Darren Wake, Explain Market Research's latest hire.
Rebecca Wayman

This week's North East appointments

Your latest roundup of appointments from across the North East.

Darren Wake, Explain Market Research

The North East-based agency has appointed research manager Darren Wake to support its extensive growth.

Darren is to add over 15 years of experience in account management to Explain’s head office, located in Newcastle. This follows on from his seven years as a business development manager at research agency TLF.

He said: “I was drawn to Explain Research due to its reputation as an established and well-respected organisation both in the North East and nationally.

“[Its] partnership approach with clients to deliver real strategic value is clear and the company has an unrivalled company culture and a young, ambitious team.”

Explain Market Research has been providing actionable insights to inform strategic decision-making to various UK organisations for over 20 years, specialising in utilities, healthcare, social housing, education and finance sectors.

With managing director Kim Davis at the helm, the company has continued to grow revenue and net profitability which has led to investment in solutions and its team in the past year.

The agency won new clients including SES Water, Northumbria University and Teesside University in 2017.

Kim Davis, Explain’s managing director, added: “Darren has a vast amount of experience in delivering complex market research projects and we have brought him on board to strengthen our client service team.

“Darren’s appointment is testament to the hard work of the team over the last 12 months, their expertise and dedication has allowed Explain to grow and we are looking forward to continuing on this trajectory throughout 2018.”

Aphrodite Christodoulou, Peter Millican Law

Peter Millican Law has appointed a new trainee solicitor to its growing commercial property team.

Aphrodite Christodoulou, 23, joined the central Newcastle firm shortly before Christmas. She aims to complete her training as a solicitor with the firm, specialising in advising clients on commercial property transactions, acting for landlords, tenants and owner occupiers.

Aphrodite, brought up in Cyprus, studied law at Northumbria University, and has since worked as a paralegal for Womble Bond Dickinson (formerly Bond Dickinson) for 16 months. Her work there has given her broad experience advising on planning and infrastructure agreements.

Aphrodite commented: “My previous experience has given me an ideal platform and I now have a fantastic opportunity to further my experience alongside the team here at Peter Millican Law.

“I look forward to my career advancing as the law firm continues to expand. I particularly like the company’s culture of investing in its staff so they can play an important part in the future of the business.”

Peter Millican added: “Aphrodite is the ideal person to join our busy commercial property team. She understands our way of working, and our commitment to delivering high quality services to all our clients, at all times.

“More than that, she is motivated by the steep learning curve ahead of her. She is quickly becoming a very valued member of the professional team.”

Taimar Askew; Fran Clark; Rachel Jones, W North

A Newcastle-based PR agency W North - launched in April 2017 - has hired Taimar Askew, Fran Clark and Rachel Jones to join its expanding team.

Based in Ouseburn’s Toffee Factory, W North is the Northern arm of London’s W Communications, one of the world’s “top 10 fastest-growing” communications consultancies, specialising in work across earned media, digital and social for global and regional brands.

Taimar, Fran and Rachel join as account executives. W North works in partnership on a range of clients with its sister agency in London, including the likes of Freixenet, McGuigan Wines, Nest home security and Kopparberg Cider.

Taimar, aged 21, joins having gained first class honours in public relations from the University of Sunderland, also securing its Ede and Ravenscroft Excellence Award in the process.

Having completed a successful communications internship with The Sick Children’s Trust in the North East, 22-year-old Fran graduated from the University of Leeds in 2016 with an LLB law degree.

And finally, Rachel, 23, joins after completing her undergraduate studies at Northumbria University in the summer. She arrives at W North having gained a range of extended experiences across the communications sector in London and in the North East.

Head of W North, Christian Cerisola, said: “It’s a thrill to have found three dedicated communications professionals to add to the growing team here.

“We have huge ambitions for 2018 to expand further, both in partnership with our London colleagues, but also as a successful stand-alone PR agency in the North. It’s an exciting time for this region and we’re glad that W North is at the centre of it.”

Gershom Chan, Scholes & Brown

Scholes & Brown has appointed Gershom Chan from Coutts & Co in the role of technical analyst.

His role is to provide technical support to the directors on investments, pensions and other issues such as employee benefits and life assurance.

Gershom has 10 years of experience in wealth management positions with Adam & Company (part of the RBS Group), Lloyds Private Banking and most recently Coutts & Co.

After graduating in business management, he gained the professional banker diploma, passed the diploma in financial planning and also has a certificate in mortgage advice.

Gershom was born and raised in Scotland after his parents moved there from Hong Kong. He has now made Newcastle his home, along with his wife and two young children.

The founder of Scholes & Brown, Philip Brown, said: “This is the firm’s 15th year of uninterrupted growth and we need to make sure that service levels to clients and the quality of our technical department are maintained and improved.

“We are delighted that Gershom chose to join us from a large organisation like Coutts. It shows that smaller firms can attract the best talent if they demonstrate the best culture and the best career opportunities.”

Gershom added: “This is a very exciting time for me to broaden my horizon and push myself in the liberating environment of my new home at Scholes & Brown.

“I aim to input the strengths of my experience of the larger wealth organisations to the agile quality of Scholes & Brown where I intend to thrive and help grow the business.”

Elliot Taylor, George F. White

The land, property and business consultancy, George F. White is growing its farm services team in Durham, recently hiring a new senior farm business consultant who will mainly work out of its Wolsingham office.

Elliot brings with him a wealth of rural knowledge and expertise, especially in the research field. He has spent nearly 18 years working as a senior member of Newcastle University’s farm business survey team.

During this time, he was responsible for producing a wide-ranging portfolio of internationally recognised rural research alongside delivering robust business analysis for farmers across the North.

Robyn Peat, George F. White’s managing partner, said: “We’ve brought Elliot into the fold because his developed skill set will enhance our services.

“Elliot’s excellent industry knowledge and his strong farming network will be an asset to us as he understands the current issues affecting farms and can determine the impact of future changes in policy while fully understanding the traditions of the industry given he grew up on a farm and graduated with a degree in agricultural business management.”

Elliot’s expertise should allow the consultancy to meet its needs better and help them to manage robust, progressive rural businesses.

Elliot added: “I am very much looking forward to being part of the highly skilled George F. White team. “I relish the challenge to develop opportunities for growth and will use my experience to identify ways we can go from strength to strength.

“The George F. White ethos played a big part in my decision to join the team - the professionalism of the people coupled with the friendly approach and desire to make a difference to colleagues, clients and the community is fantastic. It’s great to be on board!”

Terry Norton; Mike Jones, Parkdean Resorts

The holiday company, Parkdean Resorts has welcomed Terry Norton and Mike Jones to its Newcastle team in a strategic move ahead of the 2018 season.

The pair have joined the business to plan and oversee the delivery of a new-look retail, food and beverage offering across all UK parks to enhance guest experience.

Taking the newly-formed roles of senior retail business development managers, both Terry and Mike have spent their careers working in the holiday park industry, as well as with big global brands.

Terry, 35 and from Cheshire, has relocated to the North East from Texas where he worked with restaurant brand Chi’Lantro BBQ, following time spent with Burger King and Starbucks.

He will support the holiday parks in the North, as well as taking responsibility for developing the food offering on all parks.

Mike, 38 and from Carmarthenshire, will be responsible for supporting the holiday parks in the South of the country and also developing the bar and retail operations of the business.

During his 20 years in the industry working for Bourne Leisure, Mike has had success at one of the biggest UK holiday parks, operating brands such as Papa John’s, Starbucks and BK.

Commenting on the appointments, Parkdean Resorts’ chief operating officer, Mark Harper, said: “The appointment of Terry and Mike comes as we plan for the season ahead, working hard to deliver an even greater choice for our holidaymakers and holiday home owners when it comes to shopping, food and bar options.

“Their level of experience in the industry and beyond is second-to-none, and it’s exciting seeing our enhanced vision being brought to life.”

Employing over 7,000 people, Parkdean Resorts is the largest holiday park operator in the UK with over 70 parks stretching across the country.

In December 2017, the company won two gold awards at the British Travel Awards in the Best UK Family Holiday Parks Operator and Best Camping & Mobile Holiday Company categories.

Chris Fletcher, Visualsoft

Chris Fletcher, previously channel development manager within the business, has been promoted to head of onboarding at Visualsoft.

Chris joined Visualsoft in 2016 from local retail giant, Berghaus, and from partnerships with Sage Pay, Amazon, eBay and Barclaycard to further progress Visualsoft’s platform and integrations offering.

His ecommerce and digital expertise meant he was the perfect person to lead our onboarding/project management function.

Chris and his team will be overseeing the client onboarding process, covering everything from website build, to projects and training, to ensure every Visualsoft client gets the best possible experience.

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