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DataNews elects for the 12th time the ICT Woman and Young ICT Lady of the Year. As always we provide a beautiful setting, an attractive programme and interesting network possibilities. Who takes over the torch from Heidi Rakels and Sanne Vermeiren? Meet the new ICT Woman and Young ICT Lady of the Year on February 20th 2020. Save the date!


18h00 Welcome
19h00 Introduction by Kristof Van der Stadt, Editor-in-Chief Data News
19h15 Keynote ‘Authentic Intelligence’ by Elke Geraerts
20h00 Awards ceremony Young ICT Lady & ICT Woman of the Year 2020
20h30 Networking & Cocktail dînatoire


Huis van het Hout
Vrijwilligerslaan 2
1040 Brussel


Tweede Lansiers Regimentelaan / Avenue du Deuxième Régiment de Lanciers
Free shuttles


ICT Woman of the Year 2020

The Data News editorial team has elected 3 leading ICT Women.
Starting from January 6 till January 12, you can vote on the ICT Woman of your choice.
Public and jury voting will each count for 50% of the total votes.
On February 20, the ‘ICT Woman of the Year’ will be announced during the award ceremony at the ‘She goes ICT’ event.

Caroline De Vos Co-founder / COO

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Almost ten years ago Caroline De Vos was one of the founders of SatADSL: the telecom company where she is now acting as the Chief Operating Officer. However, it was not written in the stars that Caroline would end up in the ICT industry. After her master’s degree in physics at the ULB, she completed her knowledge with an MBA at the International Space University. At first, she was looking for a career in space travel. “That’s how I learned about internet connectivity through satellites. That’s how I decided in 2010 to start with this company: providing connectivity through satellites is still core of the services that our company SatADSL is betting on,” Caroline said. This also means that this top Belgian woman does not really target customers in our country, but rather in developing countries and in places where internet connectivity is not self-evident. Last year Caroline De Vos received the recognition ‘Woman of the Year’ at the international ‘Global Women in Telco & Tech Awards’. “As a mother of two daughters, I understand the difficulties in a male-dominated industry. But this challenge is a driver for me to work hard to pursue my goals and realize my dreams.”

Twitter: SatADSL
LinkedIn: carolinedevosbelgium
Dewi Van De Vyver Co-founder / CEO
Flow Pilots

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Dewi Van De Vyver has always had something with technology. She was therefore destined to end up between developers. Eight years ago, Dewi was actively involved in the founding of scale-up Flow Pilots and has been running the company as the CEO for a year now. Flow Pilots is a Belgian company, founded in 2011 and specializes in the development of user-centric and mobile applications that transform organisations into truly digital companies. Dewi inspires and motivates about 30 people on a daily base. Dewi complemented her Master in Communication Sciences with courses in economics, graphic design and IT management. The intersection of these expertises inspires her as CEO. But her two sons also inspire her to use her profession for the greater good. In addition to her job as CEO at Flow Pilots, Dewi is part of the panel of the technology podcast Tech45. As one of the female strongmen in the sector, Dewi wants to get more women into tech, and AI in particular. “The technology debate that is being held today lacks a very important angle, namely that of half the population. It’s high time to create awareness.”

Twitter: Silmarven
LinkedIn: dewivdv
Bieke Van Gorp Co-founder / COO

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*Strive to amaze*, is the baseline on her LinkedIn profile, and that typifies Bieke Van Gorp altogether. She was one of the founders of the scale-up Qompium in 2014. If that name doesn’t ring a bell right away, their product FibriCheck might do. FibriCheck is a European certified medical diagnostic software application to detect cardiac arrhythmia’s such as atrial fibrillation. That means the software can even help to prevent strokes. However, Bieke Van Gorp was definitely not destined to work in a software company. After her master’s degree in finance at the KU Leuven and be part of an exchange programme in Bangalore, she initially opted for a career in the financial sector. For more than 5 years she worked at BNP Paribas Fortis, mainly around mergers and acquisitions. She co-founded Qompium/FibriCheck while she was still working as M&A Manager & Finance Officer at Pomin: a job she said goodbye in May 2017. Bieke is an entrepreneurial woman in a male dominated business. Last year she was therefore selected for a major pitching competition at the International Women at Tech Conference in California.

Twitter: biekevangorp
LinkedIn: bieke-van-gorp

Young ICT Lady of the Year 2020

The jury delegation has selected 10 nominees for ‘Young ICT Lady of the Year’.
Starting from January 6 till January 12, you can vote on the Young ICT Lady of your choice. Public voting will determine the top 5.
On January 20, the top 5 shortlisted nominees will have the chance to propose themselves to the jury.
On February 20, the ‘Young ICT Lady of the Year’ will be announced during the award ceremony at the ‘She goes ICT’ event.

