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Women in Quantum Series: Danika Hannon, Relationship Manager at Cambridge Quantum (“Quantinuum”)

Danika Hannon has had at least a decade to develop her passion for quantum technology and quantum science. Now the Relationship Manager at Cambridge Quantum and the Deputy Head of the Quantum Strategy Institute (QSI), Hannon is grateful for those years of study. “My journey into the quantum industry was a long time in the making,” Hannon said. “It first started in 2008, when my high school teacher talked about a book called The Dancing Wuli Masters. He said it challenged his understanding of physics to the point where he could only read a bit at a time before he had to put it down and think about what he read. While I didn’t put much thought into that, the book’s title stuck in my memory.” From there, Hannon’s fascination continued as she read newspaper articles, but didn’t feel she had enough time to devote herself fully to this blossoming interest. “In 2016, I changed careers and my schedule opened up. Finally, I started reading The Dancing Wuli Masters. But I quickly realized that, like my physics teacher, I could only read a small amount before I needed a break. That spurred my curiosity and I started reading journal articles and more books on quantum mechanics.” Hannon’s dedication paid off, as in 2018, She became a co-organizer for the Minnesota Quantum Computing Meetup. “Taking on that leadership role was a turning point.”

In the next three years, Hannon found herself passing big milestones, including completing a 2019 Data Science boot camp; volunteering for Women in Quantum, and in 2020; and joining Cambridge Quantum in the Spring of 2021. This same year she helped to develop the QSI and is now one of their main leaders. “As our Deputy Head, I support or Management Team by helping them stay singularly focused, while also collaborative.” Hannon is grateful to be part of an organization like QSI, where: “All of QSI’s team members are remarkably talented and hardworking.” The QSI is currently over a month old and has already begun to make impacts within the quantum industry thanks to Hannon’s efforts.

Hannon found that, like her QSI peers, her position as the Relationship Manager at Cambridge Quantum gave her a valuable set of skills to apply at QSI. “I’m building new relationships within our community so that we can hear from both producers and consumers of quantum computing,” explained Hannon. “The diverse viewpoints from those conversations are incredibly valuable because they’re helping us to understand the strengths and weaknesses of our industry. Over time, we’ll use those insights to offer strategies for the successful adoption of quantum computing.” The QSI specifically focuses on bringing the quantum technology industry and the global business community together. “What united us was a vision and drive to explore, and then, the understanding of the practical applications of quantum computing across industries and to help bridge the white space between potential and practicality.” The QSI’s goal of a marriage between quantum computing and industry could result not only in billions of dollars generated, as well as advancing technologies, but also bring together some of the brightest minds the world has to offer.

In bringing together these bright minds, Hannon believes it’s important to emphasize inclusivity. “Our sector has many challenges ahead of it, ranging from helping businesses adopt quantum computing to driving the next scientific breakthroughs that will unlock new capabilities. A key way that we can tackle these problems is by embracing and championing diverse perspectives.” Hannon also has some suggestions when fostering inclusivity: “For those who want to make our industry more inclusive, I’d strongly encourage you to think about how you can contribute. Whether you make a small gesture (like offering someone positive feedback on their thought leadership) or take on a bigger commitment (such as mentoring or sponsoring someone) all those actions add up. And you never know what good things your positive influence could lead to. After all, even something as simple as a book recommendation can have big impacts,” Hannon said, alluding to her own past.

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With her passions solely focused on quantum technology and its adoption by the financial sector, Hannon is excited by what the future may bring. “Every day there are new technological breakthroughs and announcements about the progress that’s being made. On this front, we’re racing forward.”

If you found this article to be informative, you can explore more current quantum news here, exclusives, interviews, and podcasts.

Kenna Hughes-Castleberry

Science Communicator at JILA

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