Patrick O'Sullivan, chairman of Saga plc.
Rebecca Wayman

This week's North East appointments

Welcome to your latest roundup of North East appointments.

Patrick O’Sullivan, Saga plc

Saga plc, the UK’s specialist in products and services for life after 50, has appointed Patrick O’Sullivan as chairman with effect from May 1, 2018.

Patrick is hugely experienced in growing businesses in the financial services and insurance industry. He has been chairman of Old Mutual plc, the FTSE 100 diversified financial services conglomerate, since January 2010.

Prior to this, Patrick spent 12 years at Zurich Insurance Group where he held a number of roles, including CEO of Eagle Star, CEO of UK General Insurance, group chief financial officer, and vice chairman of the management board.

Orna NiChionna, senior independent director, said: “We are delighted to welcome Patrick to the board of Saga. He brings many years of highly relevant commercial and board experience, working with companies in the financial services and insurance sectors.

“His wisdom and leadership will be invaluable as we invest in growing the customer base to deliver profit growth across the business.”

Patrick commented: “Saga is a household name and a brand that I admire. I am very pleased to be joining at a pivotal moment in the development of the company as it focuses on sustaining profitability and growth across the businesses.

“I look forward to working with management and the Saga Board to build on recent investments and initiatives to deliver profitable growth.”

Brian Tait, Houghton International

Electro-mechanical engineering specialist, Houghton International has appointed Brian Tait as its new head of pump services to build its capabilities and strengthen its offer.

With over 36 years of experience, having worked with pumps all his career, Brian brings a wealth of knowledge and a unique set of skills.

In addition to this, Houghton International has also committed to develop a dedicated pump load testing facility to support the services offered.

Michael Mitten, CEO of Houghton International, commented: “As our business grows and expands it is vital that we keep up with the needs of the industry and that we develop our services in line with demand.

“Brian is the perfect fit to support the development of our pump services offering and provide real added value to our customers.”

Brian will work with customers regionally and nationally to support their pump requirements, both for new and ongoing servicing.

Adding to Houghton International’s existing pump capabilities, Brian will be working alongside the team to support the repair, maintenance and life extension of a full range pumps.

Mike Keaveney, Grainger plc

Grainger plc, the UK’s largest listed residential landlord, has appointed Mike Keaveney as director of land and development.

Mike Keaveney has over 29 years of hands-on real estate and development experience.

His expertise includes management of complex residential-led mixed use developments across the whole development lifecycle from identification and acquisition through to town planning, funding, construction, marketing, operation and exit.

Mike’s appointment further strengthens Grainger’s development capability to support its growth plans.

Helen Gordon, chief executive, said: “Mike brings with him extensive experience of both acquiring and delivering great development opportunities, particularly in the residential sector.

“Mike will be a welcome addition to our team as we continue to grow Grainger’s PRS portfolio.”

Grainger currently has 10 private rented sector (PRS) build to rent development projects underway through both direct development and forward funding and plans to continue its growth trajectory through further acquisitions and developments.

Mike Keaveney will hold overall responsibility for the delivery and growth of Grainger’s development pipeline.

He will also report into Helen Gordon, Chief Executive, and he will work closely alongside Grainger’s director of investment, Andrew Saunderson, and Grainger’s chief operating officer, John Kenny.

Mike is expected to join Grainger in April.

John Holbrook, Straughans

Chester-le-Street accountancy practice, Straughans - part of the Robson Laidler Group - has announced the promotion of John Holbrook to a director role as the former directors prepare for retirement in March.

John, 33 from Crook, will succeed Mike Fleming and Mike Tait who have jointly directed the firm since the 1980s and spearheaded the takeover by Jesmond accountancy practice Robson Laidler last year, which saw it acquire Straughans to become a £4m group.

John joined Straughans in 2016 as corporate services manager, overseeing more than 200 business clients.

Before this, John started his career at Allen Sykes in Bishop Auckland where he completed his ACCA training and qualified as a chartered certified accountant. He then moved on to Rowlands where he worked for four years as an audit senior.

Commenting on John’s promotion, Mike Fleming said: “John is passionate about working with businesses, helping them to grow and succeed and he delivers an excellent service.

“He has contributed greatly to the success of Straughans and I’m delighted that he has taken on the role as new director.

“John’s impeccable attention to detail coupled with his passion for technological changes and advancements in digital accountancy makes him the perfect person to lead Straughans into the future.”

