technology

If I can do it, so can you – Alan Gore’s inspirational story

I love hearing other people’s stories of triumph against adversity, particularly involving education and technology changing people’s lives. I got a DSc from University of Kent at Canterbury Cathedral last year and was honoured to be invited to present the computer science department awards to students before the cathedral ceremony.  Alan Gore won two of the prizes and his lovely mum Jan contacted me after hearing my speech about how education and technology had helped me to bring my family out of poverty. When I heard Alan’s story I asked Jan if Alan would write a blogpost that I could share about his education and life journey. Here it is below. What an amazing, inpsiring man with such a supportive mum. Enjoy. 

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I’m writing this on a plane to Svalbard in the Arctic Circle where I will be taking a break with my partner, a research physicist studying the Northern Lights. I’m 28 years old, a recent graduate from the University of Kent, where I collected my degree at the same award ceremony in Canterbury Cathedral where Sue Black was awarded an honorary doctorate.

I was excited to meet Sue and hear her story that day, partly because of her work about Bletchley Park (a place I’ve enjoyed visiting multiple times whilst living and working in Milton Keynes) but also because of what she represents: someone who, despite adversity and an unconventional route through education, has achieved great success in a field that still feels dominated by a narrow part of society.

Whilst I cannot claim to have gone through anything like her experiences, I’m also a mature student who didn’t follow the traditional route to University. If you’d asked me 10 years ago where I expected to be now, it certainly wouldn’t have been here; at that time I already felt that I was “too late” to achieve my goals of going to university and entering the tech industry. I’m writing this in the hope that my story might serve to give some hope to someone in a similar situation.

Throughout my school years I listened to the mantra that at every stage (SATS, GCSE, A Levels) you had to work hard as this was the only chance to progress and do well in the next stage, all the way to university. My parents divorced in my early teens and, perhaps in an attempt to have control over something in my life, I stopped attending school. I left school with only a single GCSE with my plans of university shattered. I didn’t have the five GCSEs needed to get to college or even to get a basic job. My school wouldn’t allow me to re-sit them because of how little I’d attended. I was “too late” to change the path I’d chosen by not attending.

The following year I sat the 4 additional GCSEs I needed for college with the National Extension College, a distance learning charity that at that time would take my mother’s stockpile of Tesco Clubcard Vouchers as payment! After this I started on a BTEC IT Diploma and did well, but ultimately dropped out again, feeling inadequate when compared with my peers. 

By my late teens I felt hopeless, with no chance of work or education. I was struggling with depression and anxiety, as well as trying to come to terms with my sexuality. I retreated from friends and family and I continued drifting like this for years, spending most of my time online, trying to escape a day-to-day life in which I felt I’d failed and was too late to change things.  I was forced into change by my father falling into financial difficulties. Facing the reality of him losing his home and supported by treatment for my depression, I started looking for work.

Eventually I found a role as a supermarket delivery driver; the work was hard with shifts often exceeding 12 hours, but I enjoyed it and did well, progressing to a driver coach/instructor role and then supervising the department. I learned how to handle everything from rescuing vans stuck under bridges to answering irate phone calls from customers and drivers, whilst trying to help someone find something on the shop floor. I regained some confidence and my Mum suggested maybe I could give education another try. 

I enrolled in an Access to Computing course at the local adult college. Access to Higher Education Diplomas are available for anyone who hasn’t already completed an A-level or equivalent qualification; they pack the equivalent of 3 A-levels into a few days a week over the course of a year. They’re designed so that on completion students can go on to university, and the majority of universities accept them. The Access qualification was hard work; I balanced a 30-hour working week with a similar amount of studying, but it paid off. I received a distinction (equivalent to 3 A*) which meant I qualified for scholarship funding at Kent. I received offers from all 5 of the universities I applied to (Aberdeen, Cardiff, Kent, Lancaster and Stirling); the only limitation I faced when applying for Computing degrees was the lack of a maths A Level. 

Going to University, I was apprehensive, I’d be 6 years older than most of the people I’d be living and studying with. I chose a 4-year programme with a year in industry, which meant by the time I graduated I’d be nearing 30. Was this too late? What’s more, many of the people there would have sat dozens of exams over the course of their education, whilst I’d sat almost none.

Exams certainly proved a challenge, as did my lack of maths knowledge. However I found I did well, especially in programming where my Access qualification had given me some excellent tutelage, as opposed to most of my classmates who’d done next to none at school. When it came to applying for work I was similarly worried about the gaps in my CV and history. I also found this wasn’t the barrier I expected.  At the end of my first year, I secured a paid summer placement with the Bank of England, followed by a year’s paid placement with a firm in Milton Keynes whom I now work for.  

University wasn’t plain sailing. My mother was diagnosed with cancer (thankfully now in remission) towards the end of my first year and I found I often suffered from “imposter syndrome” throughout my degree. However, I was helped by a variety of amazing people, from the friends I met in halls in first year, through to university career advisors, managers on placements and of course my partner. I graduated with a first class honours degree in Computer Science and won multiple awards, securing a job with my placement company in Milton Keynes, where I now work (and live on a 55ft narrowboat!). 

As a white male from a middle-class background I write this with no illusions that my relative success means that the same opportunities I had are available to all. The data around education and employment in the tech industry, especially for those from “non-conventional” backgrounds makes for difficult reading (1) (2). I’m immensely grateful to all those who supported me and very much aware that without them and the academic options available, I would not be where I am now. 

I hope that my story might show that it’s never too late to change course and return to education. Despite an education system that drills into children that they must do well in the next exam or else they’re locked out of progressing, it is possible to return to education years later. It might require more effort, but it’s doable. 

Furthermore it’s vital we keep these routes open for people and promote them so that students don’t unwittingly limit their potential. Since I studied for my Access qualification, funding for further education has been cut by around half a billion pounds;  the result of this is that adults over 24+ have to pay (by student loan or otherwise) for any Level 3 or Level 4 qualifications and this has led to a marked reduction (31% according to a government report) in the number of people taking such qualifications. People are (rightly or wrongly) put off even starting on the journey to university by the student debt that now also accompanies our degree programmes. 

I hope that in time our government will come to recognise the value of such funding and reverse some of those cuts. In the meantime I will do all I can to support people going on a similar journey to mine, be it through talking and writing about it or helping provide some of the opportunities I was given, for example by setting up paid internship programmes. 

Written by Alan Gore

 

From Bletchley to Brexit – an utter disgrace

From 2008-2011 I ran the successful campaign to save Bletchley Park. As part of that campaign I met and got to know several of the codebreakers including Captain Jerry Roberts and Mavis Batey who was only 18 when she made major codebreaking breakthroughs. The work that was done by 10 thousand people at BP, 8000 of them young women shortened WW2 by 2 years saving 22 million lives. 10000 people working around the clock for years making sure that we can enjoy the freedom we have had all of our lives.

Bletchley Park to me epitomises what is best about Britain and the British. People from all different backgrounds coming together around a common cause, working for years, in secret, with no real personal reward or recognition for what they have done. Incredible people in incredible times. 

To me Brexit is the opposite of this. Brexit epitomises the worst of Britain and the British. People from privileged backgrounds seeking to manipulate others, to pit people against each other for their own personal gain. Selfish people creating a selfish atmosphere in selfish times.

At a time when other countries, like China for example are building infrastructure across the world with the Belt and Road programme, buying up land, building roads across Africa and Asia, lending large amounts of money to countries that possibly won’t be able to pay it back, we in the UK are showing the world quite clearly that we are unfit to be incredible pioneers as we once were, working en masse, working in collaboration with other countries, building the alliances that we have enjoyed up until now.

We are now operating in a global marketplace. There has never been so much opportunity in the world for us to create products and services that we can sell around the world. Technology is rapidly changing the way we connect with each other, the way we trade, the way we live our lives. It is creating social change through connecting us together with others that care about making change happen. #blacklivesmatter #metoo it’s incredible that through one word, one hashtag we can create global movements that are changing the world for the better, empowering people who previously had no voice.

Technology brings amazing opportunities for jobs, education, connections with people around the world to solve global challenges, but in the UK we  just look backwards and complain about how it’s taking away jobs.

In less than 100 years we’ve gone from seeing the best of British to the worst of British. I’m utterly ashamed of what’s happening here now with Brexit, to me it feels like the UK at a pivotal time in history with all the amazing opportunities that are out there, is committing suicide in front of the world. At a time when we should be joining together and collaborating with other countries to make the world a better place to live in for us all, we are throwing away opportunity under the lie of making Britain great again. What an utter disgrace.

