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Women in Quantum Series: Karina Robinson, CEO Robinson Hambro Ltd.

Women like Karina Robinson have always been self-driven. “I run Robinson Hambro Ltd., which specializes in CEO Advisory & Board search, plus I also have a portfolio of other roles,” Robinson explained. Her self-driven nature has helped make significant advances for the quantum industry, as she is a co-founder of The City Quantum Summit, happening in London, and virtually, on November 10th.

Robinson designed the summit as a way to bring the quantum industry and the finance sector together. “The reason I came up with this idea was that I found that the people who know about quantum don’t often meet the people who know about finance,” said Robinson. “Having the two worlds meet will be mutually beneficial. They should be talking to each other as much as possible, whether it’s to do fundraising, the actual uses of quantum in finance, or how quantum will change the business models of companies the financial sector invests in.” The summit is open to the public and free to attend, taking place on virtual platforms and in person at the Mansion House in London. Robinson is rather excited about the venue, as it’s: “a rather wonderful old palace where the Lord Mayor of the City of London lives. The current one, William Russell, is the 692nd Lord Mayor! And he’s allowing us to use the building because he believes the Summit is a great combination of the traditional City of London and of the UK’s innovative tech future.”

This summit is not only the first of its kind, but boasts of some big names in both the quantum industry including Ilana Wisby (CEO of OQC), Michael Cuthbert (Director of the National Quantum Computing Centre), and Denise Ruffner of IonQ. On the finance side of things, guests include Marco Pistoia (of JP Morgan), Julia Hoggett (current CEO of the London Stock Exchange) and Xavier Rolet (CEO of a Spac, World Quantum Growth Acquisition), as well as representatives from companies like HSBC and Hoare & Co. While the summit includes some of the biggest entrepreneurs within deep tech, it also has gender-balanced panels. According to Robinson: “there are three overarching themes for the summit: sector balance, diversity and inclusion, and no jargon. Every panel has the quantum and financial sector represented, we are seeking gender balance, and no excessive use of the language of physics will be allowed. The panels must be understandable to non-scientists.”

Robinson has put a lot of work into making the panels gender-balanced because: “Gender balance and diversity in general in the quantum world is atrocious. There’s no other word for it.” She is inspired by her previous work within the financial sector to use specific tools to work on this inequality. “In industries such as finance, we’ve made advances, even working with skewed legacy systems. There are a lot of diversity and inclusion lessons that can be transposed over.” Robinson believes that the improvements from the finance sector could be used by those in the quantum industry. “Quantum is an industry that’s starting out, that’s growing, so we are in a great moment to create a different culture. Having different voices in the room turbocharges innovation.” Robinson specifically alludes to her work in helping publicize the Good Finance Framework, part of The Inclusion Initiative that she helped set up at the London School of Economics. This framework can provide quantum businesses with ways to improve their inclusion and develop more diverse hiring practices and business models.

While mainly experienced in the finance sector, Robinson has found the quantum industry fascinating. “I got involved in quantum when I met Ilyas Khan, the CEO of Cambridge Quantum, and got involved in advising him and the company.” From there, Robinson has become a shareholder at Honeywell Quantum and is excited to see where the quantum industry will go. “One cannot even imagine where quantum is going to end up. But it’s going to be such a fun journey, you’ve got to be on the train!”

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To register for the free City Quantum Summit, click on the link here.

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