Tech Industry Gold – “You are the future”

Competition winners and badge

Industry recognition for student stars at Tech Industry Gold event.

Inspiring students about the breadth of opportunity in the booming world of tech was a key objective of the industry leaders speaking at Wednesday’s ‘Your Tech Future’ event. Hailing the participants as the future of the digital world, students’ achievements were recognised with prizes of time with employers, cash and Tech Industry Gold Credentials.

With grateful thanks to BT for their sponsorship, degree students and degree apprentices came together with employers, thought leaders, recruiters and role models in one of the special developmental experiences offered to Tech Industry Gold students. An action-packed afternoon included speakers Sheila Flavell of FDM Group, Lisa Perkins of BT, the Applied Futurist Tom Cheesewright and Learning Strategist Katja Schipperheijn. Students also benefitted from breakout networking sessions with Aitemology, AWS, IBM, IMDb Content, Informed Solutions, SAS, TCS and VMware.

Sheila FlavellThe resounding message across the afternoon was the importance of developing a broad skillset. Sheila Flavell, COO and co-founder of FDM Group, shared her company’s growth from a four person start up in 1990 to a $1.5Bn skills and employability business which is now the largest hirer of STEM graduates in the UK. She explained the importance of broad skills in a rapidly changing world, with employers looking for problem solvers, collaborators and leaders. She also pointed to the huge advantage Tech Industry Gold students have, studying courses that have been created in partnership with industry to deliver a highly valuable blend of technical, business, project and professional skills .

“We have a shortage of skills, but not of talent. You are that talent, you are the future”, she said.

Three speakers followed with thought provoking insights into that future. Tom Cheesewright focused on the metaverse – the seamless integration of physical and digital worlds which he sees as creating opportunities greater even than the dotcom boom. His challenge to the students was to think about what they personally will do to make the most of the transformation this will trigger. Katja Schipperheijn developed the theme of how we, as humans, can be part of this future, exploring innovation in learning technologies and the importance of a growth mindset.

Lisa Perkins, BTLisa Perkins, Director of Research and Innovation for event sponsor BT, built on this with a unique insight into what BT is doing to face the future, including the exciting work at the Adastral Park innovation centre. Referring to the vast range of roles in tech in BT, she discussed the importance of collaboration to create effective solutions, and explained why BT’s focus on applying technology to solve real problems for the good of society involves not only technical skills, but also curiosity, creativity and empathy.

Christelle Heikkila, Director of event host, TechSkills, and former IT Director of Arsenal Football Club, chaired a panel session with the speakers. Responding to questions from students, this included valuable tips for success in tech along with encouragement to “be proud of differences, support each other and focus on what you are good at”. Break-out networking sessions gave students the opportunity to talk informally to heads of recruitment, early careers managers, company directors, and professionals such as IT consultants, data scientists and technical account managers.

A highlight of the event for many was the opportunity to meet the winners of the autumn 2021 Tech Industry Gold Student Team competition. In this inter-university challenge judged by employers, first year student teams focused on a creative solution to helping students make career choices. The winning team from the University of West London – Midhun Sudheer Bose, Arian Mohammed, Milan Shrestha, Namira Shrestha and Nelson Banya – impressed with the quality of their video presentation and raised a smile with their concept of creating “the user interface of a dating app with the body of a job app”. They explained how the project had covered everything from market research to software development to user testing, and the skills they had developed in presentation, team work, creative thinking and being efficient.

In a moving testament to the value of this challenge, they also said “We learned about ourselves, and what we can do”.

The winners of the second / final year teams’ section were Loughborough’s Lara Pearson, Toby Oates and Luke Eason. This stand-out team were no strangers to the competition, having entered it in every year of their course due to the value they get from it.

Team prizes were £500 for first and £250 for runners up. Team members were also awarded Tech Industry Gold Credentials – digital credentials which explain the skills they demonstrated to the employer judging panels in a portable form for use on CVs, LinkedIn and social media.

Special thanks to the competition judges for their time, advice and encouragement to the students:

  • Nick Drouet – CTO for UKI at Kyndryl
  • Katharine Jackson – CEO at Proprep UK
  • Rafik Ishani – Director at Deloitte
  • Abby Eaton – Entrepreneur and Co-founder of AitemologyTM
  • Mandip Bharj – aitemologist™ at Aitemology™

Other prizes during the day included the fantastic ‘Boss for the Day’, shadowing a VMware executive; ‘Company Cuppas’, the informal chats with professionals and managers from organisations including Aitemology, Bain, Fujitsu and Quicksilva; and goody bags generously donated by BT.

TechSkills MD Tom Lovell closed the event by thanking everyone for their participation, and looking forward to seeing them at the spring event in March 2022.


First year student teams

First prize

  • University of West London, with ‘Uniflex’

Joint runners up

  • University of the West of England ​with ‘A Day in the Life’
  • University of the West of England ​with ‘CareerSwipe’

Special commendations

  • Lancaster with ‘CarFreer’
  • Queen Mary University of London with ‘VIRCA’

Second / final year student teams

First prize

  • Loughborough with ‘Kontor’

Runner up

  • University of West London with ‘7 Days Hybrid’

Individual awards

  • Hassnain Aslam, University of West London
  • Nelson Banya, University of West London
  • Midhun Sudheer Bose, University of West London
  • Michelle Chan, Lancaster​
  • Will Jenner, University of the West of England ​
  • Arian Mohammed, University of West London
  • Zoe Stone, University of the West of England ​