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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.

Dr Anne-Marie Imafidon, MBE | Dr Lincoln Wallen | Dr Neil Hunt | Dr Rashmi Misra | Andrew Graham | Giselle Stewart, OBE | Ian Ellison-Taylor | Jonathan Hazan | Lee Stott | Graham Odds | Professor Paul SpirakisSimon Meacham | Matt McNeill | Dr Phil F Souter | Dr Russell Collingham


Dr Anne-Marie Imafidon, MBE

Dr Anne-Marie Imafidon, MBE

Dr Anne-Marie Imafidon MBE is the co-founder of the STEMettes, an award-winning social initiative dedicated to inspiring and promoting the next generation of young women in the STEM sectors. Since its inception in 2013, STEMettes has exposed almost tens of thousands young people across Europe to Anne-Marie’s vision for a more diverse and balanced science and tech community.

At age 11, Anne-Marie became the youngest girl ever to pass A-level computing, going on to receive her Master’s Degree in Mathematics and Computer Science from the University of Oxford at the age of 20. Since then, she has forged an enviable CV, including positions at Goldman Sachs, Hewlett-Packard, and Deutsche Bank. She has also received Honorary Doctorates from the Open University, Glasgow Caledonian University, Kent University, and Bristol University, and also holds an Honorary Fellowship at Keble College, Oxford. She is also a Visiting Professor at the University of Sunderland.

In 2022 she released her new book She’s in CTRL a guidebook for women to take back tech.

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Dr Lincoln Wallen

Dr Lincoln WallenLincoln 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.

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Dr Neil Hunt

Dr Neil HuntNeil 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.

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Dr Rashmi Misra

Dr Rashmi MisraWorking 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 a BSc Computing from Durham University, St Mary's College.

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Andrew Graham

Andrew Graham

Andrew is a Senior Vice President and Distinguished Engineer at the London Metal Exchange, a Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing company. He oversees the Group Systems Resilience function alongside Enterprise Architecture responsibilities.

Andrew was previously an IBM Distinguished Engineer and Technical Executive within IBM’s Global Financial Services team, performing complex system integration, operational resilience, technology strategy and distributed ledger technology technical sales and delivery roles for over 20 years.  For example, he reviewed five Financial Markets Exchanges globally on behalf of local regulators and was the lead architect for the open account cloud hosted distributed ledger platform, a global first in production serving 14 European Banks, winning the Blockchain Initiative of the Year at the Payments Awards 2018.

Andrew is also a technical advisor to the AI-based careers and education platform.

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.

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Giselle Stewart, OBE

Giselle Stewart, OBE

Giselle is Studio Director at Creative Assembly North.

Passionate about the join-up between education and industry, Giselle is a Visiting Professor in the School of Computing at Newcastle University and sits on the Employers Steering Group of Next Gen Skills Academy. She was part of the team that set up North East Futures UTC, a regional school focusing on digital and health tech, and is a Trustee of Ponteland Community Primary School.  She has also worked to promote understanding of sector needs with the Migration Advisory Committee, relevant government departments and trade associations.

She is part of the AHRC's Creative Industries Advisory Group and has been on the Boards of TIGA, the games developer's trade association, Ukie, Creative UK and regionally, of DynamoNE and Newcastle Gateshead Initiative (NGI).

Her early career was spent within a studio development team with Reflections which as General Manager she managed from an independent studio through the transitions of becoming publisher-owned and integrated, three times, via GT Interactive, Infogrames/Atari and finally in 2006, Ubisoft.  Giselle obtained an MBA from Durham University Business School in 1996.

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Ian Ellison-Taylor

Ian Ellison-TaylorIan 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.

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Jonathan Hazan

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

Jonathan led Datix through two highly successful management buyouts backed by private equity before stepping down to pursue his wider interests in patient safety and software. In 2017-2018, he served as Chairman for Trust Networks Inc., a company that focussed on cloud based cybersecurity prior to its acquisition.

His current ventures include acting as a Trustee and Chairman for the charities Action Against Medical Accidents, and Patient Safety Learning, and giving advice and support to a number of start-up companies.

Jonathan holds a BSc in Computer Science from Durham University.

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Lee Stott

Lee StottLee 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.

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Graham Odds

Graham OddsGraham is Innovation Director at Scott Logic, a software development consultancy working with some of the world's biggest and most demanding organisations. Graham took up his role there following his graduation from Durham University with a BSc in Computer Science.

Graham's career has spanned development, user experience design, and team and business leadership. He has worked on projects across the public sector, energy trading, and the full range of financial services, from capital markets research and analysis & trading, to wealth management and retail banking. He established, grew, and led Scott Logic's UX Design Practice, specialising in the design of complex digital systems and services. He can typically be found advising and guiding businesses around the innovation that can come from a deep understanding of business, technology, and people.

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Professor Paul Spirakis

Professor Paul SpirakisPaul 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.

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Simon Meacham

Simon MeachamA Silicon Valley leader and entrepreneur, Simon Meacham currently works for rideshare company Lyft as their Head of Information and Intelligence based in San Francisco.

Prior to his role at Lyft, Simon was CEO of Cyber Security start-up Trust Networks Inc, before which he served in the US Department of Defense helping to 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 start-up, 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, and during his time at Google helped to 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.

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Matt McNeill

Matt McNeillMatt 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.

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Dr Phil F Souter

Dr Phil F SouterPhil 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.

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Dr Russell Collingham

Russell is currently the Lead Enterprise Architect at Atom Bank, the UK's first bank built for smartphone or tablet, without any branches, and the first digital-only challenger bank to be granted a full UK regulatory licence, and based in Durham.

Prior to joining Atom, Russell was Head of Engineering for over 5 years at hedgehog lab, a digital agency based in Newcastle, leading the technical development and delivering award winning apps and digital products on mobile, web and cloud. Russell was a software consultant for 15 years working with Harveys Furniture, Bensons for Beds, the MoD and Ringo; Chief Scientist at DQ Lab for 5 years leading the R&D into speech, telecoms and IVR technology; CTO at 3F, a spinoff company from the University where he was responsible for the design and implementation of the ARA large scale telephone-based speech platform for directory enquiries, and the natural language conversational dialogue component of the Concepts system used in the computer game Girland and the web query tool FlexAnswer.

Russell was at the University of Durham for 11 years where he gained a BSc in Computer Science, as part of the very first cohort of single honours CS students, and a PhD in Artificial Intelligence before moving onto research and then joining the academic staff as a lecturer for 4 years until 1997. 

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