Tom Riordan (Chief Executive, Leeds City Council)

Since becoming CEO of Leeds City Council in 2010, Tom has been an advocate and supporter for culture and the creative industries in Leeds. Tom was a key ingredient to Leeds’ bid to be European Capital of Culture by engaging and galvanising partners across the city to support the Leeds bid. Tom also played a vital role in keeping the momentum behind the Leeds 2023 project, which is continuing as an international, cultural festival. Recently, Tom has been instrumental in attracting Channel 4 to Leeds. This landmark decision to bring the national HQ and a major new Channel 4 News hub came from a successful campaign with the Leeds city region LEP and neighbouring councils.

Tom is currently overseeing a significant transformation of the city, halfway through a £10bn investment pipeline that has delivered Trinity and Victoria Gate shopping centres and the First Direct Arena. Plans are set to double the size and economic impact of the city centre through regeneration of public spaces and the South Bank, developing an Innovation District with the universities and teaching hospital and connecting HS2 to a redesigned train station. Tom has encouraged these transformations to have culture and creativity embedded at their core, which has seen Leeds become an attractive city to live, work and visit, as it demonstrated by Leeds being ranked as fifth in the Top 10 European visitor destinations (Lonely Planet 2017).

Tom’s top priority is for the city’s growth to be inclusive and felt across Leeds. Tom is leading work to ensure Leeds continues to support and attract good-quality jobs and investment. As part of the Inclusive Growth Strategy, Leeds has secured firm commitments from businesses and other stakeholders to offer their support to boost productivity, competitiveness and social inclusion. Leeds has experienced strong private sector jobs growth, above the national average, has one of the highest rates of business start-ups and scale-ups amongst UK cities, enjoys a high proportion of knowledge-intensive jobs and is a smart city. The Leeds economy is forecast to outperform the national economy over the next 20 years, increasing its output by an extra £9bn nationally, and at 77% its employment rate is higher than the UK average. Since 2010 Tom has also overseen £300m of efficiencies and savings across the City Council and also won MJ’s Council of the Year 2016.

In overseeing the delivery of Leeds’ Culture Strategy, Tom has helped to shape Leeds into a home for world class organisations, artists and events. From music, to dance, food, literature, theatre, shared public spaces and community festivals, Tom champions the role of culture across the city. Leeds has not only boosted its identity and profile around the world thanks to this investment, it has also seen culture flourish across every community in Leeds, bringing with it benefits to health, education, community pride and community cohesion. Leeds has a strong, unique identity thanks to its diverse cultures, which is also why Tom believes it is such a great city. Leeds also continues to be a host for world class sporting events, such as the World Triathlon Series and Tour de Yorkshire.

Tom has come full-circle from a North Yorkshire state education, via Oxford University, a Civil Service fast-stream career on international environmental policy and then leading the Regional Development Agency Yorkshire Forward. For his commitment to the region, Tom was awarded Yorkshire Man of the Year 2017. He is also a trustee on the Centre for Cities Board, a patron of St Gemma’s Hospice and the Council's mental health champion.