Steph Wright

Steph Wright

Steph is Head of the Scottish AI Alliance.

Navigating my professional journey has been a bit of a rollercoaster. It all started with an undergraduate degree in Astrophysics, unravelling the secrets of the cosmos (or so I thought.. turned out it was space maths and it wasn’t really me). Soon, my interests took a turn with a postgraduate Masters in European Film Studies, leading me into several years of working in freelance film and TV production. From there, I found my way into arts management, overseeing theatre, dance, and film over the course of 8 years. And then another turn as I transitioned back to the world of academia, delving into genomics, then carbon capture and storage, and eventually finding my niche in the world of data and AI. It’s been quite the ride, proving that career paths can be as unpredictable as they are diverse. #nowrongpath

What was your first career aspiration as a child?

My earliest career aspiration that I can remember was wanting to be a soldier of the future as I was very into a TV show (showing my age) called Captain Power and the Soldiers of the Future. I particularly wanted to be Lt Scout Baker who had a high-tech suit that could change his disguise. I remember running around our school playground playing out scenarios from the show with all of us playing different characters. Amusingly looking back, it was a show set in a dystopian future after the “Metal Wars” .. yup, you can guess what that was.. humans vs machines and machines won.. yada yada. But on a more serious note, I cycled through a lot of career aspirations as I was interested in a wide range of things. I remember wanting to be an Egyptologist, a seismologist, a volcanologist, a historian, a writer, and when I chose my A Levels, I was determined I was going to be a neurosurgeon. I know people who always knew what they were going to be and that never changed. I just wasn’t one of those people. I don’t think at any point did I think I was going to end up working in technology but here I am!

What would you tell your teenage self?

I think I would advise myself to maybe take some time out and experience the world of work a bit before deciding what I wanted to study at university. Looking back, I just think asking 16/17 year olds to decide what they want to study before they’ve really experienced the world is a really hard thing to do. Especially for people like me who was interested in all sorts of things and wasn’t laser focused on a single career path. But most of all, I would tell my teenage self that it’s okay to not know what you want to do and it’s okay to try something and then not have it work out.

 What attracted you to a career in computing / tech?

I’ve always been a total tech geek. I’ve always loved computing and like a lot of people, my interest started with computer games. I remember my brother’s old Apple computer growing up and we also had the old wood panelled Atari console. I distinctly remember crowding round a computer in class in primary school playing an old BBC game called Granny’s Garden. So my earliest memories were centred on gaming and my love of computers and tech sprang from there. I loved Tomorrow’s World and used to totally lap up all the wonderful gadgets and inventions featured on the show. I love a gadget and am always keen to be an early adopter. I am a firm believer that technology can make our world a much better one but I recognise that I have had the privilege of being able to access technologies and that many do not and that needs to be addressed.

What is your super power? What super power would you like to have?

I unfortunately do not have any super powers… although I’ve been told I have a remarkable sense of smell (I once detected a gas leak that no one else did!). But it’s hard to answer the second question without sounding like virtue signalling. So at risk of sounding like I’m virtue signalling, I would like to end all suffering whether it’s from poverty, discrimination, hate,  impacts of climate change, war or inequity…. because why wouldn’t you want to if you had the power to do so right? But on a lighter note, I would love to be able to fly or time travel.

What is your favourite past time?

Cinema is a great passion of mine. I could just spend my days in a cinema with or without other people watching films. I am a total cinephile and used to be quite the film snob but my film tastes have become a bit more mainstream since becoming parent as our opportunities to go to the cinema have somewhat diminished! So my love of cinema has evolved from primarily appreciating it as an artform to perhaps now more being in it for entertainment.  

What is your spirit animal?

I don’t have a spirit animal but I do rather love tapirs and wombats so maybe they’re my spirit animal. I love His Dark Materials from Phillip Pullman… a tapir or wombat as my daemon would be pretty awesome

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