The two Sue Blacks!!

I was delighted to finally meet the “other Sue Black” a few months ago at Dundee University ❤️ we’ve known each other for years online but never met in person until Sue invited me up to Dundee as a digital expert.

We are often mistaken for each other, I’m a computer scientist and Sue is a forensic scientist, and congratulated for each other’s work 🤣

It was so wonderful to meet, I’m really looking forward to next time.

Why is it harder for women to be leaders? I spoke to Lauren Laverne on BBC Radio 4 Late Night Woman’s Hour #leadership #culture #diversity

twitter.com/bbcwomanshour/status/1019839333379997696

Turbo charge your career #womenintech mastermind

Turbo charge your career!

I’m always being asked for advice on how to approach particular situations at work/university/college particularly by women and particularly in the tech sector. I want to help as many people as possible so I thought “Why not set up an online group where I can help more people get to where they want to go more quickly?”

So that’s what I’m going to do!

#comingsoon I’m starting a #womenintech Mastermind featuring an online discussion group, webinars, advice sessions, one to one mentoring and a lot more. Add your email here if you are interested:

tinyurl.com/DrBMaster

Talk to you soon!

#tech #mentoring #careergoals #careeradvice #gettingpromoted #skillsshortage #technology

Honorary Doctorate from Royal College of Art presented by Jony Ive

I had a wonderful time today receiving an honorary doctorate from the Royal College of Art ❤️🙏❤️

Massive congratulations to all students graduating today at TheAlbertHall and my fellow honorands Siobhán Davies and Peter Gabriel

#RCAconvocation #lifegoals @siobhandavies #petergabriel

Brexit is the UK’s suicide

We are at a pivotal point in history due the digital revolution which is disrupting everything, bringing about a social revolution, a commerce revolution and another industrial revolution. We are currently still in a reasonable position globally to be able to take part and improve the UK economy and our standard of living.

If Brexit goes ahead, a ridiculous amount of energy and resource will be focused on Brexiting. That energy and resource is needed for us to be a major player in what is now a global marketplace. We Brexit, we put ourselves out of of the game.

Collaboration and technology are the future, Brexit is the UK’s suicide. #history #brexit #technology

Read Techcrunch’s “Over 100 tech leaders back new call for a people’s vote on Brexit”

As London Tech Week launches today to talk-up the capital’s prospects, over 100 UK tech founders, directors and investors are calling on the Government to back a meaningful vote “by the people” on the actual terms of Brexit. The tech leaders are signatories to the aims of new tech business group Tech For UKwhich is backing anti-Brexit campaign group Best For Britain in its fundraising campaign for a meaningful vote on the terms of Brexit and the option to “Remain and lead in the EU”. Over 50 other tech industry players have also signed up.

Tech For UK represents the founders of many of the most innovative businesses in the UK including Martha Lane Fox (co-founder of Lastminute.com and Doteveryone), Gareth Edwards (Founder, travel player Deckchair.com), Ben Whitaker (Founder of Masabi, the smart cities ticketing startup), Bernhard Niesner (Founder of the language learning giant Busuu), Giles Andrews (Cofounder & Chairman, of P2P lending pioneer Zopa), and George Bevis (founder of small business banking provider Tide), among many others.

The list also includes Tech community leaders outside of the so-called ‘London bubble’ including Dr Sue Black OBE, Founder, TechMums and Bletchley Park campaigner; Elena Sinel, Acorn Aspirations, which teachers teenagers coding and entrepreneurship; and Nuala Murphy (CEO, Moment Health) a leading entrepreneur based in Belfast, Northern Ireland.

The group said the loss of access to European funds, the flight of talent which powers UK tech companies due to the uncertainty and scandal around immigration, the loss of access to the Digital Single Market, which the Uk tech industry was never consulted over — all of these factors are adversely affecting the UK Tech industry, says Tech For UK.

Funding from the European Investment Fund has collapsed since the Brexit vote, and a replacement scheme has yet to be assured long-term by the government. The European Investment Bank, which backs a majority of the United Kingdom’s VC funds, has slashed deals with UK VCs and private equity groups by more than two-thirds, with scant equivalent funding from the UK government in sight. Even a government-backed report cited Brexit as a top challenge for tech companies in the UK.

The technology sector has consistently grown faster than the UK economy in recent years, employing over two million people and attracting billions in foreign investment.

