I am 33 years old, live in Guildford, Surrey, and have spent most of my life in the Surrey area. I grew up immersed in, amongst other things, entrepreneurial business and the latest information technology developments thanks to my Dad who was himself a technology entrepreneur (co-founder of Alphameric Plc).
I wanted two things when I "grew up": To be a business woman. To my amazement, I achieve the latter part of my dream after undergoing a transsexual transition two years ago, and since then have achieved significant success in business also.
I was privately educated, which is a good thing since I was a horribly lazy child and probably would not have gone very far without the peer-pressure to succeed at the schools I attended! I obtained a fairly usual smattering of GCSE's, and went on to take Maths with Mechanics, Chemistry and Biology at A-level.
Although the obvious choice would have been for me to do an IT degree, I had heard that the computer science courses were in general rather dull and I would probably spend the first year or two twiddling my thumbs while I was taught things I either already knew, or did not need to know. Therefore I opted to do a subject of personal interest and went to Southampton University to study for a Masters degree in Biomedical Science. I left Soton Uni in 1999 with a 2:1.
Since then I have retuned to education (somewhat) by undertaking a collaborative PhD with Surrey Uni in their computing department. The areas of research are Cloud Computing and the future of national digital infrastructure. But I am getting ahead of myself - back a few years!
From BASICs to Business
As hinted at above, I had a powerful interest in technology from an early age, fortunate to have an older brother and Dad who were both technologists and inspirations to me. By age 9 I had started programming computers (first a Texas Instruments machine, then on to BBC BASIC), and by age 13 I had built a range of gizmos including a hardware speech-generation unit for my BBC Master 128, a handful of computer-controlled lego-based robotic systems and a remote-control hovercraft to name a few.
I also had a fascination with business from a young age, again inspired by my Dad, and at the age of 12 was making a tidy sum selling BBC Micro computer games to fellow students. At age 16 I produced my first-ever set of accounts, for my business "X-Lynk software".
By the time I reached university I was earing a decent side-income as a a part-time IT consultant and had demonstrated have a flair for interface design, which naturally led itself to Web development work.
After leaving University I spent a short period of time working as a Web programmer for MBA Systems Ltd, which specialises in online trading solutions for financial institutions.
Early in 2000 I moved to what I thought would be my actual career path and joined the now deceased Arthur Andersen as one of their IT Business Consultants (not to be confused with Andersen consulting who are now thriving as Accenture, but basically the same sort of work; ie. management consultancy). I had a very brief career with them since I was poached by Easyspace Ltd, at the time the UK's largest Web hosting and domain registration company, for whom I had previously worked as an e-commerce developer.
I spent two and a half years with Easyspace and rapidly expanded my role from lead e-commerce developer to development team manager and head of business development, and gained invaluable experience and insight into the burgeoning Internet hosting sector at a time when dedicated server hosting was just getting going.