Professor Zahir Irani, Pro-Vice Chancellor at the University of Bradford, has been appointed Chairman of the Bradford Economic Recovery Board.
He will spearhead the district’s efforts to bounce forward from the downturn and help businesses respond to the ongoing challenges and opportunities presented by the COVID-19 crisis.
This new board will bring together organisations representing the public, private and cultural sectors and work closely with the West Yorkshire Combined Authority.
Prof Irani has enjoyed a long and successful career in academia, combining wide-ranging research interests, consulting work for industry and overseas governments and senior management roles including head of an award-winning business school.
He was seconded to the Cabinet Office and served as a senior policy advisor in the heart of the coalition UK Government.
Prof Irani joined the University of Bradford in 2016 and was founding dean at the faculty of management, law and social sciences before being appointed Pro-Vice Chancellor with responsibility for academic, innovation and quality, last year.
Prof Irani has been recognised by the West Yorkshire Lord Lieutenancy and Age UK (Bradford and District) for his recent regional work during the COVID-19 crisis.
He said: “We want to create positive energy in and around Bradford. Many businesses will regrettably contract and some will even fail as a result of the pandemic, which will be difficult for our district, but others will sense growth potential.
“We need to do everything possible to create the right environment to support economic and social value. We have a great entrepreneurial spirit in Bradford and we will find creative ways to help small, medium and large companies and all of our communities take advantage of new opportunities.
“We want everyone in the district to understand how they can support the recovery, whether they are learning skills as students, paying taxes as employees, creating jobs as entrepreneurs or providing vital services as public sector workers.”
The Bradford Economic Recovery Board will reevaluate the district’s economic strategy in light of the pandemic and develop a plan to help businesses grow, retrain unemployed people and attract investment in infrastructure.
Kersten England, Chief Executive of Bradford Council, said: “We are delighted to welcome Zahir as chair of the recovery board. With his extensive experience, knowledge and understanding of academia, industry and government, we are confident Zahir will make a powerful and lasting contribution to Bradford’s future success.”
Prof Irani was born in Bolton and spent most of his working life in London before returning north to Bradford. As Chairman of the Bradford Economic Recovery Board, Prof Irani will also become a member of the Wellbeing Board.