It was the “catastrophic” failure of his parents’ business in Glasgow when he was just leaving school that triggered Gary Turner’s lifelong drive and passion for helping small enterprises succeed. Forced to abandon his university aspirations, he had always wanted to work in computing, and a sympathetic recruitment consultant helped him get his first job.
Gary’s ability to empathise with customer problems helped him rise through the IT industry to senior positions at Pegasus, Microsoft and Systems Union. Then, in 2009, he took a step which he says “must have looked crazy”, becoming co-founder of Xero, a three-person accounting software start-up.
It proved an excellent move. As Xero’s UK managing director, Gary grew the business to a turnover of £110M by 2020, with more than 600,000 UK customers. He has also served as a mentor at TechStars London and is a seed investor in early-stage start-ups across the UK and Europe.
Sarah Bond leads Microsoft’s gaming business development team. She and her team are responsible for cultivating and managing Microsoft’s gaming partnerships, crafting and executing deals and negotiations and shaping strategy and M&A. Sarah’s organization is global with presence in Redmond, Tokyo, Seoul, Shanghai and London.
Prior to Microsoft Sarah held a variety of senior roles at T-Mobile, including leading the Corporate Strategy and Development team, responsible for cross-functional strategic initiatives, major investments, partnerships, mergers and acquisitions. She was a member of the team that led T-Mobile’s turnaround.
Sarah started her career at McKinsey & Company, where she was an Associate Partner in the West Coast office focused on the consumer technology sector. Sarah holds a BA in Economics from Yale University and an MBA from Harvard Business School.
Dr Andrew Herbert OBE retired in 2011, after a long and eventful career in IT. He has been a lecturer and researcher, an entrepreneur, a manager of SMEs, and finally Director and then Chairman of Microsoft Research EMEA. Innovation is one of the many threads which runs through his career.
Simon Peyton Jones has dedicated his career to functional programming, and was the designer of the Haskell functional programming language. In 1989 he became Professor of Computing Science at Glasgow University, and is now a principal researcher at Microsoft. He has just been appointed chair of the new National Centre for Computing Education.
John Handby has directed the IT strategies and operations of IT users in the public and private sector. He has worked in the Royal Mail, National Power and Glaxo SmithKline, among others. He was Chief Executive of CIO Connect, an organisation set up to enable chief information officers to talk about the issues they were facing. He had a formative role in the introduction of clinical systems in the NHS.