Debbie Francis’ distinguished business career includes periods as Cities Executive for Arcadis UK, as Managing Director of Direct Rail Services (2016-20), and London North Western Route Finance & Commercial Director with Network Rail (2012-16). Debbie also held senior roles with Enterprise Managed Services and SAIC. Earlier in her career she worked for Bibby Line Ltd, Stanley Leisure and Pannell Kerr Forster Chartered Accountants. She is a Chartered Director and Fellow of the Association of Certified Chartered Accountants (ACCA).
In addition to her role at the LEP, Debbie also holds a number of non-executive roles: Chair, Harwich Haven Authority; Non-Executive Director, MDC Stockport; Senior Non-Executive Director, Loram UK; Chair, Penny Bridge CofE Academy; and Trustee/Director, Pave The Way.
Debbie received an OBE in the New Years Honours. It was the latest in a number of awards and honours recognising her contribution to business and the community in recent years, including: winner of the 2019 IoD North West Director of the Year for Inclusivity, highly commended for Women in STEM at the Inspire Awards, awarded the honour of Woman with Edge at the prestigious Businesswoman of the Year Awards 2019 and inclusion as one of top 50 Northern Power Women in the 2019 Power List.
In addition to an undergraduate degree from John Moores University and an MBA from the University of Manchester, Debbie is currently completing a PhD in Leadership at Manchester Metropolitan University.
Commenting on her appointment, Debbie said: “I’m honoured and excited to be joining the LEP Board and taking on the role of Chair. In the decade since it was established the LEP has secured more than £750m in capital funding to invest across the county, created or safeguarded over 27,000 jobs, helped build nearly 20,000 homes and supported over 4,600 small and medium sized businesses. I am determined that the LEP will build on this impressive legacy over the comings years, continuing to deliver the economic growth that Lancashire needs and deserves.”
“I would particularly like to thank David Taylor for the sterling work he has done as interim Chair over the past few months. David has been closely involved with the LEP throughout its history and know I am fortunate to have his insight, wisdom and experience to call upon to ensure that my transition into the role of Chair is smooth and successful.”