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Xena Women in Tech Award Winners 2024

Drumroll please…

Now that’s what we call a celebration! We’ve been blown away by the, dare we say, overwhelmingly positive response to the second edition of the Xena Women in Tech Awards last week in Berlin. We welcomed close to 300 special guests to join us for a celebration of note, each bringing their own flair, story, and authenticity to the evening’s events. 

The enthusiasm in the room was contagious and once again reminded us of the incredible talent and dedication to inclusion within our community. Despite the past year’s challenges, the resilience and innovation of women, allies, and changemakers in our community continue to inspire us. This year, we had 40 finalists and 8 deserving winners who demonstrated excellence and thought leadership in their respective fields. Meet the finalists and check out the categories here

Nicole Merantix

Before we dive into the winners, one last special thank you to our partners, teams, and collaborators who helped us turn this night into something special. We couldn’t have done it without you. And finally, to our two inspiring guest speakers, Nicole Büttner and Anna McDougall your insights brought a special kind of magic to the evening and sparked important conversations between our guests.  

Meet The Xena Women In Tech Awards Panel 2024 who were selected as external experts, each chosen based on experience in their respective fields, who helped us determine winners based on the category criteria.  

And now, the moment you’ve been waiting for…introducing, the winners of the Xena Women in Tech Awards 2024:





The One to Watch Award, supported by Axel Springer NMT

Katherine is a well-rounded Tech leader and Head of Technology at well-known e-mobility company, Felyx.

Katherine Elizabeth Bustos Rodas, Head of Technology, Felyx

Katherine’s commitment to ethics, sustainability, diversity, and inclusion is ingrained in her professional and personal DNA, not just mere rhetoric. A discouraging encounter with a physics teacher in her high school years shifted her from STEM to humanities, but life circled her back into tech as a data analyst intern, proving STEM isn’t the only path into tech. Facing skepticism in her 20s about her leadership capabilities by a Marketing teacher, she persevered, recognising the value in her unique journey.

She advocates ensuring women aren’t discouraged from pursuing both STEM and Humanities, recognising their combined power and need in the tech world. As well as encouraging women to go into tech, despite their backgrounds. She has learned to share her logical approach to ethics, sustainability, and diversity, emphasising the tangible benefits they bring to ways of working, product perspectives, decision-making, cost-saving, and more. Her career goal is to try and shape technology as a true reflection of our diverse society promoting conscious tech use for innovation and societal progress. 

Katherine believes in the power of diversity and inclusion not just as a moral imperative but as a catalyst for a broader societal mindset, extending to crucial areas like the ethical usage of ML/AI.

The presenters of our one-to-watch award were Anna McDougall from Axel Springer NMT and panelist Maria von Watzdorf from SoundCloud.


The Allyship Award, supported by Alteos

Sérgio Laranjeira, Chief Technology Officer, Metacore Games

Sérgio is a passionate Software and Delivery leader. In parallel, he’s deeply committed to the cause of Diversity and Inclusion, currently the CTO at Metacore Games.

As Sérgio became more interested in technology, he initially thought it was a place where anything was possible and fairness in representation wasn’t a concern. As he went through studies and early jobs, he soon discovered the opposite to be true. Fostering diversity within his team and actively working to increase the representation of women in his organisations has always been a personal commitment and priority. At Farfetch and Zalando, they consistently succeeded in enhancing representation. During his time at N26, one of his proudest achievements was contributing to the professional growth of Sarah Abrantes (promotion to Head of Engineering).

His journey at Delivery Hero has been one where he’s more present, hoping to inspire other senior leaders to care and give back. He actively participated in the Female Heroes group as an ally and through the Tech Academy program, they successfully increased the number of women on his teams. This year, he had the privilege of participating in several panel discussions to address D&I, aiming to inspire both companies and individuals.

Now CTO at Metacore Games, his objective is to champion the growth of women into leadership positions within the company. Additionally, he intends to extend his influence across various organisations, advocating for increased opportunities for women in tech.

The allyship award was presented by Maria Linage Muñoz from Alteos and panelist Sarvesh Regmi from GetYourGuide.


