About the Finalists
Find out more about our Tech Leader of the Year finalists and why they've been shortlisted for this year's award.
The TechXLR8 2020 "Tech Leader of the Year" award recognises individual executives, whose outstanding leadership has resulted in the implementation and success of technology in their businesses and beyond.
- Amy Peck, Senior Director Enterprise Content, HTC Vive
Amy Peck travels almost 200,000 miles per year working with companies on adopting immersive tech, with the belief that this technology will fundamentally transform how we work, learn and play. She’s an XR & Future Tech Strategist, Keynote Speaker, Board Member, Advisor, and Author of “Blockchain Is The New Black.”
- Anton Mozgovoy, Head of Product, Jthereum
Anton is a serial entrepreneur with many projects under his belt. He was a founding member and CTO of Humaniq, got a top pick in Blockchain by TechCrunch in 2018, is mentoring Blockchain projects at WeWork Labs, is a TEDx speaker with a mission to help eradicate poverty with technology and is now working on Jthereum as Head of Product. He was able to help launch Jthereum - an innovative product that allows writing smart contracts for Ethereum in Java opening Blockchain world to developers across the world.
- Bleddyn Williams, Head of Engineering, Sainsbury's Tech
Bleddyn has helped transform Sainsbury’s technology and influenced many engineers, while pursuing the creation of innovative and ambitious software products. As a leader in the new organisation, he has played a vital role and made outstanding difference and currently looks after one of the largest engineering departments. A keen athlete cycling hundreds of miles a week, Bleddyn also has exceptional stamina dealing with the challenges of his work and maintaining a consistent success track record.
- Chandini Jain, Founder & CEO, Auquan
Chandini has 8+ years of global experience in finance with Deutsche Bank in Mumbai/New York and as a derivatives trader with Optiver in Chicago/Amsterdam. At Optiver, she traded volatility arbitrage strategies and was involved first hand in making the shift from discretionary to automated trading. Since 2017, she is the CEO/co-founder of Auquan, a fintech startup employing new and cutting edge ML and Deep Learning techniques to solve financial prediction problems for UK's institutional investors.
- Christian Rouffaer, Head of Unit - Virtual Reality, International Committee of the Red Cross
After serving the Swiss army for a few years, Christian Rouffaer joined the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in 2001 and worked in several countries, such as, in Afghanistan, Yemen, Darfur, Myanmar, the Ivory Coast, South Sudan, and a few countries in the Horn of Africa. The nature of his work ranged from visiting detainees, delivering food assistance to vulnerable populace affected by a conflict to assuring the proper delivery of health-care services and focusing efforts in the promotion of International Humanitarian Law (Law of War). Since 2014, Christian has been in charge of the ICRC’s video games project and ICRC's Virtual Reality department located in Bangkok. The work includes the production of new VR training tools and multiplayer simulations using Unreal Engine from Epic Games and the development of partnerships with universities and the video game and high-tech industry.
- David Trossell, CEO & CTO, Bridgeworks Ltd
David Trossell, CEO and CTO of Bridgeworks has over 40 years of developing data-driven technologies in the IT industry. His award-winning career and aptitude for engineering has catapulted his profile as an industry thought leader and authoritative voice with over 150 articles published to date. He continues to support development within the IT community and has recently been recognised for creating and implementing a STEM apprenticeship scheme in partnerships with Bournemouth and Poole College in the UK. His passion for encouraging young people, and particularly women, to take up careers in the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) industry, particularly in software engineering, is proven. Young people studying at universities in the UK can work with him and his international team to gain invaluable work experience and lasting knowledge.
- Dean Demellweek, Digital Transformation Leader and Blockchain Evangelist, BNP Paribas
Dean has been working in the Financial Services industry for the past 15 years. By operating at the intersection of business, technology and innovation, he has earned his current (very cool) title of a Digital Transformation Leader and Blockchain Evangelist. Dean believes that the only sustainable way into the future is with an integrated approach combining business strategy, creativity and technology! Yes, he loves technology, and truly believes in technology serving the planet and humans! Dean is also a speaker and blogger, and often participates in the Financial Industry conferences and panels. His main interest lies in the application of the emerging technologies to business model transformation. He is a member of both London and Paris Fintech and Blockchain scenes. He chairs the FinTech group of Paris Tech Advocates and mentors at Level39, the largest technology accelerator in Europe.
