I need to start with an apology: This is almost two months overdue! I have had a few distractions with a poorly puppy and finishing my permanent employer to become freelance, and the panic attacks involved with both of those things!

And I need to follow that up with a spoiler: I didn’t win an award.

But, it was an unbelievable night! I went along with The Boy (my other half), and a few people from my then company, CACI. We were sat on a table with two winners, and it was an honour to have met them, the other two finalists in my category as well as all of the other amazing and inspirational women in the room.

So first up, the two winners on our table:

Nayana Dasgupta – One to Watch (joint) Award Winner
School Student

Nayana Dasgupta - One to Watch Award Winner

Nayana Dasgupta

Nayana is a Year 11 student whose passion for computer science and cyber security led her to start her own club at age 13. she presented a talk to 700 students at her school to inspire them to explore computing and has been instrumental in the introduction  of Computer Science GCSE in the school. Awarded the role of Digital Leader, she has forged links with the Hallam University Computer Security and Forensics department and is currently developing the school app which is due to be launched imminently.

Nayana was a joy to meet – she comes across much older than her years, and while quiet and reserved at the table, when accepting her award you could see the passion and confidence that helped her to achieve what she has.

“I’d like to thank my parents and my family for being so supportive when I was young and interested in computers – hey, someone has to do it! Thank you to Sheffield High School for introducing computer science into the curriculum.”

Nayana, accepting her award

Nayana Dasgupta - One to Watch Award Winner

Jelena Aleksic – Start-up Founder Award Winner
CEO & Co-Founder GeneAdviser

Jelena Aleksic - Start-up Founder Award Winner

Jelena Aleksic

Jelena is a geneticist turned entrepreneur and co-founder of GeneAdviser, an online platform making it easier for doctors to find and order life-saving genetic tests for rare diseases, cancer and precision medicine. In one year, she has developed the service from scratch, guided by interviews with clinicians and genetics labs across Europe. Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge is the first customer, and the service is expanding to other labs rapidly. Jelena is also a Director of the scientific training charity TReND in Africa, and co-founder of the Cambridge Rare Disease Network.

It was very humbling speaking with Jelena – that she has forged ahead on her own to use Technology for such a worthwhile cause. I had no doubt that she would be the winner for her category.

“I’m really proud of what our team has managed to accomplish. I’m really grateful to friends and family, and everyone who has supported us. I wish every woman had this. I wish every woman who had an idea to change the world had the help and support to make it happen – imagine the world it would be.”

Jelena, accepting her award

Jelena Aleksic - Start-up Founder Award Winner

And onto my category; The Digital Star Award

Shivvy Jervis, Sharon Jennings & Amanda Follit - Digital Star Award Finalists

Shivvy Jervis, Sharon Jennings & Amanda Follit

Shivvy Jervis – Digital Star Award Finalist
Creator-Producer, Digital Futures & The Trailblazers Telefonica

Voted one of 100 folks ‘redefining digital Britain’, Shivvy creates editorial on the tech-for-good theme across web, video and social, both with her industry hat on and as the Head of Digital Content for Telefonica. She is the creator of two high-traffic online video series’ at www.youtube.com/digitalfutures – ‘Digital Futures’ and ‘The Trailblazers’. Shivvy is a Britain’s Asian Women of Achievement awardee, has been named one of 10 future female digital leaders for London and is a highly active mentor, speaker and commentator.

Shivvy was very upbeat, bubbly and complimentary, this made her very easy to speak to – even for an introvert like me. You can feel the passion for what she does radiating from her at all times. I was in good company with my fellow runner-up!

Amanda Follit – Digital Star Award Winner
Head of Digital Operations Services, Amaze Ltd

Amanda Follit - Digital Star Award Winner

Amanda Follit

Amanda has been pivotal in establishing the operational service offerings in digital which truly sets Amaze apart from other agencies. as well as managing a team of 35 multi-disciplinary staff and mentoring two senior women in other organisations, Amanda has significant experience in developing innovative service offerings and digital governance approaches for national, pan-European and global clients including Lexus, Unilever and Toyota.

I unfortunately did not get much time to speak with Amanda on the night – and have probably exchange more words with her via Twitter. But if I was in any doubt about how much she deserved this accolade (which I wasn’t) then her words on accepting the award would have erased them:

“At 18 I was homeless. I lived in my car on a beach in Ramsgate. If I’d known I was going to be here now, I wouldn’t have believed it. I self-taught myself code and I’m now looking after younger girls, and mentoring staff. Thank you everyone, it’s an absolute shock and such an honour among such wonderful women.”

Amanda, accepting her award

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And to level the playing field, here is my embarrassing little blurb that was featured in the program for the night (thankfully I
don’t have the video clip that was played on the big screen);

After a redundancy in 2008, Sharon found herself entering the strange new world of email marketing. In eight years she has self-taught HTML, earned two marketing qualifications, and is now the Technical Lead of the Email Development team at CACI. Sharon is a self-professed geek; she writes two blogs, one on email and one on the girlier side of the tech world, and has gained over 1,000 Twitter followers, all under the pseudonym of Email Chic Geek.

A big thank you to everyone at Everywoman for such a good evening, and thank you to the judge who deemed me worthy of being a finalist of such a prestigious award. And congratulations to all of the other nominees, finalists and winners.

I’ll leave you with a few more photo from the night.

Photos by Steve Dunlop. +447762084057


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