The Leadership Award, supported by Grammarly

Simana Paul, Global VP Engineering, SumUp

Simana is Global VP of Engineering for Risk & Compliance at SumUp. She started her career 22+ years ago and has been in leadership roles for the past decade. In 2023 she was selected as an official member of the Forbes Technology Council, an invitation-only community for world-class CIOs, CTOs, and technology executives. Simana was vetted and selected by a committee based on the depth and diversity of her experience and business impact. 

As an engineer, she also won the John Caples Bronze award for best use of creative technology and plays an active part as a speaker for industry events and initiatives. Simana’s journey from Kolkata to London and now in a global role has been full of challenges and learnings, more so being a woman, and being a mother. There have been many moments where she has felt like giving up, managing a home, kids, and a full-time job is never easy, but Simana feels lucky to have an understanding family and work for companies who support my career ambitions.

Extremely passionate about women in technology, Simana believes leadership is a privilege and an opportunity, which she will continue to use to support even more women – especially in the technology sector. 

The Leadership Award was presented by Ira Shamrai from Grammarly and panelist Maria von Watzdorf from SoundCloud.



The Founder of the Year Award, supported by Preply

Unfortunately, Rachel Delacour couldn’t join us on the evening, but we were still very excited to have some Sweep team members in the house to represent the co-founder and CEO. Sweep, the all-in-one B2B software platform to help organisations act on carbon and ESG data.

Previously, she co-founded BIME Analytics, a pioneering business intelligence SaaS that was acquired by US customer service company Zendesk. As a leading female figure in European tech, Rachel is a vocal advocate for women in tech, having backed several female-founded US and French startups.

Sweep was born as a start-up in 2020, a year when all of our networks were disrupted and remodelled, which turns out to be a fitting metaphor for the power of Sweep’s carbon and ESG data management platform. Rachel will tell anyone who asks that she hasn’t studied at the elite business schools – and instead of claiming exceptional business genius as many entrepreneurs do, she says her top skill is bringing together excellent teams of clever, nice people, from all social and professional backgrounds. Having self-funded her way through business school in Marseille, Rachel was in her twenties when she couldn’t find the software she needed for a management job, so decided to make it herself – founding the business intelligence SaaS tool company “BIME Analytics”.

She later sold BIME to a major American company and went on to found Sweep with two of her key BIME collaborators, and together they share one mission: inspiring companies to see carbon not as a limitation, but as a creative force for positive growth. Almost four years on, the Sweep platform now maps over 100 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent across the entire value chains of major companies including L’Oréal, HP, EDF, and SNCF – and thereby empowers them to make science-based, data-driven business decisions on reducing their environmental footprint.

Rachel says: “It’s all about the data, and the network. If you are able to interconnect the whole world of carbon, you will be able to understand what is really at stake and where.”

Our presenters for the Founder of The Year Award were Maryna Shananina from Preply and panelist Manjuri Sinha from OLX.


The D&I Leader Award, supported by Babbel

Anna Brailsford founded Code First Girls in 2019, a social enterprise dedicated to transforming the tech landscape.

Anna is an entrepreneurial leader with a history of exceeding growth targets within the tech industry. Over the last decade, she’s scaled companies to drive growth, maximise revenue and increase performance. In 2019 she joined Code First Girls as CEO and Co-Founder, a social enterprise that provides the skills, space, and inspiration for women to become brilliant developers and future tech leaders.

Code First Girls has now taught over 150,000 women and non-binary people how to code, with over 57% from BAME backgrounds and 19% identifying as neurodiverse. Code First Girls is a community-led organisation made up of over 20,000 women, dedicated to developing the next generation of data scientists and software developers. They work with over 130 companies globally to boost employability and transform local economies and communities.

By providing the skills, space, and inspiration for women to become brilliant

developers and future tech leaders. In 2023 an announcement was made that Code First Girls would be building technology at the House of Lords and The House of Commons and have been widely recognised for their significant influence and contributions to the cyber space.

Our presenters for the D&I Leader Award were Cemre Akdemir from Babbel and panelist Manjuri Sinha from OLX.


