Suze Shardlow

Suze Shardlow wrote her first line of code in 1982 and started making websites in 1996.

She was a hobby coder all the way through primary school and university. The UK education system didn’t know what to do with girls who were interested in tech, so she was never shown that you could program for a living. Without a post-university plan, she enrolled on the most versatile degree she could think of – BA Business – and took all the marketing modules on offer while building websites for her friends on the side.

Suze’s degree and subsequent Postgraduate Diploma in Marketing kicked off a 20-year career in management, communications and strategy with organisations including the Canadian Government and the Metropolitan Police. Suze spent four years winning the hearts and minds of 30000 police officers and 20000 support staff to support them in adopting new tech. Later, Suze retrained to become an expert advisor on covert policing, managing pan-London undercover surveillance.

A move into community policing and managing buildings, vehicles and criminal exhibits around London put Suze at the sharp end of Government cuts. With the promise of redundancy in 2018, Suze took a long hard look at what she wanted to do for the next 20 years and grabbed the opportunity to retrain in modern software engineering. She graduated from coding bootcamp with three full-stack applications in her portfolio. Suze has been an active volunteer since becoming a Scout leader in 2014. She began donating her time and expertise as a chapter lead at Ladies of Code London, and later a Director at Women Who Code London, leading a combined total of more than 10000 members today.

Suze now works for herself. She creates and delivers her own coding courses, teaching Python and JavaScript as well as how to create your own personal branding website. She has worked with academics at the University of Sussex to bring their research interviews from 30 years ago to life via a chatbot. The interviews are with women about their views on love, sex and relationships at the height of the AIDS pandemic. Suze is also a technical writer and conference speaker, having given talks in the UK and overseas. She’s an experienced and engaging event host who instinctively gets the best out of her guests and speakers, even when live and unedited.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Suze took all her tech meetups online, delivering more than 120 hours of live online tech content across 50+ events. These included over 90 hours of facilitated tech co-working sessions which helped more than 60 people through lockdown. She designed and delivered more than 15 hours of public speaking coaching and mentoring workshops, then organised and hosted a live online showcase event for the women (all software engineers) who “graduated” from these workshops. Suze’s tech community event ideas and methodologies, borne of two decades of knowing her various audiences and documented in her blog, have been replicated by other groups including those based in Silicon Valley, California.