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25 from 25: women who have shaped the digital industry (part 1)


By Ellen Ormesher, Senior Reporter

September 2, 2019 | 6 min read

To mark the 25th anniversary of the first banner ad and the birth of digital marketing as we know it today, The Drum has partnered with Futures Network, Innovate Her and WACL for a special project. Together, we're honouring 25 women who have made an outstanding contribution to the industry in that time.

25 From 25 cover

The Drum's 25 From 25: part 1

Men may have dominated digital roles in the UK over the past quarter century, but we know that women have been behind so many of the industry’s milestone moments and best businesses, and we also know that all too often their contribution has been overlooked.

So this summer, we invited The Drum readers to nominate those they believed were worthy of special recognition. A judging panel of senior figures from our project partners, agencies, brands and The Drum then met to decide the final 25.

Our panel included Gina Hood, Cristina Loaiza, Justin Pahl, Visha Naul, Sarah Ellis, Zoe Harris, Hannah Matthews, Lawrence Weber, Nick Creed, Jen Faull and Lynn Lester.

We'll be profiling each of the 25 honourees they decided upon in a series of articles running on each day this week.

And once you've been introduced to our complete 25, we'd like you to tell us which of them deserves to collect a special achievement award at the Dadi Awards ceremony on 9 October in London.

But more on that later. For now, let's meet our first five honourees.

Professor Sue Black

Dr Sue Black

At the age of 26, Sue Black was a single mother when she enrolled in a polymath evening course at Southwark College. Today, she holds a PHD in computer science and has some 20 years of experience in academia with over 40 publications to her name.

Black is professor of computer science and technology evangelist at Durham University, a UK government strategic advisor, an author and an activist. She led the campaign to save Bletchley Park, the site of the code breakers of the second world war, and has founded two charities: BCSWomen, an online network for women in tech and #techmums, a social enterprise that empowers mothers and their families through technology.

Hailed as a ‘key voice in an increasingly digital future’ by The Independent, Black was awarded an OBE in 2016 for her services to technology and was named as one of the top 50 women in tech by Forbes in 2018. In 2020, Black will run as the Women’s Equality Party candidate for Mayor of London.

Kathryn Parsons

Kathryn Parsons

Described by The Evening Standard as “a woman on a mission to teach us all to code”, Kathryn Parsons co-founded Decoded in 2011. She remains chief executive of the technology education company, which promises to teach anyone to code in a day and is currently active in over 85 cities worldwide. The firm’s accelerated learning experiences have since expanded to include the worlds of code, data, innovation, cyber security and artificial intelligence. In 2018 it launched the Decoded Data Academy with an ambition to fill the growing global data skills gap by 2025.

Parsons currently sits on the UK prime minister and London mayor’s business advisory boards, was part of a the successful campaign to have code introduced as a mandatory to the UK national curriculum in September 2014, and was awarded an MBE for her work in 2016.

Martha Lane Fox

Martha Lane Fox

Martha Lane Fox first rose to prominence in the industry as the co-founder of in the 1990s. After stepping down from the company in 2003, Lane Fox went on to sit on the boards of Marks & Spencer and Channel 4 and patron charities including Reprieve, Camfed and Just for Kids Law. Lane Fox was the UK government’s digital champion between 2010 and 2013, a role which saw her create the champion model for digital inclusion in Europe. She co-founded the karaoke company, Lucky Voice in 2005, and the think tank, Doteveryone in 2015.

In 2013, it was announced that Lane Fox would join the House of Lords as a crossbencher, becoming the youngest female member of the house. Today, she sits on the boards of Twitter, Donmar Warehouse and Chanel, is a trustee of The Queen’s Commonwealth Trust, a chancellor of The Open University and continues to advocate for human rights, women’s rights and social justice.

Sarah Wood

Sarah Wood

Sarah Wood co-founded Unruly in 2006 with a mission to transform advertising for the better, and the digital advertising startup rose to such prominence that it was acquired by News Corp in 2015.

Wood has gone on to sit on the board of Tech Nation – the UK network for ambitious tech entrepreneurs and is currently a technology ambassador for London and an ambassador for The Prince’s Trust Women Supporting Women Programme. She is also the author of ‘Stepping Up: How to Accelerate Your Leadership Potential," which calls for more diverse, digital and empathetic business leaders. Due to her background as an academic of literature, Wood is now also a judge for the Bailey’s Women’s Prize for Literature 2019.

Tiffany St James

Tiffany St James

As the former head of public participation for the UK government, Tiffany St James was the strategic lead in the cabinet office across 22 central government departments and consulted to the UK government for 14 years. She went on to co-found Transmute, a digital transformation consultancy in 2014 which has seen her consult for BBC, Channel 4, Google, The Guardian, HP, Microsoft, The National Lottery, Parliament, Post Office, Prudential, TalkTalk, UK & Australian Government.

St James is one of the inaugural Tech City100 and a TED Speaker. She sits on the Central Council of the British Interactive Media Association as group chair of universities where she helps graduates increase their employability.

The next five inductees in the 25 from 25 will be revealed tomorrow.

Find out more about the Dadi Awards on the official website.

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