Sheree is folding her arms and standing against a dark blue background.
Image: Sheree Atcheson

Trailblazing Irish tech star takes top prize at Diversity in Tech Awards

8 Oct 2021

Sheree Atcheson has many years’ experience in the tech industry and is currently head of diversity and inclusion at Valtech.

A Sri-Lankan-born Irish computer scientist who won the main award at this year’s Diversity in Tech Awards has said she is “honoured to play a role” in creating an industry that “truly does work for everyone”.

Sheree Atcheson took home the Grace Hopper Award, named after the pioneering US female computer programmer, at this year’s awards organised by Dublin Tech Summit and AWS.

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The awards, now in their fourth year, aim to highlight the achievements of companies and individuals that promote different backgrounds and genders across Ireland’s technology industry and encourage young women to choose STEM careers.

Adopted at a young age by a couple based in Co Tyrone, Atcheson recounted the story of how she found her birth mother in a moving speech at Silicon Republic’s Inspirefest event in 2018. Her trip to Sri Lanka to find out where she was born prompted Atcheson to found social responsibility project I Am Sri Lanka.

Atcheson currently works at digital agency Valtech as its global director of diversity and inclusion. Previously, she worked at Monzo and Deloitte. She is also an author, having written a book called Demanding More about the need for more diverse and inclusive workplaces.

Accepting her award, Atcheson said: “I am so humbled to receive the Grace Hopper Award this year – thank you for this acknowledgement. There are so many phenomenal women leaders in technology out there, and to be highlighted and chosen amongst them all means a lot.”

Her career in tech has ranged from software engineer to tech consultant to published author and global diversity and inclusion executive. She told the audience, which included more than 700 virtual guests, that she was excited for the next stage.

“The future for women in tech is bright,” she said, paying tribute to previous winners such as Barbara McCarthy. “I can’t wait to pass it on to someone else next year too!”

Tracey Carney, MD of the Diversity in Tech Awards, said that one of the positive things to emerge from the pandemic has been the “ongoing work to promote diversity and inclusion in the workplace” despite workplaces now being largely remote.

“All nominated candidates can be proud of what both they and their respective companies have achieved in highlighting and celebrating diversity during challenging times,” she added. “They represent a bright example of the future talent here in Ireland and internationally.”

The ceremony was held yesterday (7 October) with a judging panel of Irish tech figures including Furkan Karayel, inclusive leadership adviser and CEO at Diverse In, and Gearoid Kearney, CEO of MyAccessHub.

There were many other winners across 17 categories, all focused on diversity and women in tech. Overall, more than 90 candidates from several different countries were shortlisted. Other winners on the night included Optum Ireland, Rethink Ireland, Sandra Healy from Inclusio, Tata Consultancy Services and Fiserv.

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Blathnaid O’Dea
By Blathnaid O’Dea

Blathnaid O’Dea joined Silicon Republic in 2021 as Careers reporter, coming from a background in the Humanities. She likes people, pranking, pictures of puffins – and apparently alliteration.

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