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Sir Richard Needham is currently the transformational Chairman of Avon Rubber Plc, one of the world's leading manufacturers of military respirators; He is also Sir James Dyson's right hand man at Dyson, manufacturer of the world's leading vacuum cleaner.

For four years he was Deputy Chairman and was largely responsible for the development of the company's overseas operations in Europe, Russia, Japan, Malaysia, Korea and China. He is now Director of International and Commercial affairs at Dyson.

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 around and regenerating the Province's infrastructure and economic base. He took enormous risks in insisting that Belfast's bombed out City Centre should be reconstructed in glass, steel and other modern materials. Belfast is now widely regarded 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 Richard has been 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, International Director at Dyson and was Deputy Chairman of NEC (Europe) Ltd, the Japanese electronic giant.

Richard Needham's experience in both government and business makes him well qualified to talk about turnarounds, risk taking, leadership and innovation in the public and private sectors both in the UK and overseas. He also speaks with authority on how organizations can learn to cope with and survive the current downturn in the economy.

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