“WHEN I was in London, with all the hustle and the bustle, I always found coming back to the North-East was like a detox.”

Susan Bell may have worked in the city, but she knows where her heart belongs.

For the Waterstons chief executive, the feeling of finding comfort in your surroundings is something that resonates strongly.

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Emphasising the point, her voice lifts as she talks about the magnetism of the North-East to reveal her fondness for the region is close to becoming further ingrained.

A farmer’s daughter, she is converting a former cow byre into a home on the County Durham and Northumberland border.

It may sound a daunting prospect, but her excitement is tangible and her story offers a moment to reminisce about times past and the warmth of family life.

The former analyst and programmer, who became executive director at UBS Investment Bank in the City, admits her thoughts were never too far away from home.

She said: “I always had the desire to live and work back up here.

“I don’t know whether that’s because I’m a farmer’s daughter and have been brought up in a family environment or if it’s something about the North-East.

“There is a magnetic pull to come back here.

“The byre is very exciting and it will be nestled in the valley and have a beautiful view.”

As chief executive at business and IT consultancy Waterstons, which is based on the outskirts of Durham City, Miss Bell’s working life may seem a world away from her beginnings on the farm.

But the two do have a link.

Technology plays a crucial part in Waterstons’ services, be it through consultation or software adaptation, but it is also the bedrock of why Miss Bell finds herself in her chosen career today.

Reflecting on the farming industry’s use of computers to monitor animal feeds and milk testing, she said: “My dad was a dairy farmer and was always interested in technology and how he could apply it in farming.

“I remember he had a computer system for the cows.

“I was fascinated by it and such innovative ways to use technology to solve everyday problems is something that has stayed with me.”

Her enduring passion is also having a lasting effect on Waterstons.

The business, founded 22 years ago by Sally and Mike Waterston, is growing at a strong pace.

Supplemented by a London base, it has enjoyed a six-fold profit increase in the last year and taken on 25 staff over the same period.

Ms Bell says the success is paving the way for more expansion, with potential office openings in Manchester and Scotland.

To support its growth, the business will need further staff and is holding a recruitment evening on Wednesday, October 5.

However, Miss Bell says the business will never lose sight, or hold, of its North-East roots.

She added: “We are always looking for excellent people and encourage everyone to think big.

“Working for a company like Waterstons is at the complete other end of the spectrum (from working in London).

“I thought I worked with extremely bright people in London but here it’s different again; we have people with first-class maths degrees and astrophysicists.

“We believe in getting it right first time and they are the ones answering the calls from people.

“They have that drive and Mike and Sally have also instilled a sense of value too.

“We have a flexible approach and have a breadth and depth of expertise.

“The philosophy is not about the hours spent in the office, it’s more about the outcomes.

“The clients we work with are growing more and more, so demand is high, but our headquarters are, and always will be, in Durham.

“The challenge is getting the skills here in the North-East and we work closely with the universities and share our time with them to raise the business’ profile and attract their graduates.

“We are the one-stop-shop for businesses.”

For more information about Waterstons’ recruitment event, which runs between 4pm and 7pm at its Belmont Business Park base, contact 0345-094-0945 or visit waterstons.com

Five minutes with... Susan Bell

Favourite North-East building and why? An old cow byre in Northumberland; it is soon to become my home. Otherwise, the iconic Sage building and quayside area of Newcastle. They were always a welcoming sight on my trip back to the North when I lived in London.

What was your first job and how much did you get paid? My first office job was at International Paints, in Felling, as a placement student. I think my salary was about £6,500 pa.

What is the worst job you've had? Fruit picking. I have an irrational and ridiculous phobia of slugs, so picking strawberries on a dewy morning was not the greatest job I have ever had.

What would you cook for me if I came around for dinner? Fajitas (using my mother’s recipe). It’s a tasty, tried and tested great dish for sharing with friends.

What would your superpower be? Being in two places at the same time. What a blessing that would be.

Name four people, dead or alive, who would be at your perfect dinner party: I am blessed with the perfect dinner guests every Sunday. My parents host with my sisters and their families. Otherwise, Tim Peake, Dame Stella Rimington, Peter Kay and James Martin.

Most expensive thing you've bought - other than car or house - and how much? Holidays. I enjoy travelling and have spent a small fortune on trips to places like Peru, Kenya and India.

Who is the best person to follow on Twitter and why? Still trying to find that person.

Favourite book? Rebecca, by Daphne du Maurier.

When did you last cry? Watching Victoria and Lord M.

What is your greatest achievement? My daughter.

What's the best piece of advice in business you've ever been given? Always take on a role that makes you slightly uneasy. It keeps you sharp and challenged – Sally Waterston.

Favourite animal and why? Cows. They have an inquisitive nature and beautiful long lashes.

Most famous person on your mobile phone: None.

What was the last band you saw live? The Moonstones at our company celebration at the Wylam Brewery.

Describe your perfect night in: An intimate dinner with friends and family or a Saturday night in with my daughter mimicking the dancing on Strictly.

In another life I would be... an interior designer.

Who would play you in a film of your life? Keeley Hawes. I think she is a fabulous actress from Ashes to Ashes to Line of Duty and The Durrells.

What irritates you? Poor communication.

What's your secret talent? Attracting midges (after a recent trip to Kielder).