For SPA2013 we have invited a speaker from the Computing at School organization

Computing at School

Neil Brown

Neil Brown is a member of Computing At School and works as a computing education researcher at the University of Kent. He is part of the team that design, develop and support the beginners’ Java programming environments, BlueJ and Greenfoot, which between them have 3 million users annually. He also played a large part in the design and implementation of the Computing At School members’ site. His other responsibilities include conducting outreach workshops in Greenfoot for pupils and teachers, and engaging in educational research. Thus, Neil is situated at the intersection of software development, academia and computing education.

Neil's talk

Five years ago, computer science was virtually absent from the UK school system before age 16, taught only by a few teachers under the banner of ICT. The Computing At School (CAS) group was formed in 2008 to help tackle this problem, bringing together teachers, academics, industry professionals and more to try to promote computer science in UK schools. In a whirlwind five years since, computer science has gone from nowhere to being proposed as mandatory for all 5—14 year olds in the new draft national curriculum, with new Computer Science GCSE qualifications offered by all the awarding bodies for ages 14—16. This talk will explain how these changes happened, the arguments behind computing for all, the ramifications and challenges that still lie ahead, and finally will look at how software professionals can help in the Computing At School effort.

Background at

Software Programming for Cells

Andrew Phillips, Head of Bio Computation Group at Microsoft Research

Andrew is currently developing visual programming languages and tools for simulating and analysing complex models of biological systems. One of the aims is to develop a language in which large models of biological systems can be programmed from simple components in a modular fashion. An ultimate goal is to be able to program and simulate a biological system on a computer, before implementing the final design inside a living organism.

More information on Andrew at

Technology Leadership Panel

In tech conferences there appears to be a distance in approach and sometimes understanding between tech leaders and tech teams (the old 'managers-versus-techs' scenario). This is not always the reality of the situation. Whilst there is a good platform for techies to put their views and methodologies across in tech conferences at the team leavel, in these environments we don't often get the view of management (other than instances of direction or feedback). So, rather than heresay - lets discuss what its like to lead tech teams - an lets do it in a smaller conference with motivated 'movers-and-shakers' of the tech world attending, and see if, by sharing information, we can extend thinking and influence more useful and effective ways of bridging the management-tech 'gap' and making a difference somehow.

The Panel

Chris Young, Head of Platforms and Architecture at Base79

Using Kanban and Open Source Tech to make value from video on YouTube and Connected TV. Chris has been working in technology since 1996, specialising in digital media from 1999. He was involved in the BBC’s adoption of Agile in 2000-2001 for the pioneering Multi-Screen Wimbledon Service on Digital Satellite Television. Since then he has worked with broadcasters and platforms in the US and Europe including ITV, Dish Network, Deutsche Telekom and YouView, where he lead the team that developed its award winning User Interface.

Lukas Oberhuber, CTO - Simply Business

Lukas joined Simply Business as Chief Technology Officer in September 2010 with the aim of increasing flexibility and agility of the organisation through technology. Since joining he has implemented a number of new systems and processes including Agile and Build-Measure-Learn, transforming the speed and efficiency of new product development.

Prior to Simply Business, Lukas was CTO at Forward Internet Group, where he was responsible for the creation and management of Agile development teams during a period of huge company expansion. He has also held enterprise architecture and program management roles at business and technology consultancy, Sapient, as well as founding internet telecoms company, SipAlive.

Lukas is a graduate of Computer Science at Harvard University, holds dual French and US nationality and has worked in the US, Italy, Germany and the UK. When he's not building Agile teams Lukas enjoys creative writing and is a keen footballer. He is married with two daughters.

Rebecca Salsbury, Head of Core Engineering - BBC Future Media

Rebecca joined the BBC’s Future Media division in August 2009 in senior leadership positions with responsibility for product management, project delivery, and engineering management – each in turn! Initially she played a pivotal role in helping to shape a product management methodology around the then new ’10 Product’ strategy for BBC Online, carefully dovetailing product practices with the well-established Scrum practices of the development teams. Over the course of her tenure, Rebecca has led teams which are continuing to evolve their ways of working by exploring elements of other methods of agile delivery, XP practices, and test-first methods including BDD and TDD. Since 2011, she’s been leading the multi-disciplinary engineering teams responsible for BBC Online’s content management and data services, powering each of the Online products. Rebecca’s career began in the US, but she joined the BBC after nearly ten years’ programme and project management experience in UK media and consumer electronics sectors, including the video on-demand service which became, Sky, and TiVo UK.

Simon Holden, Managing Director - Morgan Stanley

Simon Holden heads up Morgan Stanley’s multi-year front to back technology renovation program, Pioneer. This is one of the largest change programs the Firm has undertaken in recent years, looking to address fundamental issues about how the Firm manages data across the enterprise and how its applications communicate with one another. Simon joined the firm in 1998 and became a managing director in 2008. Prior to his current role, he headed up Equity Risk Technology for 5 years before becoming global head of cross asset risk technology programs. His career has become increasingly focused on how to effectively deliver large projects in the corporate world whilst still enabling innovation to flourish and strong technical solutions to emerge. Simon holds a Bsc in Computer Science from Imperial College with whom he still works as both Morgan Stanley’s liaison and also a member of the Dept of Computing Industrial Liaison Board. When he’s not trying to re-shape Morgan Stanley, Simon can be found riding his bike up mountains or doing triathlon. He is married with two sons.

Tom Van Aardt, Director of Technology - Reed Business Information

Tom is an experienced technology executive with a broad background across data services, mass media, public sector, academia and start-ups. In the mid 90s he realised the potential of the web and was an entrepreneur during the heady days of the dot-com boom. He then spent several years running an incubation-like scheme for final year computer science students, teaching them software delivery through building products for the commercial sector. In 2006 he moved to Europe where he joined the BBC working on various web products, leaving at the end of 2010 as portfolio manager for online products such as iPlayer, TV, Social and Search. More recently he provided the technology leadership to transform the aerospace business in Reed Elsevier from traditional publishing to online data services. During this time he discovered the excitement of M&A deals as he led the technology due diligence of several tech start-ups through acquisition to integration.