Ellen Bogaert Manager in Financial Services – Customer Insights

Cindy Claeys Senior consultant

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A function title of ‘senior consultant’ does little honour to the activities of Cindy Claeys (1992) promoting gender diversity on the work floor. Indeed, for the past three years, she has been member of the WoMen@Capgemini Community, and today she’s the lead of this community and single point of contact for Capgemini Belgium at international level. This Community is an initiative started in 2012 and supported by Chairman and Group CEO Paul Hermelin in order ‘to set guidelines on gender balance across the group’. For Cindy Claeys, this involves organizing multiple internal events relating to gender diversity, as well as to create gender awareness inside and outside Capgemini Belgium. Clearly, this makes her into an excellent ambassador to “demonstrate to society that IT is a sector where every person, every skill is welcome!” A ‘community lead’, is this a strange career tangent for a University of Leuven Management Master (Marketing Major)? Far from it, as her extremely broad and varied track record proves. Indeed, before her Management Master, she earned a Master of Linguistics and Literature (French and Italian) ‘cum laude’, quite rightly proving that these studies also can lead to interesting IT jobs. Furthermore, already as a student, she got a taste of many types of job, including retail, HR, marketing, communication. Add to that a stint as ‘residence assistant’ (link between students and residence manager’, recognized as ‘absolutely a team player!’), and as ‘library assistant’. Clearly, this is far from a narrowly focused person. Yet she has also ambitions in her ICT specialty, SAP Ariba, to become “an expert and an international point of contact for Ariba.” Furthermore, she wants to improve even more her soft skills, to gain leadership skills, and to share her knowhow with her network. Share she already does, as she’s a participant in the Buddy-project in Leuven, providing motivational ‘after school’ tutorship to children and young people.
Kato Coppens Public sector consultant
DXC Technology

Femke De Backere Senior researcher Semantics and machine learning
UGent – Imec

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It’s hard to imagine how Femke De Backere (1985) as Young ICT Lady could exceed her present day activities relating to STEM and IT-promotion. However, she would certainly succeed in that challenge, considering her track record. Graduating as a Master Computer Science Engineer at UGent, she continued as a doctoral student. She loved doing research with real societal impact (e.g. regarding eCare, eHealth), and discovered her passion for education and teaching. Today, she is involved in teaching students the importance of soft skills, of a multidisciplinary approach in projects (as taught in the Design Project course, simulating the workings of a company), and particularly imprinting on them the need for societal relevance! More important, she has been elected a member of several boards, including the Faculty Engineering and Architecture (FEA) board. Not only representing young researchers in Beta science faculties, she is also on the education board of UGent, and the board of governors. This enables her to improve the working conditions of young researchers, but also to impact gender and diversity action plans at UGent. In addition to these professional efforts, Femke De Backere excels in ‘preparing the future’ by her participation in STEM initiatives. She is an ab-initio volunteer in the WeGoSTEM initiative (a partnership between Dwengo and #SheGoesICT). This project aims at reaching 10.000+ children in Belgium and Greece, with the help of hundreds of volunteers as Femke De Backere. She is also involved in the STEM@FEA action plan, aiming at developing workshops for use in primary and secondary schools. And in the UGent research project VirGO, bringing STEM to disadvantaged schools in Ghent. In coming years, Femke De Backere wants to continue on her chosen path, and ‘as Young ICT Lady, I will certainly increase these efforts.’ A tough but interesting challenge she attacks with the help of her husband, and to the benefit of her three children.
Julie Dockx Project & Success Manager

Ellen Lemaire Blockchain – Distributed Ledger Technology advisor

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“I studied Applied Economics (Master, University of Leuven). Not the most IT-related choice, I must admit…” That’s the dry, unassuming way Ellen Lemaire (1986) starts the introduction of herself. Nevertheless, it won’t prevent her from sprinkling cutting edge themes as ‘crowdfunding’, ‘blockchain’ and more throughout the rest of it. Perhaps it was fate, but after a start at Deloitte Consulting, with SAP jobs for the European Commission and Infrabel, and a switch to Real Estate at KBC, she was forced to make a decision in 2015. KBC stopped the Real Estate business in Central Europe, and Ellen Lemaire was ‘not somebody to close down a business’. So she co-founded the first Belgian crowdfounding platform in a bank, and literally wrote the/a book on it. It felt like a startup, with the “coolest job and the coolest team in the world.” She became head of the team, and re-oriented its activity to SME’s, making the business case for it within KBC (and learning to build a bridge between business and ICT, as they “seem to live on different planets”). Then, a year ago, she became blockchain advisor for KBC, as a follow up on the expertise acquired through a blockchain-based application for unlisted shares on a private blockchain. Again it was a challenge to deep dive into a technology, and to create a POC for real estate transactions between banks, notaries, sellers and buyers (including talks with the federations of notaries and banks). These are two examples of the great transitions banks will go through in coming years, with ICT playing an increasingly important role. A world of ICT, however, in which only a limited number of women participate today, and that “worries me,” dixit Ellen Lemaire. Women risk missing out on all these opportunities. Therefore, Elle Lemaire wants, as Young ICT Lady, to promote these jobs, especially to women, regarding the skills to build bridge between all stakeholders. “To inspire people on innovation, and to engage in programs for women to discover ICT related functions!”
Joy Malcourant Digital strategy consultant

Andra Mertilos Senior Analyst (Consultant)
Intys FSA

Julie Scherpenseel Chief Growth Officer

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Switching from Latin-Greek to Science-Mathematics (8hrs) for the two last years of secondary school because of her love for mathematics; and studying ‘ingénieur de gestion’ at Solvay Brussels School of Economics (in French, for the extra challenge), graduating ‘Magna cum laude’ and with the Prix Eugéne de Barsy – these are but two examples of how Julie Scherpenseel (1991) did it her way. Actually, it was her Master thesis that ignited her passion for analytics, and eventually machine learning and AI. The rest, including postgraduate studies Big Data & Analytics in Management and Business (KULeuven, ‘Summa cum laude’), is history. After honing her data skills at Real Impact Analytics and Accenture, she joined the ML6 start-up as Business Developer. Today she’s in charge of business growth abroad, and working with the CEO, CTO and advisory board on the future position of ML6. As well as being part of the Trustworthy AI group (on the ethical use of AI); talking with the European parliament; and being a (youngest) member of the federal Expert group on AI. Imagine what this powerhouse could do as Young ICT Lady? Indeed, she has already ‘identified a set of initiatives that I would like to drive, for a positive influence on girls and young women,’ apart from being a role model. First, she wants to increase her impact as KIKS advisor ( and in other STEM initiatives for the essential hands-on coding and AI experience, such as WeGoSTEM, Code City and CodeNPlay. Simply to get girls going! Second, she would like to continue the Young Potentials Boostcamp, launched by Ingrid Gonnissen, targeting young women in ICT. For regular mentoring sessions! Third, she wants to stimulate organizations to support women wishing to (re)direct their careers to ICT, part of a focus on continuous learning. Furthermore, she wants to stimulate gender diversity, and to foster a positive image of today’s changes in the job market. Already enough to do for two people? Yet in addition, Julie Scherpenseel also volunteers for the Fonds Emilie Leus, keeping the memory alive of her friend Emilie, victim of a drunk driver accident in 2009.
Céline Thooris Head of Artificial Intelligence & Robotics
Belfius Bank

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This year’s edition not only boasts top cutting edge technology experts, but also some of the most remarkable backgrounds. Indeed, Céline Thooris (1988), head of AI and Robotics at Belfius graduated as Master Political Science, with a focus on the contemporary Arab world (including jobs in the Near East). Augmented with a post-graduate Quantative Finance at the Solvay Brussels School (as the only women, a mother of a young baby, and the only human sciences graduate in a crowd of PhD’s…). Still, this is not so surprising as for Céline Thooris, “artificial intelligence is first and foremost about humans.” This is exemplified by her way with her team: a framework of diverse people, that brings out the best of each member, inspired by the broad spectrum of interests of Céline Thooris, and coached by her on the way their technology can integrate seamlessly in an existing banking operation. This has already resulted in a series of solutions for known problems (as the optimization of robotic process automation/ RPA), but also in projects showing the potential of AI to relieve teams of large volumes of work. Her team also built advanced statistical analysis tools for departments previously not concerned by these tools. In this, she leads her team to combine cutting edge prowess with solid practices as listening to the needs of the business. A similar approach can be expected in her expected role as Young ICT Lady. An ardent advocate of diversity (not only gender diversity), she wants people to avoid focusing too much “on our own. […] Innovation comes from the sparks generated by people with diverse backgrounds and real life experience.” By promoting this philosophy, women and other under-represented groups from the population will find fewer obstacles on their way to action in the ICT world. It is hardly surprising that Céline Thooris extends her people-centric approach to volunteer work for the Belgian Red Cross, while imbibing her young daughter with the broadest possible spectrum of interests.

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