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Durham University

Computer Science

Advisory Board


Our External Advisory Board is made up of distinguished individuals from the forefront of industry, academia, and the public sector, including a number of prominent Durham University alumni, recognised as leading figures in their respective fields.

Please browse through the profiles of our outstanding advisory board personnel by selecting their images.


Anne-Marie Imafidon, MBE

Anne-Marie is Head Stemette and cofounder of Stemettes – an award-winning social enterprise inspiring the next generation of females into Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics roles via a series of events and opportunities. In under 4 years more than 13,000 girls across the UK, Ireland and Europe have had attended Stemette experiences. As part of the initiative Anne-Marie has also co-founded Outbox Incubator: the world’s first tech incubator for teenage girls. She sits on the boards of Redfield Asset Management, Urban Development Music Foundation and Inspirational YOU.

Anne-Marie has always been interested in Business, Maths and Technology. Her rather unique set of achievements include passing two GCSEs aged ten (Mathematics & ICT), holding the current world record for the youngest girl ever to pass A-level computing (aged 11), a Guardian ‘Top 10 women in tech you need to know’ and being one of the youngest to be awarded a Masters’ degree in Mathematics and Computer Science by the University of Oxford, aged 20. She was also named the UK IT Industry & British Computer Society’s Young IT Professional of the Year in 2013, Red Magazine’s ‘Woman to Watch’ 2014, won a Points of Light award from the UK Prime Minister in October 2014 and was named the 8th Most Influential woman in IT in 2016. Anne-Marie has also been listed as one of Management Today’s 35 Under 35 and was on the Timewise List of 50 Power Part Timers. She has previously worked at Goldman Sachs, Hewlett-Packard, Deutsche Bank and Lehman Brothers.

Dr Chris Sparks

Chris joined Atom Bank, the UK’s first bank built exclusively for mobile, as Chief Risk Officer in October 2015, where he is now a member of the Executive Committee and also Chair of the Executive Risk Committee.

Prior to Atom, Chris has held a variety of senior positions in Risk and Finance at firms including Virgin Money, RBS, GE Capital and HSBC. He has also lectured for a number of years at both De Montfort University and the University of Birmingham.

Chris holds a PhD in Mathematics from the University of Birmingham, plus an MSc in Operational Research from the University of Southampton, a BSc in Maths from the University of Sheffield, and a BA in Humanities with Literature from the Open University.

Dr Lincoln Wallen

Lincoln Wallen is a computer scientist with a proven history in the video game and digital media industry, driving market disruption in fields including game design, computer animation, cloud technology and software-as-a-service (SaaS).

Lincoln was CEO of DWA Nova, a software-as-a-service company spun out of DreamWorks Animation Studios in Los Angeles, a position he held until 2017. He worked at DreamWorks Animation for nine years in a variety of leadership roles including Chief Technology Officer and Head of Animation Technology. He was formerly CTO at Electronic Arts Mobile, leading their entry into the mobile gaming business internationally.

Lincoln is a non-executive director of Pearson plc, the world’s largest education company, and also of the Smith Institute for Industrial Mathematics and Systems Engineering. His early career involved 20 years of professional IT and mathematics research, including as a Reader in Computer Science at Oxford.

He is currently CTO at Improbable, a games technology company that launched the computation platform SpatialOS.

He has a PhD in Artificial Intelligence from Edinburgh University and BSc Mathematics and Physics from Durham University, Grey College.

Dr Neil Hunt

Neil is currently Chief Strategy Officer for Curai – an innovative company that through machine learning and artificial intelligence is developing software, that will aid Doctors to give better diagnosis to their patients. Prior to this, Neil was at Netflix for over eighteen years, serving as its Chief Product Officer up until 2017 where he led the product team in the building, design and optimization of the Netflix experience. Prior to Netflix, Neil worked in various engineering and product roles at the software test tool companies Pure Software and its successors, Pure Atria and Rational Software.

