Retirement isn't part of his vocabulary. With a firm belief that if you give up work; 'First you play golf, then you play bowls and then you die' James at 61 is clearly in the game for the very long haul. 'My team here are half my age. I was at a function last night where I was the oldest person in the room. Do I feel old? No. Do I act old? No? Do I try to be the same as them? No. Is there respect all round? Yes there is.'
Age shall not weary them if James' father is any guide. He peppers his conversation with regular references to his late father, Clarrie, pulling out a well-worn photo showing a dapper elderly chap and later sending a copy of his father's memoir. Right until he died at age 89 Clarrie James lived life large, there is every sign his son will follow suit.
'A lot of what I do and why I do it comes from the roots of my background,' James acknowledges. Clarrie was one of eight kids who grew up during the depression. After leaving school at an early aged he landed in Canberra as a message boy, before serving in the Second World War. Commissioned in the field Clarrie became a magistrate for native affairs in New Guinea at the age of 25 before returning to Australia to start a family and new life in hospital administration.
There were six James kids - Peter, the second oldest was born in 1950 - all of whom quickly became accustomed to a peripatetic lifestyle (James attended 11 different schools) following their father's career which bounced regularly between Canberra and Sydney until James' mother died at the age of 44.
'Mum died very young and to be frank it was a shambles. I was the second in the family. I grew up with live-in housekeepers while dad went to work and mum was sick - we were all pretty self-sufficient and independent. The three youngest went off to boarding school and my baby sister - well all her schooling days were at boarding school.'
By the time his mother died James was studying commerce at the University of NSW, paying his way with various part time roles in Sydney's hospitals - 'I was a mailroom boy, cleaner, wardsman and finished as a morgue attendant' , but he admits; 'I had no idea what I wanted to do,' after graduating.
It was the late 1960s and James took an elective then called operations research which involved a little Fortran programming. Newly married he saw an advertisement in the newspaper for a scholarship to go to Canberra and be paid full time to finish his degree at the University of Canberra while working part time for the public service.
James was appointed to the lofty position of programmer-in-training, then swiftly rose through Canberra's ranks. But the private sector beckoned and after a series of offers James accepted a role offered by Roger Allen, founder of Computer Power, to run Computer People, a recruitment and contracting business in Canberra shortly before Computer Power floated on the ASX through a backdoor listing of a legal technology business called Clirs.
'By this stage I was in my early 30s. I'd stayed with the public service and could have stayed forever - but that was the point I didn't want to - I wanted to get out and do something different. Computer Power was bidding for things like the Tax Office, New Parliament House, big defence projects. It was an amazing time and taught me good Australian companies can hold their own on the world stage.' By this stage James wasn't just a Computer Power employee, but a shareholder along with the likes of Rupert Murdoch's News Corp and Westpac.