What was Northern Voices?

Will Dolby, March 19, 2018 4 min read

We know that a mix of ethnicity, ability, class, global experience and language helps companies develop and grow. We also know that by 2020 we’ll potentially need more than 750,000 new people working in tech. That’s why we need to inspire more women into careers in tech.

Northern Voices was a six-month speaker training programme developed and delivered by Tech North to help address challenges like the gender and regional imbalances at conferences and in media appearances, in turn making digital jobs a more attractive career for all.

28 leading women were selected for the first cohort – their specialisms as diverse as they are, covering everything from innovation in healthcare and gender diversity in banking, to using tech to end food waste and the explosion in augmented reality.

Over 250 speaking and media opportunities were secured by the 28 participants on the course, helping to promote diversity in the tech industry and media.

The 2017 cohort:

Amy Evans – Amy works for the Open Data Institute in Leeds, where she creates digital artworks powered by data, combining her love of both visuals and tech.

Anna Smith – Anna wrote her first line of code in October 2015 and secured her first job as a software engineer at the BBC almost exactly a year after.

Annie O’Toole – Annie is a key name in Liverpool’s thriving startup scene. Specialising in growth within tech startups, she recently joined augmented reality hardware company SwapBots.

Becky Boyd – Becky was Google’s first ever Digital Garage skills trainer, and now runs her own social media business consulting for brands and politicians across the UK.

Cari Kirby – Cari currently works in marketing for a games development company and has over ten years’ experience in the sector. She is an advocate of creating flexible working hours in order to retain talented women in tech.

Chelsea Slater – Chelsea’s social enterprise, Liverpool Girl Geeks, is a community of women dedicated to providing training for other women and young girls to inspire them to get a career in tech.

Claudia Wootten – Claudia leads the implementation of new communications and collaboration platform that will help to transform the UK government’s Department for Work and Pensions.

Diane Reddell – The daughter of a miner and a care worker, Diane was the first person in her family to go to university. She’s now on her way to achieving a second master’s degree and has embarked on a career in tech.

Grace Blakeley – Grace recently moved to the North to work for the IPPR North think tank, where she looks at the development of local economies, including the need to develop better digital skills infrastructure.

Helen Baker – Helen has forged a 20-year career at the UK’s only FTSE 100 tech company, Sage, that has seen her head from customer service into technical writing, then onto leading a 100-strong QA team.

Jane Tyler – Software created by her firm, RedBlack, helps companies like Marks & Spencers make sure they don’t bake more bread and pastries than they need to at any given time.

Kat Palmer – As Innovation Manager at one of Bradford’s most unlikely success stories, Kat has embraced technology to make Emerald’s big ideas happen.

Laura Partridge – Through her work with the N8 Research Partnership, Laura works to connect the research and innovation community with key industry sectors.

Laura Rietdyk-Johnson – Nominated as ‘One to Watch’ at the Northern Power Women Awards 2017 and one of the Top 50 ‘Future Leader’ in 2016

Llara Geddes – Having worked in marketing and social media, without a degree, Llara recently graduated from a UX consultancy role at digital agency Amaze to become the Head of UX at Beauty Bay.

Lyndsey Yates – Lyndsey started her own business to challenge the traditional agency model and allow freelance graphic designers to get recognition for their work.

Maya Dibley – Maya, a trained opera singer, currently leads incubator and investment programmes for high-growth tech businesses at The Landing at MediaCityUK.

Nikola Mcnicol-Kenney – Nikola works for one of the fastest-growing privately owned tech firms in the UK, Manchester-based Internet Service Provider Metronet, which recently acquired M247.

Nina Swanwick – Nina helps other Northern women become better represented at HSBC as the chair of its Balance North programme, which aims to promote diversity at the bank.

Philippa Ryan – One of the newest crops of women in technology, Pip recently graduated from Manchester Metropolitan University. She has now joined large, global IT firm DXC Technology as a systems analyst.

Rachel Peacock – Rachel is the Managing Director of DevAcademy, running the day-to-day aspects of the business alongside four other partners.

Samantha Deakin – founded Campus Capital, a venture capital firm that offers experiential learning opportunities to its clients, so that budding entrepreneurs can learn the mechanics of starting a business and securing funding.

Sarah Thew – Technology has the power to dramatically improve levels of care in the NHS, and Sarah works with medical staff to find tech solutions and IT systems that can support their needs.

Tanja Lichtensteiger – leads the Business Systems Software Development team at Leeds Beckett University, helping her staff deliver IT projects using an Oracle, web and Microsoft tech stack.

Tegan Jones – An expert in how digital can be used by the third-sector, Tegan is currently a national lead volunteer for Girlguiding, which provides over 500,000 girls aged five to 25 with the opportunity to discover new experiences and grow in confidence.

Tejay White – Currently working for Tribal, an educational software developer, Tejay is responsible for a software suite that supports students in achieving their learning outcomes.

Vimla Appadoo – Vim uses her expertise gained from working at FutureEverything and Dotforge, to help transform digital services for users at DWP.

How can we build on this?

In a cross-industry collaboration with Northern Power Women, Liverpool Girl Geeks, Diva Manc, Tech Nation and you. We’ve created a community led facebook group for anyone that wants to ensure more diverse voices are heard.

Seeking speaking opportunities? Maybe you are looking for speakers for your event? Or perhaps you’re looking to start a conversation on the change you’d like to see, and how we, as a community can make that happen. If so, Speak Northern is for you.


This is a community led group, built by and for the Tech Community who are passionate about diverse events and equal opportunities for all.

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