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Profile picture of James Mason.

Business Owner, Coach, Investor & Charity Fundraiser

I was very lucky to receive a place on the BBC News Sponsorship Scheme and so enjoyed placements at BBC Radio One, News 24 and local BBC Radio stations.

Why I chose to attend Leeds Trinity

I attended Leeds Trinity after completing my undergraduate degree as Leeds Trinity were one of the only universities at the time to offer a Postgraduate degree in Journalism. I had wanted to pursue a career in Sports Broadcast Journalism, which I have a huge passion for, and I knew this qualification was a necessary requirement in the industry. 

James Mason.

Essential placement opportunities

The University were very adept in placing myself and others within live newsrooms which was essential training for our future careers. I was very lucky to receive a place on the BBC News Sponsorship Scheme and so enjoyed placements at BBC Radio One, News 24 and local BBC Radio stations. 

What I enjoyed about the course and the skills I left with

I enjoyed the whole experience and on the job training. The tutors continuously created a newsroom atmosphere and working week which prepared us for life and the pressurised environment of working in actual newsrooms. 

The formal training taught us how to construct and interview, how to write news copy for print, radio and TV which are similar but different skills. Naturally, we learnt the essentials of media law and importantly the necessity to check facts, detail and grammar! 

My early career after graduating

Upon graduating, we all entered a highly competitive industry with more applicants for each job than opportunities available. Like many others, I started as a freelance journalist working the odd shift here and there whilst holding down another job. With this opportunity of spare time, I started a small PR business writing press releases for clients and later on a manufacturing business. These became my main incomes whilst I continued to take freelance broadcasting shifts on evenings and weekends.

 After a couple of years of slow but steady progress things started to take off. I started covering football matches for Real Radio (which I suppose was my mini break) and proceeded to becoming the Bradford City (my home town club) correspondent covering them every week. From here I picked up regular work as a sports and news reader at BBC Radio Newcastle on the breakfast show which meant leaving my home in Leeds every day at 3.30am in the morning for the 6-12 shift. I’d then drive home, do another day’s work for my own business then into bed at about 10pm. I did this for about a year and it was extremely hard but worth it.

My big break

By luck and perseverance I was offered the opportunity to cover a football match for BBC One’s flagship Final Score programme on Saturday afternoon (which became my big break) and thankfully after no major mistakes picked up reporting shifts for the rest of the season. I luckily became a regular reporter covering the lower leagues before progressing to the Championship and Premier League.

I’d also often report for Five Live Sport on BBC Radio Five Live which was a dream come true and something I am very proud of.  I carried on combining my career as both a journalist and owner of my own business for the following 12 years or so and went on to be a sports presenter on Radio Five and TV presenter for BBC News 24, the rolling news channel.

James Mason main image 2.

Being Chief Operating Officer at Bradford City Football Club

I loved this period of my life and career although it was very demanding. Looking back I worked so hard to juggle everything and whilst at the time it all felt very uncertain, it was a hugely successful period which taught me so much for later life and provided a financial cushion to look at other opportunities. One of them was to take on the role of Chief Operating Officer at Bradford City.  This enabled me to combine both my skills and career experience in communications and business to help the Club during a really exciting period of growth and success on and off the field. Helping the club to sell 20,000 season tickets through innovative marketing campaigns, enjoying amazing Cup runs and being part of very special days at Chelsea FC and Wembley Stadium were key highlights.

New opportunities

After four and half years I took up the opportunity to join Rochdale AFC as their Chief Executive on a short-term contract before becoming involved with a sports agency specialising in creating exciting opportunities for talented sportsmen and women to play at some of the biggest American Universities including Harvard, Yale, Michigan, MIT etc which was a wonderful experience. I worked in this industry for around 18 months before I was approached about the CEO role at Welcome to Yorkshire which came along in late 2019.

As a proud Yorkshireman, the opportunity to promote your county to the world and be involved in some of the biggest events happening in the region and UK at the time was something I couldn’t turn down. Unfortunately Covid-19 struck only months into my role and the restrictions on travel decimated the hospitality and tourism industries. However, I really enjoyed the way the staff and businesses across the region pulled together and I was so proud to lead the organisation at a truly difficult time. A particular highlight was the success of a campaign called ‘Walkshire’ to crown Yorkshire as the walking capital of the world. During a lockdown in which walking was the only permissible activity, we created 365 bespoke walks (one for each day of the year) and saw millions of people engage and interact which was extremely rewarding. 

Supporting individuals and their families living with Dementia

Away from work, before joining the North and West Yorkshire Chamber, I wanted to take some time out to set up a not-for-profit Dementia Cafe as my mother lives with the disease. I am delighted to say we now have two weekly groups in Bradford and Guiseley that operate under the banner of Yorkshire Memories. I am immensely proud of how these two groups have developed and the wonderful volunteers that have made them such a success in helping to support individuals and their families living with Dementia. 

James Mason Dementia cafe.

Picture above from Yorkshire Memories webpage

Being appointed as the new Chief Executive of the West & North Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce

In February 2022 I was appointed as the new Chief Executive of the West & North Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce, taking over from Sandy Needham at the end of April.

My advice to Leeds Trinity students

Hard work, perseverance, passion, humility and tolerance for others are all key aspects to any level of success or achievement in my opinion. If you keep these characteristics close to you, regardless of what level you work at you will make a positive impact on other people. They will also positively impact the quality of the work you deliver and on the outcomes you desire. Setbacks, failure and facing adversity are all part of the learning process and therefore it’s important to keep a sense of perspective at each and every step along the way. Where possible enjoy the good times!