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Monday 4th March 2019

Happy International Women's Day!

It's great to see so many exceptional females making their mark in the technology world and inspiring many others to follow suit. The North of England is a vibrant hub of digital innovation, with a large percentage of the people truly enhancing the digital sector being female.

There are so many iconic women in tech that we could have included in this list but here are just 25 of them.

We'd love to hear about the women who inspire you in the digital sector. Tweet us or leave your comments below!

Chelsea Hardy

Chelsea is Engagement Manager at Nexus in Leeds.

Nexus is an innovation and enterprise hub based at Leeds University.

Nexus provides a place where businesses and other external organisations looking to innovate and grow can access the university’s capabilities and talent.

Nexus will be key this year in supporting the growth of tech start-ups in Leeds.

As Engagement Manager for Nexus,As Engagement Manager for Nexus, Chelsea is responsible for liaising with businesses, matching their needs to the University’s capabilities and facilitating productive working partnerships and collaborations between academic experts and business.

Joining Leeds from the Global Investment Bank, J.P.Morgan, Chelsea has extensive experience of creating successful co-creation opportunities with startups. As part of J.P. Morgan’s FinTech team, Chelsea focused on how to harness emerging technologies to transform the future of finance and has a wealth of experience in guiding start-ups on their journey from initial idea to product delivery.

Chelsea is also on the judging panel at the 2019 Leeds Digital Festival Awards!

Hannah Anderson

Originally from the North East and a graduate of Northumbria University, Hannah is also the co-founder of the iconic Manchester-born Marketing Agency - Social Chain.

Vogue featured Hannah in their '25 Women Shaping 2018' piece in May, describing her as 'The Greatest Social Media Influencer You've Never Heard Of': "The 26-year-old is behind some of the most successful social media campaigns for the world's biggest brands, including Apple and Amazon."

Since establishment in 2013, Social Chain has expanded outside of Manchester to New York, London and Berlin!

Melissa Hendry

Melissa is Operations Director at two start-ups (ZiMovi and VST Enterprises) in the North and has recently been shortlisted at the 2018 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 Hetherington

An advocate of all things Digital in the North, Deborah wears a multitude of hats. Her role as Business Engagement Manager at Leeds Beckett sees her advise entrepreneurs and startup companies in a range of areas, from marketing to funding and everything in between. Deborah mentors students in local schools who want to enter the world of digital, as well as professionals in non-digital disciplines wanting to break into the sector. She volunteers her time and expertise to local online platform, as well as planning events and bringing together the female tech and student community through Women in Leeds Digital.

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 universities are churning out.“

Deb has recently co-founded the Women In Digital Leeds group which promotes the variety of opportunities available in the city and wider region for graduates, and those wanting to pursue a career in the tech sector. The group does this by engaging with successful digital companies, from SME's to large corporates, to showcase the growing and diverse landscape here in the city.

Deb is also on the judging panel at this year's Leeds Digital Festival Awards!

Anna Sutton

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 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 working for. Anna and Ed discussed this 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 on the panel of the Leeds event of the Tech Nation tour in 2018.

In a recent interview with Business up North, Anna was asked about advice she wished she'd been given before starting up her business. She said, "it’s really important to stay true to yourself with your own objectives and goals. You should take advice from other people on things that you don’t understand but be careful about comparing yourself to others: your style is your style and your business is unique."

Tanja Lichtensteiger

Tanja is an Engineering Manager at Sky Betting and Gaming in Leeds. Tanja has over 17 years’ experience in creating systems, is an active 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 for Team Leader in 2018!

In a Q&A with Amsource Technology in 2018 Tanja provided some advice to aspiring software professionals. "A very good quote once shared to me was “We are all smart here. Differentiate yourself by being kind.” I believe this holds true in our industry, don’t overlook your softer skills when you’re so focused on your technical skills. I prefer to hire good human beings."

Reflecting on overcoming challenges, Tanja said "as a mixed-race woman I had to deal with racism and sexism very early on in my career 17 years ago. Downright stubbornness and self-belief in my ability and that I belonged in tech made me resilient and I persisted."

Debbie Ashton 

Debbie Ashton is Senior Vice President of Strategic Customer Experience and a Founder of

Debbie has been instrumental in the growth and ongoing success of the 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 individual's 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."

Helen Oldham

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 across the 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.

Chloe Barrett

Ed Tech entrepreneur Chloe is the Founder of DigiDentistry.

Digi Dentistry is a visual learning platform, providing an advanced way of learning using augmented reality and animation. It is targeting all learning domains but is particularly enhancing and changing dental education for the better.

Chloe’s inspiring work at DigiDentistry found her winning last year's ‘Young Entrepreneur of The Year’ at the 2018 Great British Entrepreneur 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.”

Jem Henderson

Jem Henderson is the Entrepreneur Engagement Manager for Tech Nation in Yorkshire.

Jem started out as a copywriter, moving to set up her own content consultancy, Weasel Words, working with local agencies in Leeds as well as Digital Catapult for the IoTUK programme. Formerly homeless as a teen, she’s also a social entrepreneur, working to build an incubator in Harrogate for creative and digital businesses and passionate about tech for good and working-class voices in digital. 

Hazel Jones

Hazel is the Programme Director for Apps and Wearables at NHS Digital in Leeds.

Hazel and her talented team are behind some of the most iconic innovations taking place in 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 enables them to 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.”

Helen Ramkaran

Helen has been named as being one of the 'Top 30 Women in Tech' by the Manchester Evening News.

Helen's current role sees her as Head of Business Banking and BFA at Barclays in Manchester.

With a wealth of experience in technology, she is an active member of the digital community in Manchester. Her previous role saw her working at Missguided where she created an in-house Agile team.

Dorne Mcloughlin

Dorne's 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 last 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 were able to transform the lives of others and that’s a nice feeling to have”. 

Patricia Keating

Patricia is Executive Director at Tech Manchester.

Tech Manchester is a non-profit initiative set up by leading IT company, UKFast. Tech Manchester's mission is to help strengthen the tech, digital and creative community in Greater Manchester.

Talking about the initiative, Patricia said “We aren’t the story, we’re just here to help tell it. The reality of business is that no one can do it alone. That's why we are focused on connecting and collaborating at every level. Whilst there are organisations with the big names and organisations managed from London, we are attracting mentors who have recently been there and done it and creating an ecosystem which adds real value to the tech industry in the city."

Eve Roodhouse

Eve is Chief Officer of Economic Development at Leeds City Council.

Eve is an advocate for all things Digital in Leeds and a regular speaker at various events across the city and discussion panels regarding important issues being felt within the digital sector, from gender diversity to the digital skills gap.

In a recent article by the Yorkshire Post, Eve was quoted talking about the importance of diversity in the workforce:“Diversity isn’t just important for competitive advantage. It’s also important for making sure the solutions that come out of this fantastic digital age and the opportunities that surround it really don’t carry the biases that we’ve had in the past.”

Natasha Sayce-Zelem

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, as a way to support and attract more women in the industry.

Katie Gallagher

Katie is the Managing Director at Manchester Digital.

Manchester Digital is an organisation that works with the region’s most progressive digital and technology businesses to create the best environment for them to succeed.

Katie moved into the role at MD having been Business Development Director at the organisation for three years. In her time at Manchester Digital, Katie was instrumental in developing the overall strategy for the organisation.

Katie was an integral part of the talent and skills programme which has helped hundreds of North West businesses to recruit and retain the best digital talent.

Lou Cordwell

Lou is CEO of  Magnetic North, an award-winning independent digital design company based in Manchester.

Alongside her day job, she’s also a board member of Greater Manchester’s local enterprise partnership, chair of Design Manchester and Allbright's director of The North.

Lou was awarded an OBE in 2018 New Years honours for her services to the creative and digital economy.

Helen Wollaston

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.

Zandra Moore

Zandra is the CEO of the award-winning software company Panintelligence, based in Leeds.

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.

Zandra was the winner of CRN 'Entrepreneur of the Year 2018'. In an article by Channel Web, Zandra talked of the importance of recognising female roles models as a way to help close the female skills gap in IT. 

"At the moment, because of the lack of women in tech roles at all levels I think we need these sorts of awards to build the profile of those people who are in those positions in industry, and give younger generations female leaders and role models they can aspire to be like. We as women in the industry need to stand up and say ‘we're here'. And actually it's a great industry to be in, and I think that's the best way to build that talent pipeline of women in the industry."

Anna Holland Smith

Anna switched a career as a criminal lawyer to pursue a career as a Software Engineer.

Anna has had a successful software career so far making an impact at big names including The BBC and The Hut Group.

Since beginning her career in software Anna has been committed to democratising coding education and promoting more diversity in the tech workforce.

Anna alongside her day job is also a Founder of CodeYourFuture Manchester, a charity teaching refugees and asylum coding, which also looks to prepare them for junior developer roles across the North West.

Anna's activity in the Manchester digital community doesn't stop there. She is also an instructor for CodeFirst: Girls, a non-profit organisation which aims to tackle the gender imbalance in Tech by providing free coding courses to ambitious young women from a non-computer science background.

Rowena Burns

Rowena has been Cheif Executive at Manchester Science Partnerships since 2012 and was made a chairman in 2017.

Manchester Science Partnerships is the UK's leading science and technology park operator. Rowena has described the role of the MSP as "the perfect, a public/private sector partnership".

Alongside her work at MSP Rowena is also a chairman at Health Innovation Manchester and Non-Executive Director at Bruntwood.

Rowena has been featured on this year's Northern Power Women List.

Lyndsey Britton

Lyndsey is the Co-Founder of 5050 Future in Newcastle.

5050's mission is to achieve better gender equality in the workplace, particularly tech (which currently has some of the lowest numbers of female workers).

Lyndsey and her team work to create programmes, workshops and events that enable individuals and organisations to make immediate differences to their workplace.

"Through our 50:50 workshops and memberships, participants improve skills, become more confident and are able to progress in their career or become a stronger leader in their organisation." (5050 Future)

Annie Moss-Quate

Annie is a Senior Product Manager working on the iPlayer at the BBC.

Passionate about the Digital sector in the North, she is a Co-Founder of the Leeds-based 'She Does Digital' movement which was formed in 2016.

She Does Digital works to bring people together in Leeds to help encourage more females into the digital industry.

Annie was shortlisted for her efforts at She Does Digital at the Forward Ladies Awards in 2017.

Nicola Ellis

Nicola is Programme Manager at UKFast's non-profit initiative - Tech Manchester.

Nicola and her team work to deliver a programme that provides growing digital tech businesses with support and access to skills, workshops and events that help them to grow. The programme also connects businesses to experienced mentors and useful industry contacts who can help them reach their full potential.

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