Sheridan Ash MBE
In the Queen’s Birthday Honour’s List 2020, Sheridan received an MBE for services to young girls and women through technology.
We caught up with Sheridan to hear more about her career in STEM so far, and the Imperial journey that led her to where she is today…
How did you find life at Imperial as a woman, studying a STEM subject?
I didn’t feel singled out as a woman at Imperial - I didn’t see or sense anything other than equality and acceptance. The people on the MBA were very diverse, which I loved.
What did you learn during your time at Imperial, in class or out?
During my time at Imperial I was a single parent, so didn’t have much time for extra-curricular activities outside of class! However, the most important things that I did learn were about myself.
For the first time, I found myself able to focus on what I wanted to do in my career and what my strengths were. From here, I began to think more strategically about how I could achieve my career goals.
Imperial also taught me to have confidence in my own abilities. Initially I was not very confident - partly due to being dyslexic and having left school at 16 with no qualifications. I went back to school as a mature student and single parent – I started by completing my A-levels, followed by an undergraduate degree, and finally I applied for the MBA after a period of work. I had to work really hard to get on to the MBA.
Imperial sparked my interest in technology and innovation. Since completing the MBA I have specialised in these areas.
Who did you find inspiring at Imperial and why?
Lots of people. The diversity of my fellow students, and the breadth and depth of what I could learn from them was particularly inspiring, as were so many of the College’s teaching staff.
What is your fondest memory of your time here?
Spending time with the other MBA students - we all got along so well, and I made friends for life. One of them being my future partner!
Please tell us a bit about the work you’re doing now.
I am currently Technology and Innovation Lead at PwC. As part of my role I provide vision, strategy, leadership, and operational delivery for PwC’s Technology and Investments strategy, which includes emerging technology and innovation.
I am also Women in Technology Leader and Founder of Tech She Can.
Tech She Can offers female-friendly education and career pathway lessons to inspire women of all ages to pursue careers in technology. The initiative recognises that relatively few girls and women currently pursue studies and careers in the technology sector, and seeks to address this.
So far, Tech She Can has brought together 200 cross-sector companies and institutions, including government organisations and many household names in the finance, retail, technology, and professional services sectors, with the aim of inspiring girls and women to pursue study and careers in these areas.
How has what you learnt at Imperial helped you in your career so far?
My experiences at Imperial taught me the power of collaboration and diversity – the teams of people I worked with on various projects during the MBA were diverse, and our relationships and how we collaborated were the most important factor in how successful we were.
I now believe the same approach applies to both business and life - I would never have managed to get 200 organisations involved in Tech She Can had I not known that collaboration and relationship skills are superpowers!
I am still very much connected to the College and have recently been working with Professor Maggie Dallman and the Faculty of Engineering on Tech She Can. Two Imperial female role models - Dr Cleo Kontoravdi and Dr Maria Papathanasiou, are being showcased in a new Tech We Can lesson, due to be released on International Women’s Day (Monday 8 March 2021). Our new lesson spans the use of technology in a pandemic.
What have been your career highlights and lowlights?
Founding Tech She Can and its success to-date!
Receiving an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honour’s List 2020 for services to young girls and women through technology, has been another highlight.
What are your plans for the future?
Continuing to advance Tech She Can – launching it as a charity (which is happening in April this year) and scaling its initiatives to reach even more girls and young women.
What advice would you give to girls who are thinking about studying STEM, particularly at Imperial?
Technology is increasingly changing how we live and work. We need women to be active members in creating and developing the new tech businesses, products, and services that will ultimately shape our world - else it won’t be fit for all.
Technology is a great career for women. It’s well paid, highly creative, and requires excellent problem solving and collaboration skills… all things women excel at!
What’s the most difficult decision you’ve ever had to make?
Too many to name…
Do you have a favourite quote or saying?
“Fake it until you become it.”
“There is a special place in hell for women who do not support women.”
“Collaboration is a superpower - it’s my superpower.”
Before you go, where can we find you?
I am on Twitter - @SashLondon.