My gift to you today is a list of the 10 young women under 30 in my own network that I admire immensely and believe are ones to watch. This blog is loosely connected to my other posts on women in tech and is also a nice precursor to a couple of events I’m speaking at over the next few weeks (Create: 2014 at CultureTECH in Derry on 17 Sept and Digital Women Teacamp at the NAO on 9 Oct).
I don’t think anyone else out there will know ALL the remarkable women on this list so this blog will allow those that are listed to find each other and it will alert everyone else to their existence – so that you can all find and follow them.
The women on this list are very different from each other but there are a number of common threads that unite them. They’ve all started something interesting of their own, or are poised to start something. They’re all friendly but tenacious, busy but generous with their time, smart but hungry to learn more, successful but humble.
Anyway, without further ado and in no particular order, here’s my list:
Sheree Atcheson @nirushika
In her day job Sheree works as a software engineer at Kainos in Belfast. She founded Women Who Code UK as one of her many sidelines and she was one of the organisers of the Belfast Technology Conference earlier this year, attracting and engaging with speakers from the US and elsewhere. Sheree works tirelessly to promote STEM career options to younger people and she uses a quote on women in tech that I love – “in order to be in tech, you do not need to be a man, a “geek” or a “nerd”. All you need is to be interested.”
Sheree is an excellent role model for younger women and girls who are considering a career as coders and we’re working together in December at Queen’s University on just such a workshop.
You can find out more about Women Who Code UK & Sheree here http://womenwhocode.co.uk/tag/sheree-atcheson/
Serena McCrossan @serenamc
I worked with Serena at Learning Pool where she’s a Digital Marketing Exec.
Serena started her own business, Innov8 Marketing, in her final year of university when she was 21 and ran that for a few years. She wrote a very honest blog about her own startup experience that you can read here http://giveitsomesparkle.wordpress.com/2012/04/19/business-failure-is-never-fatal-a-story-of-bravery/ I like the way Serena managed to take the positives from her Innov8 experience and she’s definitely living proof that walking through treacle only makes you stronger.
Serena’s one of the most confident and self-assured young women I’ve ever met & she also knows more about SEO and web lead generation than anyone else I know. It’s great that she’s working at Learning Pool but a little bit of me wonders from time to time how awesome the next business she starts by herself will be.
Olwen Sheedy @OlwenSheedy
Where to start with Olwen! She’s the most organised person I know and a definite contender for the person who has achieved most, lived in the most places, knows the most people and is still well under 25. Hey – she’s even appointed her own “personal” board of directors. Isn’t that a cool idea – think of all the support you need in the various parts of your life & then slot people in. You don’t even have to tell them if you don’t want to!
I met Olwen when she was working for Enterprise Ireland in London, helping Irish businesses get a foothold in the UK market, but she already had a US track record under her belt long before she got here and she’s now joined PWC in Dublin. Olwen – London’s missing you already & I’m expecting great things from you.
Immy Kaur @ImmyKaur
Everything that Immy does is about using her own considerable personal energy to make positive change happen for other people and society. Her projects have all been deeply seated in social good and it’s remarkable to see such a gifted young person focus her energies in this way. The world would be a very different place if only there were a few more like Immy around.
In the short time that I’ve known her I can just tell she’s one of those people that gets things done very quickly without much in terms of resources – the best sort of person but one that’s in short supply.
She’s Co-Founder of Hub Birmingham – and I quote “Hub Birmingham is focused on making Birmingham more equitable, more democratic, more wondrous and a home for the 21st century. Made in Birmingham, Made by Birmingham, Made for Birmingham.” Keep on keeping on Immy – I can’t wait to see what you have in store for us when you’re the PM.
Charlotte Jee @CharlotteJee
Charlotte is senior reporter at ComputerworldUK covering government/public sector and how they use (and abuse!) technology. Like Elaine (see later) she gets to mix with and interview a lot of cool tech people in her job. Charlotte starting working whilst she was still at university, writing newswire (three-sentence ticker stuff you see at the bottom of Reuters screens) on the pharma industry for a couple of years.
I feel as if I’ve known Charlotte for years but that’s probably because she’s a networker and a party goer with her finger right on the pulse of government. I love that she calls herself a “government botherer” on her Twitter bio.
My hope is that Charlotte is going to collect lots and lots of scurrilous information about Whitehall personalities and then publish a no-holds-barred book for us all to enjoy.
Elaine Burke @CriticalRedPen
Elaine is a Dublin based tech journalist who works for Silicon Republic, Ireland’s awesome online source of technology news. She writes for traditional print media too and has authored a couple of chapters of a book coming out later this year on Dublin’s Silicon Docks. When she’s not writing about tech, she’s talking about it on the radio. Elaine was named Tech Journalist of the Year in the 2013 Journalism and Media Awards (also known as the JAMs).
