As a collective, the NEAA team offer a comprehensive blend of skills and experience to support member needs.

Paul Butler, CEO

T: +44 7525 277 309

Paul Butler joined the North East Automotive Alliance (NEAA) as Chief Executive Officer in March 2015.

Paul has over 20 years Cluster Management experience and is the only UK based Cluster Benchmarking Expert for the European Secretariat for Cluster Analysis (ESCA), mandated by the EU to support the creation of more world-class clusters across the EU. Paul has overseen the development of the NEAA since its conception, today it is the largest automotive cluster in the UK and widely recognised as an exemplar cluster.

Paul represents the regions automotive sector on the Automotive Council Skills Group, Supply Chain Group and Digital Group, the North East LEP’s Business Growth Board and Skills Advisory Panel. Paul is also a member of the BEIS External Expert Supply Chain Group, and a board member of the European Automotive Clusters Network (EACN). He holds a Master of Business Administration (MBA) from the University of Durham.

Stuart McGivern, Project Manager

T: +44 7795 301 392

Stuart McGivern joined the NEAA in May 2015 as Project Manager and is responsible for delivery of the NEAA Business Resilience working group, as well as Account Management and supporting NEAA funded programmes.

Stuart is an experienced procurement and process improvement practitioner who has worked extensively in the North East in the application and knowledge transfer of continuous improvement. He spent 15 years working in procurement and supplier management for Nissan, and then completed training with SMMT industry forum with the North East Productivity Alliance based in the Regional Development Agency. He then transferred to the MAS organisation in 2008 and spent 3 years at PA Consulting as a member of the leadership team heading up Operational Excellence.

Prior to joining the NEAA, Stuart ran his own business, Key Performance Innovations, which provided tailored and innovative productivity solutions.

Laura Gage, Marketing & PR Manager

T: +44 7703 819 228

Laura Gage joined the NEAA in May 2015 as Marketing & PR Manager and is tasked with the management and delivery of the NEAA’s marketing and communications.

Prior to joining the NEAA, Laura worked at Corus, before moving into the subsea oil & gas sector, where she worked as Marketing Manager at DeepOcean, IHC Engineering Business and most recently Reef Subsea.

Laura has over 15 years’ experience in business-to-business marketing and holds a 1st Class BA Hons in Marketing Management from Northumbria University.

Chris Appleby, Innovation Manager

T: 44 7549 027936

Chris Appleby joined the NEAA in July 2021 as Innovation Manager and is responsible for the overall governance and delivery of the innovation workstream within the NEAA.

Before joining the team at the NEAA, Chris has spent the majority of his career in the automotive sector. He is a professional and experienced EV Automotive/Engineering Project Manager with many years of experience developing and delivering a complex portfolio of multi-million-pound projects, including system integration and prototype vehicle hybridisation/ electrification projects with a wide range of bus voltages from 12,24,48,100 and 600+ volts.

Julia Bell, Senior Business Administrator

T: +44 770 381 9229

Prior to joining the NEAA, Julia worked in a Residential Care Home as an Administrator for the last 5 years. Responsible for a wide range of activities, she supported the management team in their delivery of care, staffing from recruitment to exit and all the financial elements within a care home.

Julia will support the NEAA with administration and bookkeeping. She has over 30 years of administration experience within very different sectors; each role very different, rewarding and an opportunity to learn new skills.

Joe Routledge, Membership Manager

T: : +44 7841 324 323

Joe Routledge joined the NEAA in February 2022 as Membership Manager and is responsible for supporting current NEAA members, providing opportunities to share best practice and collaborate, whilst also developing new relationships and growing the existing membership. He will also support the NEAA’s various funded programmes.

Joe has worked in the North East business world for the last nine years building strong relationships with companies from a variety of sectors.

Prior to joining the NEAA, Joe worked with NEAA R&D Tax Partner, Lumo, and developed a strong working relationship with the NEAA team, helping members to maximise their Research and Development Tax Credits and other tax saving opportunities.

Mark David, Skills Project Manager

T: +44 7955 316 418

Mark joined the NEAA in November 2022 and will manage the North East Local Skills Improvement Plan (NELSIP), an employer-led plan that meets future business needs and provides a resilient and responsive supply of the skills needed to drive economic success and investment in the region.

Mark has over 10 years’ experience in the skills and education sector, including over six years at the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB), and has built a wealth of experience working with the region’s SME community after starting his business support career at Business Link in 2009.

Prior to joining the NEAA, Mark worked at Business Durham where he managed an ERDF innovation programme whilst supporting the North East Satellite Applications Centre of Excellence where he helped to develop the thriving North East space sector.


The North East of England, with its manufacturing heritage, is at the forefront in developing the technologies committed to supporting decarbonisation and leading the drive for Net Zero.