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The NEAA is led by a strong Executive and Advisory Board, who represent the diverse nature of the automotive industry.



Chairman, NEAA

Kevin O'Neil, Deputy Managing Director at Nissan Manufacturing (UK) Ltd (NMUK)

Kevin began his career in 1980 as an apprentice at the Royal Ordnance factory in Birtley where he completed a four year apprenticeship as a Maintenance Electrician. He joined NMUK in October 1990 as a Maintenance Technician assigned to the Engine Shop during the plant’s expansion for Micra production. In 1994 he was promoted to Maintenance Supervisor, followed by Senior Supervisor in 1999 responsible for all Powertrain processes. Following a brief secondment to the Purchasing department, he moved into Body and Plastic Paint Engineering and was promoted to Engineering Manager in 2007.In 2008, Kevin transferred to the Plant’s Production Department where he took

up responsibility for the Press and Plastics Production Facility and worked on the launch of the Nissan Juke, one of the plant’s most successful new model launches in its 31 year history.

In 2013, Kevin was appointed Engineering Director, followed by a move to the Managing Director Office in 2017 where he became Deputy Managing Director with the responsibility for all of NMUK’s operations.

Vice Chairman, NEAA

Mike Matthews MBE, Managing Director & European Operations Officer, Nifco UK

Former apprentice Mike Matthews MBE was brought up on a council estate in Darlington, and has made his way from the shopfloor to the helm of one of the North East’s leading manufacturing businesses. He is currently Managing Director and European Operations Officer of thriving automotive component business Nifco UK Ltd.

A toolmaker by trade, Mike was appointed to his current position in 2008, making him the only non-Japanese member of Nifco’s international board. He took on European responsibilities in 2012.

During his time with Nifco, Mike has transformed the business from one that turned over just £300,000 to what will be a £75million company by 2016. With order books full for the next five years, the company moved into a state-of-the-art factory in Eaglescliffe in 2012, and quickly added to its floor space with a second facility, officially opened in 2014. The company plans to employ 550 by the end of 2015.

Executive Directors

  • Kevin O'Neil, Deputy Managing Director at Nissan Manufacturing (UK) & NEAA Chairman
  • Paul Butler, CEO, NEAA
  • Martin Porton, Operations Director, RTC North & NEAA Company Secretary
  • Mike Mathews MBE, Managing Director, Nifco UK & NEAA Vice Chair
  • Irene Lucas, Chief Executive, Sunderland City Council
  • Matt Boyle, Independant Director & Chair of Skills Group
  • Peter Howe, Managing Director, Komatsu UK
  • Peter Watson, Deputy MD - Plant Manager, Kasai UK
  • Stephen Irish, Commercial MD, Hyperdrive

Advisory Board

  • Chris Willoughby, Plant Manager, Cummins UK
  • Colin Herron, Managing Director, Zero Carbon Futures
  • David Brander, Plant Director, SNOP
  • David Cann, General Manager UK, Mecaplast Group
  • David Land, Director, Drive2Business
  • Eddie Leng, Project Manager, NEAA
  • Gerry Ingleby, General Manager, Unipres (UK)
  • Ian Malcolm, Managing Director, Elring Klinger (GB)
  • Jason Penney, Site Manager, Lear Corporation
  • Jim Casey, Operations Director, Lear Corporation
  • John Barnett, Operations Director, Calsonic Kansei
  • John Hickling, Senior VP - Purchasing & SCM, Calsonic Kansei
  • Matt Kirk, General Manager, Sumitomo Electric Wiring Systems
  • Paul Blanchard, Manufacturing Director, Komatsu UK
  • Peter Gallone, Plant Director, Gestamp Tallent
  • Raymond Tate, Plant Manager, Adient
  • Rob Quine, Managing Director, The Explorer Group
  • Robin Finley, Plant Manager, ZF-TRW
  • Rohan Kohli, Graduate Manager, NEAA
  • Stuart McGivern, Project Manager, NEAA
  • Thomas Frater, Policy Team Leader (North East) - Cities & Local Growth Unit, BEIS and DCLG
  • Tim Jayes, Plant Manager, ZF-TRW
  • Tom Hurst, Chief Investment Officer, Sunderland City Council
  • Wayne Turnbull, Purchasing & Projects Manager, Faltec Europe