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2023 Shortlist: Tech Leader Award nominees

news published date 9 October 2023

Following our announcement on 14 September, we are delighted to share details of another ‘set’ of the shortlisted nominees – this time for the Tech Leader Award category – but before we do here’s a reminder of the category:

Celebrates an outstanding contribution within digital or tech disciplines in financial services. This award recognises someone who is leading the tech agenda, either via thought leadership, technical expertise or as an innovator. This individual will have demonstrated their passion and innovation in either a project or in leveraging technology to advance the work of their organisation and improve gender equity and inclusion for their organisation, as well as for the financial services industry as a whole.

But why did these nominees make the shortlist? Below we include a brief summary of each of the submissions so you can see why these individuals were put forward for the next round of judging. Scroll down to read the full list and some of the amazing successes already achieved to date.

Aarti Balakrishnan, DeloitteFor each of her deliveries, Aarti seeks to enable transformation and modernisation to unlock greater value to customers and drive down the costs of serving customers. She attributes her success to a unique blend of technical depth and holistic problem solving.

One of the first female technology partners in her engineering practice and one of the few senior both ethnically diverse and female cloud leaders, Aarti is seen as a role model and mentor to females and those from diverse backgrounds.

Outside of her company, she has been a keynote speaker at a number of technology forums and launched a successful podcast series on technology innovation and cloud with some 2,000 active listeners. She also supports podcasts to support the diversity and inclusion agenda.

Anne Gosal, KPMGAnne started her career in law as a barrister in 2007 before moving to technology consulting in 2012. Anne is now a partner at KPMG and leads the firm’s Financial Services Technology Strategy and Transformation practice. Anne routinely advises clients on their most significant technology deals (ranging from £80m to £1+b) and technology-enabled business transformation programmes.

Keen to build inclusive cultures, Anne leads “IT’s Her Future”, KPMG’s award-winning women in technology initiative, which has seen the number of women working in tech roles at KPMG rise from 26% to 43% since 2016. More recently, Anne became an advocate sponsor for a new ‘grass-roots’ Tech I&D initiative to broaden diversity in financial services technology. Anne was shortlisted as ‘Woman of the Year’ at the national Women in Tech Awards 2021.

Asia Sharif, NatWestTransitioning into tech from a non-tech background, Asia’s career journey showcases resilience, dedication, and a thirst for continuous learning. Within just two years, she emerged as an award-winning software engineer, coding instructor, engineering mentor, UN delegate, co-lead of the promote STEM committee at NatWest, and tech startup founder.

Passionate about diversity and inclusivity, Asia actively advocates for women and people from underrepresented backgrounds within the tech industry and is seen as a role model given her multiple awards and accolades. Through talks, workshops and a widely-read LinkedIn newsletter, she seeks to inspire thousands globally to embrace a growth mindset and overcome challenges like imposter syndrome.

Helen Smith, NatWestIn late 2021, Helen was asked to take on the role of director of a major technology change programme at NatWest. Having now built a team of about 250 people and introduced a brand-new, integrated operations solutions platform using Agile methodology, Helen is keen to share the success and her experiences as a leader, with a particular focus on keeping her team motivated and focused.

Helen’s submission highlights the challenges she has faced in delivering on her remit and the impressive programme she oversees, as well as being honest about the considerable amount of personal resilience, passion, vision, integrity and empathy needed.

Jade Koh, Succession WealthOnly joining in 2022, Jade’s used of cashflow modelling has introduced a new level of planning into Succession’s clients’ financial scenarios. Jade has also, however, worked to overhaul the wealth manager’s training programme, resulting in significantly increased engagement and adoption, especially since it was led by an understanding that planners wanted to be able to confidently present and adjust scenarios during live client interactions.

Beyond the training programme, Jade’s impact extends to one-on-one support for planners, expertly guiding them through complex financial planning scenarios. Her uncanny ability to demonstrate advice using the cashflow model has made her an invaluable asset, relied upon to navigate challenging situations.

Lorraine O’Connor, TD SecuritiesAs Chief Information Officer, Lorraine is seen as a role model leader who fosters overall inclusivity to create an environment that is appealing to women of all orientations, ages, backgrounds, and cultures. Improving female representation from early hires to the most senior positions in her scope, Lorraine has built the technology function for TD Securities’ European hub, with some 90 technologists spread across 10 distinct technology disciplines, servicing the bank’s international operations.

Lorraine also sponsors the Women in Technology subcommittee for Europe and is an active member of Europe’s broader LGBTQ+ business resource group and the support she has provided for D&I programmes can be seen throughout her 20+ year career.

Michelle Berners Price, KPMGA partner in KPMG’s Tax and Legal Services team, Michelle is also KPMG’s global lead for delivering Business Travel and Remote Work services to our clients. Here, Michelle has led the implementation of business travel and remote work technology solutions, which she and her team have developed, to many of the largest financial services institutions across Europe.

Since joining KPMG as a graduate 14 years ago, Michelle has always advocated the recruitment of key female talent and the promotion of multiple female colleagues. Beyond the technology team Michelle is directly responsible for (where 23 of the 32 individuals are female), Michelle mentors colleagues across KPMG and takes part in reverse mentoring as part of a Black Heritage Allyship role. She has also mentored externally to advance social mobility.

Poppie Simmonds, Lloyds Banking GroupPoppie demonstrates strong ability and contribution to digital and technology disciplines within financial services, specifically digitalisation within Trade Finance product development.

Passionate about the evolving technological landscape within Trade Finance and an active contributor to innovation within the market and the associations and industry bodies influencing and driving change, Poppy is seen as an inclusive advocate for gender equity and inclusion within her own organisation and actively supports others in their career ambitions. She continues to upskill and drive her knowledge of financial services and the changing technological landscape through industry engagement and professional development.