As time goes on, more and more exceptional females are making their mark in the technology world and inspiring many others to follow suit. The North of England is becoming a vibrant region of digital innovation, with a large percentage of the people truly enhancing the digital sector, being female.
In this blog we recognise just some of the Female Leaders making a difference in the tech community in the North.
Zandra is passionate about empowering women in tech and inspiring more women into the industry.
She founded the Leeds Lean in Ladies Circle and gives regular talks on gender diversity and women in tech. Zandra was also recently shortlisted at the Forward Ladies Awards in the “Rising Star”category.
Zandra’s work with Panintelligence and her proactivity in the community, driving growth in the sector, is making her one of the most inspiring female leaders in tech, in the North, at the moment.
Melissa is Operations Director at two start-ups (ZiMovi and VST Enterpises) in the North and has recently been shortlisted at this year’s Forward Ladies Awards and Summit in the STEM Rising Star category.
Melissa is extremely passionate about driving further development in the tech sector in Leeds. She said in a recent Q&A with us that “Leeds has an incredibly thriving tech scene and most importantly community. There is an amazing number of inspiring and educational, free events held each week in the city, which is incredible. Assisting people to widen their connections, learn from their peers and trailblazing companies and offer environments to forge collaborations is vital.
Leeds also have some brilliant initiatives in promoting and nurturing STEM subjects and courses at primary, secondary and higher education; from summer schools, placements, gap-years, workplace outreach and apprenticeships.”
Deb’s work with Leeds Beckett University impacts the digital sector in the North in a range of ways, from sizeable knowledge transfer partnerships with large scale projects, right through to working with digital start-up companies offering the full spectrum of university services.
Deb’s main project is a European funded programme called Ad:venture, which offers digital start-up companies assistance in marketing, business planning, app development, mentoring, workshops, funding and more. Deb is able to meet with companies interested in the programme and run through a full diagnostic of their business in order to gauge where they are now, where they are aiming to be, and what their barriers to growth are. She can then create a business support programme for them made up of the services listed above.
Here’s what Deb has to say about the exciting digital landscape in The North at the moment “The digital sector in the North is a really exciting place to be at the moment, particularly in Leeds. There is so much going on, and the best part is how collaborative we are as a city — with such collaboration and partnership potential the opportunities are endless. It’s also great to see so many female leaders in tech here, people who are flying the flag for diversity and are equally bloody good at their jobs; Zandra Moore CEO of Panintelligence, Natasha Sayce-Zelem head of tech at Sky, Tanja Lichtensteiger Engineering Manager of Sky Bet to name but a few. There is a strong network of women in tech in the North, who also provide mentorship for young women coming through education who want to work in digital. Educating the next generation is hugely important in order to maintain our position on the digital map and retain the talent our university’s are churning out.“
Anna Sutton set up the Data Shed in 2014 alongside her husband Ed.
The Data Shed collates and analyses data from a wide range of sources to give its clients a better insight into the needs and expectations of their customers. The idea stemmed from Anna’s frustration at getting insight from data within the organisations she was was working for. Anna and Ed discussed and decided they wanted to build a product that could help non-technical people process and analyse their own data sources. Their determination to be self-funded meant they had to find money from somewhere and so the consultancy was born!
Here’s what she has to say about running her own business and being a female leader, “There’s never a dull day running your own business. Learning to lead “on the job” in a totally new industry has been an immense challenge (particularly juggling alongside motherhood). Most fulfilling has been building a brilliant team and making sure we have an environment that lets us all thrive.”
Anna is active in the Leeds Digital community and can often be found speaking at regular local events including Ladies of Code and was recently on the Panel of the Leeds event of the Tech Nation tour.
Natasha Sayce-Zelem is Head of Technology at Sky and has been named one of the UK’s Top 100 Women working in technology right now.
Natasha is also the founder of the Empowering Women with Science and Tech movement in Leeds. The movement is working to showcase inspiring role models working in Science, digital and Technology, in a way to support and attract more women in the industry.
Tanja is Engineering Manager at Sky Betting and Gaming in Leeds. Tanja has over 17 years’ experience in creating systems. She is active an member of the Leeds tech community and is proactive in championing women in tech across the UK. Tanja is featured on The Northern Power Women ‘Future List 2018’ and was awarded the FDM Every Women in Technology Award in 2018!
(Pic: Financial Force)
Senior Vice President of strategic customer experience and a founder of FinancialForce.com.
Debbie has been instrumental in the growth and ongoing success of the FinancialForce.com business.
Here’s what Debbie has to say about being a Female Tech Leader, “As the co-founder of FinancialForce I have been incredibly lucky to have the opportunity to build a business where the culture, attitude and values reflect what I feel are most important to give our teams and customer the best experience possible. We have fantastic flexibility with which our employees are able to balance their personal lives alongside their working life, super employee benefits that are designed specifically to give options around what you want to spend your allowances on and finally a culture that is diverse, totally inclusive and understanding to the individuals needs.
As a female leader I am incredibly proud to have nurtured this environment as it runs through our core DNA as a business. I’m very proud of our culture and believe we provide a fantastic opportunity for future generations in the tech industry, Financial Force is an inclusive place for everyone to work.”
(Pic: Manchester Evening News)
In a recent interview with Laudale, Catherine told readers how her father originally sparked her interest in technology. “He was an electronic engineer and was forever bringing home gadgets and things for us to try, we had circuit boards knocking around our house from when I was 4 years old so I think my Dad is really responsible for my interest in technology and he was the one who encouraged me to study technology at university when I didn’t get the grades to do the course I wanted!”
Helen is a founding director at NorthInvest. A Yorkshire based (not for profit) investor platform which is accelerating the growth of tech start-ups, and other tech businesses in FinTech, Health Tech, media and Tech for good sectors.
Helen and North Invest are giving tech businesses the support to reach their goals and full potential.
Ed Tech entrepreneur Chloe is founder of Digi Dentistry.
Digi Dentistry is a visual learning platform which is an advanced way of learning using augmented reality and animation targeting all learning domains. Enhancing and changing dental education for the better.
Chloe’s inspiring work at DigiDentistry found her winning this year’s ‘Young Entrepeneur of The Year’ at this year’s Great British Entrepeneur Awards. Chloe is also a finalist at the Digital Entrepreneur Awards and UK Tech Founder Awards!
Here’s what Chloe had to say about being a female tech leader, “I have been able to create something with technology which will ultimately change the way we educate the current and next generation of learners. I feel as a female tech founder this is life changing, having the opportunity to inspire other women to feel encouraged to start a company of their own, demonstrating we all have to start somewhere and build on our experiences.”
Amy De Balsi
(Pic: Bradford Telegraph)
Amy De Balsi launched Herd digital job board in 2015. Herd specialises in pulling together the best digital and tech vacancies from local employers in Leeds and then pushing them out to potential candidates on social media.
Amy also founded the Leeds Digital Job fair. The job fair brings together an array of local tech employers in the First Direct Arena for an afternoon. The event allows attendees to hear companies pitching about how great it is to work for them and at the last event there were over 500 jobs available.
The event has seen thousands of people visit over its five events. The fair has been a great showcase of the sheer amount of opportunity for aspiring tech professionals in the region!
(Pic: Manchester Evening News)
Lou was awarded an OBE in 2018 New Years honours for her services to the creative and digital economy.
Fabiola is the Founder and CEO of Engagify Ltd.
Fabiola has recognised the millions of people globally struggling with mental health and the lack of psychologists to take care of everyone. Fabiola and her team are currently developing an intricate AI solution to support employee mental health 24/7 on a global scale — Sayge (coming soon).
Fabiola says, “The tech space offers less degree of prejudice to anyone regardless of age, sex or background. We need more visionaries ‘Ada Lovelace’s’ in the world to create products never considered before now, but once made, could not imagine living without!”
Emma is co-founder of FutureLabs. Futurelabs offer companies a number of events and services including, talks and networking. Promoting collaboration, support and ultimately bringing the tech community in Leeds together.
Alongside this, Emma is also CEO of DotForge. DotForge is a 3 month accelerator programme based in Leeds, Machester and Sheffield taking Tech4Good startups on a supportive journey from ideation, to launch and beyond!
Helen is the Chief Executive of the WISE Campaign. The WISE campaign enables and energises business, industry and education to increase participation and success to Women in STEM.
Since becoming Chief Executive in 2012, Helen has transformed WISE and has continued to drive the campaign further.
Helen is an advocate for social change, with a track record of transformational leadership across public, business and not-for-profit sectors. She founded her own consultancy company, Equal to the Occasion, after seven years as Director of Campaigns for the Equal Opportunities Commission and previously ran the Yorkshire region for the National Lottery Charities Board.
