Discover how we’re utilising the best of technology to make singing accessible to everyone!
In this interview, we talk with Noeline Sanders Advisory Board Member at Biiah and Chief Financial Officer of Digital Catapult; part of a network of world-leading technology and innovation centres, established by Innovate UK. She has worked with a number of technology companies, including Apple UK and Ireland.
Music has always been an important part of her life. Her role in the industry enables her to combine her passion for technology innovation which drives societal good, with her love of singing.
We caught up with her to find out more.
Q: What do you enjoy most about your current role at Digital Catapult?
Digital Catapult is the UK Authority on Advanced Digital Technology and I have been there right from the start, 9 years ago, building teams, getting funding and setting up the organisation. The Catapult’s mission is to accelerate industry adoption of digital technologies to drive growth and opportunity across the economy through collaboration and innovation. Through our specialist programmes and experimental facilities, we make sure that innovation thrives and the right solutions make it to the real world.
I am particularly interested in commercialising technologies and the role of technology innovation for the societal good. My professional background has been largely in technology companies – both hardware and software. During my time at Apple [CFO Apple UK and Ireland 1986-1996] I saw products such as Personal Digital Assistants, which were the forerunners of iPhone technology, bringing technology into homes and to individuals – democratising technology and making it accessible. You didn’t need to be a computer expert to be able to use technology products.
Q: What draws you to advising startups?
I really like the energy that comes from startup organisations. When I initially started at Apple it felt relatively small – it still had a startup culture, which they maintained for a long time. I was also there at the startup stage of Digital Catapult. You can shape an organisation, help to develop it. Whilst I have worked as a CFO and business partner, I also have a broad range of experience including management and strategic thinking skills which are all helpful to startups
Q: What attracted you to working with Biiah?
I want to see technology used to find solutions that make the world a better place. Biiah is a great example, singing is so good for people on many levels. An app that teaches people to sing democratises accessibility – no one needs to think that they can’t sing. Everybody has a voice – it’s about finding the joy you can get out of it, building confidence, providing tools and help so that people can get the best out of that experience. So when I was asked if I would like to join the Advisory Board, my two favourite things collided – technology for societal good and singing. I can’t wait to see the app (Biiah) out there and be part of the journey of Biiah.
Q: What does music mean to you personally?
Singing has been part of my life from the very start. My grandmother was a great musician – self taught, she played the piano accordion, the mouth organ, the violin and also sang. She lived with us in Sri Lanka and was always singing, teaching us songs – she was a great role model. My mother and her sister were also very musical, my auntie is a music teacher, all of us children are musical – we sang in choirs at church, in school and in other groups – it’s always been there.
When I came to the UK to study I won a scholarship for private singing lessons which I took whilst training as an accountant. I have sung with several choirs but a favourite is a small local Chamber Choir – the Morgan Singers, which I have been a member of for 15 years. It is sociable (we enjoy a glass of wine!) and relaxed, and kept me linked to singing whilst commuting to London, building my career. I love to see choirs that were started by parents and teachers, that then run for many years, where people are still members as they become parents and grandparents.
Q: Is there a song that makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand up?
Oh yes, from my school days, singing Laudate Dominum or Ave Verum Corpus by Mozart – they transport me back to my school choir days whenever I hear them!
Another would be Over the Rainbow. My daughter also sings and that was the first solo that she sang, when she was 5 or 6. She sang so beautifully, I felt very emotional.
Noeline Sanders was talking to Dr. Sam Duffy
Learn to sing with the free app ‘Biiah’ being developed by Biiah. Sign up to the Biiah waitlist here