Victoria Place

Inspirational Woman: Victoria Place | Global Consulting Lead, REPL Group, Part of Accenture

Meet Victoria Place, Global Consulting Lead at REPL Group, Part of Accenture

Victoria Place

Victoria Place is Global Consulting Lead for REPL Group, Part of Accenture. Victoria has over a decade of experience delivering change programmes and organisational transformation at Accenture and John Lewis and Partners. In this piece, we talk to Victoria about her career journey, the challenges she has faced and her biggest achievement to date.

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

My name is Victoria Place and I’m currently the Global Consulting Lead at REPL Group, part of Accenture. The past few years have shown just how important it is to be able to quickly adapt and deliver, and my passion lies in making this happen by driving organisational change programmes that embed a culture of continuous learning, empowerment, honest feedback and creativity.

I’ve always worked in technology delivery within the Retail sector; starting as a management consultant at Accenture, moving onto the John Lewis Partnership and coming full circle back to Accenture when my company, REPL, was acquired shortly after I joined. Having started out delivering large-scale technology programmes, I always felt most passionate about the people side of change. I moved into a people leadership role 5 years ago and have never looked back as driving community and morale, and setting people up for success is what keeps me loving my work.

I’m currently the Global Consulting Lead at REPL, leading a team of 600 consultants in four countries (UK, SA, US and Germany) through an unsettled time following acquisition, ensuring they’ve been able to thrive in their roles through considered and collaborative organisational change, celebrating our successes, continuous learning and enabling an inclusive and supportive workplace.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

Honestly, no. The first time I was asked about my 5-10 year career plan was in a formal performance review, where I told my Line Manager I thought I’d have left work by then to have babies. I now cringe at the naivety of my 23-year-old self, but it is an interesting reflection on how different my career is to what I originally set out to do. I’ve never planned more than a year or two ahead and still don’t have a grand master plan, but my career has grown through always being offered bigger and better opportunities by the network of fantastic people I’ve met along the way. I’m not one to shy away from a challenge and an open mind has definitely helped.

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

One of the most challenging times of my career was returning from my first mat leave. Returning to work after a prolonged absence is difficult at the best of times as it takes a while for the brain to click back in, during which time it’s all too easy for your confidence to be knocked and for you to start believing that you’ll never get back to being the professional you once were. For me at this particular time, it was even harder as I was stepping up into a big new role that was completely different to anything I’d ever done before and I was suffering from Post-Natal Depression.

My usual approach of throwing everything into it didn’t work that well as I had more limited capacity whilst learning how to juggle work with looking after a baby. My resilience was down due to the PND and I didn’t have my usual support network on account of the new role and a few key people leaving whilst I was off. I remember during this time feeling incredibly isolated, like all my previous successes were a complete fluke and that I was seriously letting people down.

Although it took me a few months to even be able to say the words out loud, eventually it was being open and honest about what I was going through to a small, trusted group of supportive people that enabled me to overcome it. It was the small hinge that swung a big door, as they say. Outside of work, therapy helped me get my mental health to a more stable state, which made a huge difference to my interpreting what was going on around me in a healthier way. At work, by opening up to a few amazing people they helped me see that I’d set incredibly unrealistic expectations on myself, that others’ opinions of me were far more positive than my opinion of myself, and to believe that I had the potential to make a huge difference to a lot of people through leveraging my experience and strengths.

What has been your biggest career achievement to date?

Although lots spring to mind, the one I’m personally most proud of is being promoted whilst on maternity leave. Although many told me this couldn’t (and shouldn’t) be done, I set myself the target of progressing to the next level to ensure I was recognised for my recent development and achievements. It wasn’t easy but I worked with my fantastic mentor to take on some particularly difficult challenges to showcase what I could do in the final months before going on mat leave.

I felt a huge sense of pride in proving that career progression is still possible alongside having a baby. However, the best part was the impact it had on younger women in the team who were uncertain if a successful career in tech and family were even possible. The promotion amplified my image as a strong female role model, and it was fantastic to be able to pay forward the support I’d got from my mentor when I returned to work.

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

My colleagues would (hopefully) tell you that I’m known for bringing a lot of positive energy, being adaptable and resilient, plus my ability to persuade and motivate others to action and caring about morale.

I genuinely believe that people need to care about what they are doing and have fun at work in order to achieve their full potential – and I’ve tried my best to create that environment. I believe the most successful people do their best to bring everyone along with them.

Level Up Summit 2022

Don’t miss our Level Up Summit on 06 December, where we’re tackling the barriers for women in tech head on. Join us for keynotes, panels, Q&A’s & breakout sessions on finance, people management, negotiation, influencing skills, confidence building, building internal networks, maximising the power of mentorship, and much more. 

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

Believe you deserve a place! It’s unfortunately all too easy to look at the industry and not see a great deal of people who represent you – self-belief and reinforcement is key and goes a great deal to combating imposter syndrome.

It’s also so important to learn from every experience – good or bad! Have a growth mindset and try to see the positive in everything.

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

Yes, I do. Society tells girls from an early age that it’s our responsibility to have children and maintain a good home life for our families. So, it’s not surprising that when/if we find ourselves in the workplace alongside our male counterparts, who’ve been told from an early age it’s their responsibility to excel at work, we struggle to believe we belong.

Dare to be yourself. Building the confidence to believe you belong can be tricky and is rarely a linear process. However, it’s only through making your own decisions in a way that suits you that teaches you your thoughts matter and add loads of value to your team.

There is also a huge responsibility on modern leaders to create collaborative, empowered and inclusive workplaces where every voice can be heard.

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

Flexible working is definitely a big part of this. Flexibility goes both ways and by building a trust-based, empowered workforce we can enable employees to set boundaries that suit their professional and personal circumstances.

Active mentoring is another important part to give women the confidence and support they need to progress their careers in a male-dominated environment.

There are currently only 21 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’d create more gender-balanced senior leadership teams to support more diverse and inclusive thinking at the most influential level of organisations, create more female role models and bring about more experimenting on what actually works when juggling a successful career and full-on home life.

What resources do you recommend for women working in tech?

It’s all about your network. Seek out positive roles models and mentors, allies and friends.


Kseniia Stolbovaya

Inspirational Woman: Kseniia Stolbovaya | Co-Founder & CEO, DAN.IT

Meet Kseniia Stolbovaya, Co-Founder & CEO, DAN.IT

Kseniia Stolbovaya

Kseniia Stolbovaya is the co-founder and CEO of DAN.IT EdTech, an organistion that helps young people break into tech. The online courses are available in the metaverse, and the programs are designed to prepare people for the future of tech.

Kseniia is also a trailblazer for other female entrepreneurs who want to use the metaverse for their business.

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

I’m the CEO of the international EdTech company, DAN.IT, and we provide tech training for people who want to switch to tech from other industries. I have a Master’s degree in psychology and a Bachelor’s degree in law. Initially, I planned to continue as a psychologist after graduation, but in my last course, I was invited to work for a large publishing house in the position of learning and development specialist and I took that challenge. In a year, I became the head of the subdivision, and in two years I started my long journey within the international car rental & leasing company – first as an HR, after HRD and for over 7 years as the COO. At that time, I realised that mentorship/ training and tech are fascinating fields for me. So I started to look for opportunities to combine those two great passions of mine – and this is how I got to DAN.IT. I still provide training for some groups, conduct educational webinars and career consultations. But most of all definitely, I am involved in our company growth and our Metaverse centre launch.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career? 

I feel like a more intuitive person and didn’t chase to get a career promotion. I was interested in the job itself, mastering new skills and always curious about the business I was working for. When I was the HR manager for a car rental & leasing company, I thought it was crucially important for me to understand the standards of service, operational flow, and understand the bottlenecks of the process. This is how I got appointed for the COO position.

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

Mastering a new role is a great challenge because you need to learn something new and perform new tasks you didn’t encounter before. I  suppose that my whole career path is about challenges, but I take them gladly and continue learning even now.

What has been your biggest career achievement to date?

Switching to tech was my biggest career achievement. I believe it was the greatest challenge I have ever met, and it took me months to find the right company with values and corporate culture I share. Tech companies prefer to hire from inside the industry, and it takes time and effort to prove that you are worthy of the position, learn and get acquainted with the industry.

Level Up Summit 2022

Don’t miss our Level Up Summit on 06 December, where we’re tackling the barriers for women in tech head on. Join us for keynotes, panels, Q&A’s & breakout sessions on finance, people management, negotiation, influencing skills, confidence building, building internal networks, maximising the power of mentorship, and much more. 

BUY YOUR TICKETS

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

Actually there are two of them – passion and persistence.

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

  • Learn more about tech companies
  • Get acquainted with the industry
  • Discover tech jobs in demand on the market, find out what skills are required for a specific job
  • Define what is your personal skill gap for the role you want
  • Find a good mentor or course and get ready to fail a couple of first interviews

This is what I call a 5-steps guide for tech industry starters

  • Be ready for constant learning
  • Devote time for reskilling or upskilling
  • Keep the focus on your target
  • Be ready for failures
  • Keep motivation to go further

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

The key barrier I can see refers to personal persuasions or even superstitions which keep a woman from taking on new challenges or roles.

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

Show case studies of  women who are happy in their technical role.

Educate about tech. Most people still think that Tech is about programming only ) It is far from the truth. Very talented UI/UX designers, Product Owners, Digital Marketers are women. And great FullStack developers as well, for sure )

Encourage women to try themselves in Tech. This is about short courses or long programs which can help master tech skills or professions.

There are currently only 21 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? 

Eliminate all superstitions in the heads of women ) But definitely, as I have no magic wand, I will continue using education. We need to trust ourselves and start believing we can achieve success in the field we choose as long as we are motivated and continue learning.

What resources do you recommend for women working in tech?

 https://www.amazon.com/Future-Tech-Female-Achieve-Diversity/dp/1479875171

https://medium.com (perfect articles on Data Science)

https://www.amazon.com/Zero-One-Notes-Startups-Future/dp/0804139296


Diverse international and interracial group of standing women, women empowering women

What does DEI&B mean to me as a woman in tech

Diverse international and interracial group of standing women, women empowering women

Article by Nikki Dawson, Head of EMEA Marketing at Highspot

There’s definitely been a shift in the way companies take care of their employees. It’s not uncommon nowadays to see companies advertising their attractive initiatives that are there to encourage employees to look after their own well-being.

It’s been proven time and time again that in the long run, this results in a more functional, happy team.

At Highspot we are passionate about giving everyone a seat at the table, bringing your ‘full unique self’ to work and creating an environment whereby people can develop and grow.

Being a woman in the sales tech space

One of the main reasons I joined my current company was due to the fact the Leadership Team I sit on for the EMEA business is predominantly female. This is a rare find in tech, and as my industry is sales and tech, it’s even more of a rare find and important to have that diversity.

I think it’s important for women in tech to push the stereotypes that surround the industry and be an advocate for more women who want to come into the industry. I think we set a good example as my peers – both our Northern European Head of Sales (liz Hajjar) and our EMEA Director of Business Development (Charlotte Herbertz) are women which is quite unique to have both sales and marketing functions led by women.

That advocacy needs to come from not only women, but ensuring all employees understand the importance of a diverse workforce and giving equal opportunities to recruiting and promoting top talent regardless of gender.

DEI&B, what does this mean?

Diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging is something we not only reference a lot at Highspot but live by on a daily, weekly and monthly basis. Our Guiding Principles is something we live by day to day that helps drive DEI&B in every interaction. These Guiding Principles offer up trust and openness to allow individuals and teams to be inclusive.

Some of my favourite principles are, ‘Most Respectful Interaction’, assuming colleagues have good intentions from the start, being ‘Open and Real’ when more challenging conversations need to happen, and ‘Learn it All, Not Know it All’ which provides an environment where no one needs to be afraid to ask questions and be curious.

Our ‘Stand for Change’ week is also another key initiative. We have a dedicated week every year focused on various DEI&B topics. We not only hear from external speakers but have several discussion forums on key topics that bring colleagues together from across the globe to share different perspectives.

Another key one for me is our monthly ‘Recharge Fridays’. Everyone across the company has one set Friday off a month. This was started during the pandemic to help with Zoom fatigue.  Our fantastic People team and Leadership saw the huge impact this was having and decided when we moved to hybrid working to keep the day.  As a working parent, I highly value this time to have a dedicated day to myself or to catch up with friends and family.

Final thoughts

DEI&B isn’t just a phrase, it’s something to live by. The shift within the workplace to a more inclusive environment has bettered the workforce and helped create a more meaningful brand, not just for Highspot, but for many others.

Being a woman in tech and sales is no longer a rarity, and we will continue to advocate for others and set an example within the male-dominated sectors.


Inspirational Woman: Veena Giridhar Gopal | CEO & Co-founder, salesBeat

Veena Giridhar GopalI grew up in India and qualified as an accountant in Botswana, where I spent several years consulting for companies including retail and consumer goods companies.

After business school at INSEAD in France, I moved to the UK to work with Pepsi and then stayed. I worked in the food & beverages sector across several roles, ranging from finance to market entry and sales. I am currently the CEO of salesBeat (also a co-founder) and look after anything that is not related to technology. So that includes sales, marketing, strategy, finance, investor relations, HR etc.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

I used to in the early days, but c. 10 years ago, I stopped. I learned that life happens and the best thing you can do is to equip yourself with the skills to deal with anything and everything that life throws at you.

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

The biggest challenge I faced was when I moved from a corporate development and strategy focussed role into a sales leadership role, when I had no prior experience in Sales. I overcame this by asking for help from my mentors and also from my then line manager. I also asked old team members and colleagues if I could shadow them for a few days to learn from them.

What has been your biggest career achievement to date?

Raising a pre-seed sound for salesBeat and getting buy-in from Industry professionals has been my biggest career achievement to date. Also, we have a 50% female tech team and salesBeat as a whole is 67% women.

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

Perseverance. I do not believe in giving up.

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

Always stay one step ahead of today. In this sector, if you are not a pioneer or a thought leader, you’ll always be chasing old tech.

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

Having come from India, where I was applying to (and encouraged by everyone around me to apply to) engineering universities, to the UK, where far fewer women think of the sciences as a viable career option, I believe it is the mindset that needs to change first. I first came across the mindset that men may be a better fit for STEM, here in the UK. Interestingly enough, there are several studies that show that there are more women in STEM in emerging markets than in ‘developed’ markets. So it is the mindset that needs changing first.

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

Flexible work is the most critical support companies can provide. This is already happening due to the pandemic. But flexibility should not just mean work from home. It is about providing the flexibility to work from home when needed and come into the office/site when needed. Flexible work is about timings as well. Unless the role is as an on-site engineer at a manufacturing facility, or needs the person to be around for specific times at specific locations because of the nature of the job (mines/power generation/rigs etc), companies need to be more accepting of flexible times as well. This not only encourages more women to consider these roles, but it increases productivity when people work when they are at their best, not according to when their contract dictates.

There are currently only 21 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 start at the beginning – Schools and homes. Where the message would be that girls are as good as boys when it comes to the sciences and mathematics.

What resources do you recommend for women working in tech?

Diva tech talk & Women who test are both great podcasts for women in tech. There is a whatsapp group for women in tech and has members from around Europe, that I’m a part of. We get together whenever possible at start-up events like Web Summit and other technology focussed events.


Inspirational Woman: Victoria Neeson | CEO, Dreamtek

Victoria NeesonI’m Victoria Neeson, the CEO of a global creative and production agency called Dreamtek. We’re a market leader in video production, creative, XP and broadcast technology working side-by-side with clients to provide the most innovative solutions.

I started my career  in video tech/video conferencing working for a company called Reuters (which is now Thomson Reuters). I was part of the project team requested to research the use of video technology at Reuters with an overarching objective to reduce business travel. Our goal was to select the best global solution, purchase and deploy video endpoints to key offices around the world as a pilot (London, New York, and Sydney) and track usage and benefits. The project was incredibly successful and for a few years I subsequently built a video conferencing service within Reuters that actually won a few awards for our innovative use of video technology.

I then went on to work at Dresdner Bank (now CommerzBank) for ten years which was a pivotal point in my career as this is when I began assuming responsibility for new areas and technology, becoming a multimedia specialist as opposed to just an expert in videoconferencing. Working at Dresdner Bank was actually how I was introduced to my current company Dreamtek. Dreamtek was selected as a vendor to help support our newly created broadcast studio and were specifically assisting us with post-production. I got to know the 6 people who worked at Dreamtek at the time really well and when the time came for me to transition out of the bank, I became an equity owner at Dreamtek.

