NEC Group’s Kathryn James announces retirement


The NEC Group has today announced that the managing director for NEC Group Conventions and Exhibitions, Kathryn James, will be retiring after 12 years with the company.

Since joining as MD for the NEC in 2007, James has led the strategic direction for the largest of the Group’s five divisions – the NEC – focusing on exhibitions, live events, conferences and long stay experiences.

Upon her appointment, James successfully navigated the business through a global recession and introduced a significant outsourcing programme that catalysed the evolution of team NEC; uniting the NEC and operating partner service delivery under one umbrella. 

Her guidance has also supported the deployment of the group’s ‘masterplan’, overseeing the development of the NEC Campus into a 24/7 destination, welcoming over seven million visitors annually.

In 2016, she took on additional management responsibility for the Group’s second division of conventions and conferencing – the ICC and Vox venues – the ICC, based in Birmingham city centre, and the Vox on the NEC Campus within Resorts World Birmingham. Running both divisions side by side under one MD, has driven more collaborative working within the teams, and commonality between the businesses. 

Attracting over 2.8 million visitors and delegates annually under James’ remit, the venues have hosted all number of events from Autumn/Spring Fair; The Caravan, Camping and Motorhome Show; MACH; Crufts; Good Food Show and Motorcycle Live, to conferences and congresses like Specsavers and the Conservative Party Conference.

James said of her time with the Group: “The NEC Group is unique, and I will miss the whole team. We’ve helped organisers deliver some outstanding events and I’ve had the pleasure of working alongside the world’s top event organisers. There are great plans for the future of the NEC Group, and I look forward to seeing them come to fruition. However, I’m going to enjoy taking the time for some well-earned rest!”

Paul Thandi, chief executive officer of the NEC Group added: “Kathryn’s leadership across the NEC, ICC and Vox, has been revolutionary. Creating a strong overall proposition for the venues, her leadership has created unity, greater choice and flexibility, and ultimately an unrivalled customer service experience. Her direction and strategic council have proven invaluable to the company and will be greatly missed.

“On behalf of myself and the executive board, I’d like to thank Kathryn for her dedication and commitment to the development of the NEC Group, and wish her an enjoyable and relaxing retirement.”

Ian Taylor, venue sales director, NEC Group Conventions and Exhibitions will become acting MD until a permanent appointment is made.

Molly Hookings
Author: Molly Hookings

Molly joined the editorial team in March 2019. She has several years’ experience working in broadcast and journalism, as well as marketing and PR. Past experience includes working for the BBC and independent publishing houses. If you have a story you think Molly might be interested in, please email: