Brigadier (Retd) James Richardson MBE, CEO Haig Housing Trust Meteoric Career – from Private Soldier to Brigadier to CEO Born into a Military family and living and being educated in 8 different state and military schools around the globe. Brigadier James Richardson enlisted as a Junior Soldier aged 16 in the British Army. Joining the Royal Corps of Signals in June 1978 at the Army Apprentices College in Harrogate he trained as an Electronics Technician. He graduated as a Lance Corporal and was assigned to 259 Signal Squadron stationed in Cyprus. At Harrogate he was identified as a potential officer and embarked on this career path part way through his first assignment, entering the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst in 1984. He returned to the Royal Signals and started his commissioned career based in York.
During his early commissioned years he led troops in various roles including Arctic Warfare and played rugby and athletics to Army level. He gained his MA in International Relations from King’s College London. He promoted through Command and Staff appointments, attending Advanced Staff College and Royal College of Defence Studies, including Command of 49th East Brigade, The Deputy Military Secretary and he retired from the Army as Commander of all UK Military Garrisons in Germany. He was awarded MBE after prolonged and multiple tours of Bosnia in 1997 and the US Bronze Star after his leadership in chairmanship of the General Petraeus ‘Brains Trust’ and authorship of the Strategic withdrawal and stabilisation plan for Iraq in 2007. James joined Haig Housing Trust as its Chief Executive directly on the merging of the two Haig charities in November 2013 into a single entity providing family and single veterans housing and sourcing and adapting homes for our life changing wounded. Jim rose quickly through the ranks, like two other inspiring Royal Signals Leaders John Stokoe CB CBE & John Griffin.
The motto he adopted was: “Find a job you love & you’ll never work a day in your life”. His calling is helping the charity to cherish veterans and their families in housing need. His influential leaders are: Field Marshal Lord (Mike) Walker and General Sir Nick Parker then General David Petraeus US Army. His inspiring story was about David Petraeus in 2006 in Iraq during the Civil War. What was powerful was the courage in his own conviction. Jim worked closely with General HR McMaster – in Petraeus’ Brains Trust. James admired the General’s ability for holding your nerve when others are risk averse. Jim’s story of learning from his mistakes was a comparatively minor one. He regretted being encouraged by others to tease a soldier on his rapid promotion as a technician. He learnt that he got it wrong and didn’t do what was right. Since then he trusts his own judgement more by seeking respect and avoiding popularity.
James’ Top tip – “Situational Awareness” – everyone needs to know what’s going on and know they are empowered to play their part with a shared common picture/ vision.