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Dr Jacqueline M Wright: oration

Read Professor Eamonn O'Neill's oration on Dr Jacqueline Wright for the honorary degree of Doctor of the University in June 2022


Photograph of Dr Jacqueline Wright on receiving her honorary degree
Dr Jacqueline M Wright

Vice-Chancellor, it is my pleasure to present to you Jacky Wright, Chief Digital Officer and Corporate Vice President at Microsoft. Jacky was born in London but as a teenager moved to the US with her family, where she went on to study at City University of New York and Stanford University.

She worked at numerous organizations including BP, General Electric and Accenture, before joining Microsoft as Corporate Vice President for core services engineering platform. In 2017, she began a two-year secondment as Chief Digital and Information Officer at HM Revenue & Customs, leading its digital transformation programme. While at HMRC, Jacky was a member of the Civil Service Diverse Leadership Task Force, playing a key role in championing the value of diversity and inclusion in government, and advising on the Civil Service’s strategy for improving representation across government. In October 2019, she returned to Microsoft as Chief Digital Officer.

Jacky’s father was Jamaican and served in the Royal Air Force during World War II. The family’s move to the US was motivated by his experience of racism in Britain and his belief that Jacky would have better opportunities in the US. Her subsequent experience of seeing black women in senior corporate positions in the US validated his decision, providing her with role models and imbuing her with the confidence that she could emulate them. Even very recently, there were no Black CEOs, CFOs or Chairs across the London based FTSE100 and only 1.1% of directors were Black. In contrast, over 11% of board members of the US based Fortune 100 were Black.

Jacky’s life and work span both the US and the UK, where she is a leading figure in both technology and inclusion. She has been recognised as one of the top BAME100, 100 Women to Watch and Computer Weekly’s Top 10 Women in Tech. She was the 2018 winner of UKtech50’s most influential person in UK IT, and patron of techUK’s Public Services Board which helps champion opportunities for the UK tech industry to collaborate across government.

In 2020, Jacky was ranked fourth in the annual Powerlist of the UK’s most powerful people of African, African-Caribbean and African American heritage, one place ahead of Michael Omari, perhaps better known to some of you as Stormzy. Last year, Jacky was guest editor of BBC Radio 4’s Today programme in a long-established end of year tradition, where she focused on the need for education reform. I can’t decide which is the greater accolade: beating Stormzy or guest editing Today. But topping both, Jacky is ranked number 1 in the 2022 Powerlist, followed by Manchester United footballer and child poverty campaigner Marcus Rashford and Netflix vice president Anne Mensah.

Jacky views digital inclusion as essential to social mobility. Throughout her long career she has championed diversity in technology and in the workplace. She sat on the board of Year Up, an organisation that supports young adults in building skills, on the Women’s Innovation Council which works for women in science and technology, and is currently a member of the World Economic Forum’s Chief Digital Officers Council, driving social good through technology. She is the co-executive sponsor for Disabilities at Microsoft. Jacky was a member of the industrial advisory board of the University of Bath led Institute of Coding, a national consortium of educators, employers and outreach organisations, co-developing courses with a focus on increasing diversity and inclusion in digital careers. Jacky’s knowledge, expertise and commitment to diversity and inclusion are invaluable in pursuing that agenda.

Vice-Chancellor, for outstanding services to technology and business, and for her contributions to digital inclusion and being an exemplary role model, I present to you Jacky Wright who is eminently worthy to receive the Degree of Doctor of the University, honoris causa.


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