- Deepti Atrish, Founder & CEO, Poonyah Care Ltd
Deepti is a tech entrepreneur with over 20 years of experience and has founded two start-ups. She was a winner of Top 100 Asian TechStars 2019 and finalist of Tech Women in the UK Awards 2019. She has been speaking at various prestigious events and has led various panel discussions in tech and healthcare space. She studied Disruption Strategy from Harvard University & is a Masters in Business Administration.
- Dries Buytaert, Founder & Project Lead, Drupal / CTO, Founder & Chairman, Acquia
Dries Buytaert is an open source developer and technology executive. He is the original creator and project lead for Drupal, an open source platform for building websites and digital experiences. Buytaert is also co-founder and chief technology officer of Acquia, a venture-backed technology company. Acquia provides an open cloud platform to many large organizations, which helps them build, deliver and optimize digital experiences. A Young Global Leader at the World Economic Forum, he holds a PhD in computer science and engineering from Ghent University and a Licentiate Computer Science (MsC) from the University of Antwerp. He was named CTO of the Year by the Massachusetts Technology Leadership Council, New England Entrepreneur of the Year by Ernst & Young, and a Young Innovator by MIT Technology Review. He blogs frequently on Drupal, open source, startups, business, and the future at dri.es.
- Esme Caulfield, Competitions Lead, Tech Nation
Esme has created and developed Tech Nation's Rising Stars competition, taking it from a competition focused on the North of the UK, to a truly national competition in less than 2 years, giving early stage scaling tech companies the opportunity to raise their profile and build their networks. Companies taking part in the competition have successfully raised investment, increased customers and made new partnerships as a result of taking part. This year saw the 20 Rising Stars finalists pitch to over 250 investors, corporates and members of the tech community at the Rising Stars Grand Final in London. Over 90% of the companies pitching were from outside London, and Rising Stars provided a unique opportunity for them to get in front of a high profile audience. Esme is incredibly dedicated and committed to supporting early stage tech founders through Tech Nation's Rising Stars competition. Esme keeps the founders and their experience in mind at the forefront of every decision she makes and ensures that founders have a platform to meet investors, corporates and peers in order to build valuable relationships to really enable their businesses in order to have maximum impact and success.
- Fabrizio Burlando, Executive Vice President, Data & Services, Mastercard
Fabrizio has led the transformation of Mastercard’s Consulting business from one that was labour-intensive to one that is technology driven. This has now become a key differentiator for our Services business and is testament to his vision. He heads all product management and innovation, and this is now at the frontline of new business ventures, models and technologies. They are a key reason why the business enjoys exponential year-on-year growth and revenues of several hundred million dollars, making it the largest payments-focused consultancy globally.
- Helen Dudfield, Chief Scientist, QinetiQ
Dr Helen Dudfield is a QinetiQ Senior Fellow and Chief Scientist for Training has significant expertise in the assessment of human and team training and psychological research into digital training, live/synthetic blends of training for complex environments and innovations in future learning from virtual reality to emotional sensing. She has been researching immersive technologies from a human perspective to understand both the benefits of mixing reality from multiple perspectives and the mitigations needed to achieve effective environments for people to design, collaborative and train in.
- Ilana Wisby, CEO, Oxford Quantum Circuits
Dr Ilana Wisby is the CEO of Oxford Quantum Circuits (OQC). Ilana and her team have built the UK’s most advanced quantum computer. They are re-designing the future of computing, powering the paradigm shift to a quantum-enabled future. Ilana and her team want to deliver impact - from enabling life-saving drug discoveries to developing new battery technology and ensuring national security. Ilana gained a PhD in quantum physics from Royal Holloway University, placed at the National Physical Laboratory. She is the only woman CEO of a quantum computing company worldwide & she is transforming the deep tech industry, one qubit at a time.
- James Corcoran, CTO - Enterprise Solutions, Kx
James Corcoran is chief technology officer of enterprise solutions at Kx, a division of First Derivatives plc. He specialises in Engineering, Data Science, Machine Learning, Quant Analytics, Research and Product Development. Kx's database is used for complex analytics on very large streaming datasets from IoT to financial services, and is considered one of the world's fastest.
- Joanna Arnold, CEO, Access Intelligence
Joanna has been pivotal to the success of the Access Intelligence Group since she joined as COO in 2011 and became CEO in 2014. Today, Access Intelligence is a portfolio of tech companies including Vuelio, ResponseSource and Pulsar that provide products addressing the fundamental business needs of more than 3,500 companies globally. As CEO, Joanna has led an ambitious turnaround programme that has transformed turnover from £2.5mn to £8.9mn in 2018. This is a direct result of her business acumen and ability to inspire, motivate and empower teams. Key initiatives include Joanna launching the Access Intelligence 'superstar' scheme, leading overseas trips for talent and her personal commitment to equal opportunities including mentoring young talent. Joanna's enthusiasm is infectious, as is her determination to improve a marketplace that is highly inefficient.
- Jose Prieto, Programme Director, BT
Jose truly believes that technology and telecommunications are some of the most valuable assets that humanity owns. He has lead onsite projects in Africa, America, Asia, Europe and the Middle-East, allowing companies and humans to make social and economic advancements through technology. He is a driver of successful Digital & Business Transformation for IT, Telecommunications & Financial Services, with an outstanding record in Portfolio, Program and Project Management. Jose's current role is Programme Director for the delivery of all running contracts and projects between BT and Banco Santander. He manages customer engagement at the highest level, operating as the delivery voice of the customer within the organization, overseeing control of project status, financial health, changes and risks. He is an entrepreneur and founder of a technology start-up, Mentor, Technology Advisor and a Keynote Speaker.
- Kevin Knowles, Global Head of Contact Automation, Vodafone Group
At Vodafone Kevin has been responsible for implementing several world-leading technology programmes. Its TOBi chatbot is the largest live deployment of a chatbot anywhere in the world today, with over 20m conversations on our platform every single month. Vodafone has developed its own platform and launched the chatbot service in 15 countries and 12 languages, with the success story shared at numerous external events. Kevin also led the Project DNA to transform and automate our back office processes, standardising the methodology to measure processes and eradicate, simplify and automate activity. Vodafone has deployed hundreds of RPA bots across its global footprint. He is now leading a programme with our internal shared services organisation to transform Customer Care to be ready for the future, deploying technologies for 7000+ agents serving multiple countries.
- Laura Trendall Morrison, Founder, The Gamechanger Consultancy
Laura is passionate about developing authentic confidence in leaders, motivation in teams, and strategising for business growth, using digitisation and technology to accelerate growth and performance. Laura is an expert in running businesses for profit, in the technology, retail, brands and logistics sectors, leading programmes creating change and efficiency in organisations, through people, systems, and process. Laura has managed programmes and contract portfolios with a total value in excess of £100M per annum, and notable successes include cost and risk avoidance of over £10M per annum typically, and introduction and compliance with governance and business improvement, achieved in heavily male-dominated environments.
- Louis-Victor Jadavji, Co-founder & CEO, Taloflow
Louis-Victor is a Forbes 30 under 30 all-star list winner and a driving force behind Taloflow which is helping major enterprises to cut AWS expenses by over 50%. He was also named a Finalist for ProductHunt Dev Tool of the Year. With anticipated tightening of the economy, Taloflow will be the solution that major corporates look to use and are already starting to use. For more information visit https://www.taloflow.ai/
- Lucas Wilczynski, President, European Space Foundation
The founder and organizer of ERC, the biggest space and robotics event in Europe open for the public. The idea behind this project is to train and educate the next generation of ambitious engineers who once graduated join companies operating in space and robotics sector or set their own first steps in business as innovative entrepreneurs. Students participating in ERC build mobile robots that compete in the several field tasks based on regulations for ESA and NASA missions. And it all takes place on the ERC’s very own Mars Yard, the world’s biggest artificial field designed specifically to resemble the surface of the Red Planet.
- Maarten Ectors, Chief Innovation Officer, Legal and General
Maarten is an award-winning former disruptive innovator who was involved in Cloud, IoT, BlockChain and AI before most knew about them. He changed from the high-tech industry to insurance, investment and pensions to help solve millions of life-changing customer problems in innovative ways; open the doors for other innovators to come and help so the industry gets disrupted from within.
- Maher Chebbo, GM & Global Chief Commercial/Innovation Officer Digital Energy Solutions, GE Power
Maher is leading GE Global Digital Energy Solutions as Senior Executive SVP, Chief Business Innovation Officer, covering Power Generation, Grids, Storage, Renewables & Energy Efficiency Services. Before GE, Maher spent 21 years with SAP where he had several local, regional and global leadership positions focusing on Solution Engineering, Global Field Operations, Software innovation & development through incubating new products (Corporate in-Venturing), Industry business development, Value Engineering and General Management. Beside his permanent role at GE, Maher is Chairman of the GB of REEEP, Vice-Chairman of ETIP SNET Executive Committee and Chairman of its Digital Energy group, Former President of ESMIG. Maher is also member of the Scientific Audit Committee of TNO.
- Mariana Gomez de la Villa, Distributed Ledger Technology Program Director, ING
Mariana Gomez de la Villa has joined ING in 2015 and is currently the Distributed Ledger Technology Program Director at ING, with overall responsibility for driving research, development and implementation of Distributed Ledger Technology as well as capitalizing on its potential in order to unlock mass-scale value. Under Mariana’s leadership, the Blockchain program has delivered over 44 proofs of concept and 8live pilots in collaboration with the following business areas: payments, trade finance and working capital solutions, financial markets, post-trade, bank treasury, lending, compliance and identity.
- Marta Krupinska, Head of Google for Startups UK, Google
Marta is a tech entrepreneur, proud migrant and diversity advocate. Recognised by Forbes in 30Under30 in 2016, by Evening Standard in London's Most Influential People 2017 and 2018 and by Forbes as top 60 Female Tech Executives globally in 2018. Previously co-founder of Azimo, global FinTech leader, which changed the world for millions of migrants, and FreeUp, a debt prevention platform exited to Greensill Capital in 2019.
- Mike Young, Group Chief Information Officer, Centrica
Mike was appointed Group CIO for Centrica in November, 2016, with a mandate to lead the global IT function and pioneer the use of big data and technology to drive growth and improve the customer experience. His challenge, alongside running an 1650-strong IT team, was to modernise a complex tech stack whilst achieving cost savings for the business during a period of increased financial constraints. The ambitious new model also required migration to an Agile environment that would allow the function to facilitate innovation and respond to business needs at speed and scale. Under Mike’s leadership, Centrica moved over 220 applications to cloud in one of UK’s largest cloud migrations. As a result of the architecture modernisation, today Centrica boasts an IT deployment timeframe of just one hour, instead of the 12-16 week lead time in place when Mike took the reins.
- Pauline Cowan, Innovation Lead, Personal Banking, Strategy & Innovation, RBS
Pauline is a specialist in creation of solutions that use innovation to transform services and products for customers and businesses. She challenges the norms to create change that supports future needs, is passionate about grounding solutions in scientifically sound research, ensuring results are delivered and believes in clear, transparent decision making, managed from beginning to end. She’s experienced in agile methodology and creating strong, creative collaborative teams, enjoys building and maintaining relationships across networks, breaking organisational silos. Pauline is a coach and supporter of women in finance and innovation, active promoter of gender equality and diversity, and works with community organisations to support charities and local business.
- Rain Takahashi, Founder & CEO, JAUNTIN'
JAUNTIN' enables insurance carriers to distribute on-demand micro-insurance. JAUNTIN's software and services are geared to service small businesses & the flexible workforce (gig-workers) of tomorrow. Their software manages short-term coverage through mobile devices in the areas of health, liability and property. JAUNTIN' currently offers products from 4 leading insurers and has active pilots with 3 insurers in North America. They recently launched the lowest cost health coverage offering in the U.S. at $22 a month for unlimited telemedicine and unlimited prescriptions to help millions of people. For more information visit http://underwing.co/
- Ravinder Pal Singh, Chief Information & Innovation Officer, Air Vistara
Ravinder Pal Singh (Ravi) is an Award Winning Technologist, Rescue Pilot and Investor with over 50+ global recognition and 17 Patents. His body of work, mostly 1st in the world are making a difference within acute constraints of culture and cash via commodity technology. He has been acknowledged as world's top 25 CIO and top 10 Robotics Designer in 2018. Ravi is a global speaker and has delivered over 100+ lectures and papers in Asia, Europe, USA and Africa in 2018-19. Ravi is advisor to board of 9 enterprises where incubation and differentiation is a core necessity and challenge. He sits on the advisory council of 3 global research firms where he contributes in predicting practical future automation use cases and respective technologies.
- Rob Greig, Group CIO, Arup
Rob is Chief Information Officer at ARUP, an independent firm of designers, planners, engineers and technical specialists, a post he took up in July 2017. Prior to this, Rob was Director of the Parliamentary Digital Service, where he developed a digital strategy that enabled citizens to more easily access Parliament. Rob is a Chartered IT professional and a Fellow of the British Computer Society.
- Robert Barnes, CEO, TradeIX & The Marco Polo Network
Robert Barnes is the CEO and co-founder of TradeIX (tradeix.com), the world’s leading provider of technology for global trade finance and supply chains. TradeIX enables its partners, customers and the various eco-systems providers a smarter, safer, faster and more transparent way to connect using blockchain, a type of distributed ledger technology (DLT). It is the world’s first open platform for trade finance, pioneering the way in the dawn of the “internet of trade.” In late 2017, TradeIX formed a strategic alliance to launch the Marco Polo Network (www.marcopolo.finance). It allows participants to offer and access a complete suite of trade and working capital finance solutions all in one place, within their own company.
- Rui Pedro Silva, Director of Technology Strategy & Planning, Maersk
Rui Pedro is a technology strategist with vast experience in global organizations all over the world. Rui combines his technology background, with deep knowledge is the underlying business and process models, enabling him to establish strong relationships with stakeholders, and with that, drive successful transformations. He was recently awarded as the European CIO/Digital Leader of the Year by CIONET, in the category of Business-to-Business sector. This is one of the most prestigious awards in Europe, with previous winners as CIO of Audi AG, CIO of KPN or CIO of ING.
- Sarah Ouakim, VP Strategic Business, Mimerse
Going above and beyond promoting Immersive Technology as a scalable, affordable and efficient solution to the mental health shortage gap around the world. Sarah is a sweat equity investor, global networker and worldwide business developer. With cutting edge tech companies in her portfolio, her mission boils down to bridging the gap and leveling the field between generations, genders, cultures and societies using the latest technology available.
- Saurabh Johri, Chief Scientific Officer, Babylon Health
Building scalable AI solutions for affordable and accessible healthcare requires vision, innovation, technical expertise and leadership. Dr. Saurabh Johri combines these qualities to lead Babylon Health’s AI Research team; who are some of the brightest minds in AI, committed to combining technical innovation with scientific rigor. A true thought leader, Saurabh’s excellence extends well beyond Babylon; as a member of the Artificial Intelligence for Health (AI4H focus group), a World Health Organisation backed entity, he is acknowledged as an expert in his field, helping guide evaluation and standardisation of AI applications for symptom assessment. Saurabh is a keynote speaker and is enthusiastic about communicating responsible use of AI in healthcare and beyond. He is also passionate about providing mentorship and guidance to junior scientists and PhD students to inspire the next generation of budding research entrepreneurs. Saurabh is currently working with the team on the development of the state-of-the-art AI-driven products that leverage the team’s advances in AI, to deliver the next generation of personalised digital healthcare products.
