Key business figures have reaffirmed their commitment to the North East through a continuing focus on employer brand at a recent business panel, hosted by brand performance business, Precept that has offices in Newcastle-upon-Tyne and the South Bank of London.
The event was held at The Brand Society venue part of Precept at its St Peter’s Marina offices in Newcastle. It was the second in a series of events giving insight into elements of the business, branding and marketing world for the business community in attendance, a group of business people from across the North of England.
James Beard, Chief Operating Officer at technology online entertainment business tombola, was joined by Jayne Hart owner of The HR Dept a specialist North East based HR consultancy, Alan Scott commercial director at Hive HR a flexible employee feedback platform, Jon Dudgeon a co-founder of Newcastle and North Shields based firm of chartered accountants Blu Sky Accounting.
Since joining tombola over two years ago James Beard has continued to help build upon its employer brand by supporting efforts to effectively communicate its ties to the region through initiatives which promote community engagement and career pathways into the business. tombola has grown exponentially with operations across six countries now employing upwards of 570 staff with more than 50 per cent of this total employed in and around its Sunderland offices.
“We are committed to investing in the region where the business in its current form began 13 years ago with only eight staff. We recently built a brand-new office in the East End of Sunderland which was carefully designed with our people in mind. As the business continues to grow, we will continue our investment in the area. But our commitment to the region runs much deeper than simply maintaining offices here. We have a strong sense of community which is deep routed and extends from the original family business of printing and selling bingo tickets. This set us on the road to success and we feel our external employer brand now more strongly reflects this. Humility is key here, we feel we are a good employer but we will always strive to be better.
“Growing the pool of talented technology people is key to our growth and attracting and developing them is an important aspect of our employer brand. In the last two years we have invested in an apprenticeship degree in partnership with the University of Sunderland which is now actively growing and we’ve worked closely with Gateshead College, Newcastle College Group and Sunderland College to promote technology graduate career pathways.
“As part of the Founders4Schools program we work with local schools to educate and inspire pupils on the opportunities in technology. We are also one of a number of employers who support ‘TechUP’ a programme spearheaded by Durham University’s Professor Sue Black in partnership with the Institute of Coding to increase opportunity through networking and retraining to draw more women in to the technology sector, and we’re an active member of regional technology cluster Dynamo North East.”
Nick Johnson, owner at Precept, said: “We’re delighted how this event has gone and very grateful to all the panellists for their contribution. We have an active and growing business community here at St Peter’s Marina, and in the wider region a burgeoning technology sector of which staff are the most valuable asset. Its brilliant that we’ve been able to hear from business leaders from the technology, HR and accountancy sectors.”
Nick launched brand performance business Precept ten years ago at the age of 24. He also launched the The Brand Society last year, an events and workspace venue aimed at supporting the local business community.
He is committed to nurturing the development of the region’s entrepreneurs, their businesses and crucially, their brands to enable them to establish themselves and achieve growth in their key markets.
Alan Scott commercial director at Hive HR with a HR business technology platform designed to improve organisational staff engagement and retention, said: “I think we should be keeping things simple and striving to give employees a better day at work. We experienced rapid growth and went from nine to 40 employees so we really understand the challenge to keep your employer brand and individual identity in these circumstances; actively talk to your staff and listen, simple in theory often challenging in practice.”
Jayne Hart is owner and lead consultant of this region’s The HR Dept, a national franchise that provides consultancy and support for small to medium size enterprises.
“What you don’t want is a business espousing one culture and putting an entirely different one into practice. What you need is an authentic approach that as an employer your are committed too and actively able to make happen,” she said.
Jon Dudgeon is co-founder of Blu Sky Accounting, an accountancy firm based in Newcastle and North Shields. He said:
“After founding our business 12 years ago we reinvented our vision in 2015 in quite an unusual way. There were six of us and as a group we all flew to the Canary Islands and discussed at length away from the business what we wanted to do.
“In the end we established we wanted to move away from the more traditional accountancy firm and create a working environment where people felt comfortable giving honest feedback about what they want from us as an employer and would therefore be proud and fully engaged with what we stand for.
“Of course this can vary hugely from person to person but we listen and involve the team in all the major decisions and feel that we’ve created somewhere for people to enjoy their time at work.”
The previous event explored entrepreneurship and was called ‘From Exit to Entry’ providing inspirational insight and access for the business audience into regional entrepreneurs and how to survive and prosper in business.