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20 of the Most Inspirational Women in Tech Working in Leeds

· Abigail Beall · Opinion

Female role models of the tech industry.

Data Shed Anna Sutton

At Sky, closing the gender gap is a priority. They aim to have 30% women across all their teams and a 50/50 gender balance in senior leadership. Now those targets are within reach, they’re taking everything they’ve learned and applying it to improving ethnic diversity. Come work for Sky.

Meet the ladies showing future generations how successful women in technology can be…

According to the Office of National Statistics, women account for just 16.8% of workers in the UK’s tech sector. But there’s a huge push to close the gender gap, and if the stories of these inspirational women are anything to go by, it won’t be long before we do. Not only are they proving that women can hold their own in what was once a male-dominated sector, but they’re also tech heavyweights and inspirational leaders who are championing women in tech and creating a truly supportive network.

Gwen Diagram, Engineering Manager at Sonocent

Gwen Diagram, Sonocent

Gwen specialises in testing. She’s currently an Engineering Manager at Sonocent but she’s done everything from Scrum Master to DevOps Engineer. She’s a strong believer in making the tech industry as open as possible and co-organises a twice yearly, free conference called the Leeds Testing Atelier.

She’s also an international keynote speaker, and has spoken at Agile, Developer, Testing and DevOps conferences across Europe. This is so important, because we need more women to step up and inspire the next generation of female tech leaders.

Elsie Reed, Business Intelligence Manager at Capita and CEO of The Tech Ladder

Elsie Reed, Founder Tech Ladder

Elsie works at Capita, where she leads a team of Business Intelligence Developers and Analysts on PCSE projects. She originally trained in banking and finance, but after struggling to find a job, decided to retrain in systems engineering. She now has 20 years of industry experience, as well as an MBA and a master’s degree in information management.

Alongside her job, Elsie is CEO of social enterprise The Tech Ladder, which helps underprivileged adults in Beeston better their lives through technology education. They offer free online courses, mentorship and career advice.

Claire Duffield, Digital Engagement Librarian at Leeds Libraries

Clare Duffield, Leeds Libraries

Claire took an unconventional route into tech. She graduated from Grays School of Art in Aberdeen in 2005, and soon moved to Leeds, where she worked as a community librarian. From there, she was promoted to Digital Engagement Librarian for the wider group and she now plays an active role in getting people into tech.

“I am a champion for getting people of all ages into digital,” she told us. “An advocate and organiser of social media, Code Clubs, Hacks and #techmumsClubs in Leeds, I support diverse access to resources, skills and equipment in the ever-changing world of technology.”

Sarah Johnstone, Head of Technology for News & Entertainment at Sky

Sarah Johnstone

With a biochemistry degree safely under her belt, Sarah side-stepped into digital, starting her career as a test analyst and working her way up through the ranks at the NHS, William Hill and Sky Betting & Gaming. She moved to Sky in 2015, where she’s just been promoted to Head of Technology for News & Entertainment.

Gender diversity is a key issue at Sky and Sarah has seen first hand the difference it makes. “The more women you have in your team, the more women it attracts,” she explained. “It changes the way the team works, it changes the entire team dynamic. Everyone seems more willing to talk about how they’re feeling, and that’s been really valuable, especially during the pandemic.”

Sarah Tulip, Head of Digital Transformation at BJSS

Sara Tulip BJSS

After years in operations at high profile companies like AQL, Software Cloud and Klaxon Technologies, Sarah moved to EY in November 2019, where she was appointed Digital Director across Yorkshire and the North East. She helped digital start-ups from across the region to launch and scale-up their businesses, before taking on a new role as Head of Transformation at BJSS in January of this year.

Sarah is a Digital City Ambassador and chairs the Leeds Digital Forum, where she champions the voices of less represented groups. She’s also the co-founder of Women in Leeds Digital. Their mission is to grow, engage, develop and retain the diverse digital skills and community in Leeds.

Sally Bogg, Head of Live Services at NHS Digital

Sally Bogg, NHS Digital

Sally is a highly respected member of the Leeds tech scene, with extensive experience in digital services, health technology and customer service excellence, but her route into tech was far from conventional. After becoming pregnant at 17, Sally left school, only to return years later to complete a degree in computing at Leeds Beckett in 2006.

She’s now Head of Live Services at NHS Digital and is a passionate supporter of the empowerment and enhancement of women in tech. In fact, she won Everywoman Team Leader of the Year in 2019 and the Women in IT Business Role Model of the Year in 2018.

Jennifer Anderson, CTO at incuto

Jennifer Anderson, Incuto

Jennifer Anderson is Chief Technology Officer of financial technology company incuto. With experience of both tech start-ups and established companies, Jennifer is gaining prominence as a strong voice in the industry. She began her career at a start-up in San Francisco before moving back to the UK, where she worked as a QA, FQT and systems integration engineer.

Jennifer has now returned to the start-up world to help transform the technology used across the community banking sector. As CTO of incuto, she defines how technology is used within the business and oversees all stages of the development lifecycle.

Deb Hetherington, Head of Innovation at Bruntwood SciTech

Deb Hetherington, Bruntwood SciTech

As Head of Innovation at Bruntwood SciTech, Deb designs and delivers business growth support for companies in Platform’s Tech Hub. “I am passionate about diversity and inclusivity within the digital space,” she told us. “I feel it’s important that rapidly advancing technology is genuinely representative of society, and for those that ‘build’ the technology to be as diverse as the society it’s being built for.”

Deb is a co-founder of Women in Leeds Digital. She also sits on various boards and steering groups across the Leeds region, with the aim of supporting economic and social growth.

Victoria Betton, Chief Innovation Officer at Mindwave Ventures & Managing Director at PeopleDotCom

Victoria Betton, Mindwave Ventures

Dr Victoria Betton is the Chief Innovation Officer at Mindwave Ventures, a social impact design and technology company. She was the original founder of mHabitat, an NHS-hosted digital health consultancy, and Co>Space North, a digital health and tech for good collaboration space.

She’s a qualified social worker and coach with over twenty years of experience in local government, third sector and NHS organisations. At Mindwave, Victoria is responsible for keeping the company at the forefront of innovation through business development and collaboration with partners. At PeopleDotCom, she helps clients with digital strategy, policy & transformation for social impact.

Anna Sutton, Co-Founder and CEO at The Data Shed

Anna Sutton, The Data Shed

“My route into tech has been far from standard,” Anna told us. “Having spent the first 15 years of my life in marketing, I was very much a consumer of data insight, using it to drive marketing campaigns for other businesses. I became increasingly frustrated that there were no tools available to allow me to work with and analyse data without having the ability to write code.”

This frustration turned into a business idea, which turned into The Data Shed, a commercially-focused data company that helps businesses harness the power of data. Now, seven years on, Anna oversees a team of 40 employees.

Helen Baron, Head of Technology for Sports Products at Sky

Helen Baron Sky

From software engineering to solutions architecture, Helen has spent the last 14 years developing her craft at Sky. She was handpicked to take Women in Leadership training in 2018 and stepped up to manage her Solution Architecture team shortly after.

It wasn’t long before she landed the role of Head of Technology, putting her in charge of the entire Architecture & Engineering house, and she’s recently moved over to the Sports News house, where she’s responsible for their suite of web and mobile applications, which are used by millions of people worldwide.

Zandra Moore, CEO of Panintelligence

Zandra Moore, Panintelligence

Zandra Moore is co-founder and CEO of Panintelligence, a fast-growing, award-winning analytics software developer with bases here and in the USA. She also set up the Leeds LeanIn group – a support network for local women to connect and discuss challenges.

With a huge passion for both small businesses and software, Zandra thrives on the pace of change and innovation in the tech sector. She hopes to continue providing organisations with a flexible, agile and responsive service that enables their partners to rapidly grow and adapt technological advancements.

Hannah-Natalie Hosanee, Managing Director of Consume Communications

Hannah-Natalie Hosanee, Consumer Communications

Hannah is a seasoned marketer with over a decade of experience working across brand management, digital marketing and event management. She’s worked in a variety of sectors including financial services, engineering, telecoms and MedTech. Hannah was also a co-founder of Glug Leeds and community lead for BIMA in Leeds.

In 2016, she founded Consume Communications. They work across the tech, digital and creative communities in Leeds and beyond, on projects like the technology strand of Leeds International Festival, Leeds Digital Job Fair and Empowering Women with Tech.

Cat Colquhoun, Technology Innovation Officer at Grow MedTech

Cal Colquhoun, MedTech

Cat Colquhoun works as a Technology Innovation Officer and Business Development Executive at Leeds Beckett University on the Grow MedTech programme. It’s a collaboration between Leeds Beckett, Sheffield Hallam, York and the Universities of Bradford and Huddersfield, led by the University of Leeds.

Cat helps academics progress their medical technologies towards clinical application, helping them to gain investment, find the right people to work with and commercialise their research. Before this, Cat carried out a PhD at the University of Leeds, which focused on developing hydrogels for spinal cord injury repair.

Rachel Skelton, Software Engineer Team Lead at Covéa

Rachel Skelton, Covea

Rachel joined Covéa Insurance as a junior software engineer in 2019 and has since taken the opportunity to mentor and manage a team of intern software engineers. She’s now working on a Level 3 Leadership course at college and plays an active role in the digital community.

Not only has she volunteered as an instructor at Code First Girls, but she also co-organises free ‘Get Into Tech’ community events and celebrations. Rachel co-hosts the Leeds Frontend meet-up and recently made the jump from hosting events to doing her first talk, aptly named ‘From let-go to leadership’.

Joanne Rewcastle, Head of Internal Digital and Cross-Government Engagement at DWP Digital

Joanna Rewcastle, DWP Digital

Joanne loves the pace of change new technology brings to people’s lives. She works for DWP Digital, part of the Department for Work and Pensions, where she promotes strategic engagement through events, social media, creative content and collaborative partnerships in the digital sector.

At DWP, Joanne leads Digital Voices, a five-month programme which helps women working in digital roles build confidence, learn digital skills and grow their network. She’s also a member of the Women in Leeds Digital board.

Penny Hindle, Product Owner at X-Labs

Penny Hindle, X-Labs

Penny has always been passionate about increasing diversity, ever since she studied A-Level computing and realised she was the only girl out of 1,000 students. She now works at X-Lab, where she’s moved from a Software Developer role into a Delivery Lead and now works as a Product Owner.

“We develop software for pathology labs to digitise their send-away testing process and improve accuracy and turnaround times,” she told us. “Recently, we were mandated to roll out across all NHS labs in the country, to help improve coronavirus testing, so it has been an exciting and busy few months.”

Amy Stow, Head of Community at Shift.ms

Amy Stow, Shift.ms

Amy currently works as the Head of Community at Shift.ms, a digital charity that provides peer support to young people with Multiple Sclerosis. She’s responsible for operational management and planning their peer support services, primarily focusing on how to help people with MS connect and build meaningful friendships.

Amy also supports the Digital Team to develop and implement strategies to engage members on Shift.ms. It’s her job to work out how the charity can use technology to nudge people into small acts of participation, which can eventually convert into continued and sustained support.

Lianne Potter, Information Security Transformation Manager at Covéa

Lianne is an award-winning, self-taught software developer and now cybersecurity analyst. When she’s not fighting to keep Covéa’s customers and data safe from cyber-attacks, she’s a regular public speaker who shares her unconventional route into tech and advocates for diversity, equality and accessibility in digital spaces.

Lianne proudly serves on the board of directors of Women in Leeds Digital, which aims to encourage and retain talent in the Leeds digital industry. She’s been a business owner for the past ten years, and her latest ventures are two tech start-ups, one focusing on menopause and the other providing innovative solutions for digital literacy and tech training.

Melanie Kate Selvon Ellyard, Senior Manager for the Yorkshire, Humber & Tees Valley UK Network at British Business Bank and Founder of Include-Me

Leeds Enterprise Partnership Melanie Ellyard

Melanie is a growth manager, which means she helps entrepreneurs and start-ups get investment-ready. Over the years, she’s worked with financial giants like FT, Reuters, HSBC and Grant Thornton, as well as cutting edge biotech companies like Aptamer Group. After a stint at LEP, where she used her vast network of connections to help innovative SMEs across Leeds City Region, Melanie has moved to the British Business Bank, where she’ll play an active role in improving access to finance for SMEs.

Through her work, Melanie realised that there was a lack of diversity in tech and STEM as a whole, especially when it came to entrepreneurs, so she launched Include-Me, a non-profit organisation that promotes diversity and inclusivity in STEM.