Charlene McDonald | Kainos

Charlene has worked in the IT industry for over 15 years now, starting as a Software Engineer and working her way up the ladder to become Head of Product in Kainos.

  • Having graduated with a degree in Computing Science, she started her career as a Software Engineer before eventually moving into Consulting and Business Analysis, and eventually specialising in Product Management.
  • She has worked across the Commercial, Public and Health sectors and has a wealth of software delivery experience, having worked on many large scale digital transformation programmes for Government departments such as Companies House, Land Registry, the Foreign and Commonwealth Development Office, the Ministry of Justice, the Department of Environment Food and Rural Affairs and the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency to name a few. She has developed services and products that are used by UK citizens every day and it is rewarding to know that the work I have done has had a positive impact on people's lives and makes a real difference in the world
  • In the Health sector Charlene is currently working on the Digital Transformation of Screening Programme with the NHS in England, where for the last 13 months she has been instrumental in redesigning how Screening (Breast, Cervical, Bowel etc) will be done in the future and producing the Business Cases and high level design to secure funding to deliver this transformative work.
  • In her role as Head of Product she has created a community of practice for Product and Business Analysis, a safe space where people can share knowledge, ideas and concerns to help them grow and develop as individuals and product professionals. She works with female members of staff to help them develop into future leaders, encouraging them to go for promotions and helping them to see their strengths and abilities.
  • She is passionate about contributing to and helping to develop the Product community and regularly shares her experiences and knowledge at Product conferences and via blogs.
  • She works to encourage other women into tech, regularly sharing her own experiences and for example has spoken about being a Product Manager at the Women Tech Makers Belfast Conference
  • She has changed how recruitment is done in Product within Kainos to help improve diversity and inclusion for example by ensuring that those involved in all stages of recruitment activities are from a range of diverse backgrounds themselves
  • She is also creating opportunities for less experienced people to begin careers in Product Management and Business Analysis by successfully designing, planning and running two ‘Business Analysis Academies’ in Kainos in FY22 and another one planned for FY23.

The Academy is aimed at people with no prior Business Analysis or Product experience, giving them an opportunity to change career by up-skilling and equipping them to begin a career in technology as Business Analysts in Kainos, with ongoing mentoring and support to help them thrive in their new careers and work towards becoming the leaders of the future. 20 people successfully completed the academy in 21/22 and are now enjoying new careers successfully working as Business analysis. it has also resulted in successfully increasing the number of women in this discipline in Kainos. It also provided opportunities for women to return to work after having career breaks to raise families and care for sick relatives.

Lauren Taylor | Kainos

Lauren is an AWS Certified Senior Software Engineer at Kainos, with 3 years of experience delivering highly-scalable serverless solutions in an agile, high-pressure environment.

Her most recent work has been on the NHS Digital Covid-19 Testing project since June 2021. Here she delivered to a highly-scalable, high-profile serverless fulfilment system which processed at a peak of 1.8+ million orders a day, and over 102 million orders since April 2020. She mentored Junior engineers, reduced tech debt, provided live production support and optimised ways of working. Prior to this project, she became AWS Certified as a Solutions Architect Associate.

Outside of work, she volunteers as the Promotion Lead for Northern Ireland Developers Conference (NIDC). This is Northern Ireland's biggest non-profit technology meetup; uniting developers, meetup groups and companies every year to share knowledge and make connections amongst 500+ attendees. In 2021, she led the planning around NIDC Meetup Week; a series of technology meetups to reunite the local developer community after the pandemic.

In 2020, she graduated with First Class Honours in Computer Science at Queen's University Belfast. During her final year, she established Corgi; a Women in Tech community for students in Northern Ireland. Corgi provides a space for students to network, learn and support each other throughout the early stages of their careers. Here she sourced and led a team of 6 to plan community meet-ups, sponsored learning events and campaigns. The community has since been passed down to current students and is still active 3 years after launch.

Lauren also dedicated her time to Queen's Computing Society, serving 3 years total on the committee. This involved leading a team of 10+ to organise social and academic events for students and helping gather sponsorship for the society's Annual Charity Formal Event.

Tracy Higgs

Tracy Higgs | Kainos

Tracy Higgs

Tracy entered the tech industry 8 years ago ago, after a career change from lecturing.

Beginning as an Internal Systems Manager at EMIS, she worked her way up, quickly becoming Product Manager for Patient Access supporting 5m users, she worked with Apple on the 1st Healthkit API integration into Patient Access and then travelled to Gibraltar to map out an ambitious integrated healthcare system which went live in 2014.

Moving onto Purple Bricks Tracy was leading the 80+ Global Development Team for the online platform for UK, US and Australia.
Via Kainos, Tracy has now moved into consultancy and is the PM for Online consultations - NHS App. She led the teams to create and develop the architecture and supporting processes and materials to enable 3rd party suppliers to integrate into the NHS App. The rollout of which was accelerated to support COVID-19, offering patients the ability to get help from their GP without visiting the surgery. She has delivered excellent results often in challenging circumstances, is passionate about equality and seeks out opportunities to empower fellow females.

Tracy is a Volunteer facilitator for Googles ‘IamRemarkable’ training. She’s worked with colleagues to establish a women’s network at kainos and organised ‘Code first girls’ as a charity to collectively support. She creates and delivers psychological safety training to help establish environments where teams can flourish and bring their whole selves to work and recently piloting an approach toward combatting systemic gender bias through research analysis methodology as part of her championing sex disaggregated data.