I’ve been at Dreamtek for over 10 years now and we’ve grown from a 6-person company to a multimillion-dollar leading production company, with offices in London, New York and Singapore, and prestigious clients such as Google and Facebook. This year we’ve formed an exclusive partnership with experiential events company Liberty & Co – a move that will see Dreamtek evolve into a fully integrated, experiential creative agency. Combining our technological and production event expertise with Liberty & Co.’s deep strategy, creative, and event experience – we now have the added capabilities of managing bespoke, experiential events from conception and storytelling to the build, event marketing and delivery. It’s a really exciting time for us at Dreamtek with lots of incredible collaborations in the pipeline.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

No!  I was always incredibly ambitious and driven and knew I was going to forge a career in business but never set out to have a career in production and technology. My first step into the world of tech (with videoconferencing) demonstrated that I had an aptitude for communications technology and it basically expanded from there.

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

Of course! There’s been some pivotal moments in my career that have challenged me both professionally and on a personal level.

During my time at the Investment Bank, constantly having to deal with restructuring and cost reduction initiatives which at times impacted my team and inhibited progress and my business goals. During my time at Dreamtek, having to deal with rapid growth whilst maintaining incredibly high service standards.

We will always face challenges throughout our careers, that’s just a part of life, but it’s how you handle the challenges that matters. I’m a strong believer in leading with empathy and being flexible – especially in times of uncertainty and change, you need to be able to take each day as it comes and be prepared to deal with situations you’re not used to.

Victoria Neeson, Dreamtek

What has been your biggest career achievement to date?

Undoubtedly becoming CEO of Dreamtek in 2016. It was a career defining moment and I am incredibly proud to be leading this company

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

Tenacity and balance.  Being able to balance my career, family and understanding the importance of both.

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

Be authentic.  It’s ok to show vulnerability and to not necessarily understand everything, but show passion and enthusiasm and take the time to learn and you will succeed.

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

I fear that sometimes (and definitely more so back when I was starting out than now) that women are not heard and don’t progress because they don’t have the courage to stand up and ask for what they want to further themselves in their careers. I knew from a young age that I wanted to succeed in business and I learnt very quickly that I needed the courage to have a voice in situations that I may not have felt comfortable in.

One of my favourite quotes is from Oprah Winfrey – “You get in life what you have the courage to ask for” and it’s so true. Women just need to be authentic and confident in their convictions. I definitely want young women to understand the challenges but to trust their gut and to not be afraid to take that next step in their career path.

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

Companies need to provide a collaborative environment and support mentorship and sponsorship for women. Companies need to evaluate performance fairly and as well as provide flexibility for working mothers.

Give women the platform to shine and recognize them when they do!!

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?

If we are going to level the playing field then we need to not only increase awareness but also prepare the younger female generation starting at an early age. This is starting to happen with ‘girls who code’ initiatives in schools but more work needs to be done.

What resources do you recommend for women working in tech?

I would suggest following leading women like Sheryl Sandberg and Susan Wojcicki. Forbes website on top women in tech is also very helpful.

I am also a member of the Chief network which has been an incredible resource for networking, thought leadership and sharing.


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: Carol McGrotty | Head of Transformation, Vapour

Carol McGrotty, head of transformation, Vapour

Carol McGrotty is head of transformation for cloud tech specialist firm, Vapour.

She was previously the business’s long-standing operations lead and has been with the organisation almost since its inception. Her promotion also marks her 20th year in the telecoms sector and she’s taking on all aspects of Vapour’s service delivery – from managing the technical, field and administrative teams to defining the operating model to run TechOps and business support functions.

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

I’m Carol McGrotty and as head of transformation for disruptive cloud tech firm Vapour, I’m responsible for looking at the business at a higher level and piecing together all our departments to achieve true company growth.

The business is almost eight-years-old now and I’ve been here since just after its inception. I’m process-driven and people-orientated, so I’m passionate about making sure we keep playing to our strengths, exploring what we can do even better, and getting our culture and values right so we can drive forward collaboratively.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

Definitely not! I originally wanted to be a midwife when I left school. Thankfully, I can look back and say things have really worked out for me and I’m proud of the role I play now.

I’ve spent 20 years in the telecoms tech sector and once I was learning the trade, I soon felt like I was contributing to something. In terms of Vapour, I could see its vision when I joined, and I wanted to make my mark and build an exciting career for myself with a progressive company.

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

It’s probably more of a personal one, but I can be quite harsh on myself. For example, I can make ten decisions in a day, nine of which are successful but for that one that perhaps didn’t go quite according to plan, I’ll dwell on it. I have to tell myself that nobody has all the answers, and as long as my decision was considered and well-intended, I can learn from it.

What has been your biggest career achievement to date?

Moving from operations manager to head of operations and compliance was a defining moment. It was a huge shift in mindset because I was responsible for an entire department. It also led to one of my biggest successes to date – completing a scale up programme, in association with Barclays Bank and Cambridge Judge Business School, alongside Vapour CEO Tim Mercer and sales manager, Alec Stephens.

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

Finding a role that’s not ‘just a job’ and instead something I can add value to. I’m a big advocate for taking on a role that feels ‘right’ and being part of a company that shares the same vision, and invests in its employees. Thankfully, that’s what I’ve got with Vapour.

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

Technology is forever changing so it’s important to be agile to stay ahead of the curve and provide customers with the support they need – which constantly evolves. Having a flexible approach when offering solutions is so important in this sector, alongside not being afraid to take on fresh challenges and being calm under pressure.

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

I do feel there are obstacles. Fortunately, I’ve never felt this but I’m well aware that females in our sector have experienced difficulties when it comes to breaking through. The numbers speak for themselves in terms of how many men are in technology compared to women, so this has to change.

When it comes to career guidance, are girls provided with the information they need to truly engage with the prospect of enjoying a career in tech? We have a responsibility to support this via jargon-free explanations as to what it means to work in digital, underline the vast benefits and really get across the impact that employees make.

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

Exploring apprenticeships or accelerator programmes could be great places to start for companies. We also offer job visits to try and spark interest in people progressing a career in technology.

It’s about providing ways to help attract a wider talent pool and that’s where culture comes into play. If an organisation is committed to building an environment that’s forward-thinking and inclusive, it’s more likely to get a greater level of diverse applicants when its next job vacancy comes around.

There is currently only 15 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?

Role models and strong influences that young girls and women can look up to are so vital. We’re seeing more females on boards and in director roles now which will definitely help. It needs to continue though, and we all have a part to play in this.

What resources do you recommend for women working in tech, e.g. podcasts, networking events, books, conferences, websites etc?

Well, of course WeAreTechWomen’s resources are fantastic! I’d also recommend Disruptive.Live for in-depth interviews and Technology Reseller is a really engaging publication. Let’s not forget the ‘Between the Eyes’ podcast either that’s hosted by Tim [Mercer]. He invites guests to talk on his show about everything from business development to wellbeing.


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.


Dr Larissa Suzuki featured

Inspirational Woman: Dr Larissa Suzuki | Computer Scientist, Author, Engineer, Entrepreneur, Philanthropist & Inventor

Dr Larissa SuzukiI am Dr Larissa Suzuki, I am an award-winning passionate computer scientist, authorengineer, entrepreneur, philanthropist, and inventor.

I am neurodivergent, and I hold the titles of Associate Professor, EUR ING, BSc, MPhil, PhD, CEng, FIET, FRSA, AFHEA, IntPE. My career includes +16 years working in engineering. I work at Google as a Data Practice Lead (AI/Machine Learning, Smart Analytics and Data Management), and I am a Google AI Principles Ethics Fellow. I work on developing and testing the Interplanetary Internet with Vint Cerf and technologists from NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory and JAXA. I am the Chair of the Tech London Advocates Smart Cities Group, a reviewer of grant/awards of the Royal Academy of Engineering, the IET, and the ACM. I am a Council Member of the Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering Ambassadors, a Committee member of the Grace Hopper Celebration and the ABIE Awards. Since 2003 I've actively worked towards increasing the representation of people of all kinds in Engineering and Technology.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

Yes I do. I find it helpful to work on my Personal Development Plan (PDP), setting my goals for the short-, medium- and long-term goals. As you work on your PDP, you will realise that the moonshots you set for you and that seem to be too farfetched are achievable. I work with my mentor (Vint Cerf) to bring the best version of myself to the workplace and my personal life.

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

I did have to face challenges that, unfortunately, are very common to other women. In 2015 my PhD work was plagiarised and published in multiple forums. I then started a battle to own the copyrights of my work and a campaign for women's history in computing to be re-written. After one year of hard work, I managed to secure the IP of my Ph.D. and published it as a book dedicated to all women who've been erased from history but paved the way for many astonishing engineering advancements. In a more severe case, I have encountered brutal racism and sexual harassment in my previous employment. To my surprise, I was told that if I reported the issues to HR my career would be over. As an employee with neurodevelopmental disabilities, I did not know what to do. A mentor advised me to resign to escape from further abuse, which is what I did. Unfortunately, these issues still prevail in organisations that do not focus on creating a safe, fair, and dignified workplaces for all female tech workers.

What has been your biggest career achievement to date?

I believe that succeeding in technology and engineering, despite all the adversities, has been my most significant career achievement. On a project side, working on the Interplanetary Internet project with Vint Cerf and colleagues at NASA and JAXA, and making a historical feat in connecting clouds with the Interplanetary Internet. Communicating from Earth to any spacecraft is a complex challenge. When data are transmitted and received across thousands and even millions of miles, the delay and potential for disruption or data loss is significant. Delay/Disruption Tolerant Networking (DTN) is NASA's solution to reliable internetworking for space missions. My work on DTN helps us testing and enhancing communication protocols that will potentially be used in space missions.

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

The primary factor for achieving success in my career has been a combination of hard work and curiosity. A career in engineering is not a straight path, and the great thing about it is that you can become what you want. I believe this is one of the many unique perks of being a computer scientist: just following your passion and working on things that matter to you the most, no matter which field of science they fall into. My inventions and work have advanced many fields of computer science and engineering, including smart cities, data infrastructures, machine learning, emerging technology, and computing applied to medicine and operations research.

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

If a person is interested in computer science or engineering, I would tell them to forget about the stereotypes, bring all their previous learning with them (tech and engineering is very multidisciplinary), and not worry if they haven't got a technical degree. Everyone can become what they dream of being. I am confident that if someone dreamt about becoming a change maker, a career in engineering would enable them to create the solutions that will change the world.

For someone already working in the field, I would tell them that I've learned that the most challenging problems and the most significant engineering opportunities are not technical. They are human. You will use what you learned at UCL to create the engineering solutions that will change the world, and like the generation before us, will also solve the many problems that engineering and technology bring. You will create new jobs, give machines and the built environment the powers to think, discover cures for illnesses and save our nature. As you can see, engineering is about human survival. And the best way to solve those problems is to have more people in the room with different voices and views. Be activists for that. In the end, what matters is not what you build. It is the teams you build and the positive impact you bring to the lives of people who will make use of what you create.

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

I believe many companies have not yet realised that "belonging" matters more than anything else. The United States alone loses $64 Billion every year to replace employees who left due to unfairness and discrimination. Belonging is central to every aspect of our humanity. It is a universal need. When we feel like we belong somewhere, we feel we have found a home where we can group and be respected there. When we fear our differences, we then deny the connections we share. Company leaders who feel uncomfortable tackling this issue is the very own definition of privilege. For someone already working in the field, I would tell them that "to yield and not break, that is an incredible strength". I have learned that there is no such thing as failure. You will realise it was life moving you in a better direction. Fall but fall forward, as I did. Don't be afraid, be comfortable in your own skin, uphold your values, your culture that will help you when it's time to fight for the job you want, for that promotion, and for the kind of society you want to live in.

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

Companies should foster belonging. We move towards belonging when we celebrate and value our differences and our similarities as a group. When there is no othering of individuals of any identity, it can connect people by co-creating our world together. Belonging expresses itself in many different ways, and each one of us has a special relationship with belonging. But the imperative rule of belonging is that it can only succeed if no one is excluded. Belonging never requires anyone to sacrifice what makes them unique, different and special. Belonging is not "fitting in" or "mimicking" others. The real sense of belonging is co-creating spaces, groups and institutions and collectively designing how it will operate and help humans to thrive. Innovation, creativity, and empathy is most likely to come from parts of us that we don't all share. When we take on this journey together, we move away from the idea of myself and them to a future of a collective unity - "we". It is a long journey full of remaking. Like puzzle pieces, leaders should bring us together without trimming away of anyone's irregularities. The rules, values and expectations to bring those puzzle pieces together are made with everyone in mind so that no one needs to check parts of themselves at the door. When you design well for people of all kinds and abilities, you design well for everybody else.

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?

Though women in computing have been pivotal in creating unique modern technology, their story is not one that's often told nor celebrated. Instead, great tech women pioneers have been all but erased from history, and that needs to change. If I had a magic wand I would make them all visible to inspire the generations to come. Their ground-breaking work can serve as an inspiration to both girls and boys alike.

What resources do you recommend for women working in tech?

I strongly recommend the TED talks of Dame Steve Shirley and Brene Brown. They are uplifting and full of insights. Their books are also sensational and I recommend that everyone reads "Let it Go" and "Daring Greatly". The Grace Hopper Conference is a conference that every woman technologist should experience. It is life-changing and immensely empowering. If you are neurodivergent, I recommend that you follow Autistica, LimeConnect, and my blog AUsome in Tech.


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.


Alicia Navarro

Inspirational Woman: Alicia Navarro | Serial tech entrepreneur & Founder, Skimlinks

Alicia Navarro

Alicia Navarro is a serial tech entrepreneur and founder of the highly successful content monetisation platform, Skimlinks and new ‘deep work-as-a-service’ platform Flown.

Throughout her career, Navarro has won numerous enterprise awards including the EveryWoman in Technology Entrepreneur of the Year Award and the WCIT’s Female Entrepreneur of the Year Award. She is also committed to mentoring young people pursuing careers in technology.

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

I’m a Spanish- and Cuban-blooded, Australian-born-and-bred, and UK-based serial entrepreneur. I was the founder of a content monetization startup called Skimlinks which I started in my living room in Sydney and turned into a global multi-national startup used by most large online publishers in the US and UK. Skimlinks was acquired earlier this year (during lockdown!) and now have started my next venture, Flown (join the waitlist at www.flown.com) which is about offering the ideal mental and physical spaces for ‘deep work’.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

Does anyone?! I mean, I’ve daydreamed a lot about what I aspired to do, but it changed every few years (sometimes every few weeks!). The thing with tech and entrepreneurship is you can’t really plan that far ahead, because there are so many variables, and the world is changing so fast. All you can really do is imagine a set of possible end destinations, and then be on the alert for opportunities that come your way that help you get there…. But also be open to opportunities that take you placed you haven’t even imagined yet.

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

I think the biggest challenge - particularly in retrospect - is how hard it is to escape your bubble. When I was in a corporate job, my world was all about getting that next promotion, which added the word ‘senior’ to my title, but very little else. I worked long hours and gave up on social events just to get on top of my email in a job that would only ever get me to be a little more senior in a corporate. But when you are in that world, it feels perfectly normal to aspire to slightly higher in a hierarchy of quite banal work.

It took escaping the corporate world and getting into startups that I realised how limiting that corporate world was for me. Startups are a place where you can experience enormous personal growth, and feel like your days are spent in the pursuit of something worthy.

What has been your biggest career achievement to date?

Taking my startup idea 12 years ago and turning it into a significant and beloved company.

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

Knowing how to hire the right people with the right skills to complement my skills. And investing in relationships.

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

Well, it depends what areas of technology. Engineers… put effort into your Github profile and personal passion projects. Sales & Business Development - read voraciously all the startup and scaling sales content that is out there (particularly the content put out by some VC firms, like A16Z and Openview Partners). For becoming a founder, try out for one of the many incubator programs, like Entrepreneur First, Zinc and Wayra.

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

For women generally, definitely not, particularly in startups. The challenge comes for women that may want to also be present mothers, as although the work is increasingly flexible, it is still demanding and stressful. It is also this for fathers, of course. So it becomes a personal choice… but it is difficult for anyone to be an engaged and involved primary care giver *and* an early stage founder.

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

Adopting flexible work hours, so working parents can accommodate being present and active parents too.

For women who are not parents, the only other challenge I see sometimes is women aren’t as good at negotiating or talking themselves up… so encouraging mentorship programs for young women is probably the best way for women to learn how to speak up for themselves.

