Event

Data News elects for the 14th time the ICT Woman and ICT Lady of the Year. Who takes over the torch from Rima Farhat and Ayla Cremmery? Do you want us help to decide on the successors? Vote now

Want to meet the new ICT woman and Young ICT lady on February 22nd 2022?

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Programme

Young ICT Lady
ICT Woman

29/11 – 19/12

You can vote now on the nomineers for ‘Young ICT Lady of the Year 2022 and ‘ICT Woman of the Year 2022. Please have a look at our candidates.  

January 11thth

The top 5 for ‘Young ICT Lady of the Year 2022’ and the top 3 for ‘ICT Woman of the Year 2022’ will have the chance to propose themself to the jury.

February 22ndnd

The ‘Young ICT Lady of the Year 2022’ and the ‘ICT Woman of the Year 2022’ will be announced during the event.

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Young ICT Lady

THE TOP 10 YOUNG ICT LADY OF THE YEAR 2022

Karen
De Sousa Pesse
Digital Advisor
Microsoft
more info
The story of Karen De Sousa Pesse is amazing: entering Belgium with less than 200 euro in her account, fleeing the violence of her home country. She survived by hard and long work, and went on to graduate with a Master in Materials Engineering (UGent, highest thesis grade of her class), founding a company (DiversiBe), going to Harvard and MIT, and winning several awards (e.g. from McKinsey & Co). She was appointed a Belgian 40 under 40, working on a project to improve social mobility. In her career, she has worked in more than 20 countries, acquiring 6 languages (Dutch, English, French, Japanese, Portuguese, Spanish). And yet, she’s only 29 years old. Today, at Microsoft, she offers clients advice on digital strategy at CxO/sr VP/director level (e.g. the Flemish government on the next generation of Smart Cities). With her story, Karen De Sousa Pesse is the embodiment of the success women can attain in the world of ICT. And today, she wants to help more people like her – women with diverse backgrounds – to attain positions on executive and director boards. Her secret? “I never gave up. I sometimes changed strategy.”
Deborah
Deepa D’Hauwer
Manager – Strategy & Innovation – Telco, Sports, Media & Entertainment (TMT)
Capgemini Invent
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Putting it mildly, Deborah Deepa D’Hauwer is a force to be reckoned with. Indeed, at 20 years of age, she’d already gained a Master degree (Cultural Economics) at the KU Leuven, magna cum laude. This she followed with courses at the London School of Economics, Harvard Business School and Macquarie U., getting a Prince 2 certification as well.  At 26, she has already parlayed her multilingual, multicultural and strong soft skills background into a track record of positions at RSC Anderlecht, BT (international experience in London), Delaware Belux and NLMK. Today, she’s the youngest manager at Capgemini Invent, on the Technologies, Media and Telecommunications team. In addition, she’s also the Diversity and Inclusion lead and the international contact for sustainability in telecom. Not enough for an ICT Young Lady? Deborah D’Hauwers has also founded a charity – ‘STEM in Brussels’ – for young kids (10-12yr). And more, she still finds time for a seat on the board of the Ancienne Belgique, for membership of ‘the Nine’ (business club for women) and of Women on Board (for gender-diverse boards), and for being active in politics with focus on digital inclusion!
Gaëlle
Jongmans
Functional Analyst
KBC Bank & Verzekering
more info
A functional analyst for Young ICT Lady? Sure, as this is the quintessential function combining all key aspects of ICT: technological acumen, communication skills, and collaborative capabilities. Gaëlle Jongmans is well versed in all of these aspects, even in her first project, though not without challenges (moving data away from a mainframe!). But she tackled them all, with the project going live at the end of 2021. Bluntly, this is what ICT is all about, and Gaëlle Jongmans proves that gender in no way should be a consideration in ICT. Of course, for Jongmans, technology was hardly a strange unknown, with a father bringing home technological novelties and loving to explain them. A course in econometrics during her MBA Master led to a second master in Information Management, both at KU Leuven. It proved to her “you can work in ICT if you are a social person,” (even if you cannot code properly). And yes, people profit too from the extra inspiration Jongmans has been providing for many years as a tutor. Inspiration she will continue to offer as Young ICT Lady!
Zoë
Kaeblen
Founder & IT recruiter
NewBrix – Cronos Group
more info
The best way of recruiting more women into ICT… is recruiting them by women. And that’s what Zoë Knaeblen intends to do at NewBrix. With a Master Communication Sciences (UGent, magna cum laude), Knaeblen started out in the world of digital marketing. But having joined the Cronos group, she focused on the opportunity of closing the gap ‘between the IT job market and IT professionals’. Bitten by the entrepreneur-bug she co-founded NewBrix, with the blossoming company one year later helping 40 customers in their efforts to find people with passion, in a multitude of IT domains. Even more, she dreams of other women discovering the strength and social relevance of jobs in the IT sector. Why miss out on the different view – ‘a different gaze’ – women can introduce in a too homogeneous IT market? ‘At least 50% of IT talent we place at our clients would be women, in the near future’ is her dream, ‘making a real impact for women in ICT.’ A true dream to be cherished by a Young ICT Lady.
Alana
Panny
Senior Consultant in Artificial Intelligence and Data (Energy, resources & industrials)
Deloitte Belgium
more info
If you love what you’re doing, you want to infect others with that joy as well. That’s what Alana Panny loves to do. With a bachelor in Applied Information Technology – Software Engineering (Odisee, cum laude), she got a taste of Deloitte during an internship, joining the company full time a couple of months later. At Deloitte, she walked a solid data-oriented career path, reaching a position of senior consultant. In parallel, she walked an equally solid path to share the joy of her job, by volunteering for STEM activities for kids at CoderDojo (in Brussels), full of ‘contagious enthusiasm’. CoderDojo4Divas too counted on her as a coach, coaching girls in building websites. As a speaker, and later as lead, Panny participates in the ‘She loves to code’ initiative (a Deloitte/School 19/Women in Tech.Brussels activity), targeting (young) women to ‘inspire them to pursue careers in Tech’. During Covid, she continued these activities by having C-level women share their personal stories. Thus nurturing a community of women in ICT, as a Young ICT Lady does.
Talisha
Ramnarain
Sustainability & Technology Lead
Accenture
more info
Arriving in Belgium just six weeks before the pandemic hit, Talisha Ramnarain enriches Accenture with a broad experience in agility and the application of innovative and sustainable technologies. Exampli gratia of this is the blockchain project she worked on at Trust Lab Blockchain Innovation Studio in the Cape Town Area (SA) to track and measure progress towards the UN Sustainable Development goals. At Accenture, this Cape Town U. alumna has partnered with the Global Social Innovators team to deliver the ‘Virtual Skill Up’ solution – an extended reality app helping jobseekers to train their interview and speaking skills. And at the climate conference COP26, various solutions were presented by teams from the Global Eco-Innovation challenge accelerator that were innovation-coached by Talisha Ramnarain. Today she’s the Sustainability & Technology Innovation lead, shepherding ideas through an agile development process, embedding ‘sustainability by design’. So that’s a double ambition as a Young ICT Lady: focus on ‘innovation with a purpose’ for sustainability and being a role model for a new generation of women technologists.
Keren
Rodrigues Castelli
Head of Change Management BNL & UK/I
Devoteam G Cloud
more info
Being a Young ICT Lady involves encouraging change in the lives and careers of others, and of herself too. Who better then, than a Change Manager for a Young ICT Lady? With a Master degree of Management – Marketing & HR (HEC-UdeLiège), she got the job in Change Management by insisting during her job interview that change is null if people refuse to adopt it, irrespective of the technology and investments. Starting in an overwhelmingly male company, she straightaway took leadership in standardizing and perfecting the company’s own change methodology. Today, she’s head of a 10-strong change managers team, and is being tapped as Head of Change Management EMEA. Meanwhile, as a non-technical background person, she also gained a Google Cloud professional collaboration engineer certification… Quite some personal changes! In all of this, the human aspect stays key. Keren Castelli deeply and empathically cares about well being, and has been chosen as the company’s ‘trust person’. Also, she’s deeply involved in the company’s ‘Women in tech’ initiatives. In her opinion, women think too often ‘they need to know how to code to get into tech’, while women from non-technical backgrounds ‘can have their say and build their career in the tech sector!’
Bélise
Songa
People Manager Digital Customer Service
Colruyt Group IT
more info
Bélise Songa is hardly waiting for being an ICT Young Lady to start sharing her experiences as a woman in the ICT sector. Indeed, she already speaks out at events (e.g. the KUNGA network and the XPDays) to recommend ICT careers to young girls and their parents. This KU Leuven graduate, with a law background, has proven herself time and again a true people manager, relying on her expertise as a Scrum Master and project leader. She succeeded at this for the Mutualités Libres/Onafhankelijke Ziekenfondsen (Agile implementation), Famiris (Scrum Master) and Formalis (low code project), before joining Colruyt. Her ambition is ‘to see more female software engineers to design, develop and test software’, and for them ‘to take up the position of project leader, Scrum Master or coach’. And all of this not only for the newcomer women in these fields, but also for the ‘slightly older generation by introducing them to new technology!’
Astrid
Van den Broeck
Co-founder, CEO & CTO
DinnerGift & TableFixr
more info
You could be forgiven for calling Astrid Van den Broeck already a serial entrepreneur at 29 years of age. Graduating from the U. of Antwerp (Master Applied Economic Sciences, cum laude) and with additional language training in France (Nice) under her belt, she started DinnerGift – a startup specialized in giftcards for restaurants. During the Covid pandemic, she gained press attention with her ‘de grootste buurtbistro’ initiative, giving restaurants a boost and helping them to survive this dire crisis. Then she doubled up her efforts, learning to code in order to get TableFixr out – an AI driven app helping restaurants to attract new customers, providing data insights in order to become more digital. Clearly a Young ICT Lady who wants to lead by example. Today, she’s on a crusade to digitalize all restaurants and catering business around the world, with help from her brother (through his experience at Noma and the Sergio Herman Group). For the technical part, Van den Broeck enjoys the support of Start it@KBC.
Jasmien
Verhoelst
Digital Transformation Lead B2B
AB Inbev
more info
This is an example of the impact a Young ICT Lady can have on an organization. In the past couple of years, Jasmien Verhoelst transformed a significant European part of AB Inbev by moving a large part of the entire European Horeca and wholesale business to a B2B platform. This offered customers the possibility of touch-less orders to invoices and has improved the customer satisfaction score by 5% – splendid proof of her empathy with customers and their needs. Actually, it’s considered to be a ‘best practice’ example at AB Inbev, and one of the best B2B products on the Salesforce.com platform. Furthermore, she created an internal IT hub for AB Inbev Europe, starting a 50-strong B2B DevOps team from scratch. And even before, while still at Accenture, she already was on the AB Inbev team helping to transform and standardize the sales process by implementing a Salesforce Automation solution. This improved the efficiency of field visits by more than 50%. Clearly, she on a road to transform the ‘fast moving consumer goods’ industry, with ambition to become CTO or VP Technology at AB Inbev. Quite a goal for this KU Leuven (Master Communication Sciences, cum laude) and Antwerp Management School (Master Management) graduate!

