Board Members

Championing the North East

Board Members

Andrew Hodgson – Chair

As Chief Executive Officer of Soil Machine Dynamics (SMD), Andrew is a leader in subsea engineering and in recent years has been awarded three Queen’s Awards for Industry. He’s currently Chair of Subsea North East, a board member of Subsea UK, Trust Board member for the International Centre for Life. He has also been awarded as North East Business Exec of the year, EY Entrepreneur of the Year and EEF’s UK manufacturing champion.

The single most important thing for either an individual or a whole economy is to have the best level of skill within the required fields. The North East Strategic Economic Plan demonstrates our requirements and we must now ensure our people have the right skills to benefit themselves and the region as a whole.

Heidi Mottram

Heidi Mottram – Vice Chair

Heidi Mottram has been Chief Executive of Northumbrian Water Group since 2010. Under her leadership, Northumbrian Water has become one of the UK’s leading water companies, officially the only water firm on the World’s Most Ethical companies list six years in a row.

The North East is such a fantastic place to live, work and visit and to have the opportunity to help strengthen its economic growth, and to champion our region both nationally and globally, is a privilege. I am enjoying working with my fellow LEP board members, and the wider business community, to strengthen our partnership and to ensure that we secure vital support to enable businesses and communities to flourish.

Paul watson

Councillor Paul Watson – Vice Chair

Councillor Paul Watson became Leader of Sunderland City Council in May 2008, after previously serving as Deputy Leader since May 2006. Prior to that, he was Portfolio Holder for Regeneration and Community Cohesion.

Made redundant in 1981, he has been a self-employed businessman ever since.  Councillor Watson has an Honours Degree in Law.

As Leader of the Council, and controlling majority political group, he chairs the Cabinet and acts as the Council’s lead political spokesman.

He is Chair of the Port of Sunderland Board, one of the leading North Sea ports, and represents the City and the City Council at national and sub-national levels on a number of key organisations.  He is Chair of the national Key Cities Group; Chair of the North East Combined Authority; Chair of the Association of North East Councils; Vice Chair of the North East Local Enterprise Partnership; Chairman of the UK Delegation to the European Union Committee of the Regions and Vice Chair of the Automotive Intergroup.  He is also a Member of the LGA Executive Board, Sunderland Economic Leadership Board and the Board of Sunderland Football Club Foundation.

It is important to invest in our region’s infrastructure so we are a fully connected region that both attracts new businesses and improves facilities for existing ones.

NELEP Farooq-Hakim

Farooq Hakim

Farooq is part of the BT Technology, Service & Operation leadership team with twenty plus year’s involvement in the delivery of complex business transformation programmes with roles at all levels.  He is currently the Chief Information Officer for Group Services with responsibility for delivering ICT transformations for a number of group functions globally. Furthermore Farooq is the BT Group North East Regional Director representing the local face of BT, protecting and enhancing BT’s reputation by helping key opinion formers appreciate BT’s strategic goals and provide thought leadership for regional communities acting as a driver for regional development and growth.

I am delighted to be joining the North East LEP to help achieve strong economic growth for our region.



Gillian Hall

Gillian was the first female Senior Partner at Watson Burton LLP, a national law firm with offices in Newcastle, Leeds and London. Now retired from Watson Burton, where she was national head of corporate law for many years, Gillian is a highly respected contributor to private and public sector organisations across the region. Gillian does this through angel investments and non-executive directorships, which include the Port of Blyth and Arch, the Northumberland Development Company. Gillian is also a longstanding CBI Regional Councillor.

Helping the right people at the right time in the right way is integral to business growth and economic stability. It takes a lot of co-ordination, which is why leadership in innovation is one of the fundamentals that we absolutely have to get right.

David Land

David Land

David has spent his career in the automotive sector, where he guided one of the regions local companies into a major player in the automotive sector.  Using his extensive experience, he is now actively involved with many business groups to promote and support the growth of the manufacturing in the North East, he also mentors various business in the region, David was one of the founder members of the regions first University Technical College and has also established an engineering and manufacturing network in County Durham. David is a strong supporter of getting young people into engineering.  

Apprenticeships went out of fashion for a long time and they never should have. Hands-on learning is invaluable and we simply must support this as an integral part of the future of the North East.

