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UKITA names first woman chair

The IT industry body confirms Helen Brewster as its leader.

Helen Brewster

Helen Brewster has been elected chair of the UK IT Association (UKITA), making her the first female elected chair of a leading national IT industry board.

The election comes as a relief during a period of concerning decline among female IT representatives.

Brewster has been an active member of UKITA for several years and is excited about the challenges that await her.

"This is a fantastic opportunity," said Brewster. "I have worked in IT for more than 17 years and it's not just a job or a business to me it's a passion."

A UKITA statement said she planned to use her time in office to emphasise the importance of people in the tech sector.

"What often gets forgotten among the data cables, the hard drives and the broadband is that people are the most important factor when it comes to IT," she said. "This is true both within IT businesses and with regard to their customers."

"It is teams and individuals who translate real business needs into technology solutions that drive organisations forward. When we recognise and strive to remember that, communication between our sector and others becomes much more straightforward."

IT Pro spoke to Brewster about the challenges in encouraging women to join the IT work force.

"It is a difficult one, a lot is down to perception," she said. "I know that right now e-skills (http://www.itpro.co.uk/639595/q-a-paul-coby-it-director-john-lewis) is looking at ways to encourage girls in school to take part in IT and learn more about it."

"The IT industry is perceived as a male environment, but it isn't. I think it's important that we raise the profile that IT and tech is such a wide field now, and it is widening in every sense of the word."

Brewster told IT Pro UKITA has plans to work with the Department of Business Innovation and Skills (BIS) to further improve IT education in schools.

"I personally have a problem with removing the use of ICT from schools," she said.

"Technology is the backbone of everything though it doesn't always have the best of reputations."

In a UKITA statement, Brewster said she plans to bust the myths about IT and promote all that is good within it.

Andrew Corbett, UKITA executive director, showed his support for the new chairperson.

"She brings energy and commitment to the organisation and a people-centric perspective that can often be overlooked in our sector," he said.

"As an organisation UKITA continues to build momentum as a voice for the IT industry and we welcome Helen setting the tone."

For Brewster, the most important task ahead is to convince others that technology is about humans, not robots.

"It's understanding that technology is the enabler, not the blocker. Technology is not the thing that should drive business, business should drive business," she sad.

Brewster has been working in the IT industry for 17 years. She has established her own company, ATL Solutions, and is client experience director at ACUTEC.

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