AS a very small child, Steve Guest grew up in Canada.

He recalls days of building snowmen and being pushed around a Toronto suburb in a shovel as his family escaped the British coal crisis.

The TransAtlantic venture, which lasted about three years, came as his father worked in a university.

Understandably, Mr Guest’s memories are somewhat hazy, though he can still remember the cold.

In comparison, the North-East’s changeable climate holds no fears, admitting a recent sleet and snow storm failed to ruin a round of golf.

He’s used to sheltering from difficult situations.

Mr Guest is managing director at Techconsult UK, a recruitment company based at The Wilton Centre, near Redcar, which has battled through the recession and sunken oil price to strengthen its repute.

The business, spawned from a Norwegian endeavour, focuses on various sectors, including the oil, gas renewables and subsea markets, the process and petrochemical industries, and environmental and civil engineering.

It will celebrate its tenth anniversary this summer, and, for Mr Guest, is the latest chapter in a career devoted to helping others.

It’s a period that began as a welding and electrical labourer, a time he admits helped pay back debts to his parents.

It took him across the region, from Nestlé’s Newcastle factory, where he helped fit a Rolo production line, which, at the time was the largest in Europe, to the former Siemens micro-processing plant, in North Tyneside, and Army barracks.

But his ambitions, and a little nudge from the weather, dictated he wouldn’t stay on the tools for too long.

Taking on a role as junior consultant at recruiter Esca Services in the early 1990s, he was charged with placing technical and engineering staff into the industrial and petrochemical sectors.

He said: “It was coming up to winter and the company had an opportunity to become a consultant.

“I learned my trade in there, and moved up to become senior consultant, where I was in charge of the North-East and Scottish division, supplying labour from the Scottish Highlands to the Humber.

“It was a big remit.”

In 2003, Mr Guest joined Solutions Recruitment, in Newcastle, where he helped set up its technical and engineering operation, before he was approached three years later by officials at Techconsult Norway to lend his experience in launching Techconsult UK.

He said: “It was always Techconsult’s plan to go global.

“They had been around for a number of years at the time and had offices in Norway but wanted to expand into Europe.

“They looked at Sweden and Germany, but the UK was always their first choice.

“Norway and the UK have many similarities and likenesses; Aberdeen is similar to Stavanger, with its oil and gas work, Bergen is similar to the North-East and North-West because there is a lot of industrial work, and Oslo is like London.

“The reason it is in the North-East is because I’m in the North-East; I know the area and its market places well.”

But Mr Guest is honest enough to admit the economic downturn, and the enduring oil industry crisis, have made his and Techconsult’s efforts more difficult.

However, he says a determination not to sacrifice its focus on quality has helped.

He added: “For the first four years, we were supplying white-collar staff to the oil and gas industry, but, in 2010, there was a major shift.

“Our clients saw prices were going down and that they were getting squeezed.

“Very quickly we diversified into other sectors; we knew the North-East had a good process and chemical sector, for example.

“It was sink or swim and we have tried not to go down the route of being generalist.

“We have kept to our core value of sticking to the technical businesses because that is where we are strong.

“We work very hard to deliver solutions to our clients, there have been some frustrations, but the rewards if you get it right are good.”

Five minutes with... Steve Guest

Favourite North-East building and why? Durham Cathedral. Externally, the architecture and intricate masonry is magnificent. Internally, it is a wonderful place for peaceful contemplation.

What was your first job and how much did you get paid? My first job after university was as a welder's labourer on the construction of a large gas container in South Bank, Middlesbrough. I earned about £200 a week. I don’t exactly remember what I spent it on, but probably most of it went on paying back my debts to my parents and the rest on going out and beer.

What is the worst job you've had? I have enjoyed all my jobs, however, the one I probably enjoyed the least was when I worked on an Army barracks, in York, as an electrician's labourer. The company was undertaking a full rewire on the Officers’ Quarters, which were built in the 1920s. I was responsible for pulling the new cables through ceiling voids, lofts and under floorboards. It was a rather grimy job.

What would you cook for me if I came around for dinner? Moroccan lamb tagine with jewelled couscous. It is a favourite in the Guest household.

What would your superpower be? Rapid cellular regeneration, just because it would be cool to be able to self-heal if I cut or injured myself.

Name four people, dead or alive, who would be at your perfect dinner party: My grandad. He passed away when I was quite young and I would have loved to have got to know him better; Sir Richard Branson, I have always admired him and his positive attitude towards work. Being able to make a success of all of the businesses he has come into contact with; Rik Mayall, he always had me in stitches in whatever he did and I have a very quirky sense of humour so think we’d get on; Fiona, my wife, I'd want to share the evening with her.


Most expensive thing you've bought - other than car or house - and how much? My wife’s wedding ring (platinum and diamond encrusted). I can’t remember the exact price, but I think I am still paying it off now, nearly 15 years later.

Who is the best person to follow on Twitter and why? From a company perspective, @SocialTalent is great for hints and tips on social media and recruitment trends. Personally I like to follow people that are not afraid of saying what’s on their mind and who make me smile @Iwanrunner (Iwan Thomas) and @IAmChrisRamsey (Chris Ramsey) are great at that.

Favourite book? Steve Jobs' biography. He was a complex fellow and I am sure it would have been a rollercoaster of a ride to work for him.

When did you last cry? At the funeral of an old friend.

What is your greatest achievement? Marrying Fiona my wife who I have known since I was 16 and also bringing up my two beautiful daughters to be independent, resourceful and inquisitive about life.

What's the best piece of advice in business you've ever been given? People run businesses. Look after the people and the business will run itself.

Favourite animal and why? A cat. Just for their pure independence and aloof nature about things. You never truly own a cat, they just tolerate humans being around them.

Most famous person on your mobile phone? John McGovern, famous for captaining Nottingham Forest to two European Cup wins, under Brian Clough. I saw him speak at a sportsman’s dinner and thought he’d be great speaker at an event that I was helping to organise.

What was the last band you saw live? The Funk Collective. They are a local funk band that played at the Stockton Riverside festival and were brilliant.


Describe your perfect night in: A bottle of wine with Fiona, all social media switched off and a DVD box set of Game of Thrones.

In another life I would be... Exactly the same person I am today.

Who would play you in a film of your life? My wife would say Daniel Craig, however, I think that is because she secretly fancies him.

What irritates you? I have a thing for neatness, so untidiness really bugs me. However, I am getting better at being more tolerant…

What's your secret talent? Being able to embarrass my teenage daughters without realising I am doing it.