Our board

The West Yorkshire Business Board brings together private sector and community leaders under the Business Advisor. It ensures that local businesses are fundamental partners in decision-making and delivery at the Combined Authority.

About the Business Board

What is the Business Board?

The Business Board brings together local business and community leaders with expertise across multiple sectors, including manufacturing, professional services, and the arts.

It is led by the Business Advisor to the Mayor, and has representatives from local councils and representative bodies.

What is it for?

The Business Board represents the view of the private sector. It makes sure that local businesses remain fundamental to decision-making and delivery at the Combined Authority.

By advising the Mayor's Business Advisor, the Board aims to ensure that the region's businesses have the support and opportunities they need to thrive.

Its insights will help to drive forward the Mayor’s pledge to champion the regional economy, by providing a voice for the region’s diverse base of almost 100,000 businesses.

What does the Board do?

The Board meets six times a year. At each meeting, its members receive updates from Combined Authority officers on major policy and delivery programmes. They offer their feedback and questions, and make sure that officers are considering the needs of the private sector.

The Business Board is an evolution of the LEP Board. When the Leeds City Region LEP was absorbed into the Combined Authority, the Business Board was established to provide the same oversight and feedback role.

How can I get involved?

The Board holds an annual meeting that is open to the public. The next annual meeting is on 12 June 2024. Details of the agenda and how to attend will be published closer to the time.

View our calendar of upcoming meetings, as well as minutes from previous meetings of the Business and LEP Boards.

Mandy Ridyard - Business Advisor to the Mayor

Mandy was appointed as the Mayor’s Business Advisor in 2023, following the absorption of the LEP into the West Yorkshire Combined Authority. Her role as the Chair of the Business Board is to be the ‘voice of the private sector’, tasked with driving forward Mayor Tracy Brabin’s pledge to champion the regional economy.

Mandy has pledged to listen to the region’s diverse base of almost 100,000 businesses, ensuring that their challenges and opportunities are understood by the Mayor and the five council leaders of Bradford, Calderdale, Kirklees, Leeds and Wakefield.

Mandy has held the role of Financial Director at Produmax since she led a buyout of the company in 1997. She drives an apprenticeship programme at Produmax that has seen the average age of the company drop to 35 and the headcount double. Her leadership has seen Produmax win two prestigious national aerospace awards and secure significant funding for innovation projects.

Business Board members

Jane Atkinson

Jane is Chief Operations Officer for enfinium, a waste-to-energy provider. She has previously held a number of roles in both the power sector and service sectors, focussing on high value operations, maintenance, and engineering.

Jane was appointed to the Board in 2023, with the goal of unlocking the economic potential of the local area and to help develop new jobs and skills across West Yorkshire. She was previously recognised in the 2020 Queens Birthday honours with a CBE for her services to Chemical Engineering. She is an active Trustee and Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering, as well as Fellow and Chair of the Commercial panel for the Institution of Chemical Engineers.

Fara Butt

Fara is the Director for Shire Beds, an award-winning furniture manufacturer in Dewsbury. Having trained as a teacher, Fara has been at Shire Beds since 2006, helping to grow the business tenfold in that time.

Beyond her work at Shire and the Combined Authority, Fara chairs the Marketing committee for the National Bed Federation and sits on the main Council. She is a member of the Town Board for her hometown of Dewsbury, and sits on the Innovative Entrepreneurs Programme Board at the University of Leeds. Fara also Chairs the West Yorkshire Manufacturing Advisory Board.

Professor Shirley Congdon

As the first woman to become Vice-Chancellor of the University of Bradford, Professor Shirley Congdon is responsible for the institution’s leadership and management, its values, and its strategic ambitions. Having lived and worked in the Bradford City Region for ten years, she is committed to positioning the University at the centre of the region’s social and economic regeneration by harnessing its strengths in research, innovation, teaching and partnerships.

As well as the Business Board, Shirley sits on the Combined Authority’s Employment and Skills Committee. She is on several other boards and advisory groups, including the Universities UK Board and the Bradford District Economic Partnership Board.

Asma Iqbal

Asma is a Partner at Chadwick Lawrence Solicitors in Leeds, where she heads the Corporate Recovery and Insolvency Team. She has won a number of awards and is highly recognised for her positive involvement in Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) for many organisations. She serves on the Business Board as its EDI Champion.

As well her work on the Board, Asma is a Member of the West & North Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce’s BAME Committee, and of the R3 Yorkshire and National Committees. She is the Diversity and Inclusion Ambassador for Insolvency Service, and is part of the 2024 Northern Power List.

Lisa Johnson

Lisa is the Global Vice President of Corporate Communications and Public Affairs at Starship Technologies - a leading autonomous robot delivery company. Lisa has spearheaded the introduction of the world leading tech in both Leeds and Wakefield, working with local authorities and stakeholder groups to build social acceptance. 

Prior to her career in tech, Lisa spent over 15 years in the trade union movement, so she has a unique perspectives on the challenges faced the region, businesses and the workforce. 

Growing up in a former mining village and now living in the centre of Leeds (via 10 years in London), Lisa is passionate about ensuring the benefits of economic growth and increased productivity are felt across the whole region.

Sherin Mathew

Sherin is the CEO of AI Tech, a Leeds-based think tank and innovation lab focused on Artificial Intelligence knowledge and skills. As an established thought leader in AI, he has set up and scaled up a number of SMEs in the sector, and advises businesses on the ethics of breakthrough technologies.

 As well as being a member of the Board, Sherin serves as an Ethics Member of the IEEE Global Initiative on extended reality, and is an Advisory Stakeholder on AI for the Department of Science, Innovation, and Technology.

Natalie Sykes

A Chartered Director and Fellow of the Institute of Directors (IoD), Natalie was IoD National Director for England, created its Ambassador Model and developed its latest Value and Membership Proposition. A qualified interior architect, Natalie spent over two decades working across the UK, Europe, and Africa on the development of exclusive hotels, resorts, and real estate. Today, Natalie is the Group Managing Director for James Wilby Holdings Limited which operates land and properties, specialist haulage, warehousing, and logistics businesses in West Yorkshire.

She served as trustee of the Thackray Medical Museum, and later the youngest ever chair at regeneration charity Groundwork, directly involved with the redevelopment of Kirkgate Station in Wakefield. She is a Non-Executive Director for the Royal Armouries Museums, a Council Member for the Road Haulage Association (RHA) and a judge for the Northern Power Women Awards.

Nicky Chance-Thompson MBE

CEO, The Piece Hall

Aaron Holt

CEO, Holdson

Annette Joseph MBE

CEO and Founder, Diverse & Equal

Kamran Rashid

CEO, Impact Hub Bradford

Kully Thiarai

Creative Director, Leeds 2023

Governance and Transparency

  1. Governance and transparency

    West Yorkshire Combined Authority is committed to upholding the highest standards of governance and conducting its activities with the principles of openness and transparency.

    Read more about Governance and transparency
  2. Transparency and Freedom of Information

    The West Yorkshire Combined Authority are committed to open government, transparency and the proactive release of the information it holds under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).

    Read more about Transparency and Freedom of Information
  3. Committees and meetings

    In this section you can access information and documents relating to meetings of the Combined Authority, its committees, and decision making.

    Read more about Committees and meetings