Veronica Laker

As the daughter of Spanish immigrants my reality was an expectation of me to become a Spanish teacher in London or I would ‘move back’ to Spain to become an English teacher.

Note, that I was born and raised in London. When the time came, it was with trepidation that I told my Mum I had been accepted onto an Electronic Engineering Degree course… with no links to Spanish or teaching – she was heart-broken.

Fast forward 4 years, I completed my degree and chose to move to the South West to join Nokia on their Graduate Scheme as a Digital Hardware Engineer. I spent a number of years at Nokia working as part of their Base Station team. I started working in Digital Design often spending a month at a time overseeing the production of initial prototypes in either the US or China. I was able to leverage this experience into managing a cross-functional team to deliver a full transceiver base station launched to market and offering a true cost reduction. Throughout my time at Nokia, I had project managed and delivered all aspects of new product development over the complete design life cycle and in line with business processes. It was time for something new.

That something new led me to Innovate UK. It was here that my move to IT started. Innovate UK are part of a national funding agency investing in science and research in the UK. At the time I joined, Innovate UK were asking applicants of grants to apply for these through a basic form which was then uploaded to a secure site for review. My job was to bring this process up to date and deliver a strategic tool for grant funding in line with standards. This began with running a number of procurement activities to allow me to build Innovate UK’s first Agile delivery team. Over a number of years, the Innovation Funding Service was born and today, all government innovation funding is secured via this service.

My move from IT service design and delivery then took me to Nationwide Building Society which is where I am today. I have delivered a number of regulatory IT projects for Nationwide Building Society. My most recent and strategic delivery has been my involvement in the new Speed Layer as part of the business’ continued investment in innovation and technology. The Speed Layer is a new set of cloud native technologies that work together to provide accurate, real time and secure data. My role was to bring together old-world mainframe technologies with the new-world event streaming technologies Speed Layer is built on. The net result is that this solution is now supporting every Banking App login for Nationwide – millions per day.

I have been very lucky in my career in that I have been involved in truly strategic programmes. To achieve my success, I have been supported by brilliant managers who have allowed me to constantly challenge the status quo and look at alternative ways of delivering outcomes. I have been allowed and felt empowered to make decisions autonomously when needed, and work in ways I felt was best to bring disparate teams together to ensure they work towards one goal and outcome.