Alison Gittins, CEO – Durham Business Group

View Alison’s Biography

Andrea Kew, Global Director Partner Strategy – Sage plc

View Andrea’s Biography

Andrew Jackson, Marketing Director – Fentimans

View Andrew’s Biography

Ben Debnam, Director – Sales & Marketing Recruitment Team at Nigel Wright Recruitment

View Ben’s Biography



Caroline O’Doherty, Head of Marketing & Development – Northumberland National Park Authority

View Caroline’s Biography



Charlie Nettle,  Commercial & Marketing Director – AV Dawson Ltd

View Charlie’s Biography



Chris Kent, Managing Consultant, Senior and Director Level Commercial Appointments – Nigel Wright Recruitment

View Chris’s Biography



Claire Fenwick, Marketing and Business Development Manager- Mincoffs Solicitors LLP – bio to follow

View Claire’s Biography



Craig Robert Daly, Director – Northern Print Solutions – bio to follow

View Craig’s Biography

Dan Appleby, Managing Director – Drummond Central

View Dan’s Biography

Darren Warneford, Group Business Development Director – Esh Group

View Darren’s Biography

David Pritchard, Head of Marketing – Sintons

View David’s Biography


Dawn Howe, Head of Marketing, Tombola

View Dawn’s Biography

Deb Ions, Marketing Consultant

View Deb’s Biography

Fiona Urquhart, Chartered Marketer – ADD Strategy Ltd & Durham University

View Fiona’s Biography

Geoff Phillips, Founder – Canvas Marketing

View Geoff’s Biography

Herb Kim, Thinking Digital

View Herb’s Biography

James Sykes, Head of Marketing – Ward Hadaway

View James’sBiography

Jemma Devine-Wilkinson, Principal Consultant, Marketing – Nigel Wright Recruitment

View Jemma’s Biography – Bio to follow

Jennie Collingwood, Head of Marketing & Brand, Northumbrian Water Group

View Jennie’s Biography


Jill Laverick, Assistant Director of Corporate Affairs, Sunderland City  Council

View Jill’s Biography



Dr Joanna Berry, Associate Professor (Entrepreneurship) at Durham University Business School

View Joanna’s Biography

Kate Hall, Marketing & Communications Manager – Newcastle International Airport

View Kate’s Biography


Kay Pattison, Client Relationship Manager, Northern Print Solutions

View Kay’s Biography


Kelly Gleadow,  Head of Communications – NGI

View Kelly’s Biography

Kerry Leng, Head of Marketing, Communications & Information – Nexus

View Kerry’s Biography

Kirsten Donkin, Head of PR, Marketing, Communications & Information – PD Ports

View Kirsten’s Biography

Kirsty Ramsey, Marketing & Development Director – O Communications

View Kirsty’s Biography


Laura Gabriele, Marketing & Communications Officer, Shared Interest Society

View Laura’s Biography

Leigh Peacock-Goodwin, Head of Marketing & PR, Atom Bank – bio to follow


Michele Gettins, Chief Marketing Officer, iamproperty

View Michele’s Biography


Nicola Hughes, Group Marketing & Communications Manager- Bellway Homes

View Nicola’s Biography

Nicola Irving, Head of Strategic Marketing and Communications at Pearson Engineering

View Nicola’s Biography

Paul Wilkinson, Managing Director/President (North America) – J Barbour & Sons Ltd – bio to follow

Rob McInally, Director of Marketing & Communications, The North of England P&I Association Ltd 

View Rob’s Biography


Robert Jefferson,  Head of Marketing – Virgin Money

View Robert’s Biography

Sarah O’Mahoney, Director – Bradley O’Mahoney

View Sarah’s Biography

Sophie Palleschi, Archers Law

View Sophie’s Biography

Stephen Patterson, Chief Executive, NE1

View Stephen’s Biography

Steve Underwood, Bonded Agency – bio to follow

View Steve’s Biography

Susan Beck, Director of Development & Communications, Royal Grammar School, Newcastle – Bio to follow 


Tom Nightingale, North East Stakeholder Manager, Renewables – Equinor UK Ltd  

View Tom’s Biography

Veronica Swindale, Founder & Director nesma

View Veronica’s Biography


Vikki Todd, Marketing Director – Team Valley Group

View Vikki’s Biography


Alison is the CEO of Durham Business Group (Durham Business Club, Durham Office Services and The Executive Group).
Alison has a passion for people and a love of networking, so feels she landed her dream job in 2010, and is lucky to work with businesses from all sectors across the region, and bring them together while showcasing some wonderful venues. DBC holds monthly breakfast and evening events for its 200 members, while The Executive Group’s lunches, are must-attend events for North East business leaders. To recharge her batteries Alison enjoys escaping to the sun on a cruise ship.







