Sir Richard Needham’s extensive experience in government qualifies him as an expert in turnarounds, risk taking and innovation, in the public and private sectors in the UK and overseas.
Sir Richard Needham has always strived to stand up for industry – particularly manufacturing – in both Parliament and politics. He started a packaging design company with three friends when he was 23 and went on to grow it into a silk screen, litho printing and laminating business before entering Parliament.
From 1985 to 1992 Richard Needham was the Minister responsible for redesigning and rebuilding Northern Ireland’s shattered towns and cities. He is widely recognised throughout Northern Ireland as the man responsible for turning round and regenerating both the North’s infrastructure and its economic base.
He took significant risks in insisting that Belfast’s bombed out City Centre should be reconstructed in glass, steel and other modern materials. Belfast is now recognised as having one of the finest City Centres and waterfront redevelopments of any city in the UK.
In 1992 Richard was promoted to becoming Minister of Trade and became Michael Heseltine’s Deputy. Over three years he overhauled and reinvigorated the whole of Britain’s’ export strategy. He is accepted in Whitehall as Britain’s most successful Minister for Trade since the War. In recognition of his work in Northern Ireland and at the DTI he was made a Privy Counsellor in 1994 and knighted in 1997.
Since leaving politics he was involved in a number of businesses both large and small, including being Chairman of the London Heart Hospital and Biocompatibles PLC, a manufacturer of sophisticated medical devices. He is Chairman of Avon Rubber Plc, one of the world’s leading manufacturers of military respirators; he is Deputy Chairman of NEC (Europe) Ltd, the Japanese electronics giant.
Over the last ten years he has been at Sir James Dyson’s right hand, for four of them he was Deputy Chairman and was largely responsible for the development of the company’s overseas operations in Europe and the Far East, particularly Japan, Malaysia and China. He is now the independent Director for international and commercial affairs.
Richard Needham’s broad experience at the sharp end of government and business will give you a fascinating and unique insight into turnarounds, risk taking and maintaining innovation in the public and private sectors both at home and abroad.