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Andrew Moffat

Andrew Moffat was appointed Chief Executive Officer of the Port of Tyne in November 2008. An economics graduate from Newcastle University he started his career as a trainee accountant with Northumbrian Water. Andrew went on to join the rapidly growing mobile telecomunication sector in 1989 where he gained, over a 17 year period, experience within a number of international companies in financial, commercial and strategic roles. He joined the Port of Tyne as Finance and Commercial Director in November 2007 from 3 UK, a telecoms subsidiary of Hong Kong based multi-national conglomerate Hutchison Whampoa, where he was Chief Finance Officer. Prior to this Andrew worked for sister company 3 Italia based in Milan as Chief Finance Officer. He held a number of senior roles over a 10 year period within Orange, including UK Director of Strategy and Group Financial Controller. Andrew was named a Commander of the British Empire (CBE) in the New Year’s Honours List 2016 for services to the North-East economy and UK ports. He is a director of NewcastleGateshead Initiative, sits on the Regional Council of the CBI, and is a member of a number of local partnership boards focussed on the delivery of economic regeneration.

It will be a privilege to be part of the LEP Board, and help build upon the work that has been done to support the delivery of the strategic plan for the North East.  I look forward to working with the Board and all of the LEP partners to help take advantage of the existing and forthcoming opportunities for economic growth, bringing investment and jobs for the region.



Mark Thompson

Mark Thompson is managing partner of Ryder Architecture, where he is responsible for the strategic development of the highly successful design company with offices across the UK and a growing international portfolio from offices in Hong Kong and Vancouver.

I’m delighted to join the North East LEP board at this exciting time, to help ensure the future prosperity of the region.

Paul varley 2Paul Varley

Paul’s past experience ranges from CEO of Newcastle Falcons to Managing Director of Carillion Energy Services. Paul mentors numerous businesses in the North East.

Supporting business with finance is clearly vital, but passing on experience and guiding those who are – after all – our future, is equally important. We have to learn from past successes and errors in order to know how to become stronger.


Ammar MirzaAmmar Mirza CBE

Ammar Mirza CBE is a leadership and management consultant and serial entrepreneur with experience across a wide range of sectors. A Fellow of the Institute of Leadership and Management (FInstLM) and Royal Society of Arts (FRSA) he has helped to establish several hundred businesses in the North East and is the chairman and founder of the not-for-profit social enterprise Asian Business Connexions, connecting, supporting and promoting the Asian community. Ammar helped launch the Primary Inspiration through Enterprise (PIE) Project Charity and represents the private sector on various local strategic partnerships including the Learning Challenge and City Deal within Newcastle. He is a board member of Your Homes Newcastle, chair of Newcastle Progression Forum, chair of governors at Tyneview Primary School, and director of the Riverside Learning Trust. As well as being Trustee of Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums, patron of Charlie Bear Charity at the Freeman Hospital and the private sector representative on the European Structural Investment Fund Sub Committee, Ammar has also recently been the 2015 David Goldman Visiting Professor for Innovation and Enterprise at Newcastle University where he continues as a Professor of Practice, and was selected as a Maserati 100 top 100 Entrepreneurs within the UK that are giving something back to encourage and support entrepreneurialism.

Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) are the backbone of our economy.  Through effective communication, enhanced collaboration and more importantly celebrating the success of our region, I am proud to be part of the North East LEP.  We will enable and deliver the support needed to help grow our vital SME community.

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Councillor Peter Jackson, Leader of Northumberland County Council

Nick forbesCouncillor Nick Forbes, Leader of Newcastle City Council

Cllr Nick Forbes became Leader of Newcastle City Council in 2011. As well as chairing the council’s Cabinet, he is the regional lead for Transport for the North East Combined Authority. He is Vice Chair of Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Authority and also chairs FRESH, the campaign for a smoke-free North East.

He is Vice Chair of the Core Cities Cabinet, with lead responsibility for transport.

Nationally, he is Leader of the Local Government Association Labour Group, and also Senior Vice Chair of the LGA. He is a member of Labour’s National Executive Committee.

Nick trained in the NHS and worked as Chief Executive of Involve North East, a regional health charity.

The North East is a region in which the public and private sector are committed to creating more and better jobs, working together to ensure a skilled workforce has access to world-class employment opportunities. We share a vision for our region in which firms can invest here knowing that our ambition is to grow our economy in a way which benefits all, a vision being delivered in everything from our plans for improved transport links through to the large scale regeneration projects being delivered across the North East.