ICT Woman

THE TOP 5 ICT WOMAN OF THE YEAR

Kristel
Demotte
Global VP Data Solutions
Cegeka
more info
Kristel Demotte may have dreamed of a life as a marine biologist, but it is the world of ICT that enjoys her data acumen. Indeed, starting out with business intelligence projects at Avanade and ending up leading their Data and AI service line, she excels today in her data and AI passion at Cegeka. As Global VP Data Solutions, she created the Data Solutions business line from scratch in barely four years time. Throughout her career, she demonstrated a superb range of skills in data engineering, governance, and data science, including IoT. And she will go on applying these skills to solve today’s sustainability and environmental challenges, as “I truly believe that these can be solved by technology.” However, though a technical person at heart, she never forgets that “people always come first.” And that’s why she wants to be a role model for girls and women in ICT. An alumna of the Karel de Grote Hogeschool Antwerpen (Bachelor Applied Informatics), she was 1 of 3 female students, out of a total of 300. That won’t do in a world that’s about to be swamped by “a tsunami of data and AI projects in the coming years.” Therefore, it’s imperative “to change the perception that IT is just about technology,” with women crucially welcome in both technical and managerial roles. Her message as ICT Woman of the year? “You are capable of doing anything you set your mind to. The only person that will hold you back is you.”
Alexa
Joyce
Director EMEA Digital Transformation & Skills, Public Sector Education
Microsoft
more info
Even more than her title, the track record of Alexa Joyce proves her long and deep commitment to education. Before joining Microsoft, this University of Oxford graduate (Biological Sciences, followed by studies at U of London, Solvay Business School and UCL) already thrived at European Schoolnet and Unesco on education-related challenges. More recently, working with UNICEF, she provided access to a digital learning platform (Learning Passport), in use in 46 countries. It provides local language digital curricula for students in difficult situations (e.g. refugees). Furthermore, she’s one of the founders of the Unesco Global Coalition for Covid Response in Education – creating digital learning tools for 2 million students, with a ‘teaching the teacher’ approach. Her interest in stimulating students – and in particularly girls – to get onvolved in STEM (coding, computer science, AI and more) is well reflected in her organizing Minecraft-oriented hackathons and the launch of a Computer Science Education Kit. Her ambitions reach yet even further, as she strives to ‘help every single student across the world to have a rewarding, personalized experience at school with the support of digital technology, that helps them to reach their personal ambitions and realize their potential!’ A goal worthy of an ICT Woman of the Year.
Elke
Kraemer
Founder
Clusity
more info
As founder of Clusity, Elke Kraemer literally makes ‘more women in tech’ her business. From within the Cronos Group, Clusity wants to be a force for the career boosting of women in tech, and to help companies to inspire employees through role models and events with women as keynote speakers. Not only will tech companies gain more female talent, but it will also help to shape the ‘technology of tomorrow’ for a more diverse, innovative and sustainable digital world. With a similar purpose, Elke Kraemer also co-initiated the Belgian chapter of the pan-European ‘Inspiring Fifty’ program. This puts 50 women in the spotlight as invaluable role models in business and academics. And role models are important, because without them, “you can’t dream of what you can achieve!” Of achievements, Elke Kraemer can witness plenty in her career. A graduate of the Hochschule Niederrhein (with additional studies at the ESIC Business & Marketing School in Madrid), she compiled a track record of improving turnover and profit growth in companies in Germany, Spain and Belgium. In addition to Clusity, she’s the managing partner of the management-consulting firm WiMedia. In the near future, she will start the next Belgian edition of ‘Inspiring Fifty’, but her ambitions do reach further. Indeed, ‘even at the age of fifty, it’s never too late to chase your dreams!’ As ICT Lady of the year.
Veerle
Peeters
Director Cyber Governance
Deloitte Belgium
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Veerle Peeters has proven herself in the extremely challenging world of cybersecurity, which makes her an excellent candidate for ICT Woman of the Year. She obtained a Master in Criminology at UGent, followed by a degree in management and behavioural and cultural governance from Antwerp Management School and Nyenrode U. Veerle’s education in social sciences provided unique insights for working in cyberspace, enabling her to engage everyone from CEOs to ethical hackers and creative workers, positively inspire, and make cybersecurity accessible to all. She held cybersecurity functions for years, building up extensive experience before joining Deloitte in 2018, and is today Director Cyber Governance. Throughout her career, Veerle has spoken out about the importance of behavioural and cultural governance, as awareness and organisational culture play vital roles in the fight against current cyber threats. She strives to inspire all generations to develop more digital and cyber competencies. Veerle is the founder of the DigiSkillz initiative to accelerate digital and media literacy among kids, as well as a Child Focus Belgium ambassador. She’s also strongly committed beyond the field of cybersecurity, coaching junior colleagues on the job, being a career coach and mentor, and involved in the ‘Women in Cyber’ and ‘Junior recruitment’ communities at Deloitte. As ICT Woman of the Year, Veerle will be a recognised cyber expert, but also and most importantly, a force to build a ‘human firewall’ for a more secure world.
Céline
Pfister
General Manager ICT Corporate & Investments
KBC Bank & Verzekering
more info
If ICT Woman of the Year is a matter of ‘leading by example’, then Céline Pfister exquisitely fits the bill. That is, by the example of her career. When moving to KBC IT in 2017, she had already built an impressive track record in KBC in Finance and Credits, ultimately becoming head of SME Credits. However, as banking becomes increasingly digital, Céline Pfister wanted to “understand how IT works and contributes to the success of KBC.” An interest that may seem somewhat audacious for a graduate of the Institut d’Etudes politiques in Strasbourg (Master Political Science, followed by a MBA at Vlerick management School), but she proved her ‘right stuff’ by managing the initial introduction of the Safe Agile Framework (SAFe) in Payments. Last year she joined the senior management of KBC and became the first woman in the Management Board of IT. Key words in her career are ‘drive, dare, results and people’, and ‘people’ should be read as ‘diversity’ and ‘inclusion’. Not only putting gender on the IT agenda, Céline Pfister also co-founded the working group on gender diversity, for a more balanced IT population. She is a speaker on this subject (InclusionNow, Ada-talks) and takes up a mentorship in the Accenture Young Potential Boostcamp initiative. ICT Woman by an example? That’s showing by your career you can make “KBC a great place to work, to foster growth of talented people.”

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