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.

Paul watson

Councillor Paul Watson – Vice Chair

Councillor Paul Watson is Chair of the North East Combined Authority and 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 awarded by Teesside University in 1998. The Leader of the Council, as leader of the controlling majority political group, chairs the Cabinet and acts as the Council’s lead political spokesman. He is also Chair of the Port of Sunderland Board, one of the leading North Sea ports.

Councillor Watson represents the City of Sunderland and the City Council at national and sub-national levels on a number of key organisations. He is an Executive Member of the Local Government Association; Vice Chair of the LGA City Regions Board; Chair of the National Key Cities Group; Chair of the Association of North East Councils; Member of the Combined Authority with the Economic Portfolio; Member of the Sunderland Economic Leadership Board; Member of the European Union’s Committee of the Regions, representing the UK delegation on the Economic and Social, and Education Committees. He also sits on the Board of the North East Local Enterprise Partnership and 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 leadership team with 20 years’ involvement in the delivery of complex business transformation programmes, holding a number of senior roles within BT.

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, Arch the Northumberland Development Company. Gillian is also a longstanding CBI Regional Councillor and a member of the Entrepreneurs’ Forum.

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 recently left his role with Gestamp Tallent having spent 26 years helping the company grow and develop into a major player in the automotive sector.  Using his extensive experience he is actively involved with many business groups to promote and support the growth of the manufacturing in the North East. He has also been involved in gaining approval for the first University Technical College in the region and 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.

Andrew-Moffat 200x200

Andrew Moffat

Andrew Moffat has been CEO of the Port of Tyne for seven years, during which time the business has achieved growth and cultural change, winning the North East Business of the Year title in 2014 and recently awarded the status of Investors in People Champion.   One of the UK’s major sea ports, the Port of Tyne makes a major contribution to the economy of the region, adding over £700m to the Gross Value Added of the North East and directly and indirectly supporting almost 1500 jobs.

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.

Heidi Mottram

Heidi Mottram

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 very much looking forward to 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.


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 its recently established Hong Kong office.

I’m delighted to join the North East LEP board at this exciting time.  With Devolution at the fore this could be a defining period for 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.

Grant davey

Councillor Grant Davey

With vast experience across a variety of public sector work, Councillor Davey remains an active, hands-on contributor to the community. Councillor Davey is leader of the Labour Group at Northumberland County Council and has seen many changes in the area. He remains conscientiously involved.

It’s important to have effective spokespersons for a community, in order to get clarity and consistency of message. This is a key issue when it comes to making prompt and effective changes.

Nick forbesCouncillor Nick Forbes

Councillor Forbes has held the position of Leader of Newcastle City Council since 2011. He is also Chair of North East Transport, Vice Chair of Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Authority and Chair of FRESH, the campaign for a Smoke Free North East. Councillor Forbes’ interest in health issues stems from his NHS training and he’s also Chief Executive of Involve North East a regional health charity.

Physically connecting the North East to the rest of the business world is an incredibly important part of our overall economic strategy. We also become inviting to the businesses world when we can promise such easy and sustainable transport internally.

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.

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Councillor Simon Henig

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 is 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

Councillor Malcolm’s 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 a Member of the LGA Community Wellbeing Board. 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

Mayor Redfearn was elected as Mayor of North Tyneside in 2013, which is testament to her commitment and dedication to the area. Mayor Redfearn has always served her community, from Cabinet Member of Children, Young People and Learning; to national representative for primary schools. Mayor Redfern was also the recipient of the Prize for Public Leadership in 1997 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 Arts and the NewcastleGateshead Initiative. 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 undergraduates all the way 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.

Jon Vincent

Jon has enjoyed a substantial career in the Further Education sector in lecturing and managerial roles in colleges through the country. He is currently the Principal and Chief Executive of Tyne Metropolitan College a post he has held since 2009.At the time of his appointment he was the youngest person to undertake the role of Principal in the country.

Jon holds numerous representative positions in the fields of business and education and is also a trustee of an award winning local charity, Tyne Gateway Trust. Jon serves on the NELEP Board as the representative of the North East Association of Colleges.

I believe passionately in the critical role that education and training plays in unlocking the potential held in individuals and communities. The North East is a wonderful place to life, work and study and it is our role to ensure that unrivalled opportunities are available to unleash this potential which our communities and businesses possess.

If you would like to find out more about our Board you can contact us here. You can download minutes from our bi-monthly Board meetings here, or download our Board members’ register of interests.