Special Notices

Dietary requirements – Lunch and refreshments will be provided at this event. Please email marketing@qa.com for any dietary requirements

The focus of the event will be based around how organisations are ‘Closing the Gender Gap in Tech’. Featuring guest presentations from leading female tech pioneers, interactive hands on sessions and an expert panel of leading tech experts ready to answer your questions.

Date: Thursday 26th March 2020

Time: 08:30 - 16:00

Cost: FREE

Target Audience

This event is for those interested in gender diversity in tech.


08:30-09:15 – Networking and Registration

09:15-10:45 – Tech Sector Diversity: Talking the Talk

10:45-12:00 – Ask the Audience

12:00-13:00 – Lunch and networking

13:00-16:00 – Tech Sector Diversity: Walking the Walk


Morning – Tech Sector Diversity: Talking the Talk

08:30-09:15 – Networking and Registration

09:15-09:25 – Lisa Harrington, Chief Transformation Officer, QA

Lisa is a passionate advocate for getting more women into technology. She started her work in this space when she was Chief Transformation Officer at BT, where she led BT’s Women in Tech (WIT) programme. Lisa has been recognised for her services to this programme by winning the Special award at the Monte Carlo women of the year event in 2016.

Lisa will talk about some of the proactive initiatives QA is driving to address the tech diversity challenge.

09:25-10:00 – Jane Pitt, Training Program Manager for World-wide learning, Microsoft – Culture of learning

As the founder of Microsoft’s TechHer community (an initiative which provides free training days to women who want to gain new skills in cloud technology), Jane is passionate about the power of learning to address diversity issues. Jane’s session will explore the importance of developing an inclusive learning culture.

She will discuss real-world examples of how Microsoft has evolved its own culture – From 'Know it all' to 'Learn it all': Developing a Culture of Continual Learning

10:00-10:30 – Reecha Mishra - Azure Customer Engineer, EMEA, Microsoft – Ethical AI – How to stay unbiased.

We are living in a world where algorithms now decide whether you get approved for a mortgage or not. AI-enabled systems are determining if you will get shortlisted for the job you went for. We therefore need to really care about a) the people writing the algorithms and b) the systems and technologies they are using.

In this presentation Reecha will discuss the role Microsoft play in responsible AI.

10:30-10:45 – Networking breakout and refreshments

Ask the Audience

10:45-12:00 – Panel discussion: What proactive steps can businesses and individuals take to tackle the tech sector diversity challenge

The panel discussion will look to unearth best practise when it comes to taking proactive steps to address tech sector diversity. It will be an interactive session giving you the chance to ask the questions that matter to you and your organisation.

Key topics our panel will cover include:

  • Getting the gender balance in entry-level tech roles right – the role of apprenticeship and graduate programmes
  • Mentoring and career support: Supporting the next generation of female leaders
  • Reskilling programmes and their role in driving tech diversity

The panel:

  • Lisa Harrington - Chief Transformation Officer, QA (Chair)
  • Bianca Caravtov, Technical Account Manager, Microsoft UK
  • Hannah Thompson, Head of Gigafast Broadband, Vodafone Limited

12:00-13:00 – Lunch and networking

Afternoon – Tech Sector Diversity: Walking the Walk

13:00-16:00 – Karen Howell, Principal Technical Learning Specialist, QA – Tech Deep Dive: Understanding Azure and its role in business

Many of the women that work in the tech sector don’t work in technical roles. For many of us we recognise the need to instigate change in the sector, but we don’t always all fully understand what the realities of what working with technology is actually like.

So, having spent the morning talking the talk, the afternoon’s session is an opportunity to walk the walk and experience some of the challenges that women in tech need to solve.

In this session QA’s Principal Technologist Karen Howell will talk us through how businesses are using the Microsoft Azure Platform to transform their organisations. The session will be collaborative bringing together theory with practical, real life examples.


Lisa Harrington, Chief Transformation Officer, QA

For Lisa the customer (or in our case ‘the learner’) is king. She’s always one step ahead of what they want or need. She joined QA as Managing Director in March 2018 and is now Chief Transformation Officer working across the business to deliver initiatives which will transform our business model and develop our product expertise.

Lisa has over 20 years’ leadership experience. She started her work-life at Accenture. She’s worked at BT in loads of senior leadership roles – digital, transformation, strategy – to name a few. Her highlight? Founding the TechWomen programme for BT – which empowered women to progress in tech careers.

She’s also been Non-Executive Director for Southern Water and West London Mental Health Trust.

Lisa studied at University College Dublin. She has an undergraduate degree in Politics, German Language and Literature. And she has a postgraduate degree in Business Studies.

Jane Pitt, Training Program Manager for World-wide learning, Microsoft – Culture of learning

Jane Pitt began her career as a script writer for a television production company, but her love of technology and problem-solving drove her to change career path. She established and built an IT support company for small businesses which she ran for five years, before selling the company in 2005 and moving into enterprise IT.

Jane held a number of Engineering and Architecture roles prior to joining Microsoft in 2016 where she now works as a Business Program Manager in the World Wide Learning organisation, helping customers future-proof the skills of their workforce.

Alongside technology at Microsoft, Jane’s passion is promoting gender diversity. She regularly speaks at STEM events and has established a community, TechHer, to bring together women working in technology to educate and inspire each other.

Bianca Caratov, Technical Account Manager, Microsoft UK

I am a Technical Account Manager in the Enterprise Support team at Microsoft. I have a background in Law having studied a Law and Sociology degree for five years (subsequently realising it wasn’t the right career path for me, luckily leading to the opportunity of working at Microsoft).

In terms of my background and the reason I am passionate about inspiring the next generation of female leaders; I was born in Romania and came to England when I was 11 without speaking any English. I found that in spite of having aspirations, wanting to learn and be the best version I could be, I encountered blockers in the education system, with teachers telling me that women should not be working in tech and that going to a Russel group university was not within my reach as I wasn’t born here. Had I listened to any of that, I would not be here today! I think it’s our responsibility to stand up and support those around us to achieve their potential and help remove any blockers we can, so I partake in as many events as possible talking about my path into tech – if I can do it anyone can!

In my spare time, I am an avid traveller ( personal record being 13 new countries visited in 12 months) and a part time photographer (biggest achievement to date is being featured in a calendar).

Hannah Thompson, Head of Gigafast Broadband, Vodafone Limited

Following a successful career as a City Lawyer, Hannah has held a wide variety of senior leadership roles at Vodafone UK, including in Corporate & External Affairs, Customer Operations, Commercial and Technology. Hannah blends commercial, technical and legal experience to develop and execute strategy; grow business; and manage partners across both fixed and mobile communications.

In her last role she launched Vodafone’s full fibre Gigafast Broadband in 12 cities and grew the base to 10k customers in one year. She currently directs Vodafone’s Strategic Programmes, which include the Shared Rural Network – a world first collaboration between Government and the 4 telcos, to improve rural mobile coverage in hardest to reach places around the UK.

Hannah is a strong advocate of diversity, and in particular women in Technology; which she supports through events and public speaking, mentoring and coaching and by building gender balanced teams. “Give me a room full of the best male technology brains and you will get a good answer; add at least a 25% female mix and you will get a better one…. and it will get delivered to plan too.”

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