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Dr Gopi Katragadda

Born in Bangalore in 1968, Dr Gopichand Katragadda comes from a long line of engineers on his father’s side, while his mother’s family background is in the arts. This combination has helped him bring a high level of creativity and breadth of vision to engineering achievements, he believes.
Gopi attended Iowa State University and did his doctoral research at NASA. In 2000, he returned to India as Chairman and Managing Director of GE India Technology Centre — the group’s largest R&D facility, which he helped become a world leader in intellectual property generation.

In 2014, he joined Tata Sons as Group Chief Technology Officer and Innovation Head, where he promoted collaboration with corporations such as Airbus and forward-thinking in the group’s subsidiaries and university partners. In 2019, Gopi set up Myelin Foundry, an AI company aimed at transforming human experiences and industry outcomes.

Rodney Hornstein

Rodney Hornstein started work as a programmer at IBM during his vacations in 1958 and worked there, off and on, until 1962. He joined LEO computers programming the LEO ranges and later selling them and becoming director of marketing. He lived through the turmoil of first the merger of English Electric and LEO (EEL), shielded by his boss from the turbulence. He was also shielded when EEL merged with Marconi Computers. The big bang was the formation of ICL in 1968. He lived through the often brutal years of the Jeff Cross era from 1972 to 1977 but lost faith and his natural optimism when ICL began to implode into confusion in 1979.

Rodney then spent seven years outside the IT industry but did encounter Sir Arnold Weinstock head of GEC. He was headhunted to run an ICL spin off, DAP, which he had re-engineered from a £30,000 production cost to about $5,000 and sold it into the US and UK markets. He ran Alphameric, as CEO for 5 years, chairman for 4 years, building a profitable company from a near wreck. By 1999 he became an angel investor often acting as chairman of the board. His normal optimism about technology is being tested about the current developments in AI, but he heads an AI start up with a different approach.

Sir Bill Thomas

Sir Bill Thomas spent 25 years working in diverse roles in Systems Designers, SD-Scicon and their acquirer, Electronic Data Systems. The British companies merged into and, some would say, transformed the US giant, EDS, and Bill eventually ran the EMEA operation and then oversaw its transition into Hewlett Packard Enterprise Services.  Bill was determined in his youth to study Mathematics and work in Defence, inspired by his father’s service career.  He combined an active passion for sport with doing enough at school to get started on his career plan and had early roles in mathematical modelling and signal processing, first in Marconi and then SD. 

Within EDS, Bill applied his skills to business management and achieved a notable success in a ground-breaking transformation deal with Rolls Royce.  Building on that success he was involved in developing the EDS business model, then managing a large part of the company, becoming the first British member of the Executive Committee.  Since 2009 Bill has pursued a portfolio career as chair and NED in tech and other businesses and charitable bodies.  He was an advisor to the Labour party in opposition on defence procurement and small businesses.  He was knighted in the 2020 New Year Honours list. 

Peta Walmisley

Peta (or Pepita to be formal) Walmisley is well known to many in IT through her association with important industry institutions, seemingly popping up wherever there is an organisational challenge to be sorted out.  Peta worked for the British Computer Society (now the BCS The Chartered Institute for IT) from 1968 to 2004 in various roles, most recently as External Relations Manager. From 1987 to 2001 She was also secretary of the The Council of European Professional Informatics Societies (CEPIS, the representative body of national informatics associations throughout greater Europe). From 1987 to 1992 she helped found The Worshipful Company of Information Technologists as the clerk. With 50 years in pivotal roles around the industry she has some unique insights into its history.

Peta’s previous experience perhaps explains how she found this part in the IT industry; conjuring up an image of an accomplished and formidable multi-talented manager, with finely honed interpersonal skills and a diverse range of interests. She trained with Hardy Amies in Savile Row, and worked for an Australian Americas Cup Team in Newport, Rhode Island (and is a keen sailor).  As an Aspen ski lodge au pair she was known as the Red Bomber on the slopes and in a California bank put out fires (in the photocopier room).