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Bossing it: why the women of big tech are taking over the small screen | Television

In the jaw-dropping saga of disgraced health-tech entrepreneur Elizabeth Holmes, there was one aspect that attracted most of the public’s attention: her voice.

Despite lying about her “revolutionary” pin-prick blood test technology that failed to work, then duping her patients with false diagnoses (she was convicted of four counts of defrauding investors earlier this year) it was her appearance – the Steve Jobs-esque black turtleneck jumpers and signature red lipstick – and her deep baritone, masculine-affected voice that people really zoned in on. So when The Dropout, the TV adaptation of Holmes’s life story – based on Rebecca Jarvis’s 2019 podcast of the same name – was first announced with Amanda Seyfried in the lead role, the internet was abuzz. Would Seyfried do “the voice”?

Yes, as it turns out. But while this vocal affectation might have been a joke to social media, to Melissa, who has worked in the upper management of a big tech company for the past 20 years, it’s something that rings true.

“I have absolutely lived that,” Melissa – who, like all the women in tech interviewed for this article, asked for anonymity – says. “When I want to be heard at my work, I have to talk slower and deeper. If you hit too high of a pitch, they [the men] don’t hear you. If I don’t think my voice will be listened to, I’ll call a male colleague, one of my allies, prior to the meeting and say: ‘Hey, I’m going to ping you in the background, say this when I tell you to.’ They’ll be my voice.”

With the news agenda for the past decade being full of the ethically dubious behaviour of some of the male leaders of the tech world, scant attention has been paid to the women in the industry, who make up just 19% of the tech workforce in the UK. The same is true reflected in pop culture. While the Tech Bro villain is now a well-worn trope in everything from the recent Matrix reboot to Succession and the video game send-up Free Guy, and we’ve had multiple portrayals of Steve Jobs, Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg, there’s been hardly any representation of women in tech on the small screen. With a smattering of comedy roles of women working lower down the tech chain (the brilliantly sarky Dobby from Peep Show or blagger Jen from The IT Crowd) to women actually making power moves in the industry (riot grrrl programmer Cameron in Halt and Catch Fire or whistleblower coder Nanette in the Black Mirror episode USS Callister), stories of women in tech have historically been as rare as a female CEO in Palo Alto.

Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, subject of upcoming HBO drama Doomsday Machine.
Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, subject of upcoming HBO drama Doomsday Machine. Photograph: John Lee/The Guardian

However, this year, TV’s gaze is finally turning to the female power-players of Silicon Valley. Alongside The Dropout, dramatisations of Sheryl Sandberg’s role as COO of Facebook (to be played by Claire Foy in Doomsday Machine) and Arianna Huffington’s position on the board at Uber (Uma Thurman, in Showtime’s Super Pumped) will hit the screen later in 2022.

The onscreen depiction of these highly ambitious – some say ruthless – women will be drawn from the books that have inspired the series: Sandberg is “a master manager and delegator … who felt she was put on this planet to scale organisations” (from Sheera Frenkel and Cecilia Kang’s An Ugly Truth: Inside Facebook’s Battle for Domination); while Huffington leads with “charm and persuasiveness” (as per Super Pumped’s author, Mike Isaac). But do these representations reflect what it’s really like for women working in Big Tech?

Ex-Spotify employee Simone explains: “I think what links these women – and most women in the industry – is that you’ve got to be smart, strategic and driven, as it’s a very tough environment.

“The big six [Facebook, Amazon, Netflix, Alphabet, Amazon and Microsoft] are where everyone wants to work and the returns are huge – you get a big salary and with all the equity … I feel like working in tech is the new banking, especially with all the shares – if you join a startup at the right time you can make millions.”

Therese, who works for Facebook (now rebranded Meta), agrees: “There are unbelievable benefits to working at Facebook, the salary for starters. But really, I’m interested in being part of something that’s connected to the future, however potentially damaging that future might be. There’s something very interesting about being part of that conversation.”

It has taken so long to tell the women’s stories, Simone believes, for the simple fact that it’s still an anomaly for women to be high up in big tech companies. Someone such as Holmes is a “unicorn” in a double meaning: both in the tech sense (her company Theranos became a startup with a potential valuation of $1bn); and because, as a female founder, she was as rare as the mythical beast. Her ability to talk the talk was proved by her – mainly older, male – investors, who included Rupert Murdoch, Larry Ellison and George Schultz, elevating her to a role few women have ever experienced in the industry.

“I’m not exactly sure why there are so few female founders,” Simone wonders. “But in this culture it’s all about risk. Building a product is a risk, joining a startup is a risk and maybe as women we want more safety in our careers?”

Sarah Snook as Shiv Roy in Succession.
Female-washing? … Sarah Snook as Shiv Roy in Succession. Photograph: HBO/David M Russell

Slogans such as “Move fast – break things!” and “Be brave!” line the walls at Facebook but, in reality, women are rarely permitted to exhibit those types of behaviour. To be seen as impulsive or demanding perfection as a man in big tech is to be lauded – creative genius at work here! – but they’re often seen as negative qualities in a woman, who would be thought of as unreliable and branded “bossy”.

In Simone’s experience, even in Spotify – a company founded in Sweden, where there is a big push for gender equality – women are still fighting to get a look in higher up the chain: “In most of the inner circles, it’s still always men who are CEO or CFO, and the token woman is head of HR or chief of operations. Women aren’t decision-making on company strategy or direction, they’re in nurturing, people-facing roles. Even Arianna [Huffington] came into Uber to clean up culture and operations.”

“Oh fuck, yes, it’s still a total boys’ club,” says Melissa. “The worst are the men who think they’re enlightened but when it comes down to it they’re not. It’s not my job to teach you how to be the good guy. Go and get training! Go and figure out your own unconscious bias!”

After #MeToo, there seems to have been a concerted effort by tech companies to put women in higher positions. This can sometimes come across as “female-washing” of problematic brands, says Francesca Sobande, a lecturer in digital media studies at Cardiff University. “That’s not to suggest that I think the appointment of women in certain roles in big tech is solely based on their gender identity in any way, but I do think that organisations are hyper-aware of what it means when a woman becomes a figurehead of a company that is typically associated with male-dominated spaces.”

Kerry Bishé and Mackenzie Davis in Halt and Catch Fire.
Tech savvy … Kerry Bishé and Mackenzie Davis in Halt and Catch Fire. Photograph: Tina Rowden/AMC

We have seen this on TV, she adds, through storylines such as Shiv Roy in Succession, brought in to chair a Waystar Royco conference to soothe shareholders’ worries about the company’s sexual misconduct issues, or when she obsequiously tries to be an ally to Gerri over those dick pics sent by her brother Roman, in what’s really a bid to take him down instead.

“[In] a show like Succession there is a risk sometimes that these sorts of conversations overlook the agency of women,” says Sobande. “A character like Shiv knows exactly what she’s doing when she’s making certain decisions that relate to the optics of gender and power.

“It’s important when thinking about these things to always acknowledge the agency of women within this, and what it means for a woman to sometimes knowingly participate in or be complicit in these types of power dynamics that oppress other women.”

This oppression of other women is seen offscreen, too, Therese says: “I’ve definitely experienced women trying to emulate the men of Silicon Valley. I’ve seen some terrible things, and it can really crush you.”

Therese remembers one senior woman who was manipulative and “should not have been in power”. “If I’m being kind about it, it was probably her reaction to the highly competitive system. The pressure of being constantly reviewed in the six-monthly 360 reviews – where overtime is encouraged and your bonus is based on it – it starts to affect how you feel about yourself, as a person, and it affects everything. It starts to influence your feelings about your self-identity and self-worth. It’s a massively, massively entrenched system.”

What is telling in previous TV representations of women in tech, says Sobande, is what is overlooked, from the fact that these stories are all solely focused on white women to them not including “a critique of the power dynamics and the often oppressive capitalist structure that they’re implicated in”.

For those few “unicorns’’ who make it through to the top in Silicon Valley, it might feel like a hollow victory, given the accusations that many of these companies are entrenched in ethically questionable behaviour – manipulating users’ emotions; allowing conspiracy theories to spread – in the name of profit. Sobande adds: “In some pop culture portrayals we see confusion for a representation of any woman in a position of power with it symbolising some form of feminism. With these upcoming series, I’m intrigued to what extent we’re going to see this ‘girlboss’ narrative coming through, and whether or not there’s going to be [an implication of] a feminist sentiment to any of what is depicted.”

Simone also wonders if we can ever square the dichotomy of working for certain corporations that appear to be morally bankrupt yet claim to empower women: “I’m so interested to see Doomsday Machine because of the juxtaposition of Facebook’s morals and Sheryl [Sandberg]’s heavy messaging about women ‘leaning in’ [the concept at the centre of Sandberg’s bestselling 2013 nonfiction book]. I want to get into her psyche about how you balance those two things: promoting women but in a company that does so much destruction. But it’s not just her. I think sometimes women are the ones who are expected to be the ethical ones in the industry.

“I’m fascinated by it.” As are those of us outside big tech, too.

Some names have been changed. The Dropout airs from 3 March on Disney+ in the UK and Hulu in the US. Super Pumped airs in the US from 27 February on Showtime, with a UK broadcaster still TBC.

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“The Creator”: A Glimpse Into A Future Defined By Artificial Intelligence (AI) Warfare

By Cindy Porter

In “The Creator” visionary director Gareth Edwards thrusts us into the heart of a dystopian future, where the battle lines are drawn between artificial intelligence and the free Western world.

Set against the backdrop of a post-rebellion Los Angeles, the film grapples with pressing questions about the role of AI in our society.

A Glimpse into a Future Defined by Artificial Intelligence (AI) Warfare

A Glimpse into a Future Defined by Artificial Intelligence (AI) Warfare

While the narrative treads familiar ground, it is timely, given the rising prominence of artificial intelligence in our daily lives.

A Fusion of Genres

Edwards embarks on an ambitious endeavor, blending elements of science fiction classics with contemporary themes.

The result is a cinematic stew reminiscent of James Cameron’s “Aliens” tinged with shades of “Blade Runner” a dash of “Children of Men,” and a sprinkle of “Akira” This concoction, while intriguing, occasionally veers toward familiarity rather than forging its own distinct identity.

Edwards’ Cinematic Journey

The British filmmaker, known for his foray into doomsday scenarios with the BBC docudrama “End Day” in 2005, has traversed a path from indie gem “Monsters” (2010) to the expansive Star Wars universe with “Rogue One” (2016).

“The Creator” marks another bold step in his repertoire. The film introduces compelling concepts like the posthumous donation of personality traits, punctuated by impactful visuals, and raises pertinent ethical dilemmas. It stands as a commendable endeavor, even if it occasionally falters in execution.

Navigating Complexity

In his pursuit of depth, Edwards at times stumbles into the realm of convolution, leaving the audience grappling with intricacies rather than immersing in the narrative.

While adept at crafting visual spectacles and orchestrating soundscapes, the film occasionally falters in the art of storytelling.

In an era where classic storytelling is seemingly on the wane, some may argue that this approach is emblematic of the times.

AI: Savior or Peril?

“The Creator” leaves us with a question that resonates long after the credits roll: Will artificial intelligence be humanity’s salvation or its undoing? The film’s take on machine ethics leans toward simplicity, attributing AI emotions to programmed responses.

This portrayal encapsulates the film’s stance on the subject – a theme as enigmatic as the AI it grapples with.

“The Creator”

Director: Gareth Edwards.
Starring: John David Washington, Gemma Chan, Madeleine Yuna Boyles, Ken Watanabe.
Genre: Science fiction.
Release Year: 2023.
Duration: 133 minutes.
Premiere Date: September 29.


Top 5 Movies by Gareth Edwards:

1. “Monsters” (2010)

– A breakout hit, “Monsters” showcases Edwards’ talent for blending intimate human drama with towering sci-fi spectacles. Set in a world recovering from an alien invasion, it’s a poignant tale of love amidst chaos.

2. “Rogue One” (2016)

– Edwards helms this epic Star Wars installment, seamlessly integrating new characters with the beloved original trilogy. It’s a testament to his ability to navigate complex narratives on a grand scale.

3. “End Day” (2005)

– This BBC docudrama marked Edwards’ entry into the world of speculative storytelling. Presenting five doomsday scenarios, it set the stage for his later exploration of dystopian futures.

4. “The Creator” (2023)

– Edwards’ latest venture, “The Creator,” immerses audiences in a future fraught with AI warfare. While not without its challenges, it boldly tackles pertinent questions about the role of artificial intelligence in our lives.

5. Potential Future Project

– As Edwards continues to push the boundaries of speculative cinema, audiences eagerly anticipate his next cinematic endeavor, poised to be another thought-provoking addition to his illustrious filmography.

“The Creator” stands as a testament to Gareth Edwards’ unyielding vision and his penchant for exploring the frontiers of speculative cinema.

While it doesn’t shy away from the complexities of AI, it occasionally falters in navigating its intricate narrative.

As we peer into this cinematic crystal ball, we’re left with a stark question: Will artificial intelligence be our beacon of hope, or will it cast a shadow over humanity’s future? Only time will unveil the answer.

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— By Cindy Porter

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Energize Your Property Value: The Surge In Demand For Home EV Charging Points

By Raza H. Qadri (ALI)

In a rapidly evolving real estate landscape, home electric vehicle (EV) charging points have emerged as a coveted feature. Here, we will explore the surge in demand for these charging stations and their potential to transform property value desirability.

Surge in Demand:

Estate agents are witnessing an unprecedented uptick in requests for properties equipped with EV charging points. Rightmove reports a staggering 592% increase in listings mentioning EV chargers since 2019. This summer, Jackson-Stops even incorporated EV charging points into their top-ten must-have property features for the first time.

Adding Value To Property:

Integrating electric vehicle (EV) charging points into residential properties has become a key factor in boosting their market value. According to insights from the National Association of Property Buyers, homes equipped with EV charging facilities can see an uptick in value ranging from £3,000 to £5,000. This trend aligns with the increasing demand for sustainable features in real estate. Rightmove’s Greener Homes report highlights a remarkable 40% surge in listings mentioning EV chargers in comparison to the previous year. Such statistics underscore the significance of these installations as a sought-after feature among buyers.

Beyond the potential increase in property value, homeowners can reap substantial benefits from dedicated EV charging points. These specialized units offer significantly faster charging speeds compared to standard three-pin plugs. With an output of 32 amps/7kw, a dedicated charger can provide up to 28 miles per hour of charging, a substantial improvement over the 9 miles offered by a standard plug.

Moreover, safety considerations play a pivotal role. Standard domestic sockets may not be designed for prolonged high-output usage, potentially leading to overheating and related wiring issues.

Therefore, the integration of a dedicated EV charging point not only adds tangible value to a property but also ensures a safer and more efficient charging experience for homeowners and their electric vehicles.

Benefits Beyond Convenience:

Dedicated charge points offer benefits beyond convenience. According to James McKemey from Pod Point, these units deliver significantly faster charging speeds compared to standard three-pin plugs. Safety considerations also come into play, as standard domestic sockets may not be built for prolonged high-output usage.


Charging an EV at home proves more cost-effective than relying on public charging stations. Smart charging capabilities enable homeowners to take advantage of lower rates, typically offered during off-peak hours, such as at night.

Charger prices vary, ranging from approximately £300 to over £1,000, with installation costs potentially adding another £400 to £600.

Solar Integration:

Solar integration presents a game-changing opportunity for homeowners seeking both environmental sustainability and financial benefits. The global solar energy capacity reached an astounding 793 gigawatts (GW), illuminating the rapid adoption of this renewable energy source.

For homeowners, integrating solar panels with an electric vehicle (EV) charging point can lead to substantial savings. On average, a standard solar panel system costs around £6,000 to £7,000 per kWp (kilowatt peak), with the typical installation size being 4kWp. This equates to an initial investment of approximately £24,000 to £28,000.

However, the return on investment is impressive. Solar panels can generate roughly 3,200 kWh (kilowatt-hours) per year for a 4kWp system in the UK. With the average cost of electricity sitting at 16.1p per kWh, homeowners can save approximately £515 annually on energy bills.

Moreover, the Smart Export Guarantee (SEG) scheme allows homeowners to earn money by exporting excess electricity back to the grid. As of September 2021, the SEG offers rates ranging from 1.79p to 5.24p per kWh. Over the course of 20 years, a solar panel system can generate savings of over £10,000, demonstrating the substantial financial benefits of solar integration. This trend is expected to surge further as advancements in solar technology continue to drive down installation costs and boost energy production.

Regulations and Grants:

Regulations surrounding EV charging point installations vary, particularly for listed buildings, which require planning permission for wall-mounted units. However, for flat owners, renters, and landlords with off-street parking, there’s an opportunity to benefit from government grants.

These grants provide a substantial subsidy, offering £350 or covering 75% of the total installation cost, whichever is lower. This incentive has spurred a surge in installations, with a notable uptick in applications over the past year.

In fact, according to recent data, the number of approved grant applications for EV charging points has risen by an impressive 68% compared to the previous year. This demonstrates a growing recognition of the value and importance of these installations in both residential and rental properties.

Renting Out Your Charging Point:

Renting out your EV charging point also presents a compelling opportunity for homeowners to capitalize on the growing demand for electric vehicle infrastructure.

According to recent market trends, the number of registered electric vehicles worldwide surpassed 14 million in 2023, marking a significant milestone. With projections indicating an annual growth rate of 29% – 34% for the global electric vehicle market, the need for accessible charging solutions is set to skyrocket. In the UK alone, the number of electric vehicles on the road has tripled over the last three years, reaching over 857,000 at the end of 2023.

This surge in EV ownership underscores the potential market for homeowners looking to rent out their charging points. Platforms like JustPark and Co Charger facilitate this process by connecting drivers in need of charging with available charging stations.

By participating in this shared economy, homeowners not only contribute to the expansion of EV infrastructure but also stand to generate a supplementary income stream. This symbiotic relationship between EV owners and charging point hosts aligns with the broader shift towards sustainable transportation solutions.


Finally, we can conclude that the surge in demand for properties with EV charging points signals a shifting paradigm in real estate. With added convenience, cost-efficiency, and potential for monetization, these installations are poised to become a cornerstone of future property value and desirability.

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— By Raza H. Qadri | Science, Technology & Business Contributor “THE VOICE OF EU

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Business Transformation Expert Talks About Mass Layoffs

By Clint Bailey – ‘The Voice of EU’

By Clint Bailey – ‘The Voice of EU’

Raza H. Qadri (Ali), a Business Transformation expert and the Founder of Vibertron Technologies, a BizTech company, possesses extensive experience in the tech industry. Throughout his career, he has provided consulting services to both large corporations and SMEs undergoing significant restructuring initiatives.

In a recent interview with Voice of EU, Qadri highlighted the detrimental impact of mass layoffs on mid-career tech professionals and the businesses that implement such measures. He expressed his concern regarding the prevailing trend of widespread workforce reductions, suggesting that it represents a logical misstep.

“Considering the reputation of the tech industry for innovation, I had anticipated greater progress in recent developments. However, it appears that tech companies are regressing, particularly in their dismantling of established departments and structures that were intended to drive future growth.”

[Mass redundancies are] an outdated and traditional practice that most companies turn to as a first resort to create liquidity

Qadri says that most of the employees impacted by layoffs have “approximately 10-11 years of experience” and so are “not really junior staff that are easily replaced,” noting there would be “a loss of skills and knowledge in these companies.”

Additionally, he expresses concern regarding the potential loss of diversity at the technical and software engineering layer. Executives are increasingly focused on building and developing technology utilizing AI systems, which are known to possess biases due to limited training data.

Throughout his extensive experience working across various industries and regions, Qadri has observed that more than 70% of digital transformation initiatives either fall short or fail to achieve their intended outcomes. He emphasizes that one critical component, often overlooked, that can make or break digital transformation is the “people element.”

Emulating Technology & The Copycat Phenomenon

“In my view, the companies seem to be copying each other’s operations strategies” says Qadri. According to Qadri, these companies view the situation as an opportunity to streamline their workforce by letting go of the additional employees they had hired during the pandemic-induced surge. Many believed that the future would be dominated by virtual meetings and peripheral manufacturers would continue to experience significant profits.

However, in contrast to the significant revenue growth experienced by many companies during the global lockdowns, a notable trend has emerged. Numerous organizations have initiated large-scale job cuts.

According to data compiled by, 693 technology businesses have already laid off 197,945 employees this year, with the year not even reaching its midpoint. This figure surpasses the 164,591 individuals laid off by 1,056 companies throughout the entirety of 2022.

Qadri quoted Henry Ford’s aphorism – “Thinking is the hardest work there is, which is probably the reason so few engage in it” – saying that mass redundancies were “an outdated and traditional practice that most companies turn to as a first resort to create liquidity.”

Shareholders, Profitability & Financial Performance Driving the Bottom Line

Qadri said: “The impact of layoffs on profitability may not be immediately evident, as increased expenses and significant severance packages (usually spanning 3-6 months) need to be accounted for in the short term. However, the dismantling of established departments and structures by tech companies is perceived as a regressive step. This approach reflects short-term thinking, lacking a focus on sustainable strategies for the digital future.”

Raza Qadri

Business Transformation Exec. Raza Qadri Talks About Mass Layoffs.

Qadri, who recently introduced a new remote work tech transformation algorithm MCiHT (Multi-Channel Integrated Hybrid Technologies) for Vibertron Consulting Solutions, notes that while companies are laying off people, they are investing billions in AI, IoT, and automation, citing the billions Microsoft has put into OpenAI so far.

In recent months, Microsoft announced its intention to reduce its workforce by 10,000 employees, which constitutes approximately 4% of the company’s total staff. This decision was prompted by Satya Nadella’s remarks highlighting the necessity for productivity enhancements. Microsoft is not the only company taking such measures; other prominent organizations like Salesforce, Amazon, Google, Meta, and several others are also trimming their workforce to align with the excess hiring made during the growth spurred by the COVID-19 lockdowns.

On the company’s most recent earnings call last month, Nadella noted: “During the pandemic, it was all about new workloads and scaling workloads. But pre-pandemic, there was a balance between optimizations and new workloads. So what we’re seeing now is the new workloads start in addition to highly intense optimization drive that we have.”

CFO Amy Hood then quickly responded to this, stating the company had “been through almost a year where that pivot that Satya talked about, from [here] we’re starting tons of new workloads, and we’ll call that the pandemic time, to this transition post, and we’re coming to really the anniversary of that starting. And so to talk to your point, we’re continuing to set optimization. But at some point, workloads just can’t be optimized much further.”

Not singling Microsoft out specifically, but speaking to the point of moves made by tech companies in a ‘maturity phase’. Qadri said, “Layoffs significantly impact this key performance indicator (KPI), despite the fact that these companies may possess substantial reserves. Such measures serve as a swift means to align with investor expectations and share prices, enabling them to quickly optimize their size and structure.”

Is It A Sustainable Approach?

During our conversation, we inquired with Qadri about the notable and unprecedented cuts that occurred at Twitter following Elon Musk’s involvement with the company.

He said: “I find it difficult to believe that only 30 percent of the organization was responsible for managing the entire structure. Even if that were the case, it would require considerable time to evaluate the existing structure, realign roles and responsibilities, and implement transformative measures to enhance efficiency.

The sudden loss of a significant portion of the workforce within a few weeks raises concerns, and I anticipate witnessing a restructuring of the top leadership with the arrival of the new CEO. Considering the online statements made by individuals like him, I am apprehensive about the values and direction that tech leaders of this nature promote.”

“Conversely, individuals whose skills are no longer retained by the tech industry now have opportunities to pursue financial independence and may choose not to revert to traditional roles within companies. Some are exploring avenues as independent contractors, leveraging their technical expertise to manage multiple full-time jobs enabled by remote work.”

Ultimately, the tech industry is “not really in a dire situation financially,” he says. While it “might have some loss of revenue [it is] not in the red yet. Layoffs should be last resort in truly bad financial situations, rather than first resort in slightly uncertain conditions.”

According to Qadri, one of the proposed solutions is for companies to resist the urge to follow the crowd and instead prioritize addressing the people element. By gaining support from investors and other stakeholders, companies can shift their focus towards long-term objectives rather than short-term gains. This entails establishing a robust ecosystem of internal and external stakeholders.

Photo credits: Vibertron.

Clint Bailey — Senior Business & Technology News Editor at ‘The Voice of EU’ & Co-Editor of EU-20 magazine.

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