What has been your personal highlight of 2020?
My personal highlight of 2020 is that our eldest son Jack and his fiancé managed to get married.
I am so proud of them for demonstrating such resilience during the pandemic which forced them to adapt to constantly changing circumstances and handling relationships with family and friends sensitively, and for creating the most beautiful and intimate of weddings. Adversity forced them to be creative and it bodes well for their relationship going forward.
Which celebrities would you invite to a Zoom party?
Alicia Keys - she's seen so many sides of fame, what has she learned? She can come if she sings This Girl is on Fire for me.
Yuval Noah Harari - so many questions to ask him about how history is important in preparing for the future.
The Dalai Llama - he is so reflective and full of wisdom. He is the one who reminds us "If you think you are too small to make a difference, try sleeping with a mosquito in the room."
Tony Blair - whatever your politics, he makes a strong case for the use of technology in government, society, economy and planet.
What has been your guiltiest lockdown pleasure?
My husband and I went to Venice with friends some years ago and discovered Negroni cocktails. During lockdown they have been our guilty pleasure.
Which tech figurehead has inspired you most this year, and why?
It has to be Anne-Marie Imafidon who founded the Stemettes. She has just been voted as the most influential woman in UK IT and I am so pleased that my friend and brilliant role model Anne-Marie has been acknowledged for the tremendous contribution she makes to the tech sector.
What piece of technology, or app, have you not been able to do without during the pandemic?
It has to be my iPad. I know it sounds ordinary, but it has allowed me to stay connected to friends, family and colleagues during a very tricky time.
If you could be anyone else for a week, who would you be and what would you do?
I would love to be my 40-year-old self again. It would take me back to a time when my precious mum did not have dementia. It would give me the opportunity to cherish those moments I took for granted and to ask her all the questions that I never asked her.
Do you miss face-to-face events?
Yes! My favourite part of any event is the unexpected introductions and connections you make - it is not necessarily about the names you recognise on the guestlist but rather the new people you meet.
A lot of the events I go to are focused on inspiring a diverse group into considering tech careers and I was concerned that this move to purely virtual meetings would create a barrier to entry for those who are not so well versed in tech tools. While I'm aware it has for some, I am delighted to say that I've seen many people of all ages and backgrounds embrace tech. One of my greatest virtual events was discussing why I chose tech with 100 seven to 11-year-olds, a scenario that would have previously played out in the school hall!
How will COVID leave its mark on the way the channel operates long term?
That's a big question - and I am sure it will be different for all of us.
However, COVID will now mean that work is no longer a place, it is where you are. It will mean that relationships will have to be built and nurtured virtually, which implies that we will have to find new ways to establish trust and credibility. Creating competitive advantage will rely on you demonstrating points of difference via excellent references or ratings and in terms of customer service, our tolerance for slow service is lower than before.
I believe that operating virtually means that there is an expectation for an instant response capability or an always-on experience and so we will have to rely on automation in order to achieve that. Life online is faster and less forgiving in terms of loyalty, so we have to achieve a higher level of excellence.
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