Speaker Spotlight: Q&A with Jo Hannaford, Head of EMEA Technology and Global Head of Quality Assurance Engineering @ Goldman Sachs

Jo Hannaford

Jo Hannaford speaks to us about her role in the technology sector and shares her thoughts on London's Women of Silicon Roundabout, taking place 25-26th June.

A Partner at Goldman Sachs since 2014, Jo Hannaford leads projects involving thousands of engineers on a global scale, most recently overseeing the build-out of Marcus UK, the firm’s consumer savings platform. Jo joined the firm in 1997 in the Investment Research Division and prior to this was responsible for Global Volume Trading Technology at NatWest Markets. She is an advisor to the UK Government Digital Service Advisory Board and Chair of the Bank of England CIO Forum.

Jo is the driving force behind Goldman Sachs’ partnerships with various diversity focused organisations, such as the Code First: Girls 2020 Campaign, which aims to teach 20,000 young women to code by 2020 for free. Through this partnership, she has also been able to offer all Goldman Sachs women analysts in London seats on free evening coding courses.

Outside of work, Jo dedicates her time to similar causes, acting as a board member of Women in Science and Engineering (WISE), campaigning for gender balance in science, technology, and engineering. She is also a trustee of the Bletchley Park Trust and sponsors their Disadvantaged Schools Education Programme.

Jo will be sharing her wisdom in a session entitled 'Driving Digital Transformation in Your Organisation' on Day 2 of Women of Silicon Roundabout. She will be discussing her approach towards driving innovation and digital transformation within a large organisation, and how to make new work practices work for you.

VIEW THE AGENDAWe caught up with Jo ahead of the conference, here's what she had to say. 

Goldman Sachs

What is Goldman Sachs? Tell us about yourselves.

Goldman Sachs is a global investment banking, securities, and investment management firm that provides a wide range of financial services to a substantial and diversified client base including corporations, financial institutions, governments and individuals.

Founded in 1869, this year marks the firm’s 150th anniversary. While our history includes challenges and successes, what has always defined Goldman Sachs is our culture of teamwork and client service – it’s what first attracted me to the firm when I joined over 20 years ago.

Today, our people number nearly 36,000, stationed in all the major financial centres around the world. Of that number, over a quarter sit in Engineering, building and deploying the innovations that drive our business and financial markets worldwide.

What is your reaction to the fact that only 15% of employees working in STEM roles in the UK are female?

These statistics are constantly surprising to me. Careers in STEM are extremely well suited to both men and women, technology in particular is hugely creative and enormously flexible. I love programming now as much as I did 30 years ago.

When I was starting out, computing was considered a great job for women – quite a different environment compared to that of the past ten years, and it’s not clear how or why this shift came about.

Looking forward, we need to focus on the tangible actions we can take to dispel the myths around who is best suited to work in STEM and prioritise making these industries accessible to everyone.

As a Women of Silicon Roundabout Diamond Sponsor, why has Goldman Sachs decided to get involved?

Goldman Sachs first got involved with Women of Silicon Roundabout last year as the 2018 Headline Sponsor and I can honestly say meeting all those passionate and driven women, and seeing them come together in huge numbers, was a transformative experience for me. It’s a fantastic conference focused on an issue very close to me, both personally and professionally, and aligned with our firm values.

What is Goldman Sachs doing to promote women in tech?

Diversity is one of the cornerstones of our organisation – it’s written into our business principles, our recruitment strategy is built around it, and we invest in promoting it.

In Europe, we’re involved in a number of strategic initiatives specifically targeted at encouraging women into technology. One of these initiatives that I’ve been particularly focused on this past year is our partnership with Code First: Girls on their 2020 Campaign, which recently reached its halfway point in teaching 20,000 young women to code by the end of 2020, for free.

Not only has it been fantastic to see the impact this campaign is having in the UK technology community, it’s also been rewarding for our employees. As part of the partnership, we were able to offer seats on coding courses to our women analyst population in London. We’ve had fantastic feedback from those who have taken the course, and from our engineers involved in volunteering and teaching.

Code First Girls

Mentorship, sponsorship, or both? Is there a silver bullet for getting more women to the top?

There is no silver bullet answer, and this isn’t a change we will see overnight either. It’s important to keep this in mind when developing new initiatives that are geared towards increasing diversity in technology at all levels; we need to build programmes with a long term view and be prepared to not see immediate results. Real change takes time, but it is possible – especially if we continue on the trajectory we’re currently on.

In terms of the actions we can take on an individual level, these are numerous and in my experience a blended approach works best. It’s a combination of mentorship, sponsorship, having visible role models in the workplace, creating an inclusive company culture, returnship programmes, accessible education at every level, the list goes on. My advice would be to pick a few approaches achievable for you and take action.

What one piece of advice would you give to women who want to pursue a career in tech?

Don’t let preconceptions about the industry or culture hold you back – if working in technology interests you, then go for it. Also, remember there are people everywhere that are willing to help you achieve your goals, all you have to do is ask.

Drive your digital economy at Women of Silicon Roundabout

Join Jo and Goldman Sachs at London's top women in tech conference. Be inspired by the ecosystem's most influential women in technology, network with like-minded female founders, liaise with top Silicon Roundabout tech companies and enhance your skills portfolio in a passion-charged atmosphere.


Women in Tech London