Councillor Martin Gannon, Leader of Gateshead Council

Born in County Durham, Martin Gannon has lived in Gateshead for over 40 years. Councillor Gannon, who represents the Deckham ward, joined the Council in 1984 and was appointed as Deputy Leader in 2010. He has previously held the position of Vice Chair of the Social Services Committee, and was Chair of the Planning Committee.

Martin is actively involved in a number of major national bodies, including the Local Government Association. Prior to taking up his role as Deputy Leader, he was a Regional Officer for GMB Trade Union from 1987-2010. Martin is married with one daughter.

The North East is a great place with great people. Our job is to work together to ensure that the North East gets even better.

simon henig

Councillor Simon Henig, Leader of Durham County Council

Locally, Councillor Henig is Leader of Durham County Council, Chair of the County Durham Partnership and Vice Chair of the Association of North East Councils. Nationally, he is a lead member on the Culture, Tourism and Sport Board of the Local Government Association and a member of Labour’s National Policy Forum. Councillor Henig is also Principal Lecturer in politics at Sunderland University and an accomplished author on the same subject.

The North East LEP brings together people who all strive for the same exceptional standards. There’s a lot of faith in the North East and a lot of skills to be sourced.


Councillor Iain Malcolm, Leader of South Tyneside Council

Councillor Malcolm has been a member of South Tyneside Council since 1988 and Leader since 2008. He chairs the Board of Newcastle International Airport, is a Member of the South Tyneside Foundation Trust, Chair of the South Tyneside Health and Wellbeing Board and Chair of the Economic and Regeneration Board for the North East Combined Authority. Professionally he is Deputy Chair of Sovereign Strategy.

The North East is a great place to do business and has exceptional potential and opportunities to grow

Elected Mayor Norma Redfearn, North Tyneside Council

Norma Redfearn took up her four-year term of office as Elected Mayor of North Tyneside in May 2013. As the authority’s principal public spokesperson, her role is to give political direction to the Council and appoint the Cabinet and Deputy Mayor, which provides the executive decision-making function for the organisation. Norma, who lives in North Tyneside, has an extensive track-record in local government. She has previously represented the Riverside Ward in North Shields as Ward Councillor since 2004. During 2005-2009 she served as Cabinet Member for Children, Young People and Learning. A graduate of Newcastle University she has had a 30 year career in teaching, both in primary and secondary education. This included 14 years as a head teacher and four years in an education advisory capacity, before moving into education related consultancy. As a member of the NUT she served as a school delegate, executive member and is a past President of Newcastle Association and a National representative for Primary Schools. In 1997, Norma was awarded the Prize for Public Leadership by the office of Public Management.

From children to older people, the community is a diverse array of contributors who we must look after through every stage of their lives. We do this by seeing the community as the heart of the North East’s development and treating them with the respect they deserve.

Professor Andrew Wathey

Professor Wathey is Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive of Northumbria University and an elected member of the CBI Regional Council.  He is a governor of the Newcastle Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and serves on the boards of the BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art, NewcastleGateshead Initiative and QAA.  He chairs the Student Loan Company Stakeholder Forum, and was recently appointed chair of the UK Standing Committee for Quality Assurance.  In 2016, Professor Wathey was awarded a CBE for his services to higher education.

Universities play a vital role in transforming lives, and in building vibrant and sustainable economies and healthy societies. Working together in partnership with their communities, they can be anchors helping to create the future, growing high-level skills and providing world-leading research and enterprise. Our universities produce talented graduates – from undergraduate to doctoral level – who will shape the workforce of the North East and the innovative capacity of its industry, and play a major part in defining its role locally, nationally and internationally.

karen-readhead-04_ppKaren Redhead

Karen Redhead is the Principal and Chief Executive of Derwentside College.  Karen has worked in the Further Education sector since 1990 and has occupied senior roles in four regional colleges as well as in two national funding agencies.  Karen is a software engineering graduate and former lecturer, specialising in systems analysis, programming and relational database design.

I am a passionate believer in strength through collaboration and am delighted to be representing the Further Education colleges to facilitate our collective support for the delivery of the NELEP Strategic Economic Plan for the North East.