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Chris Little

Chris Little is in his 50th year of applying IT to numerical weather prediction at the Met Office.  He has been involved in many of the most important developments in weather and climate modelling over that time and is still there working on international collaboration projects.   Chris has programmed some of the most powerful supercomputers of their days and instigated the use of a wide range of graphic devices for forecasters and researchers. He spent three years at the European Centre for Medium Range Weather Forecasting (based in Reading) that extended weather forecasting beyond a few days with the application of the first Cray supercomputer. 

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).

John Poulter

John Poulter is a well known figure of the IT industry who has had an important influence through his participation in the industry bodies and his knowledge of the issues, people, organisations and technology. John’s career CV demonstrates a diversity of experience, from teacher to taxi driver, of which IT is just a part, perhaps giving him the perspective for his roles as observer and historian of the industry. John is a chartered engineer, a professional member of the British Computer Society, and a Chartered IT Professional. During his professional career he worked as system analyst and Management and Systems Consultant.

John is a Liveryman of the Worshipful Company of Information Technologists and was the archivist of the WCIT from 2009 to 2021. He received the Mercury Special Recognition Award from the WCIT in May 2022. He is a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries and contributed to the foundation of the Archives of IT. John shares some fascinating lessons from life and insights into the industry.

a portrait photograph of a woman with bobbed curly hair wearing a white blouse

Dr Rebecca Harding

Entrepreneurs want to change things all the time. So says Dr Rebecca Harding, economist and serial entrepreneur. Rebecca’s career has certainly involved breaking traditions and rattling cages. “I’ve always been a self starter who knows my own mind and has a clear sense of direction in my education and career,” she says.

When her comprehensive school did not offer A’ level German she joined lessons at the local boys’ grammar. Participating in drama clubs and student productions has also helped her throughout her professional life, she says. At Sussex University Rebecca gained a BA in Economics with German. The interdisciplinary nature of the course has proved very helpful in business life, she says. “It enabled me to study politics, philosophy, economics, sociology and international relations.”

 After taking a doctorate in Technology and HR, she began working in academe, which she describes as “a brilliant training for entrepreneurship because academics spend their time generating ideas and thinking of ways to solve problems.” At London Business School, Rebecca ran the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor — a survey of entrepreneurship worldwide. It helped her understand the power of data in helping people and driving success.

 In 2007, Rebecca founded her first company, Delta Economics, and began analysing why people start businesses and the challenges they face achieving growth. Her research showed that their motivation “is more about solving problems and innovating than making money.” It led to her second start-up, Coriolis Technologies, formed in 2017 to provide trade and trade finance data and analytics for the trade finance sector.

“Global trade is worth $21 trillion a year and the value of trade finance is between $15tn and $17tn: 90 per cent of it is still paper-based,” she says. “Digitising global trade is a huge opportunity.”

Dr Juliet Webster

Uninspired by her teachers, Dr Juliet Webster left school to take a secretarial course. She also signed up for A’level sociology — a subject not then on the school curriculum.

It was the beginning of a lengthy and prolific academic career studying the gender dynamics of job automation, digital labour, and how employment has evolved since technology began to appear in the workplace.

“What drew me in was the sociology of industrial relations and the Marxist theory of capital,” she says. “I was really interested in the lessons for the twentieth century from the early introduction of machinery.”

Topics she has examined in her many academic papers include virtual work, the gig economy, equal pay, people skills and social sustainability. She is particularly interested in how technology has impacted women’s lives.

Juliet’s career has also spanned practical action in NGOs, and policy making, including for the European Commission Directorate General for Employment. She currently has her own consultancy in London,Work & Equality Research, and is Adviser for the Gender and ICT Programme, IN3, at the Open University of Catalonia.

Juliet does not discourage young women from careers in technologies such as computer science. But she is concerned about the current trend towards flexible working, which includes an increase in short-term contracts, content farming and offshoring. “These practices blur the boundaries between work and home life, and can erode pay and conditions,” she says.

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