Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Support Group Aims to Keep Talent in the North

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Support Group Aims to Keep Talent in the North

Article excerpt

Byline: John Hill

EVEN in a time of cuts and caution, redundancy often comes out of the blue for the people that experience it. Jonathan Whisker was the chief financial officer for Europe, the Middle East and India at Formica at the start of August, but by the end of the month he found himself looking for a new role.

"It was a bit of a surprise", he said. "My internal radar hadn't picked it up. I was told at the start of the month and I left by the end of it."

When his children returned to school in September, he tapped up recruitment contacts in the North East and Leeds, but was soon facing his first week with nothing to do.

He said: "I didn't like that at all. That's when I was phoned up by Northern Recruitment Group (NRG) and asked if I wanted to join LEO."

The Leadership Enterprise Opportunity scheme is a three-week programme targeted at senior and executive staff hit by cuts and the economic climate. NRG founder Lorna Moran launched the scheme last year, and the fifth batch of executives have now emerged.

The idea of LEO involves giving participants access to speakers, keeping them abreast of developments in the region and providing group support. It aims to give people a better idea of where they want to take their career next, and encourages them to do that in the North East.

Whisker said: "I came into LEO with a strong conviction that I wanted another finance director role of a certain size in the private sector. I still want a full-time job, but now I really want to work in a managing director role."

The LEO course also helped to cement Valerie Colling's drive to get her start-up Be-Pod off the ground.

She had set up the company in May, but had also picked up income working in an interim finance director role until August.

She said: "I wanted to decide whether I should be looking for a portfolio career or whether I should focus solely on Be-Pod. It gave me absolute clarity that I wanted to concentrate on that. …

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