We first met in real life when Elaine was interviewing me on camera about my views on women in tech. What a job as I hate being filmed. I was so impressed by Elaine’s thorough preparation, quiet composure and command of her technical team.
Basically Elaine has one of the coolest jobs in tech where she gets to meet lots & lots of tech startups, tech glitterati and even better, sample and review all the latest gadgets. I’m looking forward to seeing what happens when she starts something herself!
Sarah McBride @SMB_Business
Sarah is one of the youngest women on my list. I’ve worked with Sarah on the Create: 2014 conference that’s happening at CultureTECH festival in Derry on 17 September (it’s not too late to join us) and have been thoroughly impressed with her professionalism and level of ambition.
Sarah just got her “A” Level results this summer (I know she’ll hate me saying this but she got 4 As) and is starting at University of Bath next month. It’s wonderful to meet such a motivated young person and I have no doubt whatsoever that we’ll see Sarah starting her own business before too long.
Lyra McKee @LyraMcKee
Lyra is a Belfast based investigative and independent journalist. I first met her at a Barcamp in Derry back in 2009 when she was an achingly young startup founder & CEO but I was immediately struck by her passion and fire. At that time, Lyra had founded (and self funded with 3 of her friends) a startup called NewsRupt, an intermediary company that allowed news editors to bid on stories created by freelance journalists. I’ve since watched her get a number of her own ideas up and running as well as working in other people’s startups on the side to earn a bit of cash.
Lyra is full of great ideas and she’s forever rooting for the underdog. I know that one of these days she’s going to pull off something big. You can read her blog here http://muckraker.me/
Lily Dart @Lily_Dart
Lily is a graphic designer and front end developer for public sector web design business dxw. She describes herself as a “geek and feminist”. We’ve recently been working together on the preparation for the second #DigitalWomen Teacamp event that’s happening on 9 October at the NAO.
I first encountered Lily at one of the UK Govcamp events a couple of years ago and was impressed by her straight talking about what it’s like being a young female web developer working in a largely all male environment and her useful advice for other young women.
I love that Lily (like Charlotte) started working as a freelancer whilst she was still at university, earning money and building her network. We need more women like Lily in tech.
Emma Leahy @emsiememsie
I first met Emma when she was the Editor at Sync NI, Northern Ireland’s most respected technology, science and innovation magazine. I was bowled over by her energy and positivity. No wonder she was the person chosen to profile tech giant Steve Wozniak when he graced the Province with his presence and I will be forever jealous that she got to meet one of my absolute favourite entrepreneurs, Sir Tim Smit.
These days Emma is Marketing Manager for online ticketing and event registration startup Get Invited. The guys are going great guns and currently have almost 400 events advertised on the platform with gross ticket value approaching £3m – wow!
I’m always delighted to run into Emma at events because she has the sunniest personality and she knows all the best tech gossip!
Samantha Sparrow @SamRSparrow
I couldn’t write a blog like this without including Sam, even though she’s ever so slightly past 30 (sorry for telling everyone that Sam). Sam is a force of nature and a complete one-off. In my long and varied career, I’ve never worked with anyone else like her.
A lawyer and a social entrepreneur, Sam is the driving force behind Task Squad, a social innovation startup from national youth volunteering charity vInspired. Sam has worked in the 3rd sector for 10 years and daily brings to bear all the skills she gained as part of her legal training in a positive way to help bring about social change. For the first 4 months of this year the two of us met with hundreds of people across London and without fail, every single one of them said to me afterwards “Wow – she’s impressive!”
Sam’s a blogger (check out the High Tea Cast) and a Hoxton Radio DJ, she ran the London Marathon for 2 children’s charities this year, she’s a chatterbox, a multitasker, a visionary and a livewire with a heart of gold. Cross her at your peril! If we had more people like Sam in charity innovation the world would be a very different place.
Olivia McVeigh @omcveigh15 & Shelly McVeigh @mcveigh_shelly
At 16 and 17 respectively these are the youngest women on my list and they’re also the ones closest to my heart as they’re my nieces. To say I’m expecting big things from these two is an understatement. They’ve just received their GCSE results and are starting out with A Levels next. They’ve both been brought up to believe 100% that they can do ANYTHING with their lives and that opportunity exists at every turn in the road. I have no idea yet what Olivia and Shelly will choose to do but I know it’s going to be huge – and for that reason I’ve sneaked them in at the end of my list.
OK – the eagle eyed amongst you will have noticed that I’ve listed not 10 but 13. I hope I haven’t missed out anyone from my circle…
Please continue the conversation and make your own nominations in the comments below.