Spotlight on Anne-Marie Imafidon

May 2018

Anne-Marie Imafidon MBEAnne-Marie Imafidon MBE was the youngest girl ever to pass an A-level in computing and later graduated with a masters in mathematics and computer science from Oxford, aged 20. Imafidon was also awarded ‘Young IT Professional of the Year’ in 2013, by BCS, for her pioneering work at a multi-national on enterprise collaboration.

Anne-Marie grew up in East London, the eldest of five. She feels that two pivotal points in her childhood were, firstly, at four years old, playing on her dad’s computer and, secondly, the two GCSEs she did in maths and ICT, aged just ten.

She almost applied to do French at university, but decided against it because she has always hated reading and writing. Despite being younger than everyone else on her course at Oxford, Anne-Marie thinks that the only real challenge she faced was a social one, as not only was Anne-Marie the youngest, but she was a woman in an overwhelmingly male world.

Early career

When she started work, she found that she was the only girl in the technology department, at Deutsche Bank, where she was an enterprise and collaboration strategist. Deutsche Bank had its own social media platform internally, and she was one of a team of five that looked after and developed it for 100,000 people.

Later, when she attended the Grace Hopper Celebration in the States, as one of three and a half thousand women there, she realised there were lots of other women in computing too, although clearly not enough.

Stemettes

In February 2013, Anne-Marie started Stemettes as a way of encouraging girls into STEM subjects. By the November she was in meetings at Number 10 with the likes of Michael Gove, David Willetts and Belinda Parmar discussing the problem.

Offers of sponsorships and partnerships started coming in and it soon became a fully-blown social enterprise with a member of staff, and proper structures. Anne-Marie stayed part-time until she could no longer juggle both her job at Deutsche Bank and the Stemettes.

The first Stemettes to come onto the programme came from local schools and they had more volunteers than girls at the first event. However, at last count they had worked with 17,200 girls and now have waiting lists.

Outbox incubator

After attending the Innovation Convention in 2014, in Brussels, and seeing the Google Global Science Prize being awarded to a group of Irish girls, Anne-Marie arranged a partnership with Salesforce and put together an incubator programme where young entrepreneurs are taught about business and product development, and are then exposed to investors.

They ran the first event during the summer of 2014, in Tulse Hill, South London. Now, in 2018, they’re still building on those relationships, and the legacy lives on. They’re looking at repeating it, but in a way that scales physically, and impact-wise.

Mentors

Anne-Marie thinks mentorship is fantastic, having had many mentors during her life. She believes that it’s always good to be able to ask people for advice, talk things through, and have ‘sounding boards’.

But even more so, in terms of building a career, and getting ahead, she feels that ‘you need sponsors, people who you don’t ask for things from, but who see enough of what you’re doing, and who will act on your behalf, even when you’re not in the room.’

Mission maths

Anne-Marie feels there is a need to normalise maths, and the enjoyment of maths, in the same way that reading and writing are often normalised. People are more likely to be surprised that you do like maths, and it’s somehow acceptable to not be good at it.

She wants to give people permission to enjoy it, and to do maths, and not be afraid of it. She says: ‘I would like maths to be less elitist and become more accessible in the same way as something like poetry. You want everyone to enjoy poetry; why can’t I have everyone enjoy maths?’

Futher information
Archives of IT is a registered charity no. 1164198 which receives support from BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT and the charity of The Worshipful Company of Information Technologists.
 

Image: Copyright Stemettes