“Collectively, Tech For UK supporters have raised hundreds of millions of pounds, put hundreds of millions back into the UK economy and employed thousands of people. This is why Tech For UK is lobbying for this vote,” said co-founder Josh Russell, partner of Resolve.

“The ongoing uncertainty along with declining growth is a hard one to take. We went from the fastest growing (before Brexit) to the lowest-growing in the EU with the economy expected to grow a mere 1% in 2018. While the government argues about the Customs Union for goods, it is Services make up the bulk of the UK economy and they’ve cut off the tech sector’s access to the Digital Single Market. It’s time the people of the UK had a say on what Brexit actually is,” said Madhuban Kumar, Founder/CEO, Metafused, and co-organiser of Tech For UK.

Brexit has not happened yet and appears to be already having an effect on the UK economy. The Bank of England recently released figures that showed “the UK economy is currently 1% smaller than expected two years ago”.

Here are some quotes from Tech For UK supporters, which is continuing to call for new supporters, while there is a growing Facebook group here.

“The Brexiteers admit they can’t deliver the Brexit they promised so we deserve a vote on the one they’ve got us instead.”
George Bevis, CEO, Tide.

“The greatest sadness of Brexit is that those who voted for it will suffer the most. What was sold to them as a vote for national freedom and prosperity is only going to lead to a poorer and more divided society. The rise in racist hate crimes is just one of the signs of this. We urgently need to reconsider the path we are on and not walk blindly into the darkness.”
Hephzi Pemberton, Founder of Kiteka and Angel Investor

“We now had 2 years of due diligence on Brexit and the British people deserve a vote on this deal. Anything else would be highly irresponsible and undemocratic.”
Bernhard Niesner, CEO & Co-founder of Busuu

“‘Lies run sprints, but the truth runs marathons’ – it’s becoming increasingly clear that the fiction that was promised by the Leave campaign was just that, and now the truths of the damage being done to our economy and our standing in the world are laid bare. The people deserve the chance to vote on the truth – the final terms of the agreement that will decide the future of this country. Anything less would be a travesty of democracy.”
Glenn Shoosmith Founder/CEO Booking Bug

“Having been deeply involved in the U.K. and global technology ecosystem for the past 20 years and most recently as an Advisor to the EU Innovation Minister as a member of the European Innovation Council, I firmly believe that we cannot work in a vacuum. A tech company born in the UK is global from almost day one, and I fear not having a say on the final terms of Brexit will have a meaningful impact on UK’s capability to maintain its global lead in the tech sector.”
Bindi Karia, Innovation Expert + Advisor

“Once the details are visible, we can truly vote on Brexit. Will it actually allow us to build the next generation of world-beating companies or is it shifting red tape from Brussels to London and increasing the cost of trading and working with Europe?”
Riaz Kanani, MD & Founder, Radiate B2B

“The UK and especially London has become a vibrant and globally successful centre for technology innovation. Many of the most exciting startup businesses here have been founded by immigrant entrepreneurs and grown with UK and European employees joining the companies as they grow rapidly. Any Brexit which does not keep the UK in the single market and customs union would in my view considerably dampen the prospects for tech start-ups here in the UK – there would be less of them and they would find it harder to grow as rapidly. We need a meaningful vote on the terms of Brexit.”
Simon Murdoch, Managing Partner, Episode 1 Ventures

“As technology entrepreneurs and investors, we are working in global markets. Access to talent and low barriers to market entry are key to secure the momentum of our industries. Brexit is the most important decisions for generations and it would be irresponsible not to let people have a decision on the exact term of the world they will live in”
Volker Hirsch, Angel investor and co-founder of Tech North Advocates

“As a Northern Ireland native, I’ve seen first hand the difficulty that division can cause, just as I can see the major and needless impact that Brexit is having on bringing back the divisions on that island. Isolation and protectionism has never proven to be a positive long-term strategy, and that is becoming clear in this case too. And with more in the tech industry, and in the UK as a whole, considering themselves citizens of the world, we risk closing our doors and driving away a diverse set of people that help make us all better.”
Rob Elkin, Busuu

“Our world-leading digital industry is being led into a back water of mediocrity by a crop of leaders who don’t even know what Brexit they want and why they want it. By keeping the best talent in the world out with central government quotas on immigration they’ve pulled down the shutters. Digital leaders will simply start up elsewhere. Let’s end this nonsense now, reopen our borders to Europe and the world, and bring back the experts!”
Toby Beresford, Rise

“I spent 12 years working in China – living over there I came to appreciate the value, and leverage, that comes with size. We are a small nation of 65m and I do not believe we are strong or powerful enough to go it alone in a rapidly globalising world. We are European and can’t pretend otherwise. We already have clients making London-based teams redundant as they move whole divisions to Ireland. I catch myself thinking “well it’s ok I’m sure the government know what they’re doing…” and instantly remember they clearly do not. A people’s vote is the common sense choice now that we all really understand what is at stake.”
Ed Dean, CEO, Woodseer Global

“Brexit affects everything from our relationships with family to our global standing, even potentially the Peace Process and Scottish Independence, so I was disappointed to see the campaigns be so divisive, muddied, vague, and in many cases inaccurate. We punch above our weight, which means we have a lot to lose. The country of Magna Carta and the Mother of Parliaments deserves a meaningful debate on concrete options, and a vote based on considered strategic goals. The young people of the UK are the ones who will have to deliver those goals. Right now they don’t want Brexit at all, so if it’s to succeed they need to feel heard and their concerns addressed.”
Richard Marr, CEO, BeApplied

“Once the government has negotiated the final terms for Brexit, it must give the electorate the opportunity to vote on whether to agree to those terms or not. Given the gravity of impact on our lives, businesses and the future prosperity of our children; it would, in my humble opinion, be both undemocratic and immoral not to do so. If we believe it is better to remain part of the EU as an alternative to that proposal, we should be given the chance to vote for that as an option too.”
Peter Ward, Co-founder, Humanity Inc

“Britons voted for Brexit in the initial referendum with inadequate and often wholly spurious information on both sides of the argument. For a decision which will impact our children’s lives across the decades and our commercial lives within a matter of months, it is incomprehensible not to give it the scrutiny it deserves: from parliament at least, and ideally the voting public.”
Nick Saalfeld, Director, Wells Park Communications

“London is Europe’s leading tech hub fuelled by talent from across the continent. A bad deal threatens to undermine the most dynamic part of our economy. If the government strikes a deal that lets us continue to thrive then they have no reason to fear a people’s vote on the terms of Brexit.”
Andy Cockburn, CEO & Co-founder, MentionMe

“We employ a bunch of highly skilled people and 70% of our staff don’t have a UK passport. Finding and attracting great team members is a major challenge and is the single biggest constraint on our growth. Anything we can do to make it easier for smart people to come to the UK is a bonus. Doing the opposite is frankly economic suicide.”
Adam Fudakowski, CEO, Switchee

“If the chief objective of the original Brexit vote is about ensuring that the people have their say, then a positive endorsement by the people is the only logical form of ratification that can be conceived in order to commit our great nation to the most material economic and social decision it’s made since entering World War II.”
Alex Hoye, Co-founder, The Faction Collective

“Our research on the Top500 multichannel retailers in Europe shows the UK as an admired leader in retail, logistics and the underlying technologies and skills. The market for talent, customers and capability requires frictionless access, a consistent and open commercial framework, and an appropriate regulatory framework. Harnessing the talents of the technology, digital and commercial sectors will help the UK chart the best course for its future, and we call upon Parliament to be free to engage in an open debate while retaining its constitutional obligation to act in the interest of the country’s future.”
Ian Jindal, Founder, Pencil / InternetRetailing

“As a growing tech business in the UK we’re already seeing the brexit effect, restricting access to the best talent and holding back advertisers from investing in brand growth. If these corrosive economic effects weren’t clear before the referendum, they are now – and we think people should have the opportunity to vote for the first time with a clear idea of how damaging brexit will be for jobs, growth and innovation.”
Andrew Walmsley, Chairman, Inskin Media

A partial list of backers to date is reproduced below:

Adam Fudakowski, CEO, Switchee
Adam Price, Founder, VouchedFor & Hatch
Alex Hoye, Co-founder, The Faction Collective
Andrea Tricoli, Co-Founder, Expressly
Andrew Walmsley, Non Exec Chairman, Inskin Media
Andy Cockburn, CEO & Cofounder, Mention Me
Ben Evans, Co-Founder, jClarity
Ben Farren, CEO, SPOKE
Ben Whately, Co-founder and COO, Memrise
Ben Whitaker, Founder, Masabi
Benjamin A. Falk, Founder, Yo-Da (your data)
Benjamin Redford, Co-founder, Mayku
Benji Lanyado, Founder & CEO, Picfair
Bernhard Niesner, CEO, Busuu
Bindi Karia, Innovation Expert & Advisor,
Blaine Cook, Principal Architect, Condé Nast
Carlos Oliveira, Founder & CEO, Shaping Cloud
Cassandra Stavrou, Founder, Propercorn
Cécile Baird, Founder, Decentrl.Agency
Charlie Dobres, CEO, Busking It Productions
Chris Greening, CTO, Managed Respone Marketing Ltd
Chris Pointon, Co-founder, Racefully
Chris Tolmie, Director, Catacoms
Colin Pyle, CEO & Founder, CRU Kafe
Conor Graham, Cofounder, #HackTheHub
Courtney Glymph, Product and Solutions Communications, CA Technologies
Damien Tanner, Investor,
Daniel Appelquist, Director of Web Advocacy & Open Source, Samsung Research UK
Daniel Murray, Co Founder, Grabble
David Batey, Founder, Nickelled Ltd
David Coveney, Director, interconnect/it
David Tenemaza Kramaley, CEO, Chessable
Dimitar Stanimiroff, CEO & Co-founder, Heresy
Dominic Campbell, CEO, Futuregov
Dr Sue Black OBE, Founder, TechMums
Ed Dean, CEO, Woodseer Global
Ed French, CEO, GameSessions
Ed Lascelles, Partner, Albion Capital
Elena Sinel, Acorn Aspirations
Ethar Alali, Managing Director, Axelisys Limited
Fabrice Bernhard, Co-Founder, Theodo
Frank Kelcz, Partner, Collider VC
Gareth Edwards, Founder, Deckchair.com
Gareth Quinn, Founder, Digital DNA
George Bevis, CEO, Tide
Gianluca Gindro, Senior Data Scientist, Geophy
Gilbert Corrales, CEO, Leaf.fm Ltd
Giles Andrews, Cofounder & Chairman, Zopa
Glenn Shoosmith, Founder & CEO, Bookingbug
Guy Morris, Managing Director, Quiz the Nation
Guy Podjarny, Founder & CEO, Snyk
Hephzi Pemberton, Founder, Kiteka
Hilary Anne Stephenson, Managing Director, Sigma
Hoi Lam, Head of Wear OS Developer Relations, Google
Hywel Carver, CEO/CTO, Multiple
Ian Jindal, Founder, Pencil / InternetRetailing
Ilicco Elia, Head Of Mobile, Deloitte Digital
Irfon Watkins, Founder, Dovu
Ivan Mazour, CEO and Founder, Ometria
Jack Huang, Director, TrulyExperiences.com
James Evans, Managing Director, Bluespot.io Ltd
James Whatley, Planning Partner, Ogilvy UK
Jana Hlistova, Founder, Diversity Hacks
Janna Bastow, Cofounder, ProdPad
Jason Trost, CEO / founder, Smarkets
Jessica Kennedy White,, UCL Educate
Joanna Goodman, Tech Journalist,
John Stevenson, VP Equity Derivatives, Citi
Jon Atkinson, Technical Director, FARM Digital Ltd.
Jonathan Grubin, Founder & CEO, SoPost
Jonathan Petrides, Founder, allplants
Josh Feldberg, Head of Digital, 89up
Josh Russell, Partner, Resolve
Joshua Wöhle, CTO, SuperAwesome
Julio Alejandro, CEO & Founder, Jada Consulting – “Taming Disruptive Technologies”
Kaj Wik Siebert, CTO, Social Finance
Katie Moffat, Head Of Digital, The Audience Agency
Kevin Schmidt, CTO, Century Tech
Laure Claire Reillier, Co-Founder and COO, Launchworks & Co
Laurence Kemball-Cook, Founder & CEO, Pavegen
Madhuban Kumar, CEO, Metafused
Marc Roberts, CTO, HiyaCar
Marc Sloan, Co-Founder & CEO, Context Scout
Marcus Greenwood, CEO, Ubio
Martha Lane-Fox, Founder, doteveryone
Martijn Verburg, CEO, jClarity
Martin Goodson, CEO, Evolution AI
Marty Neill, Founder, Airpos
Matthew Gardiner, Founder, Catch London
Matthew Painter, Founder CTO, Import.io
Melanie Moeller, Product Lead, Sky Spain
Merje Shaw, MD, Path59
Michele Cuccovillo, Partner, Rock Mission
Natasha Guerra, CEO, Runway East
Neil Cocker, CEO, Ramptshirts.com
Nic Brisbourne, Managing Partner, Forward Partners
Nicholas Katz, CEO, Acasa
Nick Patterson, Founder, Movemeon
Nick Saalfeld, Director, Wells Park Communications
Nuala Murphy, CEO, Moment Health
Oisin Lunny, Chief Evangelist, OpenMarket
Osvaldo Spadano, Founder & CEO, Akoova
Paul Dempsey, Founder/Director, The Curation Company
Paul Dyson, CTO, Singletrack
Peter Ward, Founder, WAYN
Pilgrim Beart, CEO, DevicePilot
Priya Prakash, Founder, D4SC
Raj Anand, CEO & Cofounder, Goodman Lantern
Raph Crouan, CEO & Founder, Startupbootcamp IoT
Riaz Kanani, MD & Founder, Radiate B2B
Richard Marr, Cofounder, Be Applied
Rob Elkin, CTO, Busuu
Rob O’Donovan, Ceo, Charlie HR
Rob Prevett, Co Founder & CEO, D/SRUPTION
Robin Grant, Chairman & Co-founder, We Are Social
Roger Nolan, Founder, The Culture Trip
Roger Nolan, SVP Tech, Culture Trip
Rupert Baines, CEO, UltraSoC
Sachin Dev Duggal, Founder, Engineer.ai
Simon Bennett, Founding Director, Roll7
Simon Murdoch, Founder, Episode1 Partners
St John Deakins, Founder & CEO, CitizenMe
Stephen Johnston, Founder, Fordcastle
Stephen Roberts, Founder, Vigilant Research
Sue Keogh, Founder, Sookio
Sultan Saidov, Co Founder, CPO, Beamery
Sundar Venkitachalam, Co-founder & CTO, nkoda
Tamara Sword, Founder, TRM&C
Thanasis Polychronakis, CTO, Alacrity Law
Thomas Power, Board Member, 9Spokes
Tim Boughton, CTO, Mention Me Ltd
Tim Fernando, CEO, Esplorio
Tim Hampson, Co Founder, SalesSeek
Tim Parlett, Co-Founder of Zopa, N/A (ex Zopa)
Timothy Brownstone, CEO, KYMIRA
Toby Beresford, CEO, Rise.global
Tom Adeyoola, CEO & Founder, Metail
Tom Alisi, Director, deep.ventures
Tom Bradley, Partner, Oxford Capital Partners
Tom de Grunwald, Creative Director, Microclimate
Tom Watson, Co-Founder & CTO, Hubble
Tristan Palmer, CEO & Cofounder
Tushar Agarwal, Co-Founder & CEO, Hubble
Uma Rajah, Cofounder & CEO, CapitalRise
Volker Hirsch, Founder, Blue Beck / Tech North Advocates
William Reeve, CEO, Goodlord
William Roberts, Founder, Loyalty Bay

70th anniversary Enigma reunion at Bletchley Park in 2009 #Bpark

8 years ago today was the 70th anniversary Enigma reunion at Bletchley Park.
The the wonderful Maggie Philbin and many other awesome people Christian Payne, Kate Arkless Gray, Benjamin Ellis, Hannah Nicklin, Matt Rawlinson and Steve Lawson, came up to Bletchley Park with me to interview as many veterans as possible to capture their memories of their time working on cracking the codes during WW2.
Here with Maggie is the phenomenal codebreaker Captain Jerry Roberts RIP, wonderful man and great family friend.
maggie jerry
We had an absolutely wonderful day with the hundreds of veterans that came along spending the whole day capturing as much as possible for posterity.
I had started a campaign to save Bletchley Park the previous year in July 2008 and met quite a few veterans, but this was the first time that I really got to meet hundreds of veterans and hear at first hand so many of their amazing stories.
Here are some photos from the day taken by Benjamin Ellis and Steve Lawson. There are many more, check out all the #bpark70 pics from the day on Flickr.
Here are a few of the interviews conducted that day in 2009.

I chatted to Hannah, giving an overview the day and speaking about the amazing discussions we had all had with the veterans.

Christian Payne interviewed many veterans on the day. Here are just some of his interviews. Enjoy 🙂

Interview by Christian with Bletchley Park veteran Margaret Warner of the WAAF:

Christian interviews Bletchley Park veteran Kathleen Saunders

Christian interviews Bletchley Park veteran Captain Jerry Roberts

Christian interviews Bletchley Park radio security intercept officer Alan Gordon Jackson

For more stories about Bletchley Park and the campaign we ran to save it check out my book Saving Bletchley Park.

US Amazon link here: Saving Bletchley Park 

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Me on @BBCWorld news talking about the #Googlememo, #womenintech and #whitemaleprivilege

I was interviewed by Aaron Heslehurst for his Talking Business show on BBC World News channel yesterday about the memo “Google’s Ideological Echo Chamber” written and shared internally by a Google engineer.

“The author argues that women are underrepresented in tech not because they face bias and discrimination in the workplace, but because of inherent psychological differences between men and women. “We need to stop assuming that gender gaps imply sexism,” he writes, going on to argue that Google’s educational programs for young women may be misguided.”

My main points:

  1. He has no idea what he’s talking about, he’s not a woman in tech and is displaying a classic case of #whitemaleprivilege
  2. “For those used to privilege, equality looks like oppression”
  3. It’s wonderful that we can now discuss these issues openly, it’s the first big step towards an equal society that cares about everyone not just the privileged few
  4. It’s great that the media now think of this as an issue, just a few years ago that wouldn’t have been the case, I’ve been in the #womenintech space for 25+ years and even though the change happening is ridiculously slow I’m delighted to see it finally start speeding up
  5. Mainstream media are becoming supportive of equality and feminism
  6. Many people in our society are backward looking and change averse like this engineer (and his country’s president), for us on this planet to have a successful future we need to work together to ensure that EVERYONE has equal opportunity
  7. Our society is misogynist, which is bad for women and men
  8. Engineering and software engineering are about cooperation and people skills as much if not more so than coding. It’s been shown time and again that one of the main reasons IT projects fail is because of the lack of communication in one way or another.
  9. Ada Lovelace invented the very idea of software (did her brain have “biological differences”?) and we have many amazing women in tech pioneers e.g. the incredible Dame Stephanie Shirley who set up F International 300+ women coding from home in the 1960s. They wrote the Concorde black box flight recorder software for example.
  10. We need quotas short term to redress the balance, to create a level playing field.
  11. It’s not about men vs women but about being enlightened and forward thinking rather than change averse and backward thinking white male privilege.
  12. It’s social conditioning, we know that behaviours that are seen as assertive in men can be seen as bossy in women
  13. It not about men vs women its about those that want to create the best products and services and see that change needs to happen for that to be the outcome and those that are change averse and have the privilege of being in the majority.
  14. I’ve been hearing this shit since I got into tech in 1989, it’s time for CHANGE!

Need an inspiring and motivating tech speaker in Sept/Oct 2017? #tech #disruption

CALLING US BASED FRIENDS!! Need an inspiring and motivating tech speaker in Sept/Oct 2017 or know someone who does?

I’m going to be in Orlando Florida for the annual Grace Hopper Conference from 3-6th October. If you are in the US and would like me to speak (paid, but without travel costs from the UK) in the week before or after those dates please do get in touch. I need to book my flight to Orlando next week, so a quick heads up would be great. More details about me on my speaker page:

Dr Sue Black OBE 

Dr Sue Black is always a riveting speaker, with informative content and a personal warmth which makes her a pleasure to listen to. She has a clarity and an ability to get to the heart of something and in simple language which makes her a rare
person.

Baroness Rennie Fritchie, House of Lords

I highly recommend Sue as a speaker. When she spoke at our Leadership Academy for young women in Tech she received brilliant feedback. The audience loved her honesty and advice on how to get on in business whilst remaining your authentic self.

Karen Gill, Owner, Everywoman Ltd.

Sue is a delight to work with, full of enthusiasm, extremely knowledgeable … one of the most inspiring people I’ve met in along time.

Lynette Webb, Senior Manager, Google

#tech #technology #womenintech #digital #disruption #digitalskills#socialinclusion #socialmedia #digitalinclusion #tech4good#IfIcandoitsocanyou #disruptyourself #frompovertytoOBE