BAE Systems receives 
six nominations for the 
WeAreTechWomen 2020 Awards

The TechWomen100 Awards is spotlighting the achievements of 100 female technologists and this year no fewer than six women from BAE Systems Applied Intelligence have been shortlisted for this prestigious honour
Did you know that women make up just 17 per cent of the technology industry?
 
The TechWomen100 Awards is trying to change all that by spotlighting the achievements of 100 female technologists and this year no fewer than six women from BAE Systems Applied Intelligence have been shortlisted for this prestigious honour.
 
Read on to learn more about their backgrounds and inspiring stories…
 

Champion shortlist:
Mivy James, Head of Consulting for National Security


WATW2020 Mivy James I started my career as an analyst and programmer after graduating in Computer Science & Maths 25 years ago. I really enjoyed the system engineering and design aspects of building IT systems so have gradually got involved in larger and larger challenges whilst slowly reducing the focus on coding. I really got into system design and architecture whilst working on an air traffic control system and having to create lots of analytical models to check that everything behaved as expected.
 
I then became more aware of the necessity for technology solutions to align with business vision – prompted by having witnessed some major programmes run away with themselves and forget this. This led me into enterprise architecture which is what I do these days, along with being the Head of Consulting for BAE Systems Applied Intelligence, a role I have held since 2014.
 
Today, I am responsible for more than 150 tech consultants and advise government and military CTOs and their teams on their digital transformation. I am also the founder and chair of our gender balance network and partner with government departments on their gender balance initiatives.
 
I know from personal experience the positive disruptive value these women in tech awards events have. They lead directly to raised profile and opportunities to speak at industry events. I now feeling sufficiently confident in further challenging tech conferences on the diversity of the line-up and influencing change, sometimes stepping aside myself to make room for others. I hope this is an example of using power and influence for good.
 


Individual shortlist: 
Clare Cornforth, Engineering Lead, National Security –

UK Law Enforcement


WATW2020 Clare Cornforth Having no formal Computer Science education at school, I developed a love of computers in my own time and chose to study Computer Science at university. My course was sponsored by Sun Microsystems (inventors of Java), so it was incredibly practical and gave me a good technical foundation for starting my career.
 
Having proceeded through a variety of development, test and dev lead roles at Detica and Applied Intelligence, I worked on an Integration Platform for one of our major transport clients. This role involved exposure to hundreds of legacy applications and greatly expanded my technical breadth (and awakened my inner ‘train geek’!). I was then mentored into Solution Design, which culminated in me being the lead Application Architect for a large and complex critical national platform for the Home Office, before going on maternity leave.
 
On my return, I became the Engineering Lead for our NS UK Law Enforcement Account and continue to enjoy the variety of technical solutions and clients that I come across.  I especially love all of the engineers I get to work with and enjoy passing on my knowledge and experience (and learning from them too!).
 
I have also carved out a career manager niche by having predominantly female technical engineers to support. I understand the pressure to move into non-technical roles and try to counter any unhelpful advice or behaviours they come across. My personal career goal is to get all the way to top ranks of our company while still keeping my hand in coding.
 


Holly Armitage, Principal Data Strategist


WATW2020 Holly Armitage I take technology and data-related aspirations and turn them into reality, creating real difference and impact across every level of organisations.
 
On paper I’m seen as a strategist but I’m happy to have been referred to as a ‘professional
opportunist’. That’s because I spot opportunities, untangle the knottiest of problems, and then create a plan to take advantage, shepherding resources to make the biggest bang possible. It is my role to help organisations get excited by technology, and help them understand and explain to everyone – their people, their customers, and their shareholders – why technology truly matters.
 
Before joining BAE Systems, I worked in the civil service where I learnt first-hand the importance and power of being able to interpret strategic priorities into direction and delivery, whilst translating technical information into straightforward and easy to understand concepts. Channelling the
transformative power of data and ensuring that it has a positive – not nefarious – impact was
what first drew me to into this space, and is why I still love what I do.
 
Earlier this year, I was honoured to have won the Management Consulting Association’s Rising Star Award, and to be recognised by the Influential Businesswoman Awards as an ‘Influential Women in Aerospace and Defenceʼ. When I reflect on where I am now in my career, I am grateful to have had exceptional mentors who were gracious with their time and experience, and I am proud to be paying this forward, volunteering with the Stemettes as a sherpa mentor.
 


Jo Tooze-Acland, SCRUM Master


WATW2020 Jo Tooze-Acland I have never been one to follow an average path and the roles I have undertaken in my career have been no exception.
 
