Automotive heavyweight joins WMCA from leading manufacturer

The former head of technical excellence at Jaguar Land Rover, Jo Lopes, has joined the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA).

Jo has been appointed head of business engagement for the productivity and skills team, and will work to strengthen ties with employers to help improve skill levels and productivity in the region.

During his time at Jaguar Land Rover, Jo was named by Manufacturer Magazine in its Top 100 People in 2016 for his 'inspiring leadership and work to drive cultural change'.

Automotive heavyweight joins WMCA from leading manufacturer

Jo Lopes, new head of business engagement with the WMCA productivity and skills team

Jo said: "This is a dream job for me, a fantastic opportunity. I’m looking forward to working with the region’s employers to boost skills and opportunities for local people.

"The West Midlands is gaining a reputation as a place to do business. As someone who lives and works in the region, I am committed that we do more to help the economy grow and to ensure that more of our communities can benefit from that growth.

"Working closely with businesses and industry, my role will ensure employers understand there is a wealth of talent available to them in the West Midlands, with lots of support to recruit and nurture those skills.

"These are exciting times for the region. I am really energised about the opportunity to support WMCA's vision to deliver more for our businesses and residents."

Jo is a chartered engineer and Fellow of both the Institution of Engineering and Technology and the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, as well as a Companion of the Chartered Management Institute.

Having joined Jaguar Land Rover as a graduate in 1989, Jo became head of technical excellence in 2010. In this role he delivered several projects working with local and national government, schools, academia and industry, graduates, universities, colleges and apprentices.

He was appointed an Industrial Fellow at WMG, University of Warwick by Professor Lord Kumar Bhattacharyya, and is an industrial champion for the Faraday Institute, the UK’s independent institute for electrochemical energy storage science and technology.

He led work on the successful Automotive Industrial Partnership, funded by £11.3m from the UK Government, and led the creation of the EUR4 million DRIVES project, a European-wide automotive skills programme.

Cllr George Duggins, leader of Coventry City Council and WMCA portfolio holder for productivity and skills, said: "Jo's appointment is good news for the WMCA. Jo is a well-known figure in the automotive industry and we will use his knowledge and expertise to bring benefits in employment, training, apprenticeships and opportunities for people across the West Midlands."

Deborah Cadman OBE, chief executive of the WMCA, said: "Jo is an experienced and knowledgeable appointment to the productivity and skills team, an automotive industry veteran who already has very strong links to businesses, universities, colleges and government in the region, and wider UK.

"We’re sure he will continue to build on his already-impressive achievements in forging closer ties between employers and skills providers. His experience in driving change to improve the industry relevance of training and skills provision will really help us to deliver more for our employers and residents."