Centre stage with Dr Sue Black, Professor of Computer Science and Technology Evangelist in the Department of Computer Science at Durham University.
Born – Originally from Fareham in Hampshire my family moved
several times when I was small. I lived in Hampshire till I was 6, St Albans
till I was 9 and Essex till I was 17. I left home and school at 16 and moved to
London when I was 17, and I've lived in London ever since. I absolutely love
London and am excited to be the Women's Equality Party candidate for London
Mayor in 2020.
Studied / Education background – I studied maths at Southwark College
and then went on to London South Bank University where I did a degree in
computing and then a PhD in software engineering.
Current role / bio – Sue is Professor of Computer Science
and Technology Evangelist in the Department of Computer Science at Durham
University, a UK government advisor, thought leader, Trustee at Comic Relief,
social entrepreneur, writer and public speaker. Sue set up the UK’s first
online network for women in tech BCSWomen in 1998 and led the campaign to save
Bletchley Park. Sue’s first book Saving Bletchley Park details the social media
campaign she led to save Bletchley Park from 2008-2011, it has been an Amazon
Who do you work for and what does your
of Computer Science and Technology Evangelist at Durham University. My job
involves teaching, research and lots of other exciting things like talking to
all sorts of people from local schoolchildren through to groups of senior
executives about the benefits of education, how technology can change our lives
for the better and provide so many opportunities.
What made you choose IT as a career?
I loved maths
at school, but left at 16. When I went back into education aged 26 I studied
maths at college. The course had some programming in Basic which I really
enjoyed, with a lot of help from my teacher I wrote some code to replicate
chaos theory. I found that really interesting and fun. When deciding which
degree I wanted to take I chose computing because I thought then and think now
that technology is the future. The more we know and understand the greater
input we can have into making the world a better and more interesting place for
What do you think is required to be
successful in IT?
A love of
technology and the amazing things it can do
What’s been your biggest work
achievement of the last 12 months?
Getting my job!
I started as Professor at Durham University 4 months ago and am absolutely
loving it. I’m delighted that shortly after I joined we submitted a successful
proposal to run an exciting pilot programme for 100 women in the North and
Midlands, training them into technology roles called TechUP. We are currently
putting the programme together, it will run from July 2019 till 2020.
I also love the
fact that we are focused on encouraging more women to study and work as
academics in the department of computer science at Durham and am working to
make that happen.
What’s the best piece of advice you have
ever been given?
Trust your gut
instincts. I think particularly being brought up as a girl in the 1960s I was
encouraged to make sure everyone else was ok before thinking of myself. I was
also brought up to think that people who were older than me always knew better
than me. I know now that’s not true. We know ourselves and what’s right for us
much better than anyone else. We need to be brought up to take advice from others,
but then consider all advice then trust our gut instincts to make the right
What are your predictions for the IT
industry for 2019/20 or beyond?
There will be
more and more work available online, technology will become involved in all job
roles to some extent. This means that people who don’t interact with technology
will be out of the loop. Substantial investment is needed to ensure that
everyone has the chance to take part in the next digital revolution. People
will connect together more through technology, for good and bad. More diversity
in our workforces will mean products and services which are fit for purpose for
all consumers helping everyone to realise that technology can help solve many
of the problems we have in today’s society.
Join Dr Sue Black at IP EXPO Manchester,
3-4 April 2019
“I'm looking forward to
telling the story of how Twitter saved Bletchley Park. Social media is so often
portrayed negatively; I can't wait to tell you the story of how we used it to
save the home of the WW2 codebreakers at IP EXPO!”
Sue will also
be taking part in a book signing in association with Blackwells, where you can
meet her after her keynote session and purchase a signed copy of her book, this
will be taking place on Thursday 4th April at 14:45 pm to 15:15 pm next to the Press & Speaker