YOUNG ICT LADY OF THE YEAR
For the sixth time, in addition to the "ICT Woman of the Year", Data News is looking for a "Young ICT Lady of the Year".
We received no fewer than 53 candidatures for this award. These are young women, 35 years of age or younger, with already an impressive track record in an ICT company or in the IT department of a company. They were able to put themselves forward or be nominated by a colleague. The TOP 10 voting list was composed by the grand jury. By online voting the Data News' readers will decide on the five nominees. The jury will choose the final winner of the Young ICT Lady of the Year among the top 5 most voted candidates.
ICT WOMAN OF THE YEAR
The top 5 voting list was composed by the editorial staff of Data News. By online voting you can decide now - for 50% - on the next ICT Woman of The Year.
The jury will also vote - for 50% - on the ICT Woman of the Year.
YOUNG ICT LADY OF THE YEAR
When executing an electronic payment transaction, please think of Linda Buytaert (1982). As newly appointed ‘head of IT Acquiring’ at equensWorldline, she is responsible for (some of the) systems at the heart of the electronic payment transaction traffic in Belgium. Her challenge is to continue evolving these systems, while ensuring stability, performance and robustness. Still, as a veteran at equensWorldline (and previously Worldline by Atos and Accenture), she has proven her abilities as manager of large scale projects, depending on new technologies and calling upon multi-national teams. She has set up (Itil based) service support services and offshoring activities, and started out at Accenture Technology Solutions with hands-on developer jobs. A fine career path for Linda Buytaert, based on a bachelor of applied informatics (Hogeschool Gent) and Solvay Brussels School studies (Management of Financial Transaction Services).
Obviously, Linda Buytaert wants to master her new role to the fullest possible extent as fast as possible. But also more than that. She strives to be ‘an enabling leader’, going for the best possible working environment. Yes, with ‘a woman’s touch’, with empathy and being supportive. Throughout her career, Linda Buytaert has built a solid track record in this field, e.g. as an ambassador during the implementation of the ‘New Way of Working’, as well as mentoring junior employees. ‘We must be sure that people are happy to work for our company!’ For herself, a longer term ambition involves ‘broadening my scope even more, being able to participate more in strategic choices and the international expansion’.
Referring to Tine Lavrysen (1985) as ‘an interesting mix of expertise’, is putting it mildly! While at the Delft University of Technology, where she graduated with a Master of Science (ir) degree as industrial design engineer, she was a member of the Nuon Solar team, whose Nuna 4 ‘solar power only’ car won the World Solar Challenge 2007 in Australia! Tine Lavrysen was responsible for the car’s ergonomics, as well as handling public relations and all contacts with international press. She followed this by participating in the ‘Superbus’-project of the Dutch astronaut/pilot Wubo Ockels and a graduation project targeting children, making them aware of their energy consumption by means of a game. The common thread in all this, and core for Tine Lavrysen is the ‘user experience side of people’s interaction with technology’.
As a professional, she put her broad expertise regarding ‘user experience’ to good use at the Human Interface Group for companies as DHL and GDF Suez, and the European Smarcos project (research collaboration between 20 organizations in 7 countries in the field of ‘usability for the Internet of Things’). Today, at iCapps – builder of iOS, Android and web applications - she is the team expert creating engaging user experiences for products and services at a range of customers: Telenet, KBC Securities, Mobile Vikings and Mediahuis. Two examples of projects she has worked on: the Isabel app going mobile (phone and tablet, iOS and Android), and the Connective eSignatures (a mobile platform enabling business interactions in a secure and contextualized way).
As an innovation ambassador, she wants to continue to expand her expertise and pass it on to colleagues, as well as to the public at large through accessible applications and services. And by endeavouring that she won’t be the sole woman in an ict meeting, as still often is the case…
For Segolene Martin (1982), life is without borders in a Europe of boundless industry. Graduating with a master degree in European Public Politics at the Institut d’Etudes Politiques de Strasbourg, she launched herself in a career with a decidedly European character. A first high point was at ERRIN (the European regions research & Innovation Network), as both a policy officer (interfacing between European institutions and regional authorities, businesses, research) and coordinator of the ERRIN ICT Working Group (resulting in increased collaboration between ICT clusters on R&D projects). At the Committee of the Regions, she set up the ‘Automotive’ intergroup, bringing together more than 50 authorities from 12 European countries, regarding the future of the automotive and the transport industries. This she followed with a stint at the European Standards organisations CEN and CENELEC, in the fields of business development, marketing and digital transformation projects.
In 2014 Segolene Martin turned yet towards the start-up world, as co-founder of Meetsies, a collaborative economy tool enabling to make new friends around meals at home, again with a decidedly cross border aspect (including users in Sankt Peterburg, Russia). Since 2015, as managing partner of Kantify, she aims at transforming data into value for retailers, through the application of Artificial Intelligence – a start-up company with multiple awards already. Still, Segolene Martin sees no limits, planning on growing her company in Belgium and beyond, as well as continuing to learn – ‘finalizing my MBA in my free time!’.
Of the Top 10 candidates for Young ICT Lady, Tania Martin (1983) is probably the person we all should be grateful for in Belgium. With a Master degree in Cryptology and Computer Security at the University of Bordeaux, she became a researcher at the UCL, one of Belgium’s centres of excellence for cryptography, in order to obtain her PhD. Her research covered ‘privacy in RFID systems’ and resulted in publications, both academic and for the general public – a clear sign of her interest in reaching people beyond the close circle of crypto specialists. Afterwards, she joined the staff of SMALS, also rapidly becoming a self-taught specialist in cloud computing and cloud security. This resulted in the design of a cloud security model, that today is in use by most institutions of the Belgian federal government as a tool to assess the security of cloud services (and thus sufficient reason for our gratitude). Furthermore, it’s a design with the seal of approval by the Belgian Privacy Commission.
Though crypto- and security specialists may easily be lured into staying within their expert communities, this is far from Tania Martin’s objective. While at university, she already participated in campaigns promoting ict and computer science to students at primary and secondary school level, especially ‘demystifying computer technology for girls’. Today, she shapes the vision regarding cryptography and information security at SMALS, with a clear purpose of turning her ‘ideas into actions’, developing new secure technologies in order to ‘ease the lives of citizens in Belgium and Europe, while protecting them’. Obviously always taking into account the human foibles, as ‘there is no patch for human stupidity’….
The Colruyt Group always has an eye for exceptional people, and with Laura Monten (1990), it got a true industrious centipede. Before (and while) studying business economics at the KULeuven, Laura Monten already worked as a caregiver at a nursing home, as an administrative officer at a bailiff’s office (including the introduction of a new filing system and optimizing the workflow) and at a shop as a sales associate – often concurrently! While at the KULeuven, she tutored in mathematics, economics and English, as well as co-organized activities at the Ekonomika student association. Clearly, a person that knows how to get on with it (did we mention she also was a playground animator and an active member of Natuurpunt, a nature conservation organization?).
And at the Colruyt Group, Laura Monten really gets on with it as a business process engineer at the Business Processes and Systems department. There she displays a multi-role capability as project manager, functional analyst and even application manager in two complementary projects: Integrality, Back-up & Failover. Integrality (track & trace) is a combination of technology (cameras for barcode scanning) and procedures to ensure that personalized prints are produced and sent only once. For the Integrality project, Laura Monten also tackles a back-up and failover system. Furthermore, Laura Monten participates in the operational support of the internal ERP-system, manages her team’s Workspace on SharePoint, and as a process engineer is continuously on the lookout for workflow optimization.
Yet, this workload does not extinguish her drive for growing in leadership capabilities, and bringing more women into what is still ‘a man’s business and ict world’. As Young ICT Lady, this would be a major objective, as well as extending education opportunities to women even beyond our borders!
Moving from Romania to Belgium in order to pursue a career opportunity characterizes Adriana Petrescu (1981). She goes for it! Graduating in Human Geography at the Universitatea ‘Alexandru Ioan Cuza’ din lasi (top of her class), she started out as a ‘Human Resources’ (HR) generalist, later moving to the IT-side of HR as a HR (Certified Solution) Consultant for SAP ERP (in addition to certifications for several SAP SuccesFactors modules). Joining Accenture in 2011, after stints at Ness Technologies, The Red Point and Emeritis (the 2010 opportunity), she continued combining her IT expertise and HR business skills in cross-border HR process projects (e.g. today as an EU Global Process Lead for a global product company, deploying Global HR processes in 22 countries).
Adriana Petrescu is deeply convinced that ‘women belong in the IT world and that diversity makes a team stronger’. She shares her expertise with colleagues and offers support within Accenture’s global network, having joined the Expert Career Track in 2016. Through Accenture’s Corporate Citizenship program, she also volunteers as mentor at Connect2Work, the Antwerp based foundation helping highly skilled migrants to integrate in the Belgian labour market (finding positions matching their training, expertise and ambitions). And certainly, she wants to reach out to young women at recruiting events and through social media, to persuade them to go for an IT career. Of particular interest is that Adriana Petrescu successfully combines such a career with being the mother of a three-year-old son, still having time to ‘cut his drawings and sticking them on the furniture’ and ‘giving him a hand with his puzzles’.
Valerie Taerwe (1988) is a persistent young lady, to put it mildly, as this is the second time she makes it to the ‘Top 10’! A second appearance she earned by continuing a career that has been diverse since graduating as a Master of Science, computer science engineering – software engineering (Ghent University, 2012). Indeed, a career she started as ‘one of the very first official student-entrepreneurs’ in this department, by co-founding G-Flux – a mobile and web application company that’s still going strong, and by co-founding CenEka, a student organisation facilitating visits of students to electro technical and computer companies, to get a better feel of their future careers.
Starting at AE nv as a consultant (business, functional) with stints at Securex, Jan De Nul and Bpost - ‘learning to prioritise,’ and how to mix methodology and pragmatism – and instigator of internal Hackathon and ‘accelerator’ projects, she switched to another Deparco group company, c-Quilibrium. As a business development manager, she focuses on the challenging Italian and Greek markets with software for the (physical) cash supply chain of banks.
Matching her technical solution insight with business problems solving capabilities, she wants ‘to be a coach, rather than a manager’. Long term dreams? Yes, going for a MBA (Vlerick) and – back to the roots? – ‘still dreaming of a product start up’. However, these dreams are balanced by personal targets, as ‘building a house’ and ‘starting a family’. And being a STEM/STEAM/Tech ambassador!
Nele Van Beveren
Though graduating ‘magna cum laude’ as Master in Computer Science, Nele Van Beveren (1983) decided ‘to first gain business knowledge’. This she did as Analyst Market Data at the KBC department of Middle Office (for the dealing room), and much more. Not only did she create scripts guaranteed to produce timely and high quality data, she became a product owner, working very close together with IT. A way of collaboration she became passionate about, ‘working in short cycles, resulting in value early in the project, efficiently, in a fun way’. Combined with excellent coaching skills, a transfer to IT as Agile coach was obvious, with corresponding results. Nele Van Beveren succeeds not only in coaching teams in the use of agile methodologies (Scrum, Kanban), but forging cross-border teams (Belgium, Spain) into a real ‘one team’. She instils an agile mindset with understanding of the benefits of such a methodology (rather than as an obligatory approach), facilitating the required changes in the supporting organisation. Indeed, these are the characteristics of a true coach.
It is the ambition of Nele Van Beveren to expand this spirit of agility and flexibility throughout the company, inspiring people on this topic. Not only did she build a broad intra-company network (thanks to social media), she also started reading groups at KBC, for deeper understanding of books as e.g. ‘The Phoenix Project’ and ‘Re-inventing organisations’ (the latter involving her in a strategic council of KBC IT). Four times a year she co-organises a ‘Facilitation Game lab’ (with different companies participating). Nele Van Beveren extends this teaching and evangelisation streak outside KBC as a CoderDojo coach, as ‘I love to inspire and guide the girls and boys during their own little experiments’.
For Kel Wouters (1983), computers were a very early love (starting with a Ms-Dos computer yet), but she went for a Master in Communication Sciences at the VUB (2006), graduating with honour. And collecting honours became a fixture in her ensuing career in advertising (at Hi-Media, Agency.com) as a digital account (project) manager. Particular highpoints (with related multiple awards) were her involvement in the extremely popular Kai-Mook ‘Baby Elephant’ campaign of the Antwerp Zoo and the Axion Banner Concerts (both at Boondoggle), and her stint as Dotcom manager at The Hotel (Brussels), resulting in an award for her Social Media Approach (New York).
Turning independent in 2013, she started ‘So Buzzy’, an online marketing and social media agency, combining this with lecturer assignments at Syntra AB, PXL-Music and Cevora on the subject of social media. Again, Kel Wouters collected social media awards for her activities (Hotel Bloom, KBC), resulting in a growing agency, combining an adhocracy of freelancers with an in house team. And yet again, in 2014, she pushed the envelope by starting an online web shop, ‘So Baggy’, specialising in all kinds of… bags and yes, winning the ‘most performing social media award’ at the 2015 Digital Marketing Awards (Bloovi).
However, these professional awards aside, Kel Wouters takes particular pride in being president of Belgian Girl Geeks, organising free events for women interested in ‘techie stuff, innovation and the digital world’, in partnership with top technology companies (Microsoft, Samsung,…). More so, ‘I would love to be an ict ambassador in the broadest sense of the word.’
With Ukrainian roots, founder of a Belgian company and based in New York City, you can hardly call Hanna Zubko (1986) a quiet, self-effacing lady, quite the contrary. Particularly considering that she was involved in co-creating IntellectEU at the age of 19, and has created 5 companies since then. With training at the Kyiv-Mohyla Academy, (economics and entrepreneurship), Lehigh University and Bologna University, she combines at her company technological excellence – a must in the financial world, with standards and careful management. Indeed, ‘becoming increasingly responsible for more and more employees and their families adds a dimension to entrepreneurship’, she states, remembering growing up ‘very poor’ in a post-Soviet Union era. Today, the company is a the very cutting edge of technology, with Hanna Zubko becoming a fairly well known person in the ‘blockchain’ world, through IntellectEU’s founding member participation in the Linux Foundation’s Hyperledge project (integrating various blockchain technologies and contributing to cross-industry open standards for distributed ledgers).
As a result, Hanna Zubko has been nominated femtech leader in New York (2016), and invited to meet president Obama at the Global Entrepreneurship week (June 2016). In December 2016, she was one of the people met by the ‘Straffe Madammen’, at their NYC trip. Next to bringing IntellectEU to ‘the next level globally’, Hanna Zubko wants to be a role model for young female talent making a way in technology and banking, actively working on gender equality in the FinTech and ICT industries.
ICT WOMAN OF THE YEAR
General Manager, Elmos
Liesbeth Debruyn has stood at the helm of Elmos, a Belgian ICT consultancy firm with its head office in Mechelen, since November 2010. Her career path is impressive, to say the least. In her first year, she lifted the company revenue to above the symbolic threshold of 10 million euros. Last year, that revenue clocked up an amazing 22 million euros. When she took over in 2010, Elmos had 90 consultants: today there are over 190.
Liesbeth Debruyn uses a pragmatic and result-oriented approach whereby she offers the customers of Elmos a solution for their shortfall in knowledge or manpower. But, most importantly, Elmos is committed to a human approach, a personal methodology and individual support, combined with an open-door management style. It is this investment in people that leads to the corporate success of the company, according to Debruyn.
Liesbeth Debruyn is 55 years old and grew up near Hasselt. She is married and has two sons. She attained her teaching degree in French-History-English, but closed the school doors behind her after only a short teaching spell. Her period at L+T Software under the guidance of Etienne Schreurs (ex-Saga) was where she learned the ropes. She then joined LACO as an account manager, where, in 1993, she became general manager and later moved on to managing director and shareholder.
Muriel De Lathouwer
Managing director & CEO, EVS Broadcast Equipment
Muriel De Lathouwer is the CEO of EVS since 2014 and a member of its Board of Directors since 2013. EVS is globally recognized as the technology leader for live video production. Its premium media technologies help broadcasters, rights owners and producers optimize live assets, engage audiences and increase revenue streams by monetizing content across multiple platforms.
EVS is a public company traded on Euronext Brussels. The company is headquartered in Belgium and has offices in Europe, the Middle East, Asia Pacific, and North and Latin America.
Before joining EVS, Muriel De Lathouwer spent almost 20 years in the telecom, high tech, IT and media industries. She started her career as IT consultant at Accenture followed by seven years at McKinsey, where she became Associate Principal and advised major cable and telecom operators, as well as media and high tech companies around the world.
Most recently, Muriel De Lathouwer was the Chief Marketing Officer and a member of the executive committee of the Belgian mobile telecom operator BASE. Some of her major achievements at BASE include the redesign of the product portfolio and the revamping of the communication strategy leading to doubling the acquisition of postpaid contracts.
She is an Engineer in Nuclear Physics (ULB, Brussels), and holds an MBA from Insead (Paris).
Muriel De Lathouwer is also an independant board member at Amoobi. Amoobi SA is a spin-off from Université Libre de Bruxelles, specialized in footpath analysis inside large indoor environments; the equivalent of Google Analytics for brick and mortar retailers.
Marie del Marmol
Country Manager, Insight Belux
Marie del Marmol (53) has been in charge of the Belgian branch of ICT distributor Insight since 2012, When she took over the reins from Alain Sohet. Like Sohet, Marie del Marmol can boast years of experience with HP, where she made it to sales director of successively the Enterprise segment, the Technology Solution Group and, later, the General Western Europe Technology Services division. Originally a civil engineer, she arrived at HP through the takeover of Compaq, where she also held sales positions. Earlier still, she worked as an account manager at Bull for over eight years.
But today, Marie del Marmol heads the Belgian division of Insight. Insight is an American distributor specialised in ICT hardware and software with leading partners including Microsoft, Symantec, HP, IBM and Cisco. Marie del Marmol predominantly sees chances for Insight to help the CIO in realising the business needs. This, for example, could be providing a seamless integration of all licences and contracts with data in an existing business structure, of course taking the cloud into consideration. This leading lady has been working in the Belgian IT industry since 1989. During her studies, however, the Brussels resident was absolutely sure she would never go into sales or IT. “Luckily I changed my mind”, she now admits. “IT is ahead of other industries. You need to constantly anticipate and respond to new trends if you want to stay at the top, and that's very exciting. If it's tough being a woman in a man's world? When I was younger it was more difficult to gain the trust of my male colleagues. This was particularly true at Bull, which had a real macho business culture. Today, though, being a woman has turned into an advantage. You are able to build a different kind of relationship with customers than men, and you react differently as a woman. This often works to your advantage.”
Vp Medical Devices Business Technology Leader EMEA region, Johnson & Johnson
Claudia Herben works for Johnson & Johnson Medical Belgium. While her official position is based in Belgium, the accountability of her role covers the entire EMEA region. Johnson & Johnson Medical is part of the Johnson & Johnson group which consists of approximately 128,000 employees in more than 250 operating companies around the world.
Prior to joining J&J, Claudia held several IT positions in different companies, including Deloitte, EDS and Groep Boerenbond. In 2003, Claudia started her career at Johnson & Johnson as the NCS EMEA Regional Security Manager, and took on roles with increasing responsibility over the years. In 2012 Claudia was promoted to Vice President Infrastructure Services where she engaged with IT and Business Leadership in the EMEA Region. In addition she led the Global Service Desk and End-User Operations and led global Programs like Customer Centricity, Continuous Improvement and Communication.
Since January 2016 Claudia is vp, Medical Devices Business Technology Leader – EMEA Region. She defines the technology strategy for business partners, manages business expectations and is accountable for all aspects of delivery in EMEA. She has a team of 8 people who report directly into her. In total her organization consists out of 30 people.
Leadership for Claudia means leading by example. To quote her: “True leaders are authentic leaders, leaders who are into every moment, who connect with the people around them. True leadership requires courage and ‘courage’ means ‘with the heart’ ”.
Claudia’s mission is to show how IT can be an enabler for the business and how IT should be at the table in conversations involving patient health care and medical devices. She’s a strong advocate for diversity and inclusion and is an active leader in different programs at J&J including the Women’s Leadership Initiative.
Managing Director of Onepoint Belgium
Sandrine Lipartiti can count on more than 20 years’ experience in IT: the vast majority of them with Vision IT, where she began her career back in 2003. For six years she was Consultancy Branch Manager with the Vision IT Group, heading a team of 45 professionals. In 2008, Sandrine was given the responsibility for the operational functioning of the commercial teams in Belgium and Luxembourg, whereby she also played a part in setting out the strategic lines. It was already written in the stars that Sandrine would take her career to new heights, which she eventually did in 2013. The company, based in the Walloon town of Lasne, was renamed Vision Consulting Group and Sandrine took on the role of Managing Director Belux.
“It wasn’t an easy ride. The competition was strong. I had to work 12 hours a day, as if it was my own company. Not easy for a woman to be recognized by the customer and especially in the company. But after 13 years it still remains a daily pleasure”, says Lipartiti.
In early 2015, French company Groupe OnePoint acquired a majority stake in Vision IT, which is when the OnePoint name came about in Belgium. Sandrine was also closely involved in those merger plans. In just 15 years, the French group expanded into an leading IT specialist in digital transformation with in total more than 2,000 employees.
Sandrine Lipartiti is managing director of Onepoint Belgium, as well as partner in the local Onepoint Brussels Wallonia division. The staff know her as being an incredibly passionate driving force; first in Waver, then in Lasne and now in Brussels. Above the linguistic border, in Flanders, the group also has a branch in Zele.
“It's always a challenge for a woman to run a business, even in the 21st century. She may be recognized as a commercial talent, but admitting that she is a formidable entrepreneur is something else!”, according to Sandrine Lipartiti, married and mother of two teenagers: “People expect more from a woman in the enterprise. You need to be more convincing, more tenacious and dynamic than men.”