Winning Women: A look back on this year’s PCR Women of the Year

Following the success of our very first Woman of the Year event last year, PCR held its Women of the Year 2015 awards on October 16th, where women (and men!) from the UK PC and tech industry were invited to celebrate the trade’s leading ladies and network.

Taking place at Sway Bar, London, around 100 industry execs packed the room on the day to show their support for their female colleagues, plus it was great to see so many male colleagues who also turned up to celebrate the inspirational female role models.

Four awards were up for grabs on the day, including Rising Star, Marketing and PR, Sales and Woman of the Year.

First up was the Rising Star award, where CompTIA’s senior vice president for industry relations Nancy Hammervik, handed Abigail Bowen, technician from Overclockers UK, the gong.

Abigail said: “This has been a complete surprise, I would like to thank my mentor, he gave me the advice I needed to push myself further. Thank you very much.”

Second came the Marketing and PR award, which went to Rachel Gordon, marketing manager at Mad Catz, which was presented by Sarah Jasper-Baker, commercial marketing director at The Hut Group. Rachel commented: “I am really humbled, thank you very much.”

This year’s Sales award was presented by Sarah Shields, from event partner Dell, and last year’s Woman of the Year, which was awarded to Michelle McGeoch, senior sales manager at Lenovo. Michelle said: “Thank you. I’m very surprised. I have worked in IT for 25 years and I have never felt disadvantaged as a woman but I completely agree that we need to do more for all the women in our industry.”

Lastly, Nova Smith scooped the prestigious PCR Woman of the Year 2015 accolade, handed by Zaboura Communications founder Maggie Zaboura.

Nova set up IT Tablet UK and is director and owner of Direct E-Trading Ltd.

She said: “I honestly did not expect this, I have tears in my eyes. Big up the women!”

She went on to tell the audience her touching story about how she juggled creating her business, whilst coping with the death of one of her children and the ill health of another. Despite these troubles in her life, Smith has gone on to create a successful business, which now turns over £3 million.

“I was pregnant on holiday with twins, went into labour at 18 weeks. We lost our first boy but managed to save the other twin. It was a year in Cyprus before we were able to bring our son home on a ventilator. He is now nearly six and at a mainstream school, and he’s amazing,” she said.

On the day, headline partner Maggie Zaboura gave a speech where she expressed the importance of working with women in a male dominated industry, as well as why having a mentor is so crucial for women.

She said: “One of the reasons I am here is because I have been in tech practically all my life, and I didn’t have any women who were mentoring me, mostly men unfortunately. But it’s not unfortunate because it obviously made me who I am today.

“It’s very different today, I can see an awful lot of women in this room and they all look amazing and I’m sure they have all been very, very successful in what they do.”

Event partner CompTIA’s Nancy Hammervik also spoke during the event. Having previously attended last year’s awards ceremony, Hammervik highlighted how women within the industry are setting an example, and why closing the skills gap is crucial to gaining more women in tech.

Nancy said: “We just launched a programme called Dream IT. We did a lot of research and we found out that when we asked girls if they like IT, more than 97 per cent said yes. But when we asked them if they want to pursue a career in IT, nine per cent said yes. Because there’s a lot of misconception about careers in IT, we have to work on that, so Dream IT is focused on reaching those young girls.

“I would like to congratulate every nominee. I was honoured to be on the panel of judges, and it was a really tough decision and you all deserve recognition.”

Dell’s Sarah Shields commented: “Dell is delighted to be a sponsor of this year’s PCR Women of the Year Awards. It was great to present the Sales award to Michelle, who is an incredibly worthy winner.

“It was fantastic to return to the awards after receiving my own Woman of the Year Award last year, and the level of talent being recognised at the event this year demonstrates the importance of awards like these. It is an honour to recognise and celebrate female success in business and I look forward to seeing these awards thrive.”

A panel of experts debated and decided who won the awards, including Zaboura Communications founder Maggie Zaboura, CompTIA’s senior vice president for industry relations Nancy Hammervik, Mimram Media’s director Lisa Carter, Dell’s UK sales executive director and general manager Sarah Shields, Context’s global MD Adam Simon, Circus founder Charlie Le Rougetal, GfK business group director Megan Moore, and Indigo Pearl founder and MD Caroline Miller.

PCR editor Dominic Sacco closed the event by thanking attendees for coming along to celebrate women in IT.

“I want to say a massive congratulations to all of the winners – we had some very strong nominations and it was extremely tough for our judges to pick just one winner for each award,” he said. “I’d like to say a big thank you to our partners: CompTIA, The Hut Group, Dell, and headline partner Zaboura Communications.”

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