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James is the founding Chair of the Hull and East Yorkshire LEP. His executive career mainly consisted of being Group Finance Director over several PLCs. In his Non-Executive career, he has been Chair or NED of a number of PLCs and other organisations.

James was the founding Chair of the Sheffield City Region LEP from 2010 to 2015, having retired following the signing of one of the first City Region Devolution Deals in October 2015. He is currently Chair of Finance Yorkshire and the South Yorkshire Community Foundation and has a number of other business and charitable roles, nationally and in Yorkshire.

A Chartered Accountant, former Master Cutler and Deputy Chairman of Sheffield Hallam University, James was awarded an OBE in 2017 for services to business, the economy and charity in Yorkshire and an Honorary Doctorate from Sheffield Hallam University in 2012 for services to business, enterprise and education in Yorkshire and Humber.