Jim received his degree in Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering from MIT having worked in the laboratory of C. Stark Draper on the guidance system for the Apollo Command Module. He came to New Orleans in 1966 to work for Boeing at the Michaud Assembly Facility on the Saturn V booster where he led the team that developed a novel relational database management system for the NASA Slidell Computer Complex. In 1969 he completed his MBA at Tulane, became Assistant Dean of the Graduate School of Business, and taught computer science before joining the consulting practice of Deloitte & Touche. While at D&T he participated in the development of the Model Medicaid Management Information System, led the design and implementation of the national health records system for New Zealand, completed a number of large-city police operations improvement projects, and became the head of the New York financial services consulting practice.
In 1976 he founded Manchester Principal, a private equity/venture capital firm, which has completed transactions in high-tech, manufacturing, healthcare, and retailing. Today the firm invests in technology research and real estate development. For fifteen years he served on the Board of Directors and chaired the Audit Committee of the international oil field services/technology company, Baker Hughes Incorporated. He was President of the MIT Alumni Association, a member of the MIT Corporation, and twice elected First Selectman of Greenwich, Connecticut.