Before that, Neil was engaged in research in Computer Vision and Image Processing at the University of Aberdeen, Schlumberger Palo Alto Research Labs, and Teleos Research.

Neil has also been a member of Logitech's board of directors since September 2010 and holds a BSc in Computer Science and Electronics from Durham University, plus a Doctorate in Computer Science from the University of Aberdeen.

Dr Rashmi Misra

Working closely with ecosystem partners, customers and product teams Rashmi is responsible for proving forefront solutions and partnerships combining AI and Edge as well as other emergent technologies at Microsoft.

Rashmi has been at the forefront of telecoms and IP media for over 20 years, managing network applications, cloud, media, IoT and M2M businesses for HPE where most recently she was the Head of AI Solutions for High Performance Compute solutions.

Rashmi previously led Motorola’s worldwide System Integration portfolio and was instrumental in deploying some of the first expert and AI systems in 2G, 3G and 4G networks. She owns six international patents for intelligent optimisation, automated network health and monetization of traffic on telecom networks.

Rashmi has a doctorate in Artificial Intelligence on Multi-Agent Reasoning Systems, from Exeter University, an MBA from Warwick University, and earned BSc Computing from Durham University, St Mary's College.

Andrew Graham

Andrew is an IBM Distinguished Engineer and Executive IT Architect in IBM's Global Financial Services team, based in London supporting clients globally.

He focuses on business aligned technology, architecture and innovation and has gained in-depth experience over the last 20+ years in complex systems integration, operational resilience, technology strategy, industry utilities, grid computing and more recently distributed ledger technology. For example operational resilience (Singapore Exchange, Deutsche Bank, Citigroup) and technology strategy and Industry Utilities (we.trade, Barclays, Deutsche Bourse, Deutsche Bank, Citigroup).

For the last two years he was the lead architect from inception through to operation of the we.trade blockchain/DLT trade finance consortia service supporting 14 banks across Europe. Subsequently he led the technical activity for the we.trade (Europe) and eTradeConnect (Hong Kong) trade finance DLT network connectivity. The former winning the Blockchain Initiative of the Year at the Payments Awards 2018, plus The Blocks - Most innovative use of Blockchain in the Financial Sector 2018.

Andrew has a Masters in Engineering from Durham University, has attained ACSI status with the Chartered Institute for Securities and Investments and is a Chartered Engineer with the IET.

Giselle Stewart, OBE

Giselle is the Director of UK Corporate Affairs for Ubisoft, where she works to establish the optimal environment for games development to flourish in the UK whilst also looking for opportunities for Ubisoft’s UK businesses.

Passionate about the join-up between education and industry, Giselle chairs the Games Council at Creative Skillset, looking at how match-funding can enable the talent pipeline. She is also on the Employers Steering Group of Next Gen Skills Academy, developing apprenticeships and leading the skills agenda for DynamoNE, and is a Trustee of Northern Futures, a University Technical College dedicated to the ‘creative, digital and IT'(CDIT) and health sciences sectors.

Giselle is a Director of TIGA, the games developer’s trade association and Vice-Chair of Dynamo NE.

Since joining Reflections as General Manager in 1996 with a mandate to grow and re-structure the company, Giselle has managed the business from an independent studio through the transitions of becoming publisher-owned and integrated three times, via GT Interative, Infogrames/Atrai and in 2006, Ubisoft. Giselle obtained an MBA from Durham University Business School in 1996.

Ian Ellison-Taylor

Ian works for Microsoft as a Distinguished Engineer, focussing specifically on Microsoft’s augmented reality device ‘HoloLens’. Ian has held several roles at Microsoft over the last 25 years, and has been involved in a variety of user experience related initiatives on a number of different teams including Windows 3.1, Windows 95, IE, Java and Windows XP. Ian has also previously worked for Google as Director of Product Management for the Open Web Platform, and is the Co-owner of a technical consultancy agency called Reszolve.

Ian graduated from the University of Durham in 1990 with a BSc in Computing.

