MICHAELA Reaney is a force to be reckoned with.

At just 31, Middlesbrough-born Ms Reaney is at the helm of an award-winning company rapidly growing its footprint across the UK.

Gradvert is a training and graduate recruitment business that has established itself as a trusted partner of big-name brands like Go-Ahead and British Athletics, alongside a string of universities, and is setting the pace when it comes to bringing together the worlds of education and business.

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She said: “It’s been an incredible journey seeing Gradvert grow from an idea to a business that is growing significantly.

“When you have a vision and believe in something, it is really amazing to see that become a reality and this year, I think we will really begin to realise our potential.

“The most exciting thing is seeing the value we are able to add to our clients and to the graduates and employees we support in the process.

“It’s really special when you see what the people we work with are capable of, and you are able to support them in realising that.”

The law graduate was 27 when she took a leap of faith and set up Gradvert with two co-founders, who she had met during her time with management consultancy Blackswan.

The company was initially based in Seaham, east Durham, but relocated to Newcastle almost two years ago, and has since taken on a Midlands office to aid its expansion in the area.

She said: “What started as a chat gradually developed into a firm business idea, and it became something we believed in wholeheartedly and just had to make a go of.

“People said to me not to do it, and that it was risky, but when you know you have come up with something that can make a difference, and you can see there is a gap in the market, it almost becomes unthinkable not to go with it.

“I don’t think I ever worried about my relatively tender age.

“I knew I had amassed enough experience to make Gradvert work.

“We got off to a great start.”

The firm quickly signed deals with a strong set of clients, and was on an upward trajectory when Ms Reaney took sole control in 2015.

Since then, the company has spread its wings, with ten members of staff and with plans to further expand the team throughout the year.

With a clear vision to align the needs of the education sector to the world of work, Ms Reaney has set out on a mission to ensure every graduate leaves university with the skills and experience to successfully secure a role and meet the needs of industry.

Once they enter industry, the focus is then on businesses continuing to offer the highest standard of ongoing support and training to ensure the region and the UK has the most highly-skilled people to drive its businesses.

“People power businesses”, she said.

“Gradvert is focused on ensuring our clients have the most highly-prized employees possible and in the process, we create a stronger workforce for everyone to tap into.

“It’s easy for business to focus on the here and now, but investing in people not only delivers an immediate benefit, it delivers a long-term one too.

“Skilled people are what will sustain our industries into the future, creating strong economies, underpinned by talent that will always have the tools to win the day.

“Investing in people is, put simply, an investment in the future.”

Five minutes with…Michaela Reaney

Favourite North-East building and why? The Transporter Bridge. Okay, it is not quite a