IMG_0766-Edit copyAlyona Medelyan

Alyona had not seen a computer until the age of 16 and had even dropped out of Maths in high school. But this didn’t stop her from deciding to dedicate her career to Natural Language Processing the moment she found out about this fascinating field of AI.

After getting a Masters in Linguistics and a PhD in Computer Science, she has worked in several companies in the US, Germany and New Zealand.  She then started consulting in NLP on her own, before starting a customer insight company Thematic, which now has happy customers around the world.

She is a mum to a boy and a girl, and is enjoying the flexibility her career choice has given her.

Alyona started the STEAM ahead initiative after becoming the Google Anita Borg Scholarship Ambassador for Australia and New Zealand. She believes STEAM ahead events are a perfect opportunity to spread the word about awesome career choices to both girls and their mums.


Gay Watson December 2015 onlineGay Watson

Futureintech Facilitator for central and west Auckland.

I have worked for Futureintech for over 10 years and I love my job because I believe my work makes a huge difference for school students who are making that decision about which career path to take in science, maths, engineering and technology areas (STEM). At the same time my work with Futureintech has a focus of promoting tertiary STEM careers where there are skill shortages in industry. This has to also be a great thing for NZ in the long run.

My work is all about making industry links for school students by having graduates from  industry showcasing their world of work to students, to inspire them to look into  tertiary studies for a career in STEM . For further information please look on the Futureintech web site

Ginger LiGinger Li

Ginger has always loved art and held a fascination for science. As a young girl Ginger was never too sure what she wanted to be when she grew up, because she simply enjoyed all subjects so much and making a choice was near impossible. However one thing was for sure, whatever career path it might be, being able to be creative was a must. A series of serendipitous events led her to Computer Science, a subject with an interesting mix of science and art. In order to do well in this, creativity is essential.
After her undergraduate degree in Computer Science, Ginger worked in many roles in software industry. This allowed her to acquire a range of multi-disciplinary skills in product design and development, and also in growing a business. Ginger now specialises in User Experience Design, which is a perfect role for her as it demands skills in art, science, psychology and business development. Ginger is currently completing her Masters degree in Commercialisation and Entrepreneurship at the University of Auckland.

anna-divoliAnna Divoli

Anna’s favourite topics at school were maths, physics, chemistry and
biology and was not keen at all in studying grammar and languages. She
trained as a scientist (BSc in Biomedical Sciences) and after that she
spent another 10 years in Universities in the UK and the US, as a
graduate student and postdoc using technology to answer scientific
questions. Her academic research involved analyzing scientific
findings reported in human language – analyzing all those syntax and
grammar rules using algorithms was a lot of fun. These days, she lives
in NZ and is the head of Research and Development of a technology
company (Pingar). Anna, now working 100% in technology, always
approaches problems using her scientific training and is inspired by
art to create user friendly user interfaces and informative data

1eb6788Elyse Yu

Elyse was hooked to computers and technology since the age of 11 when the world of the internet was introduced to her on a black and white 13″ CRT monitor and an extremely loud modem.  The first item that amazed her the most was the ease of getting and sharing information digitally, and the ease of communication talking to a stranger half way across the world.
Originally from the Philippines, she moved to New Zealand with her family in 1998.  Her interest in information technology has never faltered.  However instead of focusing on just technology, she decided to pursue a Business and Information Management degree in Auckland University to learn not just ICT but how it can be applied to business operations.
She is now a Senior Consultant for a rapidly growing global company – specialising in IT Service Management – consulting with customers on day to day service desk operations and how it can be more efficient to support all business units in an organisation.

Screen Shot 2015-02-27 at 8.15.07 amIrene Direnko-Smith

Irene was encouraged to try computer science by her parents, especially her mom!
But it wasn’t until she took a programming class in her final year of high-school that she realised that programming wasn’t at all that scary and in fact it was challenging and interesting.
Irene graduated with BSc in Computer Science and as she learned more about technology she realised that she was most fascinated by how software and technology shaped the way companies are run from manufacturing to sales and distribution.
Over the past 10 years Irene worked for a number of Software Development companies in various roles including Sales, Partner Enablement, Strategic Consulting and Business Analysis. Currently Irene works as Strategic Software Consultant with Fuji Xerox helping companies improve their business processes using software solutions.