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’ve not experienced this statistic personally. Certainly there tend to be more male developers, so perhaps there is something early on that socialises men to be more in this profession than women… I’d like to see more film and TV shows cast the female protagonist as an engineer, and have it be a totally normal and unironic profession for the female lead to have, that might make a difference.

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

Frankly, firstly, stop thinking of yourself as a woman working in tech. Then, read everything that anyone working in tech should read.


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: Sophie Wilson | Programme Manager & Head of STEM, Raytheon

Sophie WilsonSophie is an experienced Programme Manager with a wealth of experience in the Defence industry. Sophie’s remit includes leading several multi-million-pound programmes, as well as managing Raytheon UK’s STEM programme, which she started leading in 2017.

As Head of STEM, Sophie is responsible for developing and building Raytheon UK’s STEM programme, which includes leading a team of STEM Ambassadors and managing a number of STEM programmes.

Sophie graduated from Northumbria Business School with a First-Class Degree in Business Leadership and Corporate Management and runs her own women's activewear business called YANA Active.

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

I am a Programme Manager and Head of STEM at Raytheon UK. I joined Raytheon UK in 2016 beginning as a Programme Management Graduate. Following graduating from this role in 2018, I was then promoted to Protector Integration Programme Manager in January 2019.

My role includes managing several multi-million-pound programmes, working with the UK Ministry of Defence as well as UK and US customers. As well as my day-to-day role I also run Raytheon UK’s STEM programme, which I started leading in 2017.

Prior to Raytheon UK, I graduated from Northumbria Business School with a First-Class Degree in Business Leadership and Corporate Management, with the Deans Award for Academic Excellence.

Along with my role at Raytheon UK, I set up my own business with my sister Charlotte at the beginning of 2020 called YANA Active, a women’s activewear brand made to empower women with high quality British-made and designed garments. I also love to renovate properties in Newcastle, and this led me to be on Homes Under the Hammer! Other hobbies include reading, weightlifting and spending time with my family.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

I’ve always seen myself working in a large company or having my own business. Fortunately, I work for a large company and have my own business, so I get the best of both worlds!

University was always in my plans. Not because I particularly wanted to go to university, but because I didn’t really understand what other options to take – we didn’t have STEM Ambassadors visiting our school to engage with us about STEM futures and careers. Fortunately for me, I found a degree which suited my skill set perfectly. I had one year at university and then secured a two-year paid placement at Nissan in Sunderland, whilst working on my degree on evenings and weekends.

Even when I graduated from university, I wasn’t entirely sure where to go next in my career, however I felt Programme Management was right for me - I knew working in technology would be something I’d find interesting and exhilarating and I wasn’t wrong!

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

It is natural for everyone to face challenges throughout their career, and I have had programmes I have worked on that have been rocky. However, if it had gone smoothly, there would be so many skills I wouldn’t have picked up; things like briefing bad news to senior leadership team but being able to offer solutions and take responsibility, negotiation skills, crisis management and resilience.

At times, I may have been underestimated. As a young, northern woman, this instantly has a stereotype attached to it which it shouldn’t, but changing perceptions has given me the drive to push forward and achieve more.

What has been your biggest career achievement to date?

In 2019 I was nominated by Baroness Sugg to attend the Queen’s Royal Garden Party in acknowledgement of the work I do with STEM, which was a very special day and a memory I hold very dearly.

Building the STEM programme to the next level at Raytheon UK and making long lasting relationships and partnerships with people who believe in the importance of STEM, has been a huge achievement. We have engaged with thousands of students over the past four years and I like to think I have played a big part in mobilising that.

The STEM team winning a special CEO Award and my programme team winning a Global Growth Award at Raytheon UK’s Annual Awards earlier in 2020 were two of my proudest moments at the company. Both teams work so hard and it was fantastic that they were recognised for it.

Developing property and setting up YANA alongside my busy work schedule is something I am very proud of. It is a lot, but I love it! I wanted to do my part to empower women, so I invested time in developing a community to help support women behind the YANA brand to encourage women to be active in life, work, community, mindset and being socially involved.

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

Without a doubt, having supportive managers giving me the autonomy to make decisions, but always being there to support me if I needed it. Someone believing I could achieve something, even when I didn’t have the confidence or belief in myself to do it, has helped to create the drive, ambition and confidence to try.

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

Don’t be afraid to ask questions, and for the young ambitious women reading this, don’t be intimidated by asking questions to a room full of men!

The amount of meetings I’ve attended as the only woman and person under 25 in a room full of men I’ve lost count of. Don’t be intimidated by that. I’ve found you earn respect from people by asking questions when you don’t understand something. Being honest and having integrity is the very key to success.

It is also important to look for a career that you have an interest in - if you choose something you’re genuinely interested and bought into, work never feels like a chore.

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

Absolutely. To help tackle this barrier, young women need more role models to speak out and be someone young women can relate to. I’ve worked really hard with the STEM team to always ensure our events are fairly balanced between female and male STEM ambassadors to do just this.

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

Support their local community and build the company’s CSR initiatives. This can be anything as simple as going into schools and talking to the students about the vast array of opportunities in STEM or just building engagement. It is also good to support with the more beneficial interactions such as building soft skills for kids, including those for interviews etc.

Companies should also provide access to role models and women in senior positions, which could include getting these women involved in CSR initiatives and reaching out to local communities.

There is currently only 17% 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?

Sit CEOs of major corporations down in one room and ask them why they’re not doing more to help women into leadership roles! We need to accelerate women into leadership roles to help shape the future of the industry.

I would also love to help fund grass roots STEM learning, such as cyber and tech programmes for female students to have the opportunity to explore what the industry involves and be enlightened to the variety of careers STEM can offer.

What resources do you recommend for women working in tech?

I’ve read a lot of business-based self-development books over the year, one of my favourites is ‘The Magic of Thinking Big’ by David Schwartz, which helps you really change your thinking. Another favourite of mine is ‘Lean In’, written by Sheryl Sandberg COO of Facebook. This was one of the first business books I read about women in tech and I would really recommend it.

I would also recommend podcasts – there’s such a variety of tech-based podcasts out there. One I love is the ‘Diary of a CEO’ podcast by Steven Bartlett of Social Chain, where he interviews lots of successful young people, often in the tech industry. It is very insightful to hear about how people started their own businesses and overcame adverse situations.


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


Charity Wright featured

Inspirational Woman: Charity Wright | Cyber Threat Intelligence Analyst, IntSights

Charity WrightCharity Wright is a Cyber Threat Intelligence Analyst at threat intelligence company, IntSights.  She has over 15 years' experience at US Army and the National Security Agency, where she translated Mandarin Chinese.

Wright now focuses her attention on dark web cyberthreat intelligence. She enjoys the dynamic threat environment of cybercriminal communication and networks and thrives on providing relevant, timely intel to her customers at IntSights.

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

My career started in the US Army in 2005, when I enlisted as a Chinese Linguist. I was assigned to the National Security Agency for four years where I collected and translated foreign intelligence and earned a degree in Mandarin Chinese. In 2015, I decided to go into cybersecurity as a Cyber Threat Intelligence Analyst. I have worked for a variety of companies in the private sector, including a secure cloud hosting MSSP for a global hotel chain, a “big four” accounting firm, and currently, for IntSights Cyber Intelligence, a vendor of intelligence services.

In my current role, I serve as a cyber threat researcher and advisor to our customers on their cyber threat intelligence (CTI) programs. I mostly enjoy collecting intelligence from illicit criminal underground forums (the dark web) on how hackers conduct their operations and who they are targeting. I also consult with major news outlets around the world on strategic, state-sponsored threat groups and their tactics, tools, and procedures.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

I learned early in my military career that career development is a personal responsibility. Advocating for yourself and setting goals are essential, and it is something I still practice. I strongly believe that everyone has talents, gifts, and skills that are valuable, but it is equally important to find a career that you love and are good at. I planned on having a successful 20-year Army career and when that was no longer possible because of physical injuries, I had to pivot to a new career where I could use my skills and experience. I found cybersecurity through LinkedIn and the military veteran community, and I am so glad I did! I still get to serve people and companies by helping inform them of cyber risks and threats, and every day is a new adventure or puzzle to solve.

I strongly believe that we are all presented with opportunities every day that can either open up our careers to success or can stifle our dreams. I made up my mind a long time ago that if a good opportunity presents itself, I will not say ‘no’ due to fear or imposter syndrome. Instead, I say ‘yes,’ and then I figure it out along the way. I don’t always know where I want to end up in five or ten years’ time, but I know I don’t want to be limited from reaching my potential—and that is why I say yes and walk through those open doors. Each opportunity and challenge I face provides me with new skills and perspectives on what I am capable of.

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

I have faced many challenges in my career. The biggest one was surviving sexual assault in the military. I had many dreams and goals for my Army career, but they were all put on hold when the incident happened. I had to step back from my leadership roles and extra responsibilities to focus on my mental and physical health. My command (my bosses in the Army) did not understand why I could not handle both my wellness and the wellbeing of seven other soldiers and were not as supportive as I hoped they would be. This was devastating for me as I saw my career goals crumbling. I decided it was time for me to leave the Army and move on to the civilian sector. I used that situation to be a better leader than those I had in that command. I developed empathy for victims and survivors of sexual assault and harassment and feel that I am a better leader now because of the experience. I am resilient, can share my survivor story, and I ended up finding a more fulfilling career in the private sector!

What has been your biggest career achievement to date?

Conquering my fear of speaking in public. I was invited by my friend, Rob Lee to speak at the SANS CTI Summit in Arlington, Virginia in early 2018. They assigned me to a mentor, Rick Holland, and he helped me with the finishing touches to my presentation. I went up to speak, faced my fear and left all of my insecurities on the stage. After that, I started receiving requests to speak at other conferences, podcasts, and on TV, and now I am a natural!

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

Networking. I use LinkedIn, Twitter, local cybersecurity meetups, and conferences to meet new people and introduce colleagues to each other. When you help other people in their careers, people will want to help you too! My network has helped me find great opportunities in my career.

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

Learn from those around you. Ask your co-workers if you can ‘shoulder surf’ or shadow them for an hour or a day and ask them questions about what they are doing. You would be amazed at what you can learn from people - a free source!

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 to success for women in technology. It is very apparent in the US today that there are still barriers for people because of their skin colour too, so that means there are significantly more challenges for women of colour. Most women I know still face issues in the workplace with men shutting them out of meetings, stealing credit for their work, and keeping them from being promoted. My suggestion to women who are dealing with these challenges are:

  1. Speak up when you recognise discrimination. Do not play it off as a joke, because no one will then understand the seriousness of the offense.
  2. Be bold and courageous and ask for the raise or promotion you deserve.
  3. Say yes to good opportunities, even if you are afraid.
  4. What do you think companies can do to support to progress the careers of women working in technology?
  5. Ask them for feedback on their experience at your company. Inquire about sexual discrimination, harassment, or assault experiences.
  6. Assure them that they are valuable to the company and contribute in a unique way.
  7. Pay them what they are worth (are you paying her male counterpart more even though their experience, skills, and education is the same? Why?)
  8. There is currently only 17% 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?

Put more women in management, C-Suite, and board positions.

What resources do you recommend for women working in tech?


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