Andrea is the global lead for Product Marketing for ISV partners and Marketplace Apps for Sage. With over 13 years’ experience in her field she has led several strategic product launches and progressive marketing programmes, including driving the transformation to a subscription-based business, customer migration to cloud and embedding customer lifecycle contact strategies.

Specialised in Go-to-Market strategy and execution, Andrea's current role is focussed on bringing the Sage Business Cloud Ecosystem to life. Working with strategic partners to develop and launch disruptive propositions that truly deliver end-to-end customer solutions, transforming the way business software is consumed within an organisation today.

With experience in proposition development and messaging, operational execution and communication strategy & events, Andrea is a mentor and supports product marketing teams globally with proposition innovation, delivering successful GTM programmes and driving business growth.

Andrew is the Marketing Director for Fentimans Ltd, the premium botanical drinks maker based in Hexham, founded in 1905.. Since joining the privately-owned business, Fentimans has gone from strength to strength, establishing itself as a leading and innovative brand in the burgeoning premium drinks sector. Prior to joining Fentimans in a leadership role, Andrew has extensive experience of brand building and the consumer goods industry, having worked for leading FMCG companies including Procter & Gamble, Cadbury, PZ Cussons.and Mondelez, both in the UK and internationally. Andrew is passionate about nurturing and developing marketing talent, successfully coaching, mentoring and advising numerous individuals during his career.

Ben is Nigel Wright’s Director leading both the Sales & Marketing and IT recruitment divisions.  As well as leading his management team across these divisions, Ben delivers main board and executive marketing and commercial appointments across the North of England.  Following the completion of his undergraduate degree at Durham University, Ben has been with Nigel Wright in excess of 10 years and sits on the organisational leadership team. Nigel Wright Group





Caroline joined Northumberland National Park Authority in December 2019 and is the strategic lead on marketing, communications and fundraising for the National Park, The Sill: National Landscape Discovery Centre and Northumberland National Park Foundation.

After growing up on a farm in the Tyne Valley, Caroline swapped rural Northumberland for Liverpool where she graduated from Liverpool John Moores University with a degree in Business with Marketing. There followed a twenty year career in marketing and communications via the North West and North East of England, including ten years in the charity sector working with national and regional charities on fundraising campaigns and capital appeals, and eight years within broadcast and digital media.

Northumberland National Park is one of England’s finest landscapes – home to England’s darkest skies and most tranquil spaces, steeped in culture and heritage spanning thousands of years. The connection between nature and landscape and health and wellbeing is something Caroline has never taken for granted. It is that connection which drives her ambition to create more and different opportunities for people to connect with the National Park, regardless of their background or ability







Charlie is a Chartered Marketer and fellow of CIM, with over 20 years' experience as a senior marketer.

He's currently the Commercial & Marketing Director of AV Dawson, which owns and operates Port of Middlesbrough. His role has overarching responsibility for the commercial and marketing strategy, activities and team and he sits as a member of the leadership team of the organisation.

Having felt lost at times in his own career, Charlie has a huge passion for inspiring the next generation to find careers that fulfil them. For some time, he has 'done his bit' by delivering talks and lectures at schools and universities, developing cadetships and work experience opportunities.  He also supports local education initiatives including the High Tide foundation and Tees Valley Logistics Academy.

Charlie's 11 years working as a strategic marketer for the Chambers of Commerce and six years as Chair of the Chartered Institute of Marketing's (CIM) North East England region have highlighted to him how misunderstood and undervalued marketing is and how important it is that this is addressed. As a consequence of this he founded This Is Marketing – a not-for-profit initiative to better market marketing.

Charlie is determined to utilise his expertise, network and passion to ensure the marketing profession is properly recognised and valued, for the benefit of today's and tomorrow's marketers, their organisations, their customers and society.

