James Valentine

Director, CTO and Educator




Director, CTO and Educator


English, German


Travel, Tango, Sailing, Piano


Contract basis

When I'm not working, thinking about work or planning my next departure into entrepreneurialism you'll find me dancing tango in London and all over Europe and beyond, sailing and navigating our narrowboat through the canals of England. I also play the piano and most other keyboard instruments.


Fractional CTO

When a client's workload and budget don't measure up to requiring full-time input, I am often trusted to challenge the board when it comes to the direction that their client-facing and internal IT products are taking.

Solutions Architecture

I'm confident in the design and implementation of scalable cloud solutions, particularly involving AWS infrastructure and with spend exceeding £100k annually. I extract business requirements and communicate effectively with your in-house or outsourced team to deliver solutions into development, staging and finally production environments. For new projects, I can provide full-stack implementation through my network of development teams and subject matter experts all of whom have worked with me on prior projects, allowing us to hit the ground running.

Linux Systems Administration

I have never lost my technical touch. It helps that I'm a Linux systems administrator with more than 15 years of experience of fresh server setup and hardening, migrations, backups, automation and monitoring. My skills extend into DevOps, so I can design and manage the whole software development and deployment pipeline and bring your developers up to speed in distributed revision control, testing and CI/CD techniques.



This page is indirectly inspired by Derek Sivers's post The /now page movement and the Now Movement. The purpose of this page is to share what I'm currently focussed on, and will be updated as things change. Thanks to the excellent Jamie Tanna for introducing me to this idea.

Updated: 30/04/2024


Running a precision engineering firm

Solstrand Industries is a precision engineering specialist factory, based in High Wycombe, UK. As co-owner and director, I am enjoying some business development work in the aerospace sector having stabilised the business in the last year.

Teaching digital transformation

I work as a visiting executive at the Business School of the University of Winchester. I teach both online and in person on the subject of digital transformation, working with owners and managers of SMEs in the South of England. It's very rewarding!

Ongoing Kohera contracts

Kohera provides Software as a Service, e-mail hosting and cloud assets to a constellation of businesses across various markets. Some notable ones which I chip in on as required:

  • We maintain and extend the feature set of a property lease management system based on Yii2, working with our stellar outsource software team.
  • We run a CRM based on our SideOffice business management product for Southampton University's Business School, developing it further as required by their business development strategy, a project that has been running on and off since 2013.
  • We provide IMAP mailboxes, a website and associated hosting to Simon Bennett Law, a matrimonial law specialist and one of several legal firms we have assisted over the years.
  • We provide web hosting and Microsoft 365 licences to FAAS Trade and Investment, a UK importer of agricultural commodities.


Owner - Solstrand Industries Limited

2023 to present


As an owner and director of Solstrand, I enjoy huge latitude in defining objectives and setting the strategic direction of this aerospace-focused precision engineering firm. It's very enjoyable to see the company grow after years of missed investment opportunity.

Founder - Kohera Limited

2004 to present


Kohera is my own consultancy - the company I work outside of IR35 through. It's also how I structure my work with contractors and business associates to provide novel technical solutions to business problems. Kohera is much more than the sum of its parts and is becoming a familiar name in the industries we've worked in.

The name comes from the Esperanto word for 'coherent' - a value which has always been at the heart of how I engage with my clients and associates.

Co-Founder - 4iforum

2020 to 2021


4iforum seeks to disrupt modern business practice by delivering high-impact interventions at senior management and board level. Through a dialogic session we call a "Thought Forum", we help business leaders challenge themselves and their organisations by asking themselves the difficult questions. By thinking creatively about the internal and external environment, new strategies can be formed, and, with 4i's expert team of industry specialists, peer-learning and best practice are always within reach. I handle tech strategy and implementation in this small and highly active team, working especially closely with the marketing lead to produce an engaging online experience for our personal growth-focussed professional network.

CTO - WhatCourses.org

2021 to 2023


WhatCourses.org targets a niche in the personal development space - a place to not only track your career development and training, but to find online and offline training which matches your skills deficits. Using graph database technology, users are linked to carefully curated course selections from partner companies. Our curators are experts in their fields and keep a keen eye on the new courses coming to market, saving hours of often fruitless searching. I take on the CTO responsibilities, working with my co-founders, Simon Cooper and Gary Ford, both former Managing Directors in JP Morgan's Global Technology division.

Senior Consultant - Brandon Cross Technologies

2019 to 2022


Requirements gathering and business analysis feeding into a large-scale review of the legacy ERP system of a major UK Contract Electronics Manufacturer. This lead to UI/UX workshops and a comprehensive report into replacement options. The proof of concept of our recommendation, a NodeJS server and client-side implementation, is ongoing. I have advisory involvement currently, on a contract basis.

Chief Technology Officer - Universal Mobile Enterprises

2010 to 2019


As CTO I have overseen rapid growth in UME, culminating in the recent sale of the business to a Frankfurt-listed competitor (Bloomberg) in July 2017. In this role I:

  • Shape the high-level technology strategy.
  • Take responsibility for all procurement, infrastructure selection and the management of key third-party relationships (primarily with external consultants).
  • Continually modernise the company's software development, testing and deployment processes.
  • Lead internal and client-facing application development, providing hands-on management
  • Play a key leadership role within the business, driving all technology-related aspects of growth with the senior management team at board level.


The University of Exeter



Bachelor of Laws (LL.B.) (hons.) Exon.


My broad experience of organisations at various stages of development has endowed me with a growing range of skills ranging from the highly technical to the business-orientated.

Visiting Executive - Winchester University

2021 to present


It took career changes during the COVID-19 pandemic for me to realise that I really enjoyed delivering executive education. As a Visiting Executive at Winchester University's Business School, I get to meet hundreds of talented SME owners and managers, introducing them to concepts in Digital Transformation and helping them plan and deliver growth in their organisations. I get an immense amount of satisfaction from it.




Phone (int)

+44 7971 287041



Phone (UK)

08458 689024



I am particularly interested in conversations around Enterprise Architecture and organisational design challenges which have a technical element, for example, an impact on implementation of a software product.

I am actively seeking satisfying projects and longer roles where my experience can be brought to bear.

Please get in touch.