Sunday, 8 March 2015

10 Inspirational Women in the Mobile Industry

Today is International Women's Day and I was thinking about the women who had influenced my thinking in the mobile industry over the past year. I have to say, I thought twice about writing this blog - I didn't want to patronise or embarrass the individuals mentioned in this piece and that certainly is not my intention. At the end of the day, I have decided to publish as they all deserve to be recognised as the movers and shakers they are in the mobile and/or web and internet security world and after all, the theme this year is "make it happen"!

No more glass ceilings

In alphabetical order, I have included their twitter handles where appropriate, so you can follow them:

Karen Barber, Independent Mobile Business and Startup Advisor
Twitter: @KLBarber

Source: Twitter
I first met Karen at the ForumOxford event in May 2014. She has advised many mobile startups and continues to do so, helping people to productise and bring to market new mobile applications and services. Dedicated, with great connections, she is generous with time and advice.

Anne Bouverot, GSMA
Twitter: @annebouverot

Source: (CC BY 2.0)

As Director General of the GSMA, an association of over 800 member network operators and associate companies, Anne has a huge job to herd the cats of the mobile industry whilst negotiating with the governments of the world over regulatory and policy concerns. She is one of only two women on the Board of the GSMA (Mari-Noëlle Jego-Laveissière of Orange recently joined). Only this week she highlighted that:1.7 billion women in low and middle income countries don't own a mobile phone - a gender gap of 200 million.

Melanie Ensign, FleishmanHillard
Twitter: @imeluny

I met Melanie while I was out in Las Vegas for Blackhat and DEFCON in 2014. Determined and skillful, Melanie liaises with the media and the hacking community over security concerns on behalf of some telecom companies. This role requires a head for technology and strong people skills, both of which Melanie has in abundance.

Virginie Galindo, Gemalto
Twitter: @poulpita


As Chair of the W3C's Web Crypto group, Virginie has one of the hardest jobs in the web world. The recent rise in interest of encryption on the web has made this activity all the more important. In an almost entirely male group, with some extremely volatile and passionate personalities, Virginie has shown incredible leadership, leading to a seat on the Advisory Board of W3C.

Helen Keegan, Independent Mobile Marketing Specialist
Twitter: @technokitten


Helen is one of the most well known people in the mobile marketing community. She runs the Heroes of the Mobile Fringe series of events every year at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona including the spectacularly popular Swedish Beers. Facilitating connections between startups, mobile companies and VCs. Another unsung heroine of the mobile industry, probably responsible for numerous collaborations between companies that previously would never have met.

Dominique Lazanski, GSMA
Twitter: @dml

Source: Twitter
A well known Internet governance expert, Dominique now advises the GSMA on policy issues and cyber security. She is also on the Board of the UK's Open Data User Group amongst other things. A true visionary and passionate about securing the future of an open and free internet for all.

Sue Monahan, Small Cell Forum

Source: linkedin
Appointed as CEO of the Small Cell Forum in 2014, Sue has shown great leadership and has made great use of her large global network of mobile industry colleagues to raise the profile of small cells and develop the future of mobile networks.

Marie-Paule Odini, HP

An expert in NFV and SDN (she co-chairs the ETSI NFV SWA working group), Marie-Paule is a Distinguished Engineer at HP and their CTO, EMEA for Communications Media Solutions. Intelligent, resourceful and full of ideas, I had the pleasure of meeting her at ITU World in Qatar where we discussed smart cities, drones and disaster relief.

Natasha Rooney, GSMA
Twitter: @thisNatasha

Source: W3C
Natasha is a Web Technologist for the GSMA and co-chair of the Web and Mobile Interest Group at the W3C. A self-declared geek, she has thrown herself into the role and has taken leadership on quite a few critical issues for the future of the web. She has gained the respect of pretty much everyone I know in a very short space of time (oh and as of the Global Mobile Awards in 2015 is now mates with John Cleese!).

Nico Sell, Wickr

A staunch defender of privacy, Nico Sell co-founded and is CEO of the privacy and security sensitive messaging app Wickr. Personable and highly intelligent, Nico commands the respect of the hacking community and also runs the successful DEFCON kids event and the R00tz Asylum which is bringing up the next generation of security technologists. At this point, I'll take the opportunity to apologise to Nico for "borrowing" one of the Stegocat posters at Wickr's DEFCON party!

Let's Make it Happen

There are many other women across the past year that have influenced me and that I have not mentioned. Some of those don't have a public profile or keep themselves to themselves, but they're also often unrecognised by their own companies. I'm constantly impressed by many women that are often juggling parenting responsibilities with international travel and partners who are also in busy careers.

The simple fact that I'm writing this shows that world society still has a long way to go, even in the West. Most of the meetings I go to are still populated by white middle aged suits (yes, me too!). Whilst most people in my age group have moved on from old stereotypes, you still hear some pretty shocking stories of prejudice and public humiliation towards women by bosses and colleagues.

To the male readers of this blog - I see many meetings where "he who shouts loudest" seems to be the "successful" conclusion of a lot of email discussions and meeting decisions. Next time you're speaking in a meeting - stop and think: perhaps you should listen to someone else's view? That person may be the woman next to you who isn't choosing to engage in the usual testosterone-fuelled meeting argument.

The glass ceilings do still exist, but there are lots of rays of light and it is great to see so many of my friends and colleagues doing so well. Long may it continue until the point we don't need an International Women's Day.

If you want to mention a woman in the mobile, security or web world who has inspired you, please leave a comment below!

Edit: 08/03/14 - some small edits and tidy-ups, and to actually put them in alphabetical order!

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