Chris joined Nigel Wright in 2015 to set up the Sales and Marketing specialism in the new Wynyard office, following 10 years in the industry and he sits on the Company’s UK regional management team.  Chris now predominantly focusses on executive sales and marketing appointments in the B2B sector, although he has recruited marketing talent from entry to board level across the FMCG, marketing agency, tech and service sectors throughout his career.  Chris has a deep understanding of the importance of marketing and its central position in driving business growth and he regularly chairs thought leadership forums on related topics amongst the regions business leaders. Nigel Wright Group






With over 26 years of print under his belt, and 10 years as Managing Director and Owner of Northern Print Solutions, Craig is a heavyweight in the region's print industry.  Catering for the print needs of a highly creative customer base he and his experienced team have together built a strong client centric business.   Successfully fostering the trust of their clients through the development of a community of support, they have developed a reputation for providing outstanding print expertise, education and of course creative print for all.








Dan has spent over 20 years in creative agencies, starting out with Gyro, Wunderman and Engine in London before returning to his native northeast. In his time his work has won awards at Cannes Lion Direct, Marketing Week Masters, The CIM, The DMA, The Drum, Campaign Big, Campaign Direct, The Roses, The Northern Marketing Awards and, of course, a few North East Marketing Awards for good measure.

He leads the 50-strong team at Drummond Central working with ambitious brands including bet365, Greggs, the seven councils of the LA7, Flooring Superstore, People's Postcode Lottery, Environment Bank, Leasloco, I Am Sold and Tor Coatings amongst others.

Dan is an elected member of The IPA Council, which is widely recognised as the world’s most influential professional body for practitioners in advertising and marketing communications and he was recently honoured with a lifetime Fellowship (FIPA) for his contribution to The IPA and the industry. He believes passionately that creativity is one of the most powerful forces in business and the true measure of any marketing is how effective it was.



Darren is an experienced Business Development Director with a focus for many years working in the construction industry as Director for Esh Group and prior to that in a national role for Mears Group. Previously Darren headed up the Social Housing Lending Division at Newcastle Building Society. A strong sales professional Darren is skilled in Business Development, Bid Management, Customer Relations, Marketing and Corporate Affairs.

Darren also has also held non-executive roles including Chair of the Northern Region Board for Riverside Group and member of Group Investment Committee and Group Neighbourhood Services Committee.


David Pritchard is the Head of Marketing at Sintons LLP, having joined the firm in September 2014.

David has over 20 years’ experience of working within the legal sector and has in-depth experience of marketing for such areas of law as Private Client, Healthcare, Corporate & Commercial and Serious Injury.  His particular areas of interest are brand development, digital marketing and business development.

David won Marketer of the Year at the 2018 North East Marketing Awards.

Dawn Howe is the Head of Marketing at tombola and responsible for leading the company’s marketing acquisition and retention strategy.  Dawn joined tombola in 2008 and launched the website in the UK later that year. Within nine months, tombola became the UK’s biggest bingo site with more players than any other and has since held on to this title. Dawn has recently supported launching in The Netherlands.

Dawn has over 20 years’ experience working in the service and entertainment industry and has knowledge of brand building and advertising both in broadcast and digital. Dawn and her team are about to embark on the 5th year of sponsoring ‘I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here’ with their award winning creative campaign ‘bugs on set’. Dawn also runs her own business ‘Messy Little Thing’ When weaning her daughter, she realised traditional bibs didn’t keep clothes clean so designed her own and was granted a patent from the IPO. The fabric is made in the UK and the bibs are produced here in the North East of England.









Fiona has over twenty years’ experience in using problem based learning to enhance student experience, gained with The Open University, Chartered Institute of Marketing, The Institute of Consultancy, and Durham University. Fiona gained experience of applied marketing innovation work, developing AC Nielsen’s EPOS based research service in line with major FMCG corporates’ requirements, and EFTPOS with a consortium of the retail clearing banks.

Her two volume book, endorsed by Harvard University explores Service Excellence https://www.amazon.ae/Service-Excellence-Organizations-Follow-Achieve/dp/1631577018 and identifies the imperative for customer focus, a stakeholder perspective and innovation to keep the service offering fresh and relevant for customers.

Fiona has provided consultancy and training support to manufacturing and service companies, She also supports marketing and service excellence projects at various corporates, as well as delivering innovation workshops for a number of infra-structure companies. In both her teaching, and her corporate training work she has built expertise in problem based learning to create practical learning situations and encourage reflective learning . She has delivered a series of interactive workshops for several European universities to research the topic in the context of entrepreneurial learning, and has presented her findings at a number of global conferences.

You can see more about Fiona here https://www.linkedin.com/in/fionaurquhart1/

Geoff founded Canvas Marketing in 2018 and provides freelance strategic marketing support for businesses ambitious to grow or scale. He is a multi-award winning marketer with board level experience across multiple sectors and business sizes having worked with brands such as Sage, Canon and Avery Dennison. He is passionate about the North East and supports a varied portfolio of businesses based in the region. They include Caspian, an AI technology business recently invested in by Nasdaq Ventures and Equiwatt, an invested clean-tech start-up helping home owners to save energy via smart technology. He actively supports regional talent development as Chair of Governors at Newcastle Sixth Form College and regularly provide marketing coaching and advice via business acceleration programmes.

Originally from Brooklyn, NY, Herb is best known as Founder of the long-running Thinking Digital Conference which will celebrate its 14th Anniversary in 2022.

In addition to Thinking Digital, Herb is the Founder and Director of TEDxManchester, TEDxLiverpool and TEDxNewcastle. He is also a Trustee for the Sage Gateshead Music Centre.  On 20th November 2021, he will launch the inaugural Bright Ideas Gathering in collaboration with Durham County Council and the Lumiere Festival.

In 2019, he was named as one of the top 100 Asians in UK Tech. In 2014, Buzzfeed included Herb on its list of “Geordie Heroes” off the back of his work on Thinking Digital & TEDxNewcastle. In 2011, Wired Magazine included Herb as one it’s Wired 100 top tech industry influencers. In 2010, The Guardian named him as one of its Top 100 most influential media figures.

Herb earned his MBA from the Wharton School of Business in Philadelphia and his undergraduate degree from Princeton University. He moved to the UK in 1997 and is a proud father to a 16yo daughter.



James is Head of Marketing at UK Top 100 law firm Ward Hadaway.  Founded in Newcastle over 30 years ago, the firm has since expanded into Leeds and Manchester, and is one of the only pan-Northern law firms in the UK.  With over 290 lawyers, it offers a complete full service to its array of clients, that include private businesses large and small, the NHS, local authorities, the education sector, funders and private individuals.

James has been at Ward Hadaway for over ten years, previously working in senior strategic and operational marketing roles across varied B2B industries, including Life Science software, electrical manufacturing, and digital publishing in the built environment sector.

He has also been a trustee at Meadow Well Connected, a community hub which has been providing a range of services to its local community for almost 30 years."







Jennie is a marketing and brand specialist and began her career with Merchant Retail Group before moving on to local government where she was Head of Culture and Tourism at Northumberland County Council. She is currently Head of Marketing, Brand and External Communications at Northumbrian Water Group where she is responsible for customer and stakeholder engagement across supply areas in the north east and south east of England. Her campaign work holds awards from the Chartered Institute of Marketing for best national campaign and the Chartered Institute of Public Relations for best corporate social responsibility campaign and she is a regular guest lecturer at Durham University Business School. Jennie studied English Literature at Teesside University, Enterprise Management at Durham University and most recently Leadership and Performance Coaching at Northumbria University.

Jennie is an experienced Non-Executive Director, holding positions at NewcastleGateshead Initiative and The Bowes Museum – she a passionate advocate for the north east; supporting tourism, culture and the arts and driving positive change which improves the local economy and delivers lasting social legacy.





Responsible for leading the council’s marketing and communications; corporate strategy; and corporate partnerships teams, Jill plays a key role in connecting the organisation and city to residents, businesses and government.

Jill has worked in both the public and private sector, with experience across various marketing disciplines but with a real interest in reputation, brand and public affairs. Since September 2020 she has chaired the LA7 group of comms leads that has overseen the regional response to covid, including the award-winning BeatCovidNE behaviour change campaign.

A non-executive director for Together for Children, the children’s services company recently rated outstanding by Ofsted, Jill is passionate about improving opportunities for all in the region.






Joanna was born, brought up and educated in Hartlepool, NorthEast England. Her academic experience runs from her Oxford University law degree (1985) to her MBA and PhD from Newcastle University. Her MBA focused on the impact of broadband connectivity on the TV industry, and her PhD took this one step further, using her creation and management of a London-based record label as a lens through which to assess the impact of digital technologies on the music industry's business models and value chains.

Joanna is Associate Professor, Entrepreneurship at Durham University Business School, teaching new venture creation, entrepreneurship, innovation, marketing and a wide variety of other management disciplines to MBA, DBA, PhD, MSc and undergraduate students. She is Trustee/Director of Acumen Community Buildings, and was Advisory Board member for the NorthEast LEP "ScaleUp NorthEast" programme. Joanna is Director for Business, Innovation and Enterprise for the Durham Energy Institute and has been Regional Chair for both the Chartered Institute of Marketing and the Institute of Directors.

Her professional experience encompasses law (mostly company and contract, practiced in South Africa from 1985 to 1987) science, creativity and technology. In her professional commercial career Joanna has undertaken a variety of international business development roles in marketing, advertising and publishing. Roles include Manager of Europe and East Asia for the World Economic Forum and international PR manager for Mobil 1 Motorsport with McLaren.

Joanna has also founded, bought and run a variety of digital and creative companies, and continues her personal and practical involvement with new venture start-ups. She places a particular emphasis on supporting the 'women in STEM' agenda in a variety of ways. These include teaching, mentoring, and public appearances, as she undertakes a wide variety of public and media activities on TV and Radio. She is winner of the Forward Ladies Scotland, NorthEast and Yorkshire Academic Leader Award and a member both of the Northern Power Women ‘NPW Power List’ and NPW Power Circle for Teesside and Newcastle.

Kate has worked at the North East’s largest airport for the past 5 years, holding the role of Marketing and Communications Manager for the last 3. Kate oversees the internal and external communications strategy for the Airport and works closely with Airline and other business partners to promote routes, destinations and services across the North East region and beyond.

To encourage inbound tourists into the North East,  the Airport recently developed a Visit North East England brand. Kate and the team have been working closely with VisitBritain, local DMO’s, as well as those across Europe and the Middle East, to promote the region to overseas visitors.





With over 16 years of working within the Print and Marketing industry, Kay is a jewel in the Northern Print Solutions Crown.  Working closely with Design & Marketing agencies she delivers complex, bespoke projects advising on the best way to execute beautiful, effective print, in the most cost-effective manner.








Kelly is the Head of Communications for NewcastleGateshead Initiative, a destination and inward investment agency that delivers for NewcastleGateshead, and the wider region. Every single one of their projects are dedicated

to making a lasting social and economic impact, creating a better place, and benefiting people who live and work in the region. She leads on NGI’s communications strategy, managing a team of people and working with business, investors, and influencers to position the region as a place to enjoy, stay and invest. She has a passion for PR and stakeholder engagement and is responsible for positioning our city and its people on national and international stage. She also delivers PR Consultancy for a number of key clients who are aligned with NGI’s ambitions and values and that deliver economic growth in the North East.

Kelly is a communications and marketing professional with more than 15 years of experience. After graduating in 2003 from Northumbria University with a first-class degree in Marketing Management, she kickstarted her career in advertising, working for a leading city centre advertising agency. She then went on to work for one of the largest housing associations in the North East for almost 8 years. She joined Newcastle Gateshead Initiative in 2018, using her expertise to position Newcastle and Gateshead on a world stage.








A Chartered Marketer with broad professional experience in the public and private sectors.  Kerry is Head of Marketing, Communications and Information at Nexus, the Passenger Transport Executive for Tyne and Wear which also owns and operates Tyne and Wear Metro and the Shields Ferry.

She is an active Board member for the Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM), building connections with senior marketers across the region.  Kerry is a Trustee of The Customs House, an arts venue in South Tyneside dedicated to offering arts, entertainment and engagement to all.

Kerry is also an Associate Tutor at nesma, the accredited teaching centre for the Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM), Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) and the Digital Marketing Institute (DMI).

Kirsten Donkin joined PD Ports in February 2006 as Marketing Executive.

A marketing graduate from Teesside University, she started her career as a marketing and events coordinator within the IT industry.

With more than 17 years’ experience in marketing and public relations, with 10 years at management level, Kirsten is responsible for the development of PD Ports’ Group-wide marketing and communications strategy.

The Levelling Up agenda is a key focus for PD Ports where Kirsten is responsible for driving forward engagement and building long-term partnerships that will support the Government’s industrial strategy as well as deliver economic growth and development in the North.

Kirsten also leads the Company’s corporate social responsibility activities with a particular emphasis on providing ongoing support to the High Tide Foundation. The charity, co-founded by PD Ports in 2012, aims to raise aspirations amongst young people in Teesside and provide them with meaningful career experiences. Having been involved with High Tide since it launched in 2012, Kirsten was appointed as a trustee in January 2019.

Named as one of the North East region’s Marketing Greats in 2017 by the Chartered Institute of Marketing, Kirsten is a passionate marketer and communicator who is actively engaged in both promoting careers in marketing and the value it can deliver for businesses of all sizes.

Kirsty has worked in marketing for over 14 years, working her way from intern to director. Kirsty joined O in 2019 after a career in-house leading a marketing team. Kirsty works with businesses across all sectors to develop their Marketing and Business Development strategies. Before joining O she spent 12 years developing strategies and tactical marketing plans across multiple sectors, for both regional and national audiences. Kirsty is passionate about helping businesses to future proof their communications and marketers future proof their skills. She specialises in developing integrated and flexible marketing strategies based on real audience data and insight.

Laura is Marketing and Communications Officer at Shared Interest Society, an ethical investment organisation, which aims to alleviate poverty by helping people in remote and disadvantaged communities, to trade and earn a living.

Laura has worked in marketing since 2009, starting off her career at Northumbria Police before moving to Shared Interest.

Laura's current role involves internal and external marketing to recruit investors in the UK as well as customers globally. Laura is also an Ambassador on the CIM North East Board, and completed the CIM Level 6 Diploma in 2015.





Michele joined iamproperty in 2019 to lead and grow the group’s Marketing function. An experienced senior leader with a strong strategic marketing and commercial background in both B2C and B2B, Michele has a proven track record of delivering results. Now in a recently expanded role, as Chief Marketing Officer, Michele is accountable for building an A+ team and overseeing all aspects of marketing. She is passionate about putting customers at the heart of everything the business does, using customer and consumer insight to support innovation and brand differentiation as key drivers of business and category growth.




Nicola is Group Marketing and Communications Manager for FTSE 250 residential property developer and housebuilder, Bellway.

With over 20 years of experience in busy and fast paced marketing and comms teams, Nicola is responsible for defining and implementing an effective and consistent marketing and brand strategy across Bellway’s UK wide business, including Ashberry Homes and Bellway London, ensuring that all marketing performance is optimised to support growth and engage customers and stakeholders. She is responsible for leading a multi-disciplinary team of marketing professionals.

Prior to joining Bellway in 2021, Nicola was Group Marketing and Communications Director for Newcastle-based privately-owned property investment and development business, Adderstone Group where she developed and delivered a strategic marketing plan across all elements of the marketing, communications and PR mix, including investor and stakeholder engagement and sales management, driving marketing strategy for all businesses within the Adderstone portfolio with support from an in-house marketing team and external agencies.



Nicola Irving is Head of Strategic Marketing and Communications at Pearson Engineering, an award winning provider of equipment to the world’s armed forces. Prior to taking this role, Nicola was part of the Leadership Team at a people-first Architecture practice committed to delivering positive change in communities. After graduating from Newcastle University with a degree in French and Spanish with German, she set about a career in marketing and joined the Chartered Institute of Marketing in 2012 to support her further study. Following completion of a Level 7 Professional Post-Graduate Certificate in Marketing in 2017, Nicola became a Board Member of CIM North East to support development of the marketing community and to raise the profile of marketing and marketers in the region. Now a Chartered Marketer, Nicola is part of the Confederation of British Industry Future Leaders Network and lends her skills as a volunteer to Business Beats Cancer Newcastle (part of Cancer Research UK) and to RTC North as a STEM Ambassador.

Rob McInally is Director of Marketing and Communications at The North of England P&I Association Limited, one of the world’s leading mutual marine liability insurers. North P&I has been part of the North East’s rich maritime history since 1860.

Rob joined North in September 2016 and is responsible for North’s global branding and commercial marketing strategy in key regions including Asia, Europe and the US. With over 20 years’ experience in marketing and business development across a number of B2B sectors, Rob is a Chartered Marketer and Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Marketing. Rob has held a number of marketing and business development related roles including brand and reputation management, developing customer insight propositions, new product development, account management and strategic communications.




Robert leads the Virgin Money marketing team for all products and services. He has over 20 years Financial Services experience, with varied experience across performance marketing, proposition launches, sponsorship activation, communications and digital channel management.

Robert's current role encompasses cradle to grave marketing across Virgin Money’s customer portfolio – including consumer, business banking and all third party marketing. He is a huge advocate of simplicity and transparency. Robert’s personal mission is to help customers understand their financial products and feel confident in making money decisions.

Based in the North East, Robert holds an MBA from Newcastle Business School.




Sarah studied PR at Leeds Beckett University and achieved a BA (HONS) Public Relations degree. Having worked in a B2B Manchester agency Sarah returned to the North East to work for Bradley O’Mahoney Public Relations, where she is now a Director.

Sarah has a  wide range of experience including corporate and marketing PR, employee communications and issues management and her current client base covers construction, the built environment, technology and engineering.






Sophie Palleschi is responsible for the Marketing and Business Development at Archers Law, a multidisciplined Law firm based in Teesside. The firm specialises in a range of private and business legal disciplines and has a strong contact network across the Northeast and nationally.

Sophie started a career in marketing in after completing a BA Hons degree in Events Management. She completed the Level 6 with NESMA whilst working for a national food to go manufacturer, taking the company through a re-brand, and branching out into new markets.

On completion of the CIM Level 6 qualification, Sophie began her employment at Archers Law and is responsible for the development and implementation of the Marketing strategy across 7 areas of the firm. In January 2021 Sophie started the CIM Level 7 Marketing Leadership Programme, to further develop her skills and marketing knowledge, and is currently studying her second module.




Tom joined Equinor in April 2021 as North East Stakeholder Manager, focusing on Dogger Bank, the world’s largest offshore wind farm. Tom represents Equinor’s Renewables Division in North East England, working alongside Dogger Bank partners to engage with and build relationships across the community, industry and the supply chain.

Prior to this, Tom has held various marketing, communication and business development roles in the energy supply chain, where he has supported the growth of businesses including TechnipFMC Umbilicals and JDR Cables and helped to attract inward investment to the region. Before joining Equinor, Tom was Marketing & Strategy Director (Flexible Pipe Systems) for Baker Hughes.

As part of the Offshore Wind Sector Deal, Tom represented JDR Cables on the Offshore Wind Industry Council where he was an advocate for the supply chain and increasing UK content. At this time, Tom also worked with NOF to deliver the first Offshore Wind North East conference. Tom has won various awards and accolades for businesses including SubseaUK awards, Offshore Achievement Awards, Northern Powerhouse Export Awards and the Queens Award for Enterprise: International Trade.

Tom lives in Newcastle with his wife and two children and spends his free time exercising, planning his travels and socialising. Tom is also a member of the North East Board of the Chartered Institute of Marketing.




Veronica is the Managing Director of nesma and Vice Chair of the CIM North East Regional Board. After a successful career in sales and marketing and lecturing she recognised the need for good quality professional qualification education in marketing and communications which inspired her to set up nesma twelve years ago.
Now nesma is an accredited teaching centre for the Chartered Institute of Marketing, and the Chartered Institute of Public Relations and has expanded its client base dramatically having added online learning to its portfolio. Nesma’s professional students hail from Cornwall to Aberdeen as well of a handful of international sites including Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Malta.
As a Chartered Marketer, CIM Fellow and MCIPR, Veronica coaches, teaches, consults and facilitates the careers of many of nesma’s alumni as well as driving the business forward.
She has a wide range of skills in sales, marketing and communications, consultancy and training, relationship management, key account management and customer experience.
Her sense of pride comes from seeing individuals and organisations developing confidently and actioning successful marketing strategies, after studying or working with nesma.
Nesma is very excited to be corporate partner for the North East Marketing Awards 2021.

Vikki Todd is the Marketing Director at Gateshead-based Team Valley Group. A Chartered Marketer, Vikki has over 15 years of marketing experience in brand development, client experience and new business acquisition gained whilst working for some of the North East's largest and most recognised names in legal services. Vikki made the transition from legal services in 2020, taking up a role as Marketing Director at the Team Valley Group and establishing Team Valley Marketing.