The Midlands Women in Tech Awards are a unique opportunity to highlight and recognise the ongoing contribution of women in the tech sector.
The time has never been better for women to get into technology, with information technology listed as the most in-demand skills set across multiple industries according to a survey published last year by the Recruitment and Employment Confederation.
The aim of the awards is to raise the visibility of women in this space and enable the next generation to “see it and therefore aspire to it”. Currently just 17% of those working in technology in the UK are female and according to a recent study by PwC only 3% of young women have technology as their first career choice.
Interestingly, the sphere of technology was once dominated by women, with many of the first programmers being female ; the code breakers at Bletchley Park; programmers working on the first Harvard computers; and the space flights at NASA – all women!
So why are women less confident about going into tech? At the root of the problem lies perception and this is despite women enjoying and thriving in tech roles just as much as their male counterparts. This is where the Midlands Women in Tech awards come in. We aim to shine the spotlight on all the women that are pioneering and making a name for themselves in the world of tech.
We hope that not only will this bolster opportunities for women but it will also inspire other young women to get involved and realise that they too can enjoy a dynamic, exciting and innovative career in technology.
Here are the 2019 Winners!
Start-Up Founder Award 2019
Sonu Bubna is the co-founder of Shopper.com which combines crowd power and artificial intelligence to help thousands of shoppers save money on eCommerce stores. With over 35k+ global stores on the platform, shopper.com is one of the fastest growing community driven couponing platforms.
This finalist demonstrated amazing drive, vision, knowledge and passion for her business. The judges were impressed by what she has managed to achieve in an incredibly short period of time along with the added challenge of becoming a new mum at the same time.
She has growth plans to reach 40 million people by 2024 with her business, and instilled absolute confidence that she will no doubt achieve this!
Apprentice Award 2019
Shannon Lynch is part of the Jaguar Land Rover Degree Apprenticeship programme. In her current role, she specialises in Chassis Associative Vehicle (CAV) architecture, which combines the skills of Computer Aided Design (CAD), Computer Aided Engineering (CAE) and Scripting to automate design processes that save time and increase robustness.
This finalist is absolute proof that you don’t have to go to university to find a purposeful career in the world of STEM. She demonstrated incredible enthusiasm for Engineering and what can be achieved through an apprenticeship with hard work, commitment and determination. With an ambition of getting more girls to into STEM, this individual is a true role model and ambassador.
Rising Star Award 2019
Emily Lawton decided to take a massive risk and to give up her job to go to university to pursue her love of technology, undertaking a MSc in Computing at Aston University. Whilst there, she created an interactive chatbot for the university to use for clearing. She also received a distinction and a prize for the highest marks across all MSc programmes in the Department!
Joining her current company as an Associate Software Engineer in 2018, she has had the opportunity to work with the latest technology in big data, web application development and automated testing.
She also works across multiple software on both the company owned products and bespoke client work – from whom she receives outstanding feedback. She is currently mentoring a new female employee who has just started out on her tech career.
Despite being told throughout her education and early career that Software Engineering isn’t for girls, this finalist persevered! The judges were impressed by the way that she has excelled in her role in a short space of time and has clearly added real value to her organisation and customers. She loves being a Software Developer and her obvious enthusiasm for tech and all it can do was clear to see. A great advocate for Women in Tech!
Academic Award 2019
University of Birmingham
Paula Mendes is the Professor of Advanced Materials and Nanotechnology in the School of Chemical Engineering at the University of Birmingham. She has been described as “an extraordinary role model”. She is breaking new frontiers in the fields of material science and nanotechnology. She is the driving force behind the development of an innovative synthetic platform which will be used to rapidly, inexpensively and accurately identify different cancers at an early stage. She is currently being funded by Prostate UK to pursue this research. Amongst her many other research achievements, she has also patented in-situ sensor technology for cell therapy bioprocessing holding tremendous potential to accelerate the safe, clinical efficacious and cost-effective translation of cell therapies into clinical practice.
This finalist is quite simply an inspiring and amazing women. She is delivering first class research and results for her institution, subject area and the world at large, and doesn’t intend to stop any time soon! We have no doubt that her ambitions to improve healthcare through tech, will come to life and have a real positive impact.
Tech for Good Award 2019
Under Cate Rae’s leadership, her organisation now has a range of easy to use software and resources which enables teachers, parents and professionals to create their own personalised symbol materials, helping a wide range of people to access the written word including children and adults with learning impairment or a communication challenge such as Autism, Downs Syndrome, Dyslexia or Dementia. The winner has also supported pro bono work outside of the UK including a school in Namibia where she enabled learners with Autistic Spectrum Disorder to communicate better by supplying free access to her software.
This finalist is totally inspirational. Authentic, brave and on a mission to get symbols out there to all of us! The organisation she leads and the software she designs, ultimately helps a range of people with communication. Despite having gone through a number of challenges herself, she has ensured the business has grown and developed. A real advocate for Tech for Good.
Innovator Award 2019
Melissa Snover is an award-winning entrepreneur who has founded and run several successful businesses. She is a visionary and trendsetter in the food tech industry and has launched innovative brands such as Katjes Magic Candy Factory (the world’s first 3D printer for sweets and confectionery). Despite the commercial success of her previous businesses, she wasn’t satisfied with just disrupting the confectionary industry and wanted to find a way to truly impact people’s everyday lives with her 3D printing technology. Irritated with the lack of truly customisable vitamins on the market she sought to create a product around personalised nutrition. In May 2018, she developed a prototype and brought NOURISH3D to the UK market, just a few months later.
This finalist bowled the judges over with her vision, enthusiasm and sheer entrepreneurism. The concept of Get Nourished and the use of Additive Manufacturing processes showed innovation which is sustainable, translatable and the judges couldn’t wait to see what comes next!
Best Digital Lead Award 2019
Pat Crossley-Smith came into her current organisation at a very challenging time, initially taking on the delivery responsibility for a new and key account. Her success in the role led to her being appointed as Digital Executive Director. In this position she took on the management responsibility for the whole of the digital practice across the UK, at a time when many within that practice were unsettled by the changes taking place. Her supportive management style has seen an increase in the % of women across Digital Practice as well as a reduced attrition rate. She has stated that if she won the award tonight she would not see it as winning for herself “but something for the team”.
The judges were impressed with the breadth of this finalist’s experience from developing BA.COM at a time when “doing digital” really was pioneering through to the leading of the digital business at her current company – where she is making a massive impact in customers delivering public sector services.
Her leadership style is focused on “managing from the centre”, not leading from the front… to help create a truly inclusive environment where everyone can thrive. We need more leaders like her!
Shining Star Award 2019
Tata Consultancy Services
Amandip Jheeta has worked as part of the banking and manufacturing industry in IT delivery and execution roles. Working on Multiple Application & Hardware Upgrade Projects – successfully delivering numerous upgrades of critical legacy applications. For the last 8 years she has worked with JLR and TATA. Frequently the sole female in large teams of men, she has successfully managed end to end large scale and budget complex programmes across different technologies from EUS, infrastructure to SAP. Most recently she has been part of a Diversity and Inclusion team. Her objective is to encourage more diverse teams “based on skill set and not on genetic makeup”
Not only has this finalist excelled in her technology career, she has done so in an enterprise and male-dominated environment. On her own merit, she has got to the position of delivering global projects and managing teams of up to 150 people all over the world but is now pioneering the progression of women into leadership positions. This Shining Star is determined to make an impact and show what can be achieved when given the opportunity and help other women like her see that it’s possible.