Jonathan Hazan

Jonathan joined Datix in 1995 and has grown the business into a widely respected international healthcare patient safety reporting and learning software company. Datix is used by the majority of the NHS and has customers as diverse as Canadian health authorities, large hospitals in the Gulf States and the Veterans Health Administration and Military Health System in the USA.

Jonathan has also led Datix through two highly successful management buyouts backed by private equity. Jonathan stepped down as chief executive in 2014 to pursue his interests in patient safety and software and remains on the board of Datix.In 2017-2018, he served as Chairman for Trust Networks Inc., a company that focuses on cloud based cybersecurity.

His current ventures include, acting as a Trustee, and Chairman for the charities Action Against Medical Accidents, and Patient Safety Learning.

Jonathan holds a BSc in Computer Science from Durham University.

Lee Stott

Lee has worked for Microsoft in a number of roles over the last few years, acting as both Academic and Technical Evangelist before moving on to become CTO of Academic Engagements in 2016, where he worked to engage with academic institutions across the UK in the ongoing development of the Microsoft platform. In February 2019, Lee became a Senior Program Manager Data Science at Microsoft, a role that focuses on developing Azure and the open sources that runs it, through understanding the needs, preferences, and perspectives of Computer Science students and faculty. Prior to this, Lee worked for the University of Manchester as the Head of Information Systems, giving him extensive experience of leading service and delivery teams across both academic and commercial markets.

Lee holds a PGCE in Higher Education Management from the University of Southampton and an MSc in Information Technology from the University of Liverpool.

Rob Newsome

Rob is Head of Development at Scott Logic, a software development consultancy, working with some of the world’s most demanding organisations. Rob leads the engineering team within the Newcastle development centre, with responsibility for both people and projects.

His career has spanned development, team leadership, technical architecture and project management with experience ranging from financial trading platforms through to large scale public sector programmes. Rob has been responsible for managing the delivery of several major capital markets projects at Scott Logic, in addition to providing technical strategy and process improvement advice to clients.

Rob holds a Computer Science degree from Cambridge University.

Professor Paul Spirakis

Paul is a Chair and Professor in the Computer Science Department at Liverpool and an international leader on algorithms, complexity, distributed computing and algorithmic game theory. His work is characterized by the use of Applied Probability.

Paul received his five year Engineering Diploma from the National Technical University of Athens (NTUA), and his MSc and PhD from Harvard University. He has been a faculty member of NYU Courant (U.S.) and is also a Professor at Patras University (Greece). Paul also directs the initiative of Networks Sciences and Technologies of the School of EEE-CS at the University of Liverpool, and is also the President of the Computer Technology Institute (CTI) of Greece.

Professor Spirakis has co-authored over 380 papers in the most significant journals and conference proceedings in computer science. He has co-authored three scientific books and several book chapters, and is a Member of Academia Europaea. He is also an inaugural Fellow of the European Association for Theoretical Computer Science (EATCS) as well as its Vice-President.

Paul is a member of the ACM Europe Council and has been the Chair of the EU ERC Panel on Informatics (2015-16), a member of the EU ISTAG, and a National Representative in the IST Committee of the EU. Having also chaired the program committees of some of the most prestigious conferences in the Foundations of Computer Science, and acts as editor for a number of international journals.

Professor Paul Watson

Paul Watson is Professor of Computer Science and Director of the Digital Institute at Newcastle University. He is PI of the EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Cloud Computing for Big Data and also directed the £12M RCUK-funded Digital Economy Hub on Social Inclusion through the Digital Economy (2009-15).

Paul graduated in 1983 with a BSc in Computer Engineering from Manchester University, followed by a PhD on parallel graph reduction in 1986. In the 80s, as a Lecturer at Manchester University, Paul was a designer of the Alvey Flagship and Esprit EDS systems. From 1990-1995 he worked for ICL as a system designer of the Goldrush MegaServer parallel database server, which was released as a product in 1994.

