Alison Vincent, CTO of Cisco UK & Ireland

by Alison Vincent, CTO of Cisco UK & Ireland

When I was growing up I always wanted to perform on the West End stage and while performing has remained an important hobby for me during my career, it was tech that ended up taking centre stage.

I first became interested in a career in technology at University, when computers were just beginning to come onto the scene. As soon as I recognised the potential for computing to transform the world, I knew I wanted to be part of it. I wanted to catch it early and be involved in something I knew would change the way we operate on a social, professional and even economical level.

I came out of London University with a PhD in Cryptography and BSc in Maths and Computer Science and I’ve been working in IT for about 25 years now. It’s such a broad industry that it’s given me so many opportunities. My experience spans research and development, strategy execution, product management, business development and mergers and acquisitions.

I’m lucky in that I’ve been able to specialise in an area that really interests me – and that’s the introduction of agile methodologies to organisations, which can be instrumental in transforming software engineering to focus on customer value and improved time to market.

Yet I’m equally as passionate about people and technology, which is why I’m also an ambassador for women in STEM. My tech hero is definitely Grace Hopper, one of the first computer programmers. I love her upheld belief that programming should be as easy to read as English, and it’s thanks to her that we write in ‘Ifs and Thens’ as opposed to in 1s and 0s.

Grace was a pioneer of the COBOL language, and I spent part of my early career working for a company whose business was based on COBOL. Although this language is now quite ‘ancient’, it still drives most of the major banks and financial transactions that are around today.

I’m now Chief Technology Officer (CTO) for Cisco UK&I, and my key objective in this role is to work with Cisco’s Customers and Partners to articulate how Cisco’s architectures, solutions and innovation can be applied to drive business transformation. As CTO I get to work with organisations of all sizes, from the tech start-ups that we mentor through Cisco’s BIG Awards programme, to the large organisations we work with every day on wide-scale transformation projects.

I’m also extremely proud to be an ambassador for Cisco’s Little Big Awards, which is designed to get children in years 7-9 interested in the application of technology and give them an understanding of the commercial side of the business too.

Technology is changing all our lives in so many ways today that it’s far beyond my initial expectations when I first started out. With the Internet of Everything becoming a reality and driving innovation in the UK, it’s opening up the tech scene as a career destination to so many more talented individuals. 

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