CEO, The Halo Trust
James Cowan was a soldier for 30 years, serving in Germany, Northern Ireland, Africa, Hong Kong, Iraq and Afghanistan. He commanded his Regiment, The Black Watch, in Iraq in 2004 during fighting in Basrah and subsequently around Fallujah. He was back in Iraq in 2006-07, again in Basra. He led Task Force Helmand as a Brigade Commander from 2009 – 2010. He was subsequently Head of Counter Terrorism in the MOD and led the planning for the 2012 Olympics military security operation. His last job in the Army was as General Officer Commanding The 3rd (UK) Division – the UK’s warfighting formation of three mechanized brigades, artillery, engineers and logistics. He left the Army in 2015 to become Chief Executive of The HALO Trust. HALO is the world’s leading NGO clearing the debris of war with 7,298 staff in 20 countries. At a time of unprecedented man-made humanitarian crisis, HALO’s work has never been more important.
James read Modern History at Oxford and took an M Phil at Cambridge and has a long-standing interest in military history and the Napoleonic Wars. He is married to Minnie with three children and lives in Dumfriesshire.
Historian & Broadcaster, BBC
Cabinet Secretary and Head of the Civil Service
Former Ambassador, Political Expert & Historian
Reader in Early Modern European History, University of Cambridge
President of Murray Edwards College
Paralympian & Crossbench Peer