March 24, 2010

Ada Lovelace Day 2010 - Lorna McNeill

Ada Lovelace Day is "an international day of blogging to draw attention to the achievements of women in technology and science. Women’s contributions often go unacknowledged, their innovations seldom mentioned, their faces rarely recognised. We want you to tell the world about these unsung heroines, whatever they do."

Last year I blogged about Alex from and this year I'm going to talk about someone I've known for longer, but who isn't as well known in the geek community - an ex-colleague of mine, Lorna McNeill.

I first got to know Lorna when she joined STNC, the startup where we both worked in the late 90s. She was tasked with integrating the IP stack (the I in IP being where the Internet gets its name) that I was in charge of into the Amstrad e-Mailer project that she was working on. Then, after we were acquired by Microsoft, she joined the networking team that I led, and worked on some pretty low-level and technical code, such as rewriting the PPP driver to make it much more robust and reliable.

I think she's the best engineer I've had the pleasure of managing, and one of a handful of people I've worked with that I'd jump at the chance to work with again. She just gets on with the job at hand, and does a great job of communicating what she's up to. I used to get emails updating me with how far she'd got on, and if she finished one chunk of work I'd just get an update along the lines of "have finished X, now getting on with Y, but give me a shout if I should be starting something else".

I think my only criticism would be that she didn't always realise how good she was, or how much she knew. Hopefully that's lessened in the years since I left Microsoft, but I think it came from the final reason why Lorna makes an excellent role model for any girls or women wanting to get into tech - she didn't have the typical geeky programming since I was five route into the industry. Having trained initially as a teacher, she decided that wasn't for her and moved into computing, which just makes her achievements even more impressive. If we had more Lornas in computing, the world would be a better place.


Posted by Adrian at March 24, 2010 01:34 PM | TrackBack

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