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Anthony Hodson

Anthony Hodson comes from a distinguished academic and professional background and was one of four sons who all gained Eton Scholarships.  Fascinated by technology, Anthony broke from the main stream of Eton/Oxford to go into the nascent digital computing industry.

He started his 46-year career in IT as a mathematician in the aviation division of Elliott Brothers where he used an early minicomputer, the Elliott 803 and worked in the UK and the USA for the company.

He carried out field research on mainframe-based distributed business systems for the Diebold Research Programme.  He worked for Sperry Gyroscope and was in the thick of ICL as its mainframe business collapsed.  He championed the X.500 Directory standard there and in his own consultancy.

Anthony has supported charitable activities through the Mercers’ Company and Gresham College.

Simon Gibson CBE & Mike Doyle

Professor Simon Gibson CBE co-founded the Alacrity Foundation with Owen Matthews in 2009. Mike Doyle was appointed CEO when the Foundation opened its doors in South Wales in 2011.  With the backing of Sir Terry Matthews, OBE and the UK and Welsh Government, Alacrity aims to educate graduates to become a new generation of IT entrepreneurs.

Simon joined the GPO as a telephone technician. He worked with telecommunications companies during the period of deregulation and joined Newbridge Network Corporation at its start-up in 1987. He was VP of marketing and helped build it into a $7.1 billion company. Simon and Michael Doyle founded Ubiquity Software in 1993, which was a leader in the development of the (ubiquitous) Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) and achieved one of the biggest VC funding rounds in the history of the software industry in the UK.

 

Michael Doyle was sponsored through university by GEC Telecommunications, where he wrote software for the Systems X exchange. He worked as a contractor for five years and then co-founded Ubiquity with Gibson. 

 

The Alacrity Foundation is operating in 8 locations around the world. It has been responsible for helping young entrepreneurs launch new ventures based on a demand-driven model. Many graduated companies from Alacrity have successfully scaled up and raised further funding rounds.

Mischa Dohler

Mischa Dohler is now Chief Architect in Ericsson Inc. in Silicon Valley, USA, having previously been Professor in Wireless Communications at King’s College London.

He was born in Germany, into a family of scientific academics, who were also talented in music and business.  He has continued the family tradition, as academic, entrepreneur and musician.  Mischa brings all those skills and interests to bear on his approach to technology, speaking eloquently of its relevance to diverse aspects of our lives; industrial, personal and cultural.

He demonstrated the power of 5G communications to enable collaboration over the Internet in a real time duet with his daughter 1000 km away and looks forward to medicine, industry and culture developing with 6G and the Internet of Things, Skills and beyond.

Professor Sir Martin Sweeting

Professor Sir Martin Sweeting has been fascinated by telecommunications since childhood, and a love of science fiction, particularly the writings of Arthur C Clarke, fostered his enthusiasm for technology.

At school his best subjects were English, French and Latin, but in those days it was hard to combine sciences and arts. So he did A’levels in chemistry, maths and his favourite, physics, going on to gain a degree in electronic and electrical engineering at the University of Surrey, and a PhD.

In 1985, Sir Martin set up Surrey Satellite Technology with about £100 and four employees. The company pioneered rapid-response, low-cost and highly capable small satellites, on which much of our modern life depends. In 2008, SST was sold to Airbus Defence & Space for £50m, but Sir Martin is still executive chairman. The company now has 400 professional staff, annual revenues of more than $100m and total export sales in excess of $1bn to 25 countries. Among its many focuses is clearing up the increasing amount of space debris, which represents a significant threat to the next generation of satellites.

Sir Martin was awarded an OBE in 2002 and won the 2008 Arthur C Clarke Lifetime Achievement Award. In 2016, he was made an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Aeronautical Society and listed by Sunday Times as one of the 500 most influential UK citizens.

Billy D’Arcy

Billy D’Arcy is Chief Executive Officer for BAI Communications group’s UK operation. A global leader in the design, build and operation of communications networks on transport systems, BAI is installing a network-neutral telecoms infrastructure in the London Underground so that mobile users can get the service from whatever network operator they choose. This decades long project involves investment in excess of £1Bn upgrading the technology into 6G and beyond, as well as providing above ground infrastructure for emergency services, traffic management and Wi-Fi.

Billy has spent 30 years in the telecommunications industry at Cable and Wireless in Ireland, O2 and faced keeping his customers served when WorldCom was in Chapter 11. He shares his views on Ireland, building business enterprises, treating people right and what makes a great shareholder.