First, Movements Controller. Here, I was serving in the RAF, which took me on multiple tours of duty – domestic and overseas – during my nine years in service. This experience fulfilled a lifetime ambition; I had previously been a member of the Air Training Corps and had wanted to join the RAF since I was four years old.
 
Second, SCRUM Master. This is my current role at BAE Systems Applied Intelligence but, to be honest, it’s not one that I envisaged pursuing after leaving the RAF and graduating from the University of Bristol with a degree in Geology. I’d planned to work in the mining industry but graduation coincided with an economic downturn and this prompted me to rethink my career aspirations. I turned, instead, to project management – an area where I already had extensive experience from my time in service.
 
And so I enrolled on the FDM Group Ex Armed Forces course which included Prince 2, ITIL and SCRUM training. This kicked off my move into the IT industry and I then took up the role of Scrum Master at Companies House – the role I had before joining BAE Systems.
 
Today, I work with multiple Agile teams in interesting and challenging environments, helping introduce new team structures as well as changing the landscape of existing ones. I especially enjoy mentoring, coaching and teaching teams and organisations to enable them to become their very best. There is nothing more rewarding than seeing teams and individuals achieve their full potential – whatever their job title is!
 


Meryem Tahar, Software Engineer


WATW2020 Meryem Tahar As a software engineer and developer, I help design and deliver cutting edge solutions to clients and this involves a myriad of different activities. From leading a team of developers, to taking on the responsibility of designing and developing new functionalities, to working with clients to meet their bespoke software requirements, my days are long and challenging – exactly how I like them!
 
While sometimes colleagues are surprised by the twists and turns of their time in the workplace, I have always had little doubt that a career in software and IT beckoned.  While studying computing at A-Level, I was encouraged to study Computer Science at University.
 
It was during her year in industry at the Science and Technology Facilities Council that I learned the importance of data, and I went on to study an MSc in Data Science at the University of Sheffield. Following graduation I joined JP Morgan Chase and after two years there I moved to The Data Shed in Leeds to work as a data engineer, the role which preceded my move to BAE Systems.
 
My three guiding philosophies are to believe in yourself, throw yourself into new challenges and not be afraid to skill up on the way. I also mentor the software engineering apprentices that join our Leeds office to ensure that they settle well and that their expectations are being met, as well working on various D&I initiatives, including the planning and running of key events such as International Women's Day, Ada Lovelace Day and International Men's Day.
 
Outside of work, my main passion is to work with underprivileged youth – in particular women – by delivering sessions on applying to university, writing a CV and introducing them to programming.
 


Rupinder Sandhu, Demand Planning and Project Management Office Manager


WATW2020 Rupinder Sandhu I joined BAE Systems as a junior PMO in 2015. Fast forward five years and I’m now an Account Business Manager looking after £13M+ worth of pipeline opportunities on two accounts in public and transport. It’s been quite the journey.
 
My days are now filled with overseeing new business bid responses, managing a team and mentoring younger colleagues from across our organisation. I take the lead on developing pricing models and reviewing them with senior stakeholders, and I put into practice key lessons such as the importance of strategy, execution and pricing. It’s certainly a big contrast to my days studying Business Information Technology at Coventry University.
 
Prior to BAE Systems, I worked in retail alongside my studies and, after graduation, I spent a few years at a finance company where I was promoted twice. Despite this progression, I was nonetheless drawn to life at a technology firm. The fast pace. The eclectic challenges. The ability to help clients through cutting edge approaches such as artificial intelligence, machine learning and quantum computing. No one day is the same.
 
That I am now seen as a “go-to” person for projects at all levels of the business is partly a testament to my hard work and skills but also, I believe, to the importance of treating people as they would wish to be treated. Courtesy, collegiality and reliability all underpin my approach day in, day out.
 
That’s why diversity and inclusion is also a key priority for me. I raise awareness via newsletters and at monthly and quarterly account meetings, and I am also a STEM West Midlands Ambassador, which involves volunteering in schools to promote Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths. I thoroughly enjoy these experiences as I can visibly see the benefits and enable me to give back.
 

Learn more about the TechWomen100 Awards by visiting the official website

 

"At BAE Systems Applied Intelligence we see the value in celebrating what makes us unique and are very proud to be headline sponsor of the TechWomen100 Awards"

Theresa Palmer, Global Head of Diversity and Inclusion

Learn more about Diversity and Inclusion at BAE Systems and how focusing on an inclusive workplace is at the heart of creating the right conditions for us to improve and enrich our business.