UK tech awards PwC SVB

shortlist review

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tech businesswoman of the year award
sponsored by Silicon Valley Bank

Women are currently still vastly underrepresented in tech, for a number of reasons. There is an active movement to stop this trend and encourage the younger generation of women to consider a career in tech to prevent the sector being dominated by men.

This award was created for this very reason. There are a number of stand-out women out there who have defied gender stereotypes and risen to the very top of the tech  game. These driven individuals are champions for the sector and role models for other women in the industry and it is these women that are inspiring the next generation of tech entrepreneurs and helping to create a pipeline of future tech talent.

It was encouraging to see a record number of nominations in this category, which led to an extended shortlist of 5 nominees.

They are;


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Anne Boden/Starling Bank

Last year’s winner of the tech CEO of the year, Anne is the CEO and founder of Starling Bank. She founded the group in 2014 after becoming frustrated by the restrictions in banking imposed by outdated technology. She decided to solve this by building a bank from the ground up. Since then Anne has raised £233m in funding and created the first bank to launch 100% mobile current accounts.

Anne trained as a computer scientist and began her career as a teller at Lloyds Bank, giving her an insight into customer experience that few other CEOs have had. Her thirty-year career in traditional banking has included roles at Standard Chartered, UBS and Allied Irish Bank.


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Anna Brailsford/Code First: Girls

Anna has been CEO of Code First Girls since July 2019, and in that time, she has transformed the business. The group was launched with a mission to provide free coding and tech education to women of any background, and so far, has taught in excess of 18,000 women how to code for free and connected them with over 50 top employers.

Prior to Code First Girls, Anna was Commercial Director of Lynda.com and LinkedIn. She was the youngest and only female member of the Lynda.com European senior management team. When LinkedIn acquired Lynda for $1.5bn in 2015, Anna became instrumental in the fourth-largest acquisition in social media history and subsequently contributed to the creation of LinkedIn Learning.


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Luciana Lixandru/Sequoia Capital

Luciana joined Sequoia only a few months ago, but is already established as one of the brightest rising stars in the European VC ecosystem. Sequoia partners early and at every stage of growth with the founders of companies that now have an aggregate, public market value of over $3.3 trillion.

Luciana was previously a Partner at Accel, one of only three female partners at the firm, where she advised  the group on  multi-billion-dollar startups Deliveroo and UiPath. She also led the Series A round in Bucharest-founded UiPath in 2017 which subsequently raised $568m at a $7bn valuation.


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Elona Mortimer-Zhika/IRIS Software Group

Elona has been with IRIS since 2016 and became CEO of the group in September 2019. During her tenure, she has helped double the size of the business and completed a large number of significant acquisitions. Elona is responsible for all operations across the group and is dedicated to ensuring IRIS is the most trusted provider of mission-critical software and service.

Prior to IRIS, Elona spent seven years in senior leadership roles across both Operational and Commercial Finance at Xura, in addition to holding several high profile audit roles.


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Xenia Walters/SDL plc

Xenia Walters is CFO of SDL, a role she started in 2018. During her time at the group, Xenia has worked to optimize SDL's target operating model to build a scalable, flexible back-office model that can support new data-driven ways of working. She was also fundamental to SDL’s transformative acquisition by RWS for £809m in August, which was the UK’s largest tech deal this year to date.

Xenia began her career with PwC, where she qualified as a Chartered Accountant. She is a results-driven senior finance professional with an excellent track record, in addition to being a mentor on the ICAEW Women in Leadership Programme.

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