In conversation with Chi Onwurah from the Finding Ada Conference 2020.
Chi Onwurah MP talks to Suw Charman-Anderson about her realisation at aged 9 that she wanted to be an engineer, her 23 year career as an electrical engineer and some of the projects she worked on, her transition into politics, and her work as Shadow Minister for Science, Research and Digital. She also talks about why we need more women in STEM to move into politics, the value of her engineering experience in her current job, and the challenges she’s faced as a black woman in engineering and now a black woman in politics.
Chi Onwurah is a British Member of Parliament representing Newcastle upon Tyne Central and the Shadow Minister for Industrial Strategy Science & Innovation. She has previously held the positions of Shadow Minister for Culture and the Digital Economy, Shadow Cabinet Office Minister leading on cyber security, social entrepreneurship, civil contingency, open government and transparency and Shadow Minister for Innovation, Science & Digital Infrastructure working closely with the Science and business community, with industry on Broadband issues, and on the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill.
Prior to Chi’s election to Parliament in May 2010 she worked as Head of Telecom’s Technology at the UK regulator Ofcom focussing on the implications for competition and regulation of the services and technologies associated with Next Generation Networks. Before joining Ofcom, she was a partner in Hammatan Ventures, a US technology consultancy, developing the GSM markets in Nigeria and South Africa. Previously she was Director of Market Development with Teligent, a Global Wireless Local Loop operator and Director of Product Strategy at GTS. She has also worked for Cable & Wireless and Nortel as Engineer, Project and Product Manager in the UK and France.
Chi is a Chartered Engineer with a BEng in Electrical Engineering from Imperial College London and an MBA from Manchester Business School. She was born in Wallsend and attended Kenton Comprehensive School in Newcastle, where she was elected the school’s ‘MP’ in mock elections aged 17.