In August 1995 he moved to Newcastle University, where he has been an investigator on research projects worth over £40M. In 2018, he was awarded the Newcastle University Academic Distinction Award. His research interest is in scalable information management with a current focus on Cloud Computing. Paul sits on the board of Dynamo North East, an industry-led organisation created to grow the IT economy of the region. Professor Watson is a Chartered Engineer, a Fellow of the British Computer Society, and a member of the UK Computing Research Committee, receiving the Jim Gray eScience Award in 2014.

Simon Meacham

A Silicon Valley Leader and CEO of innovative new Cyber Security firm Trust Networks Inc, Simon served in the US Department of Defense and helped bring high speed innovation practices from industry into the DOD and broader US government. Most recently he worked in support of the White House Office of Science & Technology Policy in the Executive Office of the President, contributing to the President’s Strategy for Innovation.

Prior to his government service, Simon ran the Developer Relations teams for Google Apps, Google Search, and Google’s Cloud Platform (AppEngine, Google Compute Engine, Google Storage, Prediction, BigQuery, and more) across the world in 26 countries in the Americas, EMEA, and ASIAPAC from Google’s worldwide HQ in Mountain View, CA.

Prior roles Simon has held include Chief Architect of BT’s Cloud Computing Platform, Technical Director of Microsoft’s Mission Critical Program, Director of Avanade’s UK Infrastructure Practice, and Developer & Technical Evangelist at Microsoft with a background in software performance analysis. Simon also launched a small startup, HyperScalar, in the software performance field, in which he holds five patents.

Simon is a passionate supporter of Bletchley Park and the legacy of Alan Turing, during his time at Google he helped retrieve Alan Turing’s papers for Bletchley Park, while actively contributing to the fundraising strategy for Bletchley and the modernization of the site.

Simon holds a BSc (Hons) Computer Science from Durham University, and is also a member of the North American Development Board for Durham Alumni.

Matt McNeill

Matt is a business-orientated technologist, passionate about creating new opportunity and capability through the application of technology to the enterprise.

Throughout a varied career, he has worked alongside some forward innovators and inspiring leaders at major companies, such as Google, NHS, EADS and The European Space Agency, working across the UK, Europe and the US.

Matt heads up the Customer Engineering teams for Google Cloud Platform business for the UK & Ireland, responsible for engagement and success of our customers.

He joined Google Enterprise in 2009 as UK & Ireland Industry Head for Retail. In 2011 Matt took up the EMEA lead for Enterprise Business Solutions, becoming a founding member of the Google Cloud Platform organisation, and the longest tenured in the go-to-market teams globally. Google Cloud Platform brings some of the most exciting and advanced technologies such as, Compute, Big Data and Machine Learning solutions, out of the centre of Google's 18 years of world leading infrastructure and is opening them out to the world. In 2016/17 he built out the UK & Ireland sales, account management and industry teams and developed the go-to-market strategy.

His previous 10 years he worked in IT, managing CxO consultancy engagements, leading programme turnarounds, delivering offshore projects and designing and developing systems within the healthcare, telecommunications and space technology sections for Logica, the largest European IT Services vendor.

Matt graduated from Durham University in 1997 with a joint honours degree in Physics and Computer Science.

twitter.com/mattmcneill | linkedin.com/in/mattmcneill

Dr Phil F Souter

Phil works in the consumer goods industry and is passionate about using chemistry to improve people’s lives. He has worked for Procter & Gamble for the last 21 years, during which his career highlights have included inventing and designing the P&G Purifier of Water product which is used to provide clean, safe drinking water in over 90 countries. Phil currently works in P&G’s Strategic Innovation & Technology department designing new molecules, technologies and formulations for their Fabric & Home Care products, including extensive external partnership with many of the world’s leading chemical and biochemical companies, Universities, and selected SMEs.

Phil’s educational background includes a BA and D.Phil in Chemistry from University of Oxford and postdoctoral studies at University of Virginia. He is also a Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry.