Over 550 business and technology leaders gathered at the London Hilton on Park Lane last night where the winners of the 2017 FDM everywoman in Technology Awards were unveiled. Supported by techUK, this is one of the UK’s best loved Awards programmes celebrating achievements and championing the advancement of women in technology and STEM careers.
The evening’s 12 winners included the founders of a digital fashion service that offers a truly personalised shopping experience to over 5 million women, a 16-year-old app developer with self-taught HTML coding skills and a university professor who developed sustained drug release depots for ovarian cancer treatment. Together they show the breadth of achievements by women in the technology industry over the past year.
The need for the tech industry to engage with women has never been more critical. 74% of young girls express an interest in STEM subjects at school yet only 18% pursue these subjects in higher education*. The awards play a crucial role in creating and showcasing successful role models. By highlighting their remarkable achievements, the awards aim to inspire others following in their wake to ensure that women, making up 49% of the workforce, influence bridging the digital skills gap and fill a significant number of the estimated 1.4 million technology jobs that will be available in the UK by 2020**.
The 2017 Woman of the Year is Emily Brooke, CEO and Founder of Blaze, from London, who 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. Blaze is now running product trials on the New York Citi Bikes with ambitions to work with other global cities on their cycling strategies in the future. Her outstanding achievements in innovative product design have resulted in her being named as Woman of the Year.
The 2017 category winners are:
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.
Leader Award, 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.
Academic Award, 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.
Innovator Award, 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 AXA PPP healthcare who have 1.2 million individuals and 700 large corporates, with whom Doctor Care Anywhere have secured an exclusive partnership.
Entrepreneur Award, 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”.
Inspiration Award, 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.
“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.”
Maxine Benson MBE, co-founder of everywoman
“This year’s FDM everywoman in Technology Awards showcase the outstanding women who work in technology today. They are role models for all of us, demonstrating that IT is a great career option for young women today. It’s particularly important that we get this message across to young women to create a gender balanced workforce and build the pipeline for future talent.”
Sheila Flavell, Chief Operating Officer, FDM
“techUK is proud to support the everywoman in Technology Award for the third year running. 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. Through targeted action, techUK is committed to facilitate the attraction and retention of talent from as broad a demographic as possible to increase diversity within the tech sector.”
Julian David, CEO of techUK
I'd like to congratulate all the nominees and winners who've been recognised for their achievements in the FDM everywoman in Technology Awards. I hope their stories 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."
Karen Bradley, Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport