s, but it was still the coolest bit of tech I’d ever used! (Tough luck, iPhone X!)

Moving into a creative field after my degree did not stop my tech ambitions:

• In my first role, at AS&K Mercury, I produced interactive video DVDs educating doctors on immunodeficiency diagnoses and treatments
• When I worked in the NHS Lewisham communications team I was responsible for the website and the staff intranet, often using html coding to root out bugs
• When I worked in the NHS Lewisham performance management team I created and maintained basic databases on healthcare KPIs
• One of my first roles at Oliver Wyman marketing was to refresh the CRM data for the Retail team’s business development efforts, and since then my role has been ever more digital.

I now lead on strategic and digital marketing for the UK market, representing on the Global digital marketing team and the Global social media team.

This means I create campaigns that are digitally-led and deliver campaigns built by other teams through Oliver Wyman’s digital channels.


Love Oyeniran | LRO Consults

Having studied a Social Science degree, my first role after leaving university was working with a workflow automation tool to drive process efficiencies. I designed and developed the application to integrate to other systems such as Slack and Tableau, and I was able to write my first lines of code! In doing this I was able to increase my understanding of the use of different programming languages, applications and software.

From that role, I moved to another finance organisation where I took ownership of technology changes as part of a major system upgrade and a redesign of an in-house application.

Outside of my day job, I have been on many professional coding courses with Code First Girls where I was keen to learn as much as possible from GIT version control to connecting with APIs. This appetite to learn more proven invaluable and my most recent role as an RPA consultant, where I worked alongside a team who were among the first to put robots in an Investment Bank. I have worn many hats as part of an automation delivery composing a technical solution document comprising of Sudo code, which has not only provided a steep learning opportunity but had made my job both exciting and enjoyable.


Lucy Papault | Deloitte Digital

I started out as a Systems Analyst at a large technology consultancy, working to triage technical issues for a high street retailer as they rolled out a same-day delivery service across the country. Although I had very little experience with technology at the time, I found myself fascinated by the different systems I worked with, especially by how they fit together to power our solution. I finished the project with a keen interest in systems integration and a deep appreciation for the pivotal role technology can play in driving business growth through improved customer experience.

After several other positions, I decided to move to Deloitte Digital to focus on bespoke build for UK retail companies. Since joining I have been able to work on a variety of projects, ranging from launching a new ecommerce platform, designing a solution to put customers in charge of their shopping data, and delivering personalised recommendation features. Working closely with both our clients, to understand their business goals, and the build teams, to leverage the underlying technology, I help to align technology and business strategy. In my current role, I manage a build team focused on creating seamless ecommerce shopping experiences. I love seeing how we are able to take the ideas our clients propose, work through different solutions, and build compelling products that our final customers enjoy using.

Before my life as a technology consultant, I earned degrees in Economics and Management from Université de Rennes and Imperial College London. In my spare time, I like to play piano and go to concerts.


Mandie Beitner

Mandie Beitner | HSBC

Executive level Transformation director with 20 years’ experience in design and delivery of Global Change and Transformation Programmes (in-house / consultancy).

Specialising in establishing and implementing PPM, PMO, COO/CoS/CAO functions (local & global), TOMs, operational efficiencies & integrations. Broad sector experience, inc financial services, telecoms, utilities, media & regulated environments. A strategic thinker, successful communicator with ability to bridge the gap between strategy & delivery, an integrator who operationalises business goals.

aA problem solver, motivated to maximise quality, efficiency and reduce risk. Focused and resilient, delivering in challenging environments. A ‘people person’ with strong professional ethics, organisational & networking skills, proficient in motivating teams across geographies, gender and cultures.


Maria Hernandez | Cisco

Having been with Cisco since 2000, Maria is the UK&I lead for Country Digitisation. In this capacity, Maria is focusing on accelerating the UK Digital Agenda, progressing projects that advance digital adoption such as digital skills, productivity improvements, innovation, IoT, smart environments and cybersecurity. Maria is also responsible for branding Cisco as a thought leader in this space.

Previously, Maria has been focused on cross-vertical IoT initiatives and in particular Smart cities, enabling organisations to become digital with the use of technology. A key aspect of her role was the development of the ecosystem and partner landscape necessary to make IoT happen.

Before turning her focus to the use of ICT within Enterprise and Public Sector organisations, Maria held various positions as Finance Manager within the technology sector in Spain and in UK. Maria holds an MBA as well as an Accountancy and Economics Degree.