Board Biographies

The core team of founding members spans a range of industries.

John Hunt

John is a native North Easterner who returned to Newcastle in 2011 ago to work in his family’s software business, Orchard Information Systems. Having started life working in consumer goods in far flung places such as Nigeria, Malaysia and Indonesia John returned to the UK to undertake an MBA at London Business School. A two year stint in the city working for Goldman Sachs followed until the call of the North East became too strong. John is a director at Orchard with a specific focus on Business Intelligence and Reporting, as well as exploring international opportunities to expand Orchard’s geographic reach.

Charlie Hoult (Chair)

Charlie operates as an investor & entrepreneur in the IT industry.  He built up his own marketing agency, Loewy Group, which grew to 400 staff and £50m turnover.  He exited in 2009 to take over his family property business in Newcastle.

He has a number of tech interests including Opencast Software (, Futureheads digital recruitment specialists (, Tomorrow People ( and Hoults Yard (

Stuart Lynn

Originally qualified as a Mechanical Engineer, Stuart moved into software engineering in 1988 and has held a number of positions across the public and private sectors. Since joining Sage, one of the great success stories of the North East in 1998, he has held a variety of roles and is currently the Chief Technology and Information Officer.

Stuart is a native of the North East and is proud about the success of the region. He would like to see the North East recognised as a centre of excellence for Information technology, and has a passion for education and skills development.

Anthony McMenzie

A 30 year career in technology has seen Anthony in sales roles for the world’s largest mobile telecommunications business (Vodafone), largest insurance market (Lloyd’s) and largest independent integration business (Dimension Data).  He’s spent much of his working life away, including seven years in Australia, before returning home to his native North East.

Mike O’Brien

Currently MD of Opencast Software Limited, formerly Capgemini (VP Capital Markets) & Strategic Systems Solutions (Chief Sales / Marketing Officer).   As part of the Exec Board, built SSS (specialist Capital Markets SI) from 10 to 800 staff with offices in UK, US, China, Manila, Singapore

Mike has a pretty credible client list including Deutsche Bank, JPMorgan, Citi, Credit Suisse, Morgan Stanley, Nomura, Daiwa, RBS, HSBC, Barclays and Northern Rock.

Bob Paton (Vice Chair)

Bob Paton is the ex-Managing Director of the Accenture Delivery Centre in the North East, located at the Cobalt Business Park, North Tyneside.

Bob worked for Accenture for twenty one years, during this time he specialised in the implementation of large scale IT systems, including managing delivery projects for both Government and Private Sector clients. Previously he was Operational Director for all Accenture Outsourcing Units within Europe and South Africa. He is responsible for the Accenture apprenticeship programme and is a NAS Apprenticeship Ambassador for the North East.

Prior to joining Accenture Bob spent 20 years as a Civil Servant, 13 of which were spent working in IT, again mainly on major system implementation and delivery.

Paul Watson

Paul Watson is Professor of Computer Science, and Director of the Digital Institute at Newcastle University. He graduated with a BSc in Computer Engineering from Manchester University, followed by a PhD. In the 80s, as a Lecturer at Manchester University, he was a designer of the Alvey Flagship and Esprit EDS systems. From 1990-5 he worked for ICL as a system designer of the Goldrush MegaServer parallel database server, which was released as a product in 1994.

In August 1995 he moved to Newcastle University, where he has been an investigator on research projects worth over £40M, almost all in close collaboration with industry. Professor Watson is a Chartered Engineer and a Fellow of the British Computer Society.