(Pic: Yorkshire Evening Post)
Hazel is Programme Director for Apps and Wearables at NHS Digital in Leeds.
Hazel and her talented team are behind some of the most iconic innovation taking place at the NHS at the moment.
The NHS Apps Library was launched as a beta site in April 2017 and provides a library of digital health tools which are accessible to patients, trusted and easy to use and help them make better choices about digital health and care.
Hazel says “The Apps Library has already proved to be a great success. There have been over a quarter of a million visits in the last year and more than half of those were from mobile phones, which shows how patient access to health care is transforming.”
Anna Barsby is CTO at Morrisons.
Anna Barsby has been focusing on the technology opportunities which provide business growth, and has been encouraging key skills and people to the supermarket retailer as part of her ambitious improvement plans.
The 2015 CIO 100 leader and her team are initiating major moves into cloud, digital and data — acutely aware of the need for the supermarket’s back-end systems and infrastructure to support its front-end, customer facing touchpoints.
As well as being active in schools locally — which has included having Morrisons developers offer training for the coding club at a local girls’ school — Barsby has set up a diversity and inclusion group in her technology function, an initiative she is now sponsoring across the whole business.
(Pic: Digital Leaders)
She was named as one of the Maserati 100 in 2015 — a definite list of entrepreneurs who support the entrepreneurs of tomorrow from the Centre of Entrepreneurs. Naomi is also a mentor and was nominated in 2015 by the European Mentoring and Coaching Council for Mentor of the Year.
She is a TEDx speaker and an experienced partnerships and engagement consultant with established relationships across the UK — specialising in the tech and digital sector.
Naomi was named as a Rising Star in the Computer Weekly Most Influential Women in UK IT 2017 and sits on the board of Future Everything.
Dorne is the CEO/Founder of Ribbit Media Solutions.
Her agency specialises in Facebook Advertising, Mobile Wallet Loyalty Solutions and Messenger Chatbot Marketing for local serviced-based businesses, including franchises.
In 2016 Dorne transitioned Ribbit Media into the advertising agency that it is today, but prior to this she has trained over 300 business owners in Facebook for Business Workshops in her local town of Halifax, as well as building an online training program. In September of this year she was asked to be one of the speakers at the largest Messenger Chatbot Marketing conferences in the world in Texas, where she spoke on stage to over 1,000 agency owners and marketers.
We asked Dorne what excites her the most about having a digital advertising agency and she had this to say…. “one example would be — a client of ours had worries about their lack of wedding bookings for 2019 so we built them a Messenger Chatbot Marketing funnel and combined it with Facebook Advertising. In less than 3-months they took £11,000 in wedding deposits, with total sales valued at approx. £100,000 and with a Facebook Ad Spend of just £1,600 — this is what excites me! With our digital skills we’re able to transform the lives of others and that’s a nice feeling to have”.
Gemma is principal software engineer at Co-Op Digital in Manchester.
Gemma has been referred to by Tech Nation as the “North West tech community Dynamo”.
Gemma’s love for tech started early at 8 years old when her father brought home a laptop. She then went on to study computer science at university.
Gemma’s commitment to the tech community is admirable. Monday to Friday she is making great things happen at Co-op digital, building their engineering community. Her work outside of co-op digital has made her a key part of the north west tech scene.
Gemma is a founder of Hack Manchester, a non for profit events organising company that showcases and benefits the tech community by promoting, celebrating and teaching technical skills through workshops and events for all ages.
Professor Janet Cade
Janet runs the Nutritional Epidemiology Group at the University of Leeds.
Janet is the mind behind myfood24. A pioneering online technology helping researchers, teaching and health professionals measure food and nutrient intake.
Janet Says, “The frustrations of working with out-dated methods to measure food and nutrient intake challenged me to develop a new approach (Myfood24) using online technology; harnessing the power of data to deliver high quality, evidence based results. The need for such a system led to the foundation, in 2017, of Dietary Assessment Ltd, of which I am founder and Director.
I have a strong direction and vision for the company, where we see a critical need to provide a system to the NHS (and other health services across the world) which allows patients to record their food intake to generate nutrient intake results which can be shared with their dietitian or doctor/nurse. We have demonstrated that, not only do we have a validated system for tracking diet, but also that this can lead to better health outcomes for patients and is supported by health care professionals.”