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Diversity of talent celebrated at Women in Tech NI Conference

Women in TechEnergising Tomorrow’s World was the theme of the first ‘Women in Tech NI’ Conference organised by Women in Business NI and a collective of leading technology companies and organisations working in Northern Ireland.

The Women in Tech one-day conference was held at Titanic Belfast and more than 300 women from right across Northern Ireland’s technology sector attended the event to learn and to network.

Local technology entrepreneur and angel investor Mary McKenna MBE used her keynote address to encourage women to have a mindset that will spot opportunities and not let them fly past. The co-founder of the successful Northern Irish e-learning company Learning Pool now works with early-stage startups. She offered advice to the delegates:

“You need a large and varied network that is both deep and wide. Everything in life and business is about people. Every opportunity is attached to a person. You need to pay attention so you can spot an idea when it comes along. You may have to step outside your comfort zone to act even it you may not be holding all the pieces of the jigsaw. You need to believe in yourself, your abilities and your worth. You need sufficient support and encouragement around you. And being decisive helps, because opportunities don’t wait for procrastinators.”

Women in Business Chief Executive Roseann Kelly was delighted with the Women in Tech conference and said “In partnership with many of Northern Ireland’s leading tech companies and Everywoman in London, we organised an exciting conference agenda with world class speakers streamed live into Titanic Belfast, along with a host of local experts who enthused and equipped the 330 attendees.

“It was a fantastic day full of energy, engagement from all the women and men in the room. For an inaugural conference it’s been hugely successful and we look forward to returning in February 2018.”

Delegates heard from female and male role models and influential entrepreneurs who innovate, challenge and embrace technology via a live stream which connected delegates in Belfast with relevant talks being given at the annual London ‘Everywoman in Tech’ Forum in the London Park Lane Hilton Hotel.

Breakout sessions allowed delegates in Belfast to discuss career progression (facilitated by Sinead Dillon from Fujitsu and Tanya Matthews from Kainos) and networking (facilitated by Sheree Atcheson from Deloitte and Louise Kerr from Allstate) as well getting in sight into emerging technologies such as the Internet of Things from AppAttic’s Rachel Gawley.

Naomh McElhatton hosted the Women in Tech NI Conference and says that today’s empowering event “will be one of my proudest moments in 2018”. Described as one of Northern Ireland’s most energetic entrepreneur, Naomh is a STEM Ambassador, founder of the She Said Club, SMART NI and Northern Irelands DANI Awards, and last year delivered a talk at Tedx Stormont on online addictions.

The inaugural Women in Tech NI conference was supported by Fujitsu, Allstate, CME Group, the Department of Finance, Deloitte, Innovate UK, Invest NI, Kainos, Liberty Information Technology, PWC, Seagate, Sync NI, Version 1 and Women in Business.

Speaking about the event Sinead Dillon, Principal Consultant, Fujitsu said: “Fujitsu is delighted to support this, the first ‘Women in Tech NI’ Conference in conjunction with Women in Business and Everywoman. We have been a partner with Women in Business for a number of years and strongly believe that we can fuel Northern Ireland’s economy by fully harnessing the unique abilities and approaches of everyone in society.

“Across our global operations, Fujitsu has seen the value of diversity and its increasing importance in energising the digital transformation of every workplace. We felt that there was an opportunity to bring the local technology sector here in Northern Ireland together to promote the importance of diversity and to encourage more women into tech here. We look forward to the continued discussions and debate which will help us maximise the value of our diverse talent as we seek to grow the local economy.”

Delegates also heard about the ‘Ignite’ forum that has been set up by technology companies in the North West to promote STEM among young females. Their mission is to inspire the next generation of female technologists and enforce the idea that the technology sector is a hugely creative, exciting and innovative world to be part of. Members of the forum shared their ideas and lessons learned with the delegates who were keen to apply them in their own regions to help inspire the next generation of technologists.