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Linda Macaulay

Linda Ann Macaulay is Professor Emerita of Information System Design, University of Manchester. Professor Macaulay’s research interests are concerned with how technical system design can be informed by the needs of users and groups of users and fall into the four main areas: Human Computer Interaction; Requirements Engineering; e-Commerce and e-Business; and Facilitated Collaboration.

In 1999 she was the first female Professor to be appointed to the Department of Computation at the University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology. She is twice holder of the prestigious IBM Faculty Award. She is a Fellow of the British Computer Society. Her memoir ‘Hello Computer’ is a personal history of computers from 1967 to 2017.

Ellie Coyte

Ellie Coyte is Founder and Head of Marketing at Haelu, a start-up which builds software to support health and social care.  She  joined the Alacrity Foundation after graduating in 2020 and that provided her with mentors and enabled her to develop the concept behind Haelu’s product. It also introduced her to the fellow students with whom she set up the business.

Haelu’s tool empowers social care workers without clinical training to record signs and symptoms, and alerts them when a health professional is needed. “The aim is to help meet people’s needs earlier so that they can live happier and healthier lives,” she says. ”Because while people are tending to live longer they are not necessarily healthier.”  She also hopes it will help social care workers be more valued by giving them a means of sharing much of the knowledge they already have about people they work with.

It is early days and the tool is still under development. However, Ellie believes it has the potential to be adopted in health authorities across Wales and the rest of the UK and Haelu is going through an intensive growth period which she finds stimulating and rewarding. “The best thing about this situation is having room to grow,” she says. “It’s so exciting to be always learning something new that you didn’t know yesterday.

A man wearing a white shirt smiling at the camera. He is sat on a tall-backed black office chair

Robin Christopherson

Robin Christopherson is Head of Digital Inclusion at AbilityNet, the pioneering UK charity that aims to make the power of digital technology available to everyone, regardless of ability or age.  He was brought up to believe that blindness need not be a barrier in life. Both his parents had demanding jobs despite being partially blind, setting a strong example to their three visually impaired children.

As his condition worsened, Robin learned to adapt, moving gradually closer to the front of the class at school. At Cambridge University an early talking laptop running DOS helped his engineering studies.  Robin took inspiration from Prof Stephen Hawking, who overcame physical disability to provide profound scientific insights by nudging a switch

He co-founded AbilityNet in 1996, specialising in adaptive and assistive technology, helping people gain qualifications and design software that is easy to use for all.  It has centres all over country, but has never received government funding, although many of its services are free.

Upcoming advances in adaptive and assistive technology that he lists include smartphones that help people find keys, shoes, or a dog’s harness, check clothes are suitably colour co-coordinated and use lidar to bleep when it is time to move forward in a queue. AI-enabled biometric authorisation will obviate the need to remember passwords and there is huge potential in smart glasses and headsets, he says.

David Thorpe

David Thorpe overcame a (slightly) wayward youth and the lack of a maths O level to become a local authority accountant and COO of EDS in the EMEA region.  He made his mark in the IT when he headed the implementation of a new computer system for a London Borough.

He eschewed the opportunity to be employee number three at Capita but moved to Honeywell Information Systems working on large-scale implementations in the public sector. This drew him to the attention of EDS, the outsourcing company, and he rose quickly as the public sector in the UK turned to outsourcing its IT.

For the past 20 years he has chaired or directed 20 companies, often in the IT sector.  David’s fascinating career story covers key issues and developments in the industry, including the role of IT and outsourcing in the public sector, the rise of IT’s role in business transformation and the contrasting cultures of industry leaders. 

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. 

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.