Some of the most distinguished and celebrated women in tech descended on Park Lane, London to celebrate the winners of the 2017 FDM everywoman in Technology Awards.
The celebration and recognition of talent could not come at a more pertinent time, with recent research highlighting the growing need for the tech industry to engage with women and girls. The research revealed that while 74% of young girls express an interest in STEM subjects at school, just 18% pursue these subjects in higher education.
Karen Bradley, Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, spoke of her hope that the awards would “inspire the next generation of female entrepreneurs and pioneers to help create the diverse workforce from across the country we need to remain one of the world’s leading digital economies.”
The digital economy that Bradley referenced is in dire need of skilled workers, with more women in tech offering the perfect solution to the estimated 1.4 million technology jobs that will be available in the UK by 2020.
Julian David, CEO of techUK, said: “The digital skills gap is one of the most urgent policy challenges facing the UK – without enough talented workers, the UK will fall short of its potential in supercharging its already successful digital industry. In particular, we need to encourage women to enter and thrive in the tech industry at all levels. That way, we become more robust, more competitive and more innovative.”
Emily Brooke, CEO and founder of Blaze, was named Woman of the Year, having taken
Blaze from a Kickstarter campaign to trials in New York. Ms Brooke, from London, made the pivotal decision to give up an Oxbridge education to pursue her ambitions in design.
With funding from Kickstarter she created her first product, the “Laserlight”, a detachable front light that projects a laser beam image of a bike on the road ahead, alerting vehicles and pedestrians to the presence of a cyclist. Since developing her flagship product in 2014, the “Laserlight” can be found on all 13,000 Santander Cycles in London and is shipped to over 65 countries.
Woman of the Year Emily Brooke was one of 12 winners on the night, with the remaining 2017 category winners as follows:
Rising Star Award
Sponsored by T-Systems: Gabrielle Corria, Resource and Recruitment Lead, CGI, from Bridgend who started her career in IT at just 17 years old. She works tirelessly to help increase the number of applications for entry-level roles and has a fantastic ability for finding technical talent. Gabrielle actively engages with young women to promote the various job opportunities in CGI all whilst making sure she gives back to her community.
Team Leader Award
Sponsored by Bank of America Merrill Lynch: Silke Eggert, Global Head of Opportunity Programme Management & Demand Management, Vodafone Group Services, from Newbury, West Berkshire. She built and launched “Single Front Door”, an internal organisation that ensures complex customer opportunities from their Enterprise customers are thoroughly assessed. Under her management, this has led to an overall improvement in customer experience and higher revenue for Vodafone Group Enterprise.
Software Engineer Award
Sponsored by American Express: Maxine Glennerster, Senior Developer, Deloitte Digital, from Belfast. By introducing a “money management” app, she has significantly increased the amount of customers the bank gains and retains. In addition to this she is already paving the way for those coming up behind her, with the introduction of the Brightstart scheme to Deloitte Digital – a school leaver’s programme where students have the opportunity to work alongside gaining a degree in computer science.
One to Watch Award
Sponsored by CA Technologies: Ellora James, Wick High School student, from Caithness, Wick. At just 16 years old Ellora is self-taught in HTML and CSS coding and now teaches these skills to other students through her “Apps for Good Course” mentoring programme.
Sponsored by BP: Vicky Higgin, Head of Corporate Information Services, National Grid, from Warwick. Vicky has created nearly £6m of savings for the company and increased customer engagement scores from 5.8 to 7.5 by actively embedding lean principles methodologies into her teams.
Sponsored by Dell: Semali Perera, Professor of Chemical Engineering, University of Bath, from Bath. Semali is a world-leading researcher in the design, development and modelling of novel-structured materials and has also developed sustained drug release depots for ovarian cancer treatment and the removal of carbon dioxide for NASA space applications.
Start-up Founder of the Year Award
Sponsored by Barclays: Sophie Deen, Founder and CEO, Bright Little Labs, from London. Bright Little Labs makes gender-neutral media, engaging children with coding through their flagship story, Detective Dot, who creatively encourages young children to pursue interests in IT.
Sponsored by Equiniti: Kate Newhouse, CEO, Doctor Care Anywhere, from London, who created the digital healthcare service with the aim to offer a smart tech savvy way for people to manage their health in a digital age. Customers include 1.2 million individuals and 700 large corporates acquired through an exclusive partnership secured with AXA PPP Healthcare.
Sponsored by ARM Holdings: Sarah McVittie and Donna North, Co-Founders, Dressipi, from London. This digital fashion service allows shoppers to create their very own “Fashion Fingerprint” online through answering a detailed questionnaire, which can then be used to search and browse some of the largest retailers including Nike, John Lewis and Marks & Spencer – a truly personalised shopping experience that reduces return rates for the company and increases overall customer satisfaction.
Digital Star Award
Sponsored by CGI: Chi Igboaka, Global Head of Performance Marketing, Travelex, from London, who was promoted to a global role after just nine months and is responsible for setting the digital marketing agenda for Travelex. The business has seen a colossal shift in performance marketing after she developed what is called “the digital marketing centre of excellence”.
Sponsored by VMware: Sophie Newton, COO, Brainlabs, from London, who has helped grow the specialist search and analytics agency from seven people to 75 in just three years, securing partnerships with companies such as Deliveroo, Domino’s, JD Sports and Premier Inn along the way.
Maxine Benson MBE, co-founder of everywoman, said: “These awards show the extraordinary female talent that exists in the UK’s technology industry, reminding us that women play a vital role in its growth and success, no wonder it is so well loved and supported in the industry.
“With research telling us that gender-balanced teams provide better outcomes, there has never been a better time to applaud their success and demonstrate their impact, thereby encouraging younger generations to embrace the opportunities offered by a STEM career.”