James Henry Newman OBE - Chair of Investment Panel

Born in Doncaster, James Henry Newman OBE is one of the most respected business leaders in Yorkshire.

With a corporate career spanning over 40 years, he has had a varied career with a number of executive roles including being finance director of a number of FTSE companies. Highly driven, James shifted gear slightly after the birth of his youngest child in 1997 and wanted to change his work- life balance, which meant giving up his full-time roles and starting a non-executive career, which would inevitably lead to new opportunities to give back to the community.

In 2003, he was offered a key role as Treasurer of a national charity that ran 18 care homes, which in 2015 was later integrated with three other charities to become the Masonic Charitable Foundation – one of the largest grant-making charities in the country. James became Chairman of this new Foundation, which supports people in poverty, advances healthcare and education for the most disadvantaged as well as continuing to run care homes for the elderly.

He became heavily involved with Sheffield Hallam University for almost a decade, as a Governor and Deputy Chair. James was awarded an honorary doctorate from the University in 2012 for services to business, enterprise and education.

With a prolific non-executive career, his focus has been on helping start-ups and enterprise.

After a busy year as Master Cutler, James led the formation of the Sheffield City Region’s Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) in 2010.  As founding Chairman, he guided it from ‘two people in a small office’ into one of the leading LEPs in the country. He continues to chair the City Regions European Advisory Board and represents all LEPs on the National EU Programme Growth Board.

Having retired from the LEP at the end of 2015, James became Chairman of one of the largest charities in South Yorkshire and one of Key Fund’s founding organisations – the South Yorkshire Community Foundation.  In the same year, he became a non-executive Director and Chairman of the Investment Panel at the Key Fund.

Supporting business growth, start-ups and SMEs, matched with his charitable motivation, make James a critical part of the Key Fund board. He brings invaluable expertise, not least his investment experience at Finance Yorkshire, where he has been Chairman since 2009, helping develop it into the leading brand for SME funding in the region.

James is proud that Key Fund has earnt a fantastic reputation, locally and nationally. Part of its success he feels is not losing its personal touch and close contact with clients – a quality that’s become more valued with the tough economic hardships of the pandemic. James supports Key Fund’s culture that marries social objectives with an understanding it has to be commercially adept.

James hopes that he brings a light-hearted touch to the board. His belief is that if you enjoy your work, you’re more likely to be good at it. He values Key Fund as a group of committed and happy individuals.

As Covid-19 has defined more clearly disadvantage and issues such as homelessness, domestic violence and the plight of older people, James feels Key Fund can create even bigger opportunity for itself and impact going forward.

James received an OBE in 2017 for services to business, the economy and charity.

Contact James on info@thekeyfund.co.uk