- Scott Joslin, Senior Vice President, WarnerMedia
Under Scott's leadership, his company is building a world-class analytic platform that based on cutting-edge cloud technologies and fast warehouses. The current tech stack is based on such technologies like Infrastructure-as-Code, Parallel Computations, near Real-Time data pipelines that allows the business to save money and get a maximum performance. The platform services a thousand end users around the world, with around 2000 dashboards that allow users to analyse 5 years’ worth of data with billions of records.
- Scott Walchek, Founder & CEO, Trov
A born creative thinker, Scott found a natural home in the tech startup space and went on to launch five different companies, culminating in one of the most successful foreign IPOs on record. Under Scott’s leadership, Trov has seen tremendous growth and journeyed through a substantial evolution since its official launch back in 2016, which has helped him to secure over $114 million dollars in funding. Scott has successfully recast the notion of insurance; a commonly frustrating and slow consumer experience, by catapulting it into the 21st century. With his team, Scott invented the first on-demand insurance product that gave users the ability to turn coverage of their prized personal items on and off with a simple swipe on a mobile device.
- Simon Hill, Co-founder & CEO, Wazoku
With innovation such a high priority for organisations in 2020, Wazoku is the company which unlocks that innovation. Its Idea Spotlight SaaS is in essence, the old-fashioned suggestion box made digital, collaborative and social, allowing for crowdsourcing of ideas across an organisation. It makes it easy to capture, refine and realise ideas and innovation within a business. Wazoku’s co-founder and CEO Simon Hill has placed the company at the forefront of workplace innovation, working with organisations such as Waitrose, HSBC and Barclays to inspire workplace talent, drive innovation and to help redefine the future of work.
- Steve Papa, CEO, Parallel Wireless
Steve Papa is CEO of Parallel Wireless where he is building 2G-3G-4G-5G virtualized ORAN networks around the world. Parallel Wireless has been working since 2012 to become a global leader in the next generation of wireless technology including O-RAN software and networks. Steve believes that as we enter the 5G era, the traditional, closed model for building the RAN is no longer sustainable. Parallel Wireless is the only U.S.-based company challenging the world's legacy vendors with the industry's only unified ALL G (5G/4G/3G/2G) software-enabled OpenRAN solution. Its cloud-native network software reimagines network economics for global mobile operators in both coverage and capacity deployments, while also paving the way to 5G. The company is engaged with 50+ leading operators worldwide.
- Stylianos Taxidis, Lead Data Scientist, Thames Water
Stylianos oversees the delivery of a set of high impact data science tools that span from data engineering to data science to the presentation layer giving real time insight to users to mitigate water supply risks. Setting the grounds for an intelligent way to tackle leakage and pipe bursts through an analytical digital twin of our network which ultimately envisages to help with the water scarcity problems that might affect us in the future.
- Tracy Cosgrove, Director, Passport To Success Myanmar
Tracy Cosgrove is an award winning entrepreneur, philanthropist and founder of Passport to Success Myanmar. Her most recently venture is VRHTI (Virtual Reality Hospitality Training International). Initially Tracy started PTSM to develop Myanmar’s hospitality standards which at the time did not meet the expectations of International visitors and to increase the personal development of disadvantaged groups of people and guide them in their future careers. Although the core business was and is hospitality, PTSM provides training's and coaching within Embassies and a number of commercial companies in South East Asia. VRHTI is with the development of modern technology able to provide training even in more remote areas. Bespoke training modules have been made by designing a Virtual Hotel, 360º footage photos in order to create real life situations and experiences.
- Yves-Michel Leporcher, Blockchain Technology Expert, Groupe Renault
Yves-Michel develops data refining and processing algorithms, and manages and leads a team of data specialists, setting best practices and code standards while also defining and deploying DevOps tools.