James Mackey, known as Jim, started his career in the NHS in 1990 as a qualified accountant and, following a number of senior roles, assumed his current position as chief executive of Northumbria Healthcare in 2005. In October 2015, Jim oversaw the creation of NHS Improvement, bringing together the Regulators Monitor and the Trust Development Agency. Passionate about the North East, he was knighted in January 2019
Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust
If you could invite four people (living or dead) to dinner – who would they be and why?
Assuming I can have whoever I want there who are still with us, I would add those closest who no longer are – namely my Dad (Jim), father-in-law (Jack), mother-in-law (Rena) and our dog who passed in 2015 (Brinkley).
Which type of books do you like to read, and what was the last book you read?
I never really studied history when at school so like to do this now and regularly listen to history podcasts when walking the dog or running. I like history books, or fiction based on historical events, but struggle for time. I often have two or three on the go at the same time. I think Six Minutes in May by Nicholas Shakespeare would be the last one I read properly, start to finish.
Do you use social media, and what is your opinion of it?
No and hope never to. I understand that it does have benefits but it’s not for me and I do worry about what its long-term impact will be.
What does your typical day at work involve?
I like to be up early (5am) and do some work with the dog beside me (Teddy – who is less enthusiastic than me at that time), have breakfast with my wife and work out, then into work. No two days are the same, but I try to maximise contact with staff – usually lots of meetings, catch-ups, walkabouts, engagement etc., then a catch up on e-mails at the end of the working day. I then like to spend time with my wife over dinner.
Name your fantasy board of directors (up to four people), and why you have chosen them.
I can get into all kinds of trouble on this one, and have been very fortunate to be a part of several great boards so I’m copping out on that one!
If you weren’t doing what you’re doing now, what would be your dream job, and why?
I’ve always had a hankering after being a barrister but didn’t really think it was a realistic prospect when setting out so did accountancy instead. I love what I do but, if I wasn’t doing this, I think barrister would be next choice.
What are your favourite places in the North East, and why?
I am North East born and bred and love all of it. My wife and I enjoy going up the coast with our dog and Craster/ Dunstanburgh probably top our list. I also think the train journey from Newcastle to Edinburgh has to be the best in Britain for views.
Which are your favourite newspapers and online sources of news, and why?
I read The Times online during the week, and then the paper version on a weekend. I find so much news now to be inaccurate, misleading or badly put together so don’t take as much in as I used to. In terms of TV, it’s the BBC (or Sky for sport).
If you could choose somebody to play you in a biopic, who would it be, and why?
Absolutely no idea but it would have to be someone who could do the accent well. I once had an awkward discussion with colleagues in another part of the country who thought I was related to Jimmy Nail, what they were actually saying was that all of us Geordies are the same.
What’s your best piece of business advice?
Know what you believe in, work hard, be prepared to listen and adapt, don’t be afraid to change tack, treat people well and enjoy what you do.