Top 10: Women in AI in the UK & Europe

We celebrate some of the leading women in the AI sector across the UK and Europe as they commit to harnessing the technology to transform businesses

Recently, our sister publication Technology Magazine published its Technology Top 100 Women 2024, seeking to champion leading successful women around the world committed to developing technology for all.

Despite AI becoming a fast-developing business sector, women comprise just 21% of the overall talent pool, with global gender imbalances continuing to grow across the sector. Likewise, the Alan Turing Institute - the UK’s national AI organisation - finds that there is still a “striking scarcity of quality, disaggregated, intersectional data which is essential to interrogate and tackle inequities in the AI and data science labour force.”

With this in mind, AI Magazine considers some of the leading women in the UK and Europe who are harnessing the power of AI to create positive global change. 

10. Chanuki Illushka Seresinhe, Data Scientist and Co-Founder of Beautiful Places AI

Chanuki Illushka Seresinhe

Dr. Chanuki Illushka Seresinhe is an esteemed data scientist and has conducted plenty of research using deep learning. Her main area of focus is to understand how the aesthetics of the environment influences human wellbeing - having now founded Beautiful Places AI.

Until March 2024, she was the Head of Data Science at Zoopla, which involved managing a team of data scientists at both Zoopla and Hometrack. Prior to this, she worked as a commercial data scientist UK television broadcaster, Channel 4, in addition to being the Director of Data Science for Culture Trip.

9. Tabitha Goldstaub, Co-Founder of CogX

Tabitha Goldstaub

Tabitha Goldstaub is a UK government advisor, academic and philanthropist on all things concerning AI. She currently sits on several executive boards, including Luminate, an organisation that aims to ensure that underrepresented people have access to information to influence the decisions that impact their lives.

As an entrepreneur, she co-founded CogX - a leadership summit for emerging technologies.

Prior to this, Tabitha was Chair of the UK government’s AI council and a member of the Digital Economy Council, for which she was awarded Member of the British Empire (MBE) for services to artificial intelligence.

Her book, How To Talk To Robots: A Girls’ Guide to a World Dominated by AI, is an accessible book that examines equality within an ever-changing, modern world by introducing readers to AI.

8. Dr. Alessandra Sala, Sr. Director of AI and Data Science at Shutterstock

Alessandra Sala

Alessandra Sala is the Senior Director of AI and Data Science at Shutterstock, with more than 10 years of experience in research and innovation. She is passionate about advanced analytics, machine learning and computational models with the focus of transferring innovation from research to products.

Currently, Alessandra is working with a strong community of women to foster diversity, inclusion and equality for women and minorities whilst encouraging a global ethical approach in AI. Prior to Shutterstock, she was Head of Analytics Research at Nokia Bell Labs, where she led the development of successful data analytics strategies.

7. Samantha Edds, Senior Data Scientist at YELP

Samantha Edds (Image courtesy of Rise of AI)

Samantha Edds is a passionate leader with a successful track record in using statistics and data modelling to help organisations uncover insights and grow their business. Currently, she is Lead Data Scientist at Yelp, based in Germany, which includes designing and building end-to-end attribution products using machine learning.

Her work consists of productionising better products by creating more detailed data insights for clients. Samantha firmly believes in harnessing the power of big data to improve people’s lives by making more informed, data-driven decisions and enjoys designing and building models to solve problems.

6. Asma Houissa, Manager - AI, Data Science and BI at Orange Business

Asma Houissa

Asma Houissa is a respected AI leader and data scientist based in Paris. She joined Orange Business as a Data Project Manager in 2022, working within the pharmaceutical industry area of the business to implement AI and advise clients. She is now manager of AI, data science and business intelligence (BI), where she oversees the operational management of data teams across multiple business locations.

Prior to joining Orange Business, Asma has worked in AI and data management roles at several leading companies, including CGI and Altran.

5. Mara Pometti, Associate Director AI Strategy and Governance at McKinsey

Mara Pometti

Mara Pometti is a data strategist at the intersection of AI, data journalism and design. In her current role at McKinsey, she works with organisations to develop business-wide AI strategies via a methodology she developed to weave AI into everyday life.

Prior to joining McKinsey, Mara was a Lead in AI Strategy at IBM and worked with organisations to use AI and improve business operations. She helped identify AI use cases that solve real human problems by uncovering opportunities hidden within data.

She is also the author of the book Artificial Humans (Umani Artificiali) and is a public speaker and advocate for humanising AI.

4. Katja Hofmann, Senior Principal Researcher at Microsoft

Katja Hofmann (Image courtesy of Microsoft)

Having worked at Microsoft for more than 10 years, Katja Hofmann is an experienced researcher within machine intelligence. As a senior researcher, she is currently leading on Project Malmo - an AI experimentation on Minecraft with the goal to develop collaborative AI.

Katja leads a team that is focused on deep reinforcement learning for games, with a mission to advance the state of the art in reinforcement learning. Driven by current and future applications in video games, her team shares the belief that games will drive a transformation of how humans interact with AI technology.

3. Danielle Belgrave, Vice President of AI/ML at GSK

Danielle Belgrave

Danielle Belgrave assumed her current role at GSK in October 2023, overseeing the implementation of AI and machine learning within the company. She leads a team that is focused on the development of novel AI approaches for advancing drug development and clinical applications.

Her research focus for more than 15 years has been on developing machine learning strategies for personalising healthcare interventions. 

Prior to her current role at GSK, Danielle was Senior Staff Research Scientist at Google DeepMind and Principal Research Manager at Microsoft, using her expert scientific knowledge to develop statistical machine learning models to better understand health.

2. Dr Zoë Webster, Director of Data and AI Solutions at BT

As Director of Data and AI solutions at BT, Zoë works across the company’s digital teams to address the opportunities it has to harness data and AI to generate customer value. Her role is to accelerate this work to capitalise on the benefits of AI more widely.

For more than 13 years, Zoë worked at InnovateUK, where she eventually became Director of AI and Data Economy. These experiences have led her to adopt a much broader understanding of both the corporate and societal impacts of AI.

Speaking with Technology Magazine in 2023, she said: “Ensuring the quality and quantity of data is paramount. To develop robust AI models, you need sufficient, high-quality data. Different AI techniques have varying data appetites, with deep learning and large language models being particularly data-hungry.”

1. Anne Laure Thibaud (Thieullent), Executive Vice President - Data, AI & Analytics Group Offer Leader at Capgemini

Anne Laure Thibaud (Thieullent)

With more than 21 years of experience in large scale big data analytics and AI, Anne Laure Thibaud has witnessed how data and intelligence has become crucial to business culture. 

Having worked at Capgemini since 2000, she now leads the company’s data, analytics, intelligent automation and AI portfolio worldwide. This is designed to lead Capgemini clients towards the next steps of their digital transformation journey, in line with data and AI.

Her efforts have been focused in Europe since 2015, focusing on trusted business impacts, Anne works closely with clients and partners to achieve inclusive, positive and sustainable futures.

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