Andrea Winders is a creative Manchester-based entrepreneur and expert in tech, infrastructure, and smart cities. She is the Executive Director of Smart Cities Council, United Kingdom, and manages the organisation’s growth and drive objectives for the expansion of the smart agenda throughout the country.
The Smart Cities Council is an organisation that works to create action and impact around the key challenges and opportunities facing cities and communities today.
The organisation already counts Amazon Web Services (AWS), EY, ENE.HUB, Aurecon and GHD among its 100+ international members, and in the UK high profile organisations, such as global engineering services and digital infrastructure giant Valmont, life safety technology company Clevertronics, smart buildings dashboard provider Bueno Systems and digital transformation software innovator, Tr3dent, are foundation members of the UK Organisation, with UCLan, University of Lancaster as supporting academic partners.
At Smart Cities Council, she has played a pivotal role in the organisations’ different initiatives in the UK, like Manchester's new DiSH (Digital Security Hub), a place for collaboration between Manchester's business and entrepreneurial community, academics, public sector organisations, and the voluntary sector to identify digital security threats and innovative responses to them. This hub offers a co-working space as well as access to state-of-the-art equipment and facilities.
Prior to that, Andrea Winders held executive and managerial positions in companies like Spicers and Pink Ladies before joining Sunderland City Council as the Executive Director of Enterprise Investment. From here, she started her career working with organisations that empower cities and citizens.
She defines herself as “an entrepreneurial business leader, with a unique mixture of talents and experience, in both private and public sectors, looking to change traditional thinking and doing to achieve positive change, wherever it is needed.”
Andrea Winders started her career in Sales. She held many executive and managerial positions in companies like Spicers, Lyreco, and Office Depot.
Andrea founded Pink Ladies, a no-cash crudely digital taxi service to ensure safety of women, in 2005. In a recent interview with Dinis Guarda, Andrea shared the vision behind establishing Pink Ladies:
“We wanted this service to be fantastic, supplied with technology, absolutely safe, and also give opportunities to women who haven't been in the workforce for a long time.”
She further said:
“What started with an idea, went on from zero to live within three months at a time when there were no smartphones or the modern taxi business.”
With a lot of experience in bringing innovative technological solutions, and having made a community of network of governments and public departments, she joined Sunderland City Council as the Executive Director of Enterprise Investment.
This role led her to pursue her passion to work with organisations and technologies that empower cities and citizens. And she joined the Smart Cities Council in Nov 2022.
Andrea has led various initiatives at the Smart Cities Council, including the Manchester's new DiSH (Digital Security Hub), a place for collaboration between Manchester's business and entrepreneurial community, academics, public sector organisations, and the voluntary sector. Under this initiative, the council identifies digital security threats and innovative responses to them. This hub offers a co-working space as well as access to state-of-the-art equipment and facilities.
She also mentioned various other programs and initiatives undertaken by the Council under her leadership, including those for digital governance, energy efficiency, reducing the crime rate, and empowering the youth.
She told Dinis:
“We're looking at how the businesses can actually understand where they are in terms of being smart, learn what it needs to do to fill those gaps, do it, and then check their progress.”
Andrea is an entrepreneurial business leader. She considers herself a rebel who constantly challenges the norms and finds atypical problems and solutions. Her unique mixture of talents and experience, in both private and public sectors gives her an edge to bring significant changes in the traditional thinking and introducing impactful initiatives to achieve positive change, wherever it is needed.
In the interview with Dinis Guarda, she said:
“What we need to do is to expand the reach. In order to normalise digitisation and not make it scary, we need to work on the education aspect. And we need to do it in a language that is comprehended easily by common people.”