Denise Dourado, UK Customer Success Leader, Microsoft UK, is a board-level executive with over 25 years of experience in transformation leadership, business change delivery and IT engineering team management.


Leeds-based Denise, who joined Microsoft UK in September 2021, following roles – in chronological order – at Deutsche Bank, PwC, the National Health Service, and HM Revenue & Customs, will be interviewed on the Main Stage at DTX Manchester by Julian David, CEO of TechUK.


The session is titled “AI from here to the future: An overview of key industry trends and themes”.


The following interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Q: What will you be speaking about at DTX Manchester? (AI from here to the future: An overview of key industry trends and themes)

I am looking forward to DTX Manchester and talking about artificial intelligence (AI), its potential and how to make sure it lives up to its promise. Alongside TechUK, I’ll be exploring current trends in AI, including top use cases, barriers to adoption, and how to develop AI responsibly. Given the rapid pace of change – these past 18 months have been a whirlwind of AI innovation – it can sometimes feel hard to keep up. I’ll use this session to level set, showing where we are now and where an AI-powered UK could be if we capitalise on this opportunity.

In my role at Microsoft, I’m lucky to support hundreds of organisations as they take the next step on their AI journey, so I’ll be sharing examples of best practices. I hope to convey not only my optimism about AI’s potential but also inspire others to imagine other ways we can use it to transform the way we live and work.

Q: Why should people listen to your session at DTX Manchester?

Across the UK, organisations are showing immense curiosity in AI, yet the level of adoption varies. We’re all learning how to take advantage of this incredible technology, and by sharing how businesses are deploying AI, I hope to encourage others to consider how it could help them. From what I’ve seen, even small changes using AI can have a considerable impact on an organisation.

Q: If you could offer three takeaways from your speaking session, what would they be?

  1. People and technology matter. AI is as much about technological transformation as it is about cultural transformation. Organisations that have thought about this from the outset tend to see better results. It’s crucial to bring your people with you on your AI journey.
  2. Keep a human in the loop. For AI to live up to its potential, it has to be safe and responsible by design. It’s essential to think about responsible AI governance from the start and involve a diverse group of people in its development and deployment.
  3. Listen and learn from others. Early adopters of generative AI are already driving transformative change in their organisations. But that doesn’t mean they have all the answers. We are all on a steep learning curve so it’s let’s listen and learn from each other, our customers, as we progress on our AI journeys.

Q: Have you attended DTX Manchester before, and if so, why should others attend?

I haven’t been to DTX before, so I am very excited to be here. That said, Manchester holds a special place in my heart as I spent many happy years here as a student.

When I think about industry, Manchester is not only one of the UK’s leading tech hubs and the home of Alan Turing, but also a cultural powerhouse with a great music scene and two of the best football clubs in the world.

To anyone thinking of attending, I’d say that as the biggest tech show in the North of England, this is the place to come to catch up on the latest innovations, learn from experts in their field, and connect with the tech community.

Q: What are your hopes for DTX Manchester this year? What are you hoping to learn?

Being a Northerner myself, I know first-hand that the region has amazing technical capabilities and expertise to offer the tech community. I’m looking forward to learning more about how Manchester County Council uses low code to streamline public service transformation in adult social care, for example, and how Derby Council is improving efficiency and productivity using OpenAI tools. We have hundreds of customers and partners in and around Manchester, so I’m keen to catch up with them, too.

And personally, I’m looking to learn from others – I’ve pencilled in Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson's keynote on reinvention and resilience.

Q: What attracted you to Microsoft? And what your hopes are professionally this year?

I joined Microsoft from the public sector just a few years ago, and – clichéd as it may sound – it was the culture that attracted me. I already knew several people who worked for Microsoft, and their passion for technology, dedication to their customers and commitment to our mission came across loud and clear.

Then, alongside the people, we also have a fantastic portfolio of technology. There are few places where you get to make a difference to such a wide variety of customers: start-ups to huge corporates, public sector to private sector, and in every industry imaginable.

Global reach is another benefit; I swap ideas with colleagues from across Europe and the rest of the world every single week. I couldn’t think of a better place to be than Microsoft, and there’s no better time to be here.

As for my ambitions, well, it’ll come as no surprise that I’m fascinated by everything we’re doing in AI and enjoy supporting our customers to use it in innovative ways. Then internally, I’m an advocate for our early-in-profession community. They are the future of Microsoft. I give them support, guidance and coaching and, as an added benefit, learn a lot from them too.

Q: How does Microsoft show up in the region?

We employ thousands of people across the UK – including a few hundred based in our office at UA92 – and work with 34,000 partners nationwide. I was actually in the North West with my broader team, the Customer Success Unit, just last month. Over 500 of us got together, and we spent time volunteering across the region: hosting a hackathon for Black, Asian and Ethnic minority students; running a Minecraft hack for The Christie NHS Foundation Trust; facilitating workshops at Salford Business School and supporting Step Up MCR in north Manchester.

Microsoft’s mission is to empower every person and every organisation on the planet to achieve more. I’m very proud of my team’s contribution to the North West and how we’re bringing our mission to life here.

Denise is speaking at DTX Manchester in a session titled: “AI from here to the future: An overview of key industry trends and themes.” DTX Manchester takes place at Manchester Central, M2 3GX, on 22nd & 23rd May. Register – for free – here: