Ex Netflix CPO launches $3.5m diversity in tech initiative at Durham University

Durham University recieve $3.5 million donation to support diversity and future generations of leadership in technology.

A new diversity initiative aimed at tackling the underrepresentation of women in tech leadership roles has been established at Durham University, thanks to a $3.5 million donation from Durham University Computer Science graduate Dr Neil Hunt, Former Chief Product Officer of Netflix.

The Hunt Programme

‘The Hunt Programme’ in Computer Science, will play a major part in expanding the University’s Women in Technology programme by providing scholarships to students from low income and underrepresented backgrounds. The donation will ensure talented prospective students can access Durham’s degree programmes regardless of their background or circumstance.

Durham University will also use the grant for the Department’s first Careers & Internships programme for computer science students, leveraging the University’s global networks to give students access to transformative career opportunities in the tech sector  – something Hunt says was critical to his career progression.

Dr Hunt became the first-ever Chief Product Officer at Netflix in 1999, steering the company from a nascent start-up providing an online DVD rental service to one of the largest and most recognisable streaming platforms in the world. He is largely credited for the development of the personalised user experience now synonymous with the Netflix brand.


Dr Hunt is a founding member of Durham University’s Computer Science External Advisory Board and plays a fundamental role in shaping the department’s future by bringing together other senior tech leaders as advisors and launching innovative programmes such as the AMI Women in Technology Scholarships, named for inspirational young tech leader Anne-Marie Imafidon MBE.

Dr Hunt, who is now Founder and Chief Strategy Officer of med-tech start-up Curai, says: “Today’s high-tech industry is fiercely competitive for talent, and we cannot afford to shut out 50% or more of the potential from even getting to the starting gate.

“Women make up just 15% of Computer Science graduates  – a figure that continues to fall – and this cries out for correction. My education at Durham University was a key stepping stone to the success that I have been fortunate to enjoy in my career, and I want to maximise the opportunities for those who follow. I hope my gift will inspire others  –  in industry and in education – to cultivate future generations of innovation and leadership from all walks of life”.


William Russell, Incoming Lord Mayor of London and member of the Campaign Board at Durham University says: “It’s inspiring to see Silicon Valley tech giants like Neil investing generously in the future leaders of this sector, especially here in one of the UK’s most distinctive universities which is developing an excellent profile in this space.

“The Campaign Board working on behalf of Durham University hope to see this donation leverage a great future for many women currently underrepresented within this crucial field.”

Anne-Marie Imafidon MBE, Durham University Computer Science Advisory Board member and CEO of Stemettes says: “The issue of diversity in tech is systemic, and universities can play a huge part in modelling inclusive cultures and practices for schools and industry to follow. Underrepresentation is about attraction and pipeline, but also retention.

“I’m pleased to see Durham University taking a proactive approach and prioritising inclusivity; and am proud to be part of the University’s AMI Women in Technology programme, which we will be able to expand significantly with Neil’s generous support.”

Transformative impact

Dr Hunt’s donation will have a transformative impact on the future of Computer Science at Durham University, attracting and supporting more young women into technology and equipping students with the skills they need to be the industry leaders of tomorrow.

The University also recognises the contribution this gift will make towards its wider ‘Durham Inspired’ campaign, chaired by former Saatchi & Saatchi CEO, Rob Senior, which seeks to support the next generation of inspiration and leadership through Durham.

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