Roy Ng, Fresh Element

North East hospitality group, Fresh Element, has appointed a new general manager to oversee operations of its Six Restaurant at the BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art.

Roy Ng has joined the team most recently from 21 Hospitality Group, where he was general manager of Café 21 Fenwick, Newcastle.

Previously, Roy gained experience in hospitality and catering from his managerial roles at 21 Newcastle, Wynyard Hall, Durham Marriott Hotel Royal County and Jesmond Dene House.

He said: “My new role at Six is an exciting opportunity for me to not only be a part of an ethically responsible catering company, but to bring this knowledge of sustainability to the next generation of hospitality professionals.”

Peter Hunt, director of Fresh Element, said: “I’m pleased to welcome Roy to the Fresh Element team.

“Six is focussed on delivering exceptional dining experiences, with sustainability and local food at the centre of everything we do, and I’m delighted that Roy shares our vision.”

Nik Harley, re:heat

Specialist biomass energy and installation consultancy, re:heat, has appointed Nik Harley as principal M&E consultant following a succession of major project wins and ongoing developments within the renewable energy sector.

Nik brings over 20 years of mechanical and electrical design experience to the Northumberland-based company which assists businesses to convert from fossil fuel boiler installations to sustainable, low carbon wood fuel heating systems.

He has worked alongside re:heat for several years as a specialist technical consultant on projects including district heating schemes, process steam applications and system upgrades.

Director of re:heat, Ben Tansey, commented: “Nik has become an integral part of the re:heat team and will continue to deliver substantial biomass projects up and down the country across a diverse range of sectors including distilleries and district heating applications.

“His technical knowledge and specialist expertise is exceptional and complements the team extremely well, allowing the company to provide a unique, all-encompassing level of service from initial design through to system installation.”

Nik, from Durham, is currently delivering projects for several major clients including a new-build hotel and large housing association.

He commented: “Last year alone, we managed over 10MW of boiler installations on behalf of clients that required a significant improvement in performance or total redesign in order to create a system that was fit-for-purpose.

“Our expertise in this area alone sets us apart from the rest of the industry and therefore I’m delighted to be joining the team.”

Sue Cartwright, KISS

KISS has expanded its senior management experience with the appointment of Sue Cartwright as account director.

Sue joined the team in November to manage various new business wins.

She began her successful career as a graduate trainee at Ogilvy and Mather where she worked on multimedia campaigns for Unilever Foods, Dove and Ford. Sue has now obtained 16 years of extensive experience in handling accounts and managing people.

Sue has also developed branding, marketing and communications strategies for leading organisations including BUPA, GlaxoSmithKline, Selfridges, Harrods, Recycle for London, The Environment Agency and the University of Sussex.

Sue said: “I’m delighted to have joined KISS and to have the opportunity to work with brands that are changing the world.

“The science, technology and education sectors are all undergoing big shifts at the moment, making a strategic approach to communications more important than ever.

“This is something I’m committed to executing in the best possible way for our clients.”

Sarah Reakes, managing director at KISS, added: “Sue’s wealth of knowledge makes her a perfect fit as account director - her experience in strategy is going to be vital as we look to continue growing and improving our offering for clients moving forward.

“She’s settled into the team instantly, and we’re hugely excited by what she brings to the table.”

Philip Smith, TT2 Limited

TT2 Limited, the operator of the Tyne Tunnels, has appointed a new chief executive officer to run its operation in Wallsend.

Philip Smith joins TT2 from his previous role as CEO of Severn River Crossing Plc in Bristol, where he managed the operation for three years.

During his career, he has held a number of senior management positions in companies including Ultra Global, David Webster Limited and Serco.

Philip brings with him a wealth of knowledge from the transport sector, and previous projects have included the management and operation of the two Severn Crossings and overseeing the negotiations to transform the Metrolink service in Greater Manchester.

Philip Smith, CEO of TT2 Limited, said: “I am delighted to be joining TT2, as it is an iconic part of the UK’s infrastructure.

“It has a fantastic history, and was certainly a trail blazer when the first tunnel was opened in 1967. I’m very excited to be part of the Tyne Tunnel’s story.

“I have a lot of experience in the transport sector, and working with the team at TT2 will be an exciting new challenge for me.

“It’s going to be a bit of a change swapping the Severn Crossings for the Tyne Tunnels, but I’m really looking forward to it.”

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