Rory Cellan-Jones

Rory Cellan-Jones provides a sharp, insightful view of the Tech in the Internet age.  He was a reporter for the BBC for 30 years, initially covering business, which got him interested in the burgeoning business of IT in the 90s.  As the industry developed he met the key players from Bill Gates to and Elon Musk and Steve Jobs and recalls the launch of the iPhone as a masterpiece of PR theatre. He chronicled  the rise and burst of the .com bubble in the UK in his book dot.bomb. 

Now retired from the BBC he has reflected on the exciting and dangerous world of what he calls “the social smartphone era” in his contribution to the archive and in his new book Always On. One of his biggest mistakes, he says, was getting excited about Google Glass, which did not look cool.

A man with white hair wearing a shirt, jacket and tie

Richard Hooper

Richard Hooper studied Russian and German at Oxford and then joined the BBC. His passion for media technology was inspired when, as a Harkness scholar, he spent 21 months in the US looking at innovative educational technology projects.

“I learnt in America,” he says, such wonderful quips as: “Technology is the answer – but…what was the question?  That still resonates firmly today.” He also likes to quote the axiom coined by Marshall McLuhan, one of his heroes: “The medium is the message”.

Richard took on his first senior role in the UK IT industry in 1973 as Director of the National Development Programme in Computer Assisted Learning.

At BT during the early 1980s, he helped pioneer Prestel, the first version of the internet.  He also ran Yellow Pages when it was a FTSE100 company, and oversaw start-ups such as Telecom Gold, the UK’s first public email service.

In 1987, as managing director of Super Channel, the ITV- and BBC-backed pan-European satellite channel, Margaret Thatcher asked him to give the introductory presentation at a Downing St seminar on broadcasting policy.

His wide-ranging career in communications also includes being founding deputy chairman of Ofcom, chairman of the Broadband Stakeholder Group and numerous advisory and consultancy roles. He has just published a book on the art of chairing called Making Meetings Work.

Paul Excell

Paul Excell’s first job was working in his family’s village shop; he has gone on to become an entrepreneur, investor, NED, executive coach and eminent figure in the telecommunications industry. His father taught him crucial business lessons, such as having empathy with customers, being curious about their needs and understanding how you can help them rather than focusing on selling.

State educated, Paul gained much of his drive and inspiration from “fantastic” teachers in topics ranging from maths, physics and computer science to history. People who bridge the science / arts divide will be increasingly important as technology develops, he says.

Following BT sponsorship through university, Paul became an apprentice technician and rose steadily eventually to become a pioneering Chief Customer Innovation Officer, Group Technology Officer and SVP Global Services. While at BT he fulfilled his passion for innovation, launching internet, broadband, mobile and media services and serving on several of the group’s global boards. ”If you don’t innovate, you die,” he says.

After leaving BT in 2012, Paul founded Excelerate, which provides agile executive services focused on transforming leadership and team performance. In 2016 he established ScaleUp Group, which aims to support the many smaller UK companies which he says have potential for “massive impact” and growth. So far it has raised more than £30m and generated some £4bn in enterprise value.

Sir David Brown

Sir David Brown got hooked on electronic engineering when his father took him to a Faraday Lecture at the age of 14. His first job was with Plessey, which had sponsored him through sixth form and university. At Plessey he worked on the UK’s first digital telephone exchanges and Ptarmigan a landmark tactical mobile cryptographic telecommunications system for the British army. He is a firm believer in the power of teamwork and went on to senior roles at STC, ICL, Northern Telecom and Motorola.

More recently, Sir David has focused on non-executive roles in technologies that are “edgy and fun”, such as hydrogen fuel cells and printing sciences. As chairman of the board of trustees at Bletchley Park, home of British World War II code-breaking, he is a passionate about encouraging young people to become engineers. With four honorary doctorates, a visiting fellowship at Oxford University and a knighthood, he continues to be an eminent figure in the telecoms and electronics industries.

Colin Knight

Colin Knight learned the value of failsafe technology early in his career, developing algorithms for the release of munitions from RAF “V Bombers”. This focus on non-stop reliability has remained his priority through a wide-ranging career spanning financial trading in the City post Big Bang, the revolution in mobile communications, predictive modelling of networks and risk management. Colin has worked extensively across Europe, Asia Pacific and the US, including a spell in Moscow during the height of the Cold War. Given his time again, he says he would favour roles at US-based companies because they are more innovative, entrepreneurial and financially rewarding.

Colin is a past Master of the Information Technologists Livery Company. But his proudest achievement has been his charitable activities deploying IT to improve the lives of sick and disabled children and their families. Work must be fun, he insists — you will never get a successful team with unhappy members.