The Rising Startup Award, supported by Merantix

Banxware provides embedded lending technology that enables digital platforms such as marketplaces and other aggregators like PSPs to offer financing in real time to its SME business customers

In this current, precarious market environment, launching a good product doesn’t suffice anymore. According to the European FinTech Report 2023, investments slowed down by 70%, compared to 2020 levels. Cash-intensive business models appear to be unpopular with VCs at the moment. As a FinTech with an Embedded Lending product, it is safe to say: It wasn’t always easy. In 2023, against all odds, Banxware’s business model convinced existing as well as new investors such as global powerhouse UniCredit. Because they have the shared belief that Embedded Finance— particularly Embedded Lending—is still in its early stages and has huge potential to further innovate banking.

Integrating their cutting-edge lending product into platforms, Banxware created a product that’s tailored to the needs of SMEs. Doing so, they’re catering to a market of massive size (there are currently 3.6 SMEs active in Germany alone). Despite the size that they constitute, these types of enterprises are notoriously underserved when it comes to issuing loans. 

With this business model and new partners on their side, Banxware has created the cornerstone for sustainable growth and long-term success. Success is defined by ever-evolving product excellence and by investments in their team and their skills. Ultimately, it is Banxware’s firm belief that European leadership is on the horizon.

Our presenters for the Rising Startup Award were Lynae M. Brayboy from Merantix and panelist Andreea Lungulescu from Thermondo.


Inclusive Tech Investor Award, supported by Founderland

Auxxo Female Catalyst fund is co-investing in the strongest female-founded pre-seed and seed-stage startups in Europe.

Four years ago, Auxxo was founded to address a unique opportunity for returns and systemic change: Female founders. Today, Auxxo is the most wanted investor for female founders across Europe. They have established themselves as the “godmothers of female investing”, and have been on stage at the most important industry conferences (e.g. OMR, Bits&Pretzels, WVC:E), have been featured in well-known startup media (e.g. Sifted, Forbes, Business Insider) and have won several awards (e.g. Investor of the Year, Business Punk, BCG thought leader award).

In addition, Auxxo has built strong women’s networks such as the Evangelistas, a vibrant community of 250 experienced female angel investors, and hosted several events to unite the female ecosystem. With their fund, they have invested in 29 exceptional companies across Europe. Their co- and follow-on investors include top-tier funds such as Sequoia Capital, Atlantic Lab, La Famiglia, OWL, Fin Capital, and Ventech.

In addition, they have co-initiated several initiatives to promote a balanced representation of women in the venture capital scene, including Encourage Ventures and European Women in VC. But they don’t want to stop there. With their feminist changemaker movement, they want to create a reality in which values such as care, authenticity, vulnerability, and trust determine the way we treat people and build companies.

Our presenter for the Inclusive Tech Investor Award was Patricia Russ from ParkEnd Ventures.

D&I Tech Employer of the Year Award, supported by Delivery Hero


Utilities can no longer rely on traditional vegetation trimming cycles to keep up with the vegetation risks around their network, which are causing wildfires and power outages at unprecedented rates. More frequent and severe extreme weather events, increased labor costs, and failing infrastructure are the perfect storm, and utilities need a better way to understand risk across their entire network. Their vegetation intelligence helps utilities prevent those wildfires and power outages before they happen, enabling smarter infrastructure management, safer communities, and a more reliable path to a decarbonised future. 

At Overstory, they know tech, they know trees, and they know their customers. Overstory proudly partners with 40+ electric utilities–big and small–including giants like PG&E and BC Hydro, innovative coops, and leaders across Canada, Brazil, and Europe.

To date, they’ve monitored over 2 million acres of land and protected $6 billion of utility assets. Their talented, diverse team remains the key to their success—from machine learning engineers and data scientists to arborists and wildfire experts, more than 50% of the leaders in their company are female or non-white males. Together, they work across 9 countries, represent 12 nationalities, and speak 13 languages. United, they remain focused on what they do best (tech and trees) as they drive toward a safe, reliable, biodiverse future.

Our Inclusive Tech Employer Award was presented by Ioanna Renta from Delivery Hero and panelist Vanessa Wachtmeister from Expedia Group.





For those who joined us, thanks for coming, and see you next year! And to all the finalists, allies and changemakers keep up the amazing work! Let’s work together on closing the gender gap.


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