Published on 10 Oct 2023

National accolade for alumna bridging the digital skills gap in the UK

UK-based alumna Joysy John aims to use the transformative power of education to narrow the digital skills gap. For her contributions to the technology sector, she has been honoured with Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire.

By Sadia Roohi

Demonstrating determination, innovation, and unwavering commitment, Joysy John, an alumna of NTU’s School of Computer Science and Engineering (SCSE) Class of 2000, has received Royal recognition for her contributions to the UK’s technology sector, becoming Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (MBE) in June 2023. 

Joysy has been working in the technology sector for over a decade in the UK. Her long list of achievements includes establishing the London chapter of the Startup Leadership Programme (SLP) – a global initiative to support tech entrepreneurs. More than 3,600 SLP Fellows have raised over £2.4 billion to date.  She also launched Founders Fit to match startup leaders with a co-founder and worked with the City of London Corporation to support women entrepreneurs. 

Joysy JohnJoysy John (SCSE/2000) is the proud recipient of the Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (MBE) conferred on 17 June 2023.

As Director of Education at the UK innovation agency Nesta, she oversaw the provision of grants to edtech companies to tackle challenges using technology in formative assessment, parental engagement, timetabling, essay marking and career advice. 

She was appointed to the Edtech Leadership Group by the Department for Education in England and the Schooling Reimagined expert panel by the Welsh Government, helping to shape education technology policy and promote innovation in the sector.

Notably, she was the Chief Industry Officer at Ada, the National College for Digital Skills, helping to pioneer a public-private partnership model to address the digital skills gap, particularly for disadvantaged students.

Joysy was the CEO of 01 Founders, a startup focused on training adults in software engineering skills through peer-to-peer learning, for which she established scholarships for under-represented groups in the tech sector.

Studying in Singapore was her life’s turning point

Her journey to success has been shaped significantly by her experiences at NTU where she received her bachelor’s degree in computer engineering on a corporate scholarship.  

Joysy recalls how NTU was a turning point that shaped her professional career. She said: “Studying in Singapore opened a world of opportunities for me. My parents couldn’t afford to send me to university, so I am really grateful for the scholarship.”

As the first computer engineer in her family and the first to pursue an undergraduate degree abroad, Joysy arrived in Singapore at 17 with a suitcase and big dreams. 

She credited NTU’s debating and public speaking opportunities for boosting her confidence and critical thinking abilities. These skills have proven invaluable in her global speaker and a trusted advisor roles.

She participated in a business plan competition and set up the Students Initiative in Facilitating Technopreneurship (SIFT) club during her NTU days. These early experiences ignited her passion for entrepreneurship, eventually leading her to leave her first job in banking to make a meaningful impact on the world. 

Joysy John and familyJoysy met her husband, Tony Thomas, in NTU. They have two daughters.

Joysy came to the UK to pursue an MBA at London Business School on a Forte Foundation scholarship. Since then, she has made London her home. She fostered an entrepreneurial spirit and a sense of community here that inspired her to launch the Startup Leadership Programme in the UK.

At NTU, she also met her life partner, Tony Thomas (SCSE/1997), who has played a pivotal role in supporting her career and entrepreneurial endeavours. They were on the same corporate scholarship, and Tony was her senior.

“Without my husband’s support, I wouldn’t have been able to pursue an MBA degree in the UK after our marriage. I also have his support while I juggle my work and raise two children,” she said.

Advocate for inclusivity and accessibility

On receiving news of her honour announced in His Majesty King Charles III’s first Birthday Honours List, Joysy said: “I feel excited, humbled, and blessed to receive this honour. Growing up in a small town in India, I never imagined something like this. I am grateful and delighted to be recognised for my work in technology and education innovation."

She added that as an ethnic minority female and a migrant to the UK, the award serves as a reminder of the positive impact one can make, regardless of one’s background. “It also shines a spotlight on the critical need for diversity and inclusion within the tech industry. I have a renewed sense of purpose and determination to make positive change happen in the sector,” added Joysy.

"We have a responsibility to ensure that technology opens doors to opportunities instead of widening existing gaps," she emphasised.

Looking forward, Joysy aims to inspire individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds to build digital skills and thrive in the tech sector. 

“I am more determined than ever to campaign for meaningful changes in the sector. I intend to amplify my efforts in advocating for inclusivity, accessibility, and equitable access to educational resources. At the end of the day, I want to create a more diverse and inclusive tech sector, where every learner, regardless of their background, can thrive and succeed,” explained Joysy.