Twenty in Data and Tech was created to showcase women in these sectors for their success, innovation, leadership or courage.
This year’s winners are another fine set of ambassadors who will be a visible example to inspire women at all stages of their careers.
This is the fifth series of the Twenty, which means that there are 100 role models working actively as mentors, sharing experiences in peer groups, advising in schools, and publishing content to promote the exciting opportunities in Data and Technology.
Ambassadors work closely with Women in Data® to encourage women to set their sights high to achieve their professional and personal goals.
Read each of this year’s winners stories and reflect on who you could nominate for the Twenty campaign in the future in order to grow our 30,000-strong community and put our collective voice to positive, practical use.
Nominate your inspiration for the Twenty in Data & Tech Series 6
In collabration with Snowflake
What does it mean for you to be recognised as part of the 20 in Data & Tech?
As an American woman running a large team in Europe, being recognized as 20 in Data & Tech is validation of my ability to consistently show up as a strong, influential leader in UK Data and Tech.
Who has been your biggest inspiration?
My mother – she was a single parent without much support when my sister and I were young. She went back to University and got a degree while keeping our small family afloat. She taught me grit, determination and independance.
What was your breakthrough moment?
Moving to Europe to lead the EMEA Snowflake team changed my career in fundamental ways. Being in Europe has allowed opportunities to learn, grow and change.
What is your superpower?
My sense of humor and ability to get along with others.
What has been the most significant barrier in your career?
What is some of the advice you’d share with your younger self?
You can be strong and confident without being agressive. You can show up as a woman and not mimic the men in the room.
What was your career ambition when you were a teenager?
What needs to change in the next 10 years for women in data and tech?
There need to be more women at higher levels of leadership taking public facing opportunities to show what this career can look like. Ultimately, more representation should create more opportunities for young in career women.
It’s an honour to be recognised – especially given all the fabulous women that have be recongised in previous years and the strength of the women in this data & tech network! I hope that my story might resonate with others, especially those more reserved individuals who don’t visibily see their qualities in leaders around them.
I’ve genuinely drawn inspiration from so many family members, friends and colleauges. Throughout my career I’ve been lucky to have been surrounded by some incredible people, who’ve supported, challenged, encouraged, and guided me, and who I respect immensely.
As many of us do, I’ve suffered with imposter syndrome throughout my career. I think I have a mini breakthrough moment every time I recognise those feelings in myself, and remember that the thoughts aren’t fact.
Not exactly a superpower, but I’d probably say my determination (or perhaps stubborness), to not be defeated by a problem.
Probably myself. I’m a perfectionist, which although is often deemed a quality for an analytical person, it also means you never quite feel finished with a project or role, and are well aware of the flaws or gaps in your abilities and experience which can hold you back from making the next career step. However, I’ve come to appreciate my perfectionism as well as recongnise when it’s not serving me.
Don’t listen to the “fake it ’til you make it” advice – it doesn’t work for you. It’s okay that your style and qualities are different to those of a ‘typical’ leader.
I actually didn’t have one. I didn’t know what I wanted to do, didn’t have any grand plans, I just loved learning, and got a lot of joy from maths and stats. So I followed my natural drive, and tried not to get stressed about not having a 5 year plan!
We need to make it easier for girls and women to learn in these fields; entice them to make it a career choice; remove the risk of taking career breaks and make it fairer to re-enter the workforce if they do; and for the whole sector to realise that there isn’t just one leadership style or trajectory, and that we don’t need to fit that mould to have impact.
I’m honoured and still can’t quite believe it! As a disabled Black lesbian, I’ve struggled at times to find my place. I hope if you’re part of an underrepresented group, this award will help you see that you too belong here.
There are many wonderful women, men, and non-binary people who’ve made space and created platforms for me over 25 years. Thank you all. My biggest inspiration remains my paternal grandmother who I’m named for. She was fiercely independent and danced to her own drum beat. It’s my privilege to bear her name and live as fiercely as she did.
Discovering the U.K.’s nascent open data agenda changed the trajectory of my career. I went on to cement my understanding of the power of data as a cultural, social, and technological phenomenon.
Connecting people! It gives me joy to introduce people with shared passions, then see those relationships evolve into stronger networks.
Being out at work is a challenge and it’s tiring to be keep coming out, again and again. The most significant barrier however continues to be those who automatically consider me “non technical” despite deep technology expertise.
You change the world by being yourself. Putting yourself first, then your family, then your firm will keep you sane. And finally, definitely get a cat, cats are awesome!
To save my world and my tribe’s culture which I saw being eroded by colonisation, both historical and new, external influences.
Positions, pipelines, and platforms – even now, some senior leaders consider diversity a nice to have, something to abandon when times get tough. And they always will as we move through socioeconomic cycles. For our industry to make relentless forward progress, we must have inclusion as a core value. We must have representation at all levels. And we must give women equitable opportunity to progress.
I am thrilled to be joining the ranks of amazing women that Twenty in Data & Tech has recognised over the last several years. It’s a huge honour and a reminder that representation matters. I look forward to using my voice to stand for gender equality and support other women in this space.
My partner of many years, who helped me understand that I am so much more than my achievements and the expectations placed on me. He approaches life with patience, humour and creativity and inspires me to be myself and be playful.
A couple of jobs ago, I remember chatting to other women in my team about their career aspirations and job searches. I encouraged one colleague to make a speculative application to a company she loved and another to negotiate her pay after a job offer. It was rewarding to encourage these smart and talented women to pursue their goals, and that was the moment that I started to understand the allure of leadership and using my role to do something for others.
I’m very curious about people and what they get up to, which is great for analytics because I get to poke around in data to understand what’s going on and tell a story about it. It also helps me connect and build in person relationships because I genuinely love learning about people’s life experiences, no matter how mundane. I want to know everything – what was their childhood like, how did they end up in their jobs, what did they eat for breakfast, or what YouTube videos they watch.
Self-doubt and fear of failure. I’ve definitely struggled with impostor syndrome, in particular feeling like I wasn’t ready to progress my career because I didn’t have enough experience or hadn’t achieved enough. It’s taken me a long time to appreciate where my hard work has gotten me and realise that I am knowledgeable and capable, and in that time I’ve missed out on a few opportunities. But I’m here now and that’s why it’s so important to me to encourage other women who might be going through similar experiences.
Before the wellness industry became what it is today, the poet and activist Audre Lorde wrote about self-care in 1988 while she was battling both cancer and systemic inequality:“I had to examine, in my dreams as well as in my immune-function tests, the devastating effects of overextension. Overextending myself is not stretching myself. I had to accept how difficult it is to monitor the difference. Necessary for me as cutting down on sugar. Crucial. Physically. Psychically. Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.” This quote has always stuck with me. I would tell my younger self to prioritise radical self-care and look after my physical, emotional and mental health. Being passionate is great but if it leads to a lack of healthy boundaries and burnout, it’s not doing anyone any good.
At some point as a pre-teen I wanted to be a marine biologist after reading several novels on the topic, but as a child of Asian immigrants I mostly assumed that I would follow a path of financial security to become a doctor, lawyer, teacher, or accountant. My mum wanted me to be a surgeon and my father wanted me to be an actuary or a professor, like him. I don’t think we knew a lot about the range of careers that are out there, but we are all grateful that I ended up finding a job in data & tech.
I’d love to see more allyship, from men in data and tech and also from other women, especially for women of colour and people in LGBTIQA+ communities. The internet and social media have made resources for active allyship more accessible and given us more opportunities to centre diverse experiences. Having representation in these spaces is going to be more important than ever as the development of digital technology exacerbates or obscures inequality underneath the layers of data and tech.
It is an honour for me to be recognised amongst some of the fantastic people that are on the list. For me receiving the recognition this year is even more special as we are celebrating the 10th year since the launch of Stemettes. At the same time, feels a little bittersweet that we still need to create these lists but it is essential to tell the stories. 10 years later, this journey is still important and the amazing achievements of these women are recognised.
My biggest inspiration undoubtably has been Dr Gladys West, the mathematician whose mathematical modeling and development of the satellite geodesy models ensure we can use GPS today. She is by far my biggest inspiration because she achieved so much from very humble beginnings back in the 1930’s. She almost did not realise the scale, the magnitude and influence of the work she was doing. For her, she was just following the maths and her work is still being used around the world to solve problems at a huge scale.
I cannot identify one single breakthrough moment. I have had a unique journey so you could say that my breakthrough came very early and I have been building on it since then. There has been a number of turnaround times and pivotal events but nothing I could pin down to a single moment.
Interesting… My superpower is that I see data structures everywhere. So give me any information and I can normalise it and build a beautiful data structure.My team find me very frustrating!
In the world of Mathematics and computer science there is a large element of the work that you do on your own– learning the core, learning the theory, learning the beginnings. But actually, you go further when you go with others. So the biggest thing for me, now that I run a team, is to recognise that human beings are way more complicated than the maths.
Don’t do things on your own. Having a tribe, a group of people that you can learn with, that you can win with, you can celebrate with, and you can commiserate with is super powerful– We often undervalue that.
My ambition as a teenager was to be a management consultant. Only becauseI did an aptitude test at a careers event at school and management consultant or software analyst came out strongest. I went for management consultant as the pay was better!
Women need to be paid better, paid fairly, paid equally. They need to be promoted properly and respected in the C-suite and when they get to those positions of power, they need to be valued for the different perspective they bring to data, where their presence and input can help overcome traditional inbuilt biases. Women should be recognised for the value they bring not just for the purposes of diversity.
We need to open up spaces and recognise the value that women in data can bring in non technical spaces. Whether that is in policy making, in cultural activities, bringing disciplines like data and arts together, they need to be recognised also outside of the traditional constraints of data and tech.
It means a great deal to me to be recognised as part of the 20 in Data & Tech. I have had the privilage to work with some of the previous women recognised and feel incredibely proud to be part of that group. I have spent over 25 years working in the field and have seen some amazing progress over this time – in terms of how data and technology is changing business and the world, the different career opportunities this has created and the focus on making these careers accessible to all. To be recognised as having played even a small part in this progress makes all the hard work worth while.
My biggest inspiration in my life has been my mam. She passed away 5 years ago but there is not a day that goes by where I don’t remember her and the impact she had on so many people including family, friends and students from all over the world. She was hard working, way too clever and had such a strong moral compass. She taught English Literature and in particular modern feminism which provided me with countless other inspirational authors and role models and an awareness of the challenges faced by women and minorities, as well as how to overcome them. My celebrity inspiration is David Attenborough whose love, passion and commitment to the natural world is outstanding and how he has focused us all on creating a sustainable world for all living things. But I am also inspired everyday by my husband and two daughters and the many colleagues i work with, in particular the next generation who see things very differently, are challenging norms and whose optimism is infectious.
There have been a few but when i came back into work after having my first daughter i was asked to take on the challenge of defining the data strategy for my part of the business. It was extremely motivating to be given such a big and important role and i was given the leadership support and sponsorship but enough trust and freedom to build something new that would really differentiate the business. That was the moment i pivoted completely into data and established what would become the first Data Office for the group.
My superpower has always been to be my authentic self … I have had advice throughout my career, especially early on, to drop my accent, power dress, be more assertive, play the game and even wear make-up … And although i can and have to adapt in certain situations I have tried to stay true to myself and my values. This helps me quickly develop relationships and trust, inspire and engage teams and keeps me focused on looking at ways to improve myself.
The biggest barrier has been what i would now call Imposter Syndrome. No matter how many things i achieve there’s always been the voice in my head saying ‘you shouldn’t be here, you’re a lass from Boro and you’ll get found out soon’. For years i’m not sure i dealt with it very well, i listened to the voice far too much especially in stressful situations. When i was bullied at work it was like a confirmation of what the voise said and i went into a downward spiral. But since then I’ve been fortunate to have had support from colleagues and coaches who have given me ways to deal with and ultimately ignore the voice!
I would tell myself what I now tell my two daughters – get involved – at school and in the community, say Yes more than you say No and reach out and ask for help when you need it. When i grew up there wasn’t as many opportunities as there are now and we weren’t really encouraged to get involved which i think would have been really helpful in developing different skills and having different experiences. I was also brought up in a world where asking for help was a sign of weakness and you certainly didn’t show any signs of vulnerability – so i would definitely tell younger self that it’s ok to be vulnerable, to ask for help and to talk about failure.
As a teenager i didn’t really have any career ambitions. There was no expectation from my parents to go to University and they would have been just as pleased if i had got a job locally. So when we worked out i was quite good at mathemetics and decided to go and study my parents were very proud but even then i didn’t have a career in mind. I knew i wanted to do something involving application of maths, like statistics or operational research, and I also enjoyed coding even on the earliest computers. So when i looked around at the milk round and career fayres i was very interested in analytical jobs and landed straight into Barclaycards Credit Risk function doing what would be called Data Science today but with old technology and sample data!
The three things i’d like to see change in the next decade:1. A real focus on understanding the route causes and actions to improve the number of girls taking STEM subjects as well as an update in the curriculum so that the practical application of data, analytics and AI is taught earlier. 2. With great power comes great responsibility and i’d like to see more focus on responsible AI – ensuring security, fairness and control 3. We need to properly tackle the gender pay gap and career shelves where we are losing women and drive towards parity – typically at senior levels in organisations and, now we can see the data, when women hit menopause
I have been told many times in my life ‘If you don’t see it, then you can’t be in’. This statement has lived with me for a very long period of my working life as I desperately tried to find my place in the spaces that I occupied. As a Black, Muslim woman in data, perhaps I could inspire young women from my community to explore data as a viable career path. I hope one day we can all see a reflection of ourselves in our working spaces. Recognition means visibility which will hopefully inspire more women of colour.
Michelle Obama is one of my biggest inspirations. This is why:- ‘I am an example of what is possible when girls from the very beginning of their lives are loved and nurtured by people around them. I was surrounded by extraordinary women in my life who taught me about quiet strength and dignity.’
My break through moment was when my data community partnered with Google. This gave me a huge platform to reach hundreds of thousands of people globally and share my vision for the future of diversity in data.
My super power is the ability to bring people together.
The lack of visible black female role models has been the biggest barrier in my career. It was difficult to imagine what success could look like for me when no one in data looked like me. Learning how to navigate a white male dominated work force has been my primary role as I was also trying to become the best analyst that I can be.
Do not be afraid of failing. You will learn some of the most profound life skills from what you perceive as failure.
Be courageous and seize every opportunity that comes your way.
Smile a little bit more :)
I wanted to be a fashion designer as a teenager.
We need increased representation of women in all data roles, especially at ELT/C-Suit level. We need to see more women friendly policies such as menstrual health/menopause, flexibility for caring responsibilities.The gender pay gap and the gender pensions gap must also be addressed.
Honestly, it means a great deal to me. It has given me a confidence boost that I didn’t realise I needed. It has also validated my place in data and tech, especially in the sports industry. I truly feel like the world is my oyster and have never valued myself higher!
I feel like the person who is my biggest inspiration is constantly changing and evolving, but one feature is that they are always someone I personally know. Career wise, my biggest inspiration is my best friend, Sarah. Although she is in a completely different industry in a completely different job, she is determined, confident and an extremely hard worker. Like me, she works in a male dominated industry and her belief in herself that she has a place in the room has always been inspiring to me.
I’ve had two breakthrough moments. One was being one of thirty on the Sports Industry NextGen leadership and development programme. It’s the first time I’ve ever applied to a programme like this, so to get a place has been incredible. And a second breakthrough moment has definitely been this!
My superpower would be my ability to make friends with anybody and everybody! Having good interpersonal skills has been very beneficial to me in my career. I think with data, people generally can be a bit reluctant to ask for help or understanding as there’s a fear of seeming silly. Having good social skills means that people are comfortable talking to me and has allowed me to develop many friendships across the entire business. Aside from work, I feel like I could make friends with an inanimate object if I tried hard enough.
I’m only three years in to my career, but it would definitely be myself. I’ve talked myself out of applying for more senior positions or asking for payrises as I thought I wasn’t qualified enough, or was afraid of being told no. Thankfully, in the past year I’ve started to advocate for myself more.
The advice I’d give my younger self is that you are not just what you study! Think bigger! At sixth form I studied politics and history therefore only believed I could have a career in these areas. I failed to realise I could have careers in other areas of my life I was interested in but didn’t study. For example, music or sport. Now, being in an industry I didn’t study but I am passionate about has been nothing but beneficial. Coming from a social science research background means I can provide a holistic view towards how organisations, who may be government funded, tackle social issues. I understand and realise there are wider socio-political and economic effects on sports participation more than my peers from non-social science backgrounds. Being able to take a dataset and know which variables will likely impact a result has helped me to be more effective and impactful in my role. I’d tell my younger self to take all opportunities even if they’re not relevant to my degree, so long as it I am passionate!
When I was a teenager, my career ambition was to be a MP. During my teenage years, I was a big politics nerd and was so disappointed by the lack of female MPs, especially ones from ethnically diverse backgrounds. I wanted to make politics more diverse and have a job where I felt I could actively help those most in need. I have since realised that are many other (and less stressful!!) careers that can have social impact.
There needs to be more opportunities for women to progress to higher positions within companies. Representation matters, so if we want to encourage more young girls to enter data and tech, there needs to be more women at the top to inspire and encourage them!
I’m very proud to be included in this year’s 20 in Data & Tech and can’t wait to meet the other 19 people on the list. Judging by the previous lists they’ll be superwomen and I’m excited to meet and learn from them. It was a real surprise and honour to be included.
More female founders and leaders breaking down the barriers and smashing up stereotypes (of all cultures and backgrounds), more creative ways to enter the industry (including bringing women in from other career paths). Better careers advice and promotion of our industry I schools and university – make it look as exciting and interesting as we know it is!
It’s amazing to be recognised alongside these powerful, talented women. The most significant professional achievement in my career to date. I’ve worked in this industry for over 20 years and I really do love what I do, I have a genuine passion for data and tech. This recognition shows the credibility of my achievements, it’s a milestone and celebration of all my hard work and commitment over the years. I will use this as an opportunity to broaden my responsibilities, being a role model to encourage women who are thinking about careers in this industry and continue to inspire the next generation to consider STEM subjects at schools, colleges and university.
There is no one person I would call out, I’ve been very lucky to have collaborated and worked with several formidable senior female leaders who have inspired me, specifically around how I can counterbalance my work commitments and aspirations to advance my career with a healthy life outside of work. They have been influential and motivated me in the choices I have made in my career, teaching me valuable lessons centred around leadership, engagement, work ethic, adaptability, empathy and most importantly being true to my personal values.
About 10 years ago when I found the courage to face my fears of public speaking which was largely driven by my imposter syndrome. I was presented with an amazing opportunity to speak at a leading data conference in front of 250 people and deep down I knew that I would regret turning down the chance. Admittedly, looking back now it was probably the most nervous and stressful experience I’d ever faced, but the experience helped me realise that I was pretty good at it and I really enjoyed talking. As I controlled my adrenaline and fear mindset I found new freedom and my confidence grew I now speak frequently across the world in front of both large audiences and smaller settings.
My super power is resilience: I’ve faced several challenges throughout both my personal and professional life and I’ve always shown strength to control my emotions during difficult times, by remaining confident in myself and my abilities, bouncing back from adversity, and being in control of my stress and mindset so that I can learn from my experiences and move forward with a goal to always be a better version of me.
I’ve always been ambitious and driven in my career. I believe everyone should have equal opportunities however when I moved into more senior positions, I started to notice that I was either the only female or the only BAME person sitting around the leadership table or in the room. Some of my male peers were given opportunities that were not present or available to me. I found this difficult to accept and took it as a personal quest to ensure I always presented myself to push for the same opportunities and worked extra hard to prove my worth.
Be brave. Don’t be afraid to take risks. Trust your gut, make a decision and if doesn’t work out as expected then take time to reflect, learn, develop and grow. Don’t compare yourself to others and do what you do, as that’s what makes you different and that is what will make you stand out from the crowd.
At the age of 5 I grew up helping my parents in the family business, I learnt very early on the importance of customer service. I was naturally very good at dealing with customers and counting money. As I grew into my teens, I was very good at maths and computing at school and remember the careers advisor telling me that I should work in banking! So my ambition was to work at a bank.
We need to go right back and make the change as far upstream as possible. There’s not enough visibility of the types of careers you can have in STEM, there is a real stigma that those careers that are in STEM are designed for males or they are boring! I think schools need to do more to help students build their understanding and confidence to study STEM subjects.
If we can help change the perception and show the endless opportunities and career possibilities within all or any one of the STEM fields we will unlock a new fearless generation of amazing future leaders. Parents also need to play their part! Helping remove the unconscious bias, by making a positive difference to the way girls view their potential to study STEM subjects at school, and ultimately, consider their future within a STEM field beyond school. The good news is there are so many female pioneers that they can look up to, so if we can continue to pave the way, be vocal and supportive by shining a light we will see a positive perpetual change for better.
We also need to recognize the intersectionality of discrimination, including women of colour and trans women as 2 examples amongst many. We haven’t solved for women in data and tech, or for women in general, if we haven’t solved for everyone.
It is of course a huge honour. The Women in Data movement is such a positive in the data industry. I am excited to be a part of it, and hopefully support many more women to join and progress within our profession.
I don’t have one specific role model or inspiration, but have been incredibly lucky to work with and continue to learn from some very inspiring people. I try and take the best of all of them and channel that into who I am at work – it’s a work in progress!From Jean Tomlin I learnt how to lead; to be firm but fair, to prepare that bit more than anyone else, and ensure others do too, so that you never leave you or your team vulnerable. From Veronica Wadley I learnt how to have an ambitious vision, but be in the detail at the same time; how to navigate politics and the press, and how to relentlessly strive for something you didn’t even know you could achieve because somehow you will find a way to get there. From Steve Holliday I learnt how to manage my time (still trying to get this right!) and show your team what’s important. From Christine Hodgson I learnt how to remain cool as a cucumber in the face of anything that is thrown at you (also still working on this one but I try to channel her). And from Lord Young I learnt how to lobby and where not to compromise. Watching Paul Deighton from a distance I saw a form of CEO to which I would aspire – humble, calm, ambitious but for the organisation and its people rather than himself. Focused on delivering rather than the accolades which might come with it, informed about what was going on in his company, and someone who truly recognised that people sit at the heart of any organisation.
Probably when I got my job at Team London, there were hundreds of applications and I felt I was only about 50% qualified for the role but I knew it was the dream job. I’m grateful that those hiring saw my passion and potential. It was my first big leadership role and I learnt so much. I really didn’t know how I would meet the scale of ambition when we launched or persuade charities, funders, businesses, schools and individuals to join us. In three years to reach every school in London, mobilise 1 million volunteers and have charities and businesses approaching us (not me chasing them!) felt like real success. Beating 10 cities to be European Volunteering Capital was the icing on the cake and I love that years on, many of the programmes and events the team and I set up are still in action.
I think the most useful superpower for any leader in the last few years has been being comfortable being uncomfortable. I have faced so many things I don’t know how to do but you can logic your way out of most challenges if you just keep calm, see what the nearest comparator you know is and ask for help.
I live with a very painful health condition. I have never allowed it to be a barrier in my career, but it is hard to always be performing at the top of your game when managing so much in the background.
There are probably 4 key things: 1. That everyone won’t always get onboard and that’s ok – I spent too much time trying to please everyone, which is ultimately impossible.2. To take every opportunity, however nervous it makes you, you never know where it is going to lead.3. Know who your ‘team me’ is – my support network has been fundamental to helping me at every step of the way.4. To make decisions and move forwards, you won’t always know if it’s going to work out, but you will fix it along the way if you need to. Not making a decision is far worse.
I wanted to be part of the leadership of a charity to make some positive impact on the world. I did manage to do that, and now am very happy to be involved in a number of charitable initiatives and have a foundation as part of our organisation, Profusion Cares.
The two most immediate things that need to happen are: 1. To change the perspective of those hiring to think about the core transferable skills they need in the role and the things they can teach and we can bring more fabulous women in to the industry from other professions. 2. To change the investment profile. In 2020 it was reported that investments in female led organisations perform 63% better than all male founding teams, and at the same time only 3% of investment funds were going to female founders and 75% of female entrepreneurs have faced gender bias. We have to do better. Those investing in data and tech companies need to look at how they are using their investment funds to create change in the industry.We all have a responsibility to get into schools and change perspectives, because we need a new generation of female talent coming into the industry and gender stereotypes are formed as young as 7.Finally, and ironically, some of the day-to-day changes that need to happen to support women are actually by the policies and practices we have for men. Women are still disproprtionately the main child rearer in hetrosexual relationships. If men were to be offered more part-time working, shared parental leave, and flexible working and it was normalised to take it, then this would enable the women they are with to have more flexibility to pursue their careers in this field.
I feel extremely honoured and privileged to be recognized amongst so many fantastic women, especially as someone who hasn’t come from what you would deem a ‘traditional’ data background. I hope this shows that there is a pathway into this industry for anyone who is interested and motivated.
My mum has been my biggest inspiration. She has lived with a physical disability for the last 30 years, which makes daily, ‘normal’ activities that I take for granted, much more difficult. And yet, she is one of the kindest, generous and positive people I know. She was a single mother of 2 children for a number of years, but provided everything we needed and more in terms of love and support. She struggled to find a job that was able to support her disability, so she volunteered in a hospice, doing what she could to help. She has cared for multiple members of our family who suffered with cancer, so they were able to pass away at home surrounded by their loved ones. The one thing she always tells me is ‘regret what you did do, not what you didn’t do’.
Realising that the person who I really need to believe in me, is me – sounds super cliché, but you can have a room full of people who believe in you, but we are often our own worse saboteur. Just having that realization doesn’t create the breakthrough, it’s facing into it, and knowing you have to continue to work on it.
My team are my superpower without a doubt. I have the pleasure to work with some truly talented and passionate individuals day to day and the absolute honour of leading them in delivering our data strategy. Any success I may have is a result of this team.
It took me a while to realise this, but I have been one of my biggest barriers. Imposter syndrome is real and something I have struggled with, like most women. One of the ways I have learnt to manage this, is by listening to my imposter syndrome voice and ‘talking’ back to her to say ‘I disagree, this is something I absolutely can do’. I also have what I call my ‘wall of inspiration’ in my office at home, which is mainly art showcasing my favorites drag artists and Grace Jones.
Your unique self, is the best version of you.
I didn’t have specific career ambitions when I was younger, they were more life ambitions – to travel and see the world, to read as many books as I can, to go to the theatre and cinema as often as possible and to spend time with family and friends. I love my job, but for me, it’s a means to do all of these things, as opposed to the main focus or driver.
Girls choosing STEM education is a big factor, but I also think there is a lack of appreciation for the variety of roles which are available in this industry, and it is not just for those who have a traditional STEM background. Data product Management and Data Adoption are 2 fundamental roles which require skills in communication, problem solving, growth mindset and strategy.
I am beyond honoured to be recognised in this elite group of women – following in the footsteps of giants. Women in Data represents the best of what we can be when we gather collectively as a community to support and encourage each other. We have accomplished so much in the past few decades, but there is so much more we can do together. I look forward to working with you all in 2023 to drive even more impact for the next generation of data leaders.
One of the people I most admired growing up was my grandmother. She was truly the family matriarch. She commanded authority in the most respectful way. She gave much of her life to benefit others, consistently donating her time and talents. She passed several years ago of Alzheimer’s Disease. I miss her wit, sparkle, and care every day. I can only hope that I am able to have the same positive impact.
My breakthough moment was when I had the courage to leave an abusive relationship. In hindsight, I realise that much of the negativity in that relationship reflected in my own feelings of self-worth, personally and professionally. When my daughter brought home a partner that was almost identical to her father, I recognised how much even the small things we do can influence others. It is my goal to ensure that the behaviours and attributes I demonstrate lift others and creates safety and support for them.
Creating structure out of chaos. Whether at work or at home, I strive for organisation and stability. So every time I feel like things are out of control, I look for those things that are within my power to impact and influence. This has made it much easier for me as I look for ways to do more with less.
Self-doubt. We often refer to imposter syndrome. The approach I have found it to realise that most people have similar feelings. The goal is to identify these as opportunities for growth and development. Be agile. Try new things. Learn a new skill or capability.
Enjoy the ride! There were times I was so focused on perfection, I missed the opportunity to just live in the moment. Studying for hours to find the 1 point you missed on the Maths practice test is not worth passing up the chance to experience life.
I wanted to fly fighter jets, specifically the SR-71. At the time, it was the most advanced stealth technology. I even had a life sized poster of the cockpit in my bedroom. I have always been drawn to technology and the power it has to change the world.
We need to educate others on the opportunities that exist in data and tech. Our power together comes from diverse backgrounds and experiences. This means we neeed representation from STEM, but also from languages, arts, history, and life. Often when I talk to schools about my career path, they don’t even realise what a broad ecosystem exists in tech, and that their unique skills make them a valuable team member.
I am delighted to have won this award. It comes after spending nearly 20 years in AI, data and tech. These fields have seen an explosive growth over the past few years and it is the most exciting time to serve data and tech and celebrate this win. This award also gives me a strong platform to connect, support and inspire thousands of other remarkable women. I have made some fairly unconventional choices, not obvious at the time to peers; with that, I’d like to encourage more women to dare to carve out new paths and pursue dreams out of the ordinary, dare to be extraordinary.
I find inspiration in women who are brave, dynamic, with different, unique – je ne sais quoi – personalities who dare to carve out unconventional paths and stand out, Those women are found in all disciplines across science, business and arts.
My successful transition from academia to the commercial world. That was at a time that big data was only emerging, AI was not in the horizon and digital transformation was moving slowly from concept to reality. That was during the early days of data and tech revolution. The right timing allowed me to put forward some novel thinking in the health tech business world, build some successful businesses and stay ever since in the intersection of AI, data and tech driving transformation initiatives in the healthcare industry. It really enabled me to combine my passions in a career that is ultimately so fulfilling impacting human health and patient lives.
Balance. Today’s world suffers from over stimulation and overwhelming choice. It easy to be thrown off balance. Finding balance has become a virtue.
Being a woman has undoubtedly been a significant barrier. I was clearly given opportunities, but I had to work 10x times as hard to prove myself. And more often than not having to create these opportunities for myself. That said, I am grateful for the support I have been given by several male mentors, partners, peers and teams I’ve led.
Keep on chasing your dreams, worry less and enjoy every step. It will work out in the end and maybe better than you would expect.
I wanted to become a Professor at the University much like my father is. I spent a significant part of my career at the university and I continue to love the opportunities such a career provides: opportunities for continuous learning, tremendous attention to detail, the pursue of the absolute truth, the joy of the discovery, the intellectual stimulation. I find the business world more fascinating though and I leveraged my solid academic foundation to build businesses at the cross section of AI, data, and medicine.
It is phenomenal to see how much has changed already in the industry welcoming more women in executive seats, women founders, encouraging equality at the workplace and diversity. It was nothing like that when I was starting out my career; for the greater part of it I was the only female in the room. I would therefore say we should continue building on this positive momentum.
It is an incredible honour to be part of the 20 in Data & Tech in the company of so many inspiring women. I love working in Data and part of that is because I have been lucky enough to work with amazing people and amazing women. It is very humbling to be recognised by my peers and some of the people I look up to most.
I have been fortunate enough to be inspired by many amazing women and allies in Data and continue to be each day in my role at Haleon and in the Women in Data community. One of my biggest inspirations, Caroline Worboys, a previous one of the 20, showed me just how creative working in Data can be and how to play to my strengths.
I feel like I have breakthrough moments most months! The field and my role is constantly evolving and I continue to learn so much that it would be hard to pick any one moment.
I have been told I am very spongey, in that I absorb a lot of what people tell me, read and listen to, and take all these inputs to shape what comes next. This means I get to absorb amazing superpowers from many others.
I have been fortunate that the biggest barriers I faced in my career were in other industries, which consequently led me to a role in data. While some barriers are real blockers, others can be a great opportunity and sometimes that is only clear a few years out.
Keep learning, all knowledge is valuable! It’s ok to try new things and fail so long as you learn something from it.
As a teenager I wanted to work in finance as it seemed one of the best industries to get to use maths every day.
We need more diversity, equity and inclusion in data and tech. Our industry is the foundation of most innovations happening in the world today, particularly in AI. With more women who have different experiences and perspectives included in creating solutions, the higher the chances that innovations support more people. This needs to start with more girls getting into STEM, and more opportunities for women to enter the industry at different life-stages.
It’s a privilege and joy to be part of such a remarkable group of women who all share a genuine passion for data and its transformational ability.
Whilst humbled to be recognised, I feel a greater personal responsibility to be the most authentic version of myself. I have learnt the most and value when my colleagues and leaders have been their whole, imperfect selves.
My friends and family are a huge part of my inspiration. It is often easy to forget the hidden impact our friends and family have on our professional as well as our personal lives.
In between the shared memories and history, and in-jokes that don’t make sense to others, there’s that realisation that you can be 100% yourself around them with zero judgement. For me, the confidence to confront and do the hard things, knowing they love and support you no matter what has been such a source of inner strength.
My breakthrough moment was realising firstly, I have to believe in what I do and enjoy doing it. And then secondly, that’s it’s unrealistic for work to be the sole provider of all professional-based joy, and the onus is on me to seek out opportunities outside of work where I can play my part. So, for example, being involved with the Women’s Safety and Data initiative and mentoring with the Stemmettes has been phenomenally rewarding and humbling.
My superpower is listening for and understanding what people really want, not just what they think they want.
Sadly, it’s often been me. Whether it’s listening too intently to that inner-voice critic that whispers away or replaying past mistakes or awkward moments in my mind – some of the expectations and standards I’ve held myself to haven’t always been constructive.
Challenging my ‘want to perfect’ is something I’ve been working on for a while, and whilst it’s a work in progress, I am kinder to myself now than I was in my early career.
It’s okay not to know what you want to be when you are older. There isn’t one single path to follow, and there are so many possible and exciting options out there.
I didn’t know, and honestly, I was embarrassed not to be clear on it even after graduating. So, as a result, I tried a range of things: some things I loved, and it sparked a natural curiosity and passion that led to where I am now, and there were other things I didn’t enjoy. But in turn, those experiences help me explore and understand the type of environments I thrive in, how to collaborate with different teams and people, what I look for and respect in my employer and leaders, and how I want to engage and lead my teams.
Whilst it’s easy to look back through rose-tinted glasses and say, “well, it all worked out in the end”, I still recall the shame of not knowing what I wanted to do. For me, this is where we in the Women in Data community can lean in and support the Girls in Data programme by showcasing the variety of opportunities and career options within data.
While we are starting to see more women around the data top table, there is still a sense that data and technology are male professions. So whilst supporting the pipeline of future female talent through education, mentorship, early exposure to data and technology, and visibility of career opportunities is critical, we can’t ignore that we need more women now; actually, the challenge is we needed them in the last decade.
Over the next few years, we have to get smarter at engaging and encouraging women who are already working in and around the data space – albeit not directly – to step sideways into a more data-focused career; it’s how we enable those looking for a second career, or a complete career change, to see how transferable their existing skills and expertise are in our world; and, it’s how do we support women returning to work to build their data skills and see our industry as one where their life experiences will be valued.
I am incredibly proud to be recognised within this esteemed community of inspiring female role models. I will confess that it feels a little uncomfortable, as I don’t naturally feel at ease with personal recognition. I find it much easier to celebrate the success of others than to reflect on my own career achievements.
However, it is an absolute honour to receive this recognition and be part of a change movement to inspire the next generation of girls into STEM careers – particularly my own daughter!
The Twenty in Data and Tech is a fabulous way to showcase the varied and exciting career paths that are possible in this industry and providing a platform for encouragement, inspiration and shared interest for women and girls to achieve their potential.
Hands-down my fabulous Dad. As an engineer himself, I have always admired (and replicated) his inquisitive, curious, practical approach to life. I am privileged to inherit his strong work ethic, thirst for knowledge and determination to find innovative ways to solve problems. He is, and always will be, my hero.
I’m not sure I can pinpoint one particular breakthrough moment as there have been so many inflection points in my career that have opened up opportunities for growth and personal progression that I have been brave enough to embrace.
Breakthrough moments have come when I’ve stopped trying to over-achieve, learnt to
express vulnerabilities and seek advice to progress to a different role or level. I have embraced every new opportunity with a ‘can-do’ attitude and excitement about the potential to learn a new technical or professional area, whilst quelling the natural nerves of something new.
Throughout my career I’ve always had a passion for the human side of data – how to use it to be more personalised, relevant, valuable. My early career was focussed on customer focussed solutions around CRM, contact centres, business process transformation and programme delivery. I have thoroughly enjoyed roles in business & enterprise architecture and most recently specialising in data & analytics and cloud technologies. I often refer to myself as a ‘realist visionary’ – curious, with a solution mindset, able to see the bigger picture but realisitic about what is achieveable, deliverable and will deliver value for stakeholders and customers.
A year ago, I was referred by my CIO to join a mentoring programme with other industry CIO peers. It has been incredibly valuable to take time out to reflect and consider my thought processes. Phil, my mentor, has been great at listening to the way I describe myself and my confidence levels, then reflecting back and providing some great examples from his past experiences to consider. He has definitely opened up my perspective on my own inner confidence! It’s also been great to have a male coach in a different industry and outside my current organisation. I often hear his voice on my shoulder saying “what’s the worst that could happen”. This past year has definitely seen a change in my self-belief leading to me presenting at conferences, hosting an awards ceremony and my team winning a British Data Award and IT Team of the Year at the UK National IT Awards. So this accolade is the icing on the cake in the final few weeks of my 50th year!
I am often praised for being strong, being the master of OK and being able to magically juggle the pressures of work, home and an active social life. So as a full-time working, co-parenting mum of adopted children, multi-tasking is most definitely my superpower. I am a bit like a swan though; attempting to appear in control whilst I’m frantically paddling under the surface. I naturally juggle multiple activities, thoughts and actions and rarely sit still. Some days, I do wish that I could ‘single-task’ and have the time and headspace to have a single focus, but that doesn’t come naturally.
My mantra is ‘Life is a daring adventure, or nothing at all’, so I never miss an opportunity to burn the candle at both ends and live life to the full. Although I am starting to recognise the typical menopause symptoms that are starting to slow me down!
Having a lack of female role models, for sure. I embarked on my career accepting it was a male-dominated industry recognising I would have to battle the gender bias and push against the status quo. Looking back, I have been lucky to have male allies who believed in me, challenged me and elevated my confidence to support me to become a strong female leader.
However, there have been occasions when my male counterparts have been shocked that I could possibly be in a specialist or IT leadership role. I vividly recall an Enterprise Architecture networking event I was attending as a guest speaker when another male architect assumed I was there to serve the drinks!
I am passionate about building a diverse team and very proud of the diversity across the teams I lead. I have been a supportive coach and mentor to many women in my network and team, helping to sculpt their careers with praise, curiosity and encouragement.
I always advise how important it is to show vulnerability, share personal challenges and not to expect to portray the superwoman persona. Being open and being able to cope with challenges distinguishes and builds strength and relationships. I believe it is incredibly important for women to be authentic, to uplift each other, focus on delivering value rather than fitting in and constantly pushing the status quo.
There is so much I wish I could turn back time and advise my younger self.
Time is precious, don’t waste opportunities. Don’t stay in a role or a situation (whether in your personal or professional life) just because it’s comfortable. The thought of letting go feels worse than holding on to a situation that drains your true worth.
Don’t be afraid to take yourself out of our comfort zone and do things that are meaningful and purposeful for you. Don’t let people hold you back. Find people who champion you. And if they don’t, do something about it.
Identify what brings you happiness and love, prioritising enough time to build on it whilst giving your time to others. Learn to lean into trials and setbacks by building emotional callouses that help value what is good in life and brings you joy. Unlock the bravery you had as a child, when starting or doing something new
When things get tough, take time to rebound and recover stronger than ever.
I had an interest in ‘tech’ from an early age, spending my teenage years coding on my Spectrum ZX+. I loved learning to code and recall creating a video rental database and application for the shop I worked in (showing my age now!). I was also musical, spending a lot of my time playing piano. My A levels were in Maths, Computing & Music, resulting in a choice between following a music degree or IT. So I have the ZX Spectrum to blame for not becoming the next Jamie Cullen or Jools Holland.
We are in an era where data centricity is no longer simply a competitive advantage but a mandate. Increasingly investors and stakeholders are assessing the value of organisations not just on the financial metrics but on current and future value of their data. Consumers, customers, patients expect experiences to be data–driven – and covid has in a brilliant way accelerated those expectations.
The challenges we’ve faced in the past few years have highlighted the importance of role models and supporting communities. The kind of infrastructure and breakthroughs using data and technology to mitigate covid were only possible due to the expertise and dedication of engineers, scientists, mathematicians.
Building and nurturing talent for the future requires focus across the board from school education, early career support, parental & family support as well as addressing the gender pay gap. Most significantly I believe investment and focus to address the complex women’s health issues that we all ‘put up with’ would have a positive impact on women’s ability to succeed in the workplace.
We must achieve equality in the industry to encourage more females to find their way into this amazing field that has the power to be transformative for our futures.
What an honour to join the impressive Twenty in Data & Tech line-up ! What it means for me is that the privilege comes with a responsibility. We do not typically think of ourselves as role models, until one day…we are. So we must help the younger generations as we were once.
I’ve been inspired by people whose genuine care for others is much bigger than their high intellect or achievements. It is one thing to be successful and another to win with kindness.
The day I realised expertise and hard work is not good enough; the ability to make it known and relevant to others is what will make it so. Easier said than done.
Surround yourself with people who can see the power in you that you have yet to discover. My superpowers are named after those who have opened the door and pushed me in.
The limitations I have set upon myself.
Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try Again. Fail again. Fail better. Not my advice, but Beckett’s.
My teenage years were too distracting for any career planning. I started a Physics degree encouraged by a wonderful teacher, the second choice was Psychology. After a year I switched to a more practical engineering degree. Even though my mother spoke about “generative AI” and had pioneered with punched card computers, it wasn’t until Uni that the that technology caught my attention. At some point I dreamt of moving to Silicon Valley and making an electronic book. Then one day a blind application for an internship led me to work in consulting. Business, data and technology has been my work-habitat ever since. I still have a couple of lives ahead though 😊 So in short, we are shaped by the experiences we live and the choices we make, and it is great to have career ambitions, but also to figure it out as you grow.
Demystify what it means by 1) developing paths for career switchers to the field through adult learning, 2) making math and computing subjects more accessible and relevant to teenagers – they are the required language for many careers: sociologists, psychologists, designers…
Being part of the 20 in data and tech means a lot to me as I found the network to be hugely valuable over the past decade of my career. It helped me to connect with inspiring and incredible women who have done so much in their careers and whose advice I’ve always valued. It has helped me to grow and develop as a person and enabled me to progress in my career. Meeting other like-minded women has been a comfort especially when working on projects as the only technical woman. I’m incredibly humbled to have been selected.
My sisters have been my biggest inspiration. They both work in the STEM industry and taught me from a young age that it’s cool to like maths and science. They have always been supportive and led me to purse professional qualifications in mathematical science and onto working in a technical role as a lead data scientist.
My breakthrough moment was during my first year of university where I meet fellow students who were just as passionate about learning and applying mathematics to real world life problem. Meeting likeminded people empowered me to pursue my career in data and use the mathematics I had learn to work in a technical role.
I would say my superpower is my dyslexia as it gives me unique problem-solving skills and ability to think outside the box. It has made me highly skilled at recognising complex patterns and brilliant at mechanical and technical construction and design. It allows me to see the bigger picture and lets me focus on important elements without getting lost in the detail.
I feel like my biggest barrier is building and maintaining confidence in my abilities and realising that failing is part of the learning curve
I would tell myself to be patient and to pace myself. Rushing for everything to happen at once will only set you up for failure
It was my ambition to be either a mathematician or an artist. when I finished school and apply to university, I selected fine art degrees and maths degrees
Data and tech careers need to be more visible to empower girls at young age to select STEM area courses. Platforms such of these are incredibly important to assist in this.
As a sole Director running my own business, I constantly feel I am trying to punch above my weight to develop bespoke large–scale training and coaching programmes for some of the biggest brands out there, so this award is a nice recognition from the industry that what I offer to the data and tech sector is providing real tangible value to the people on the ground that I aim to help.
From a career perspective, it was a former boss that I was lucky to work with for a few years early on in my career. She is sadly no longer with us, but she was a phenomenal female role model. A tiny, chain smoking, designer clothes wearing, single mum, who was respected by all (male and female) for her knowledge of the drinks market, our customers and the inner workings of the operation. She had worked in China years before it became feasible to really do so. She had carved her department and roll out to be exactly what she felt the business needed and where we could add real value, rather than following the model of more traditional Insight Teams. Janet Hull was a legend!
Deciding to set up my own brand, rather than freelance. This enabled me to focus on working with a range of clients on the areas where I could add most value and was most passionate about, rather than doing a similar role under a different model for one client at a time.
From a work perspective it is the ability to translate complex concepts and ideas into practical solutions that others can access, understand, contribute to and work with. From a life perspective, my kids reckon I have eyes in the back of my head!
Like a lot of females across a lot of sectors, trying to get a balance between career progression and having children. Whilst I was lucky enough to be working for organisations that were happy to discuss options, most of the options were unattractive and took me away from the parts of the job that I enjoyed. To the point that working for myself became the most logical career choice to enable me to do both.
Having it all and all at once is a myth and fallacy. You might be able to achieve anything you want with hard work, luck, opportunity, and persistence. but it is not possible to have everything you want all at once. Something will naturally give! Choose wisely and trust your intuition.
I wanted to be an architect. I loved (and still love) design and architecture and liked the idea of the mix between the practical and the artistic side of the role.
More visibility of women at a senior level from a range of diverse backgrounds and disciplines
Greater opportunities to access breath of experience from senior female role models by encouraging women from other disciplines to enter data leadership roles.
Keeping a constant eye on the pipeline of young people coming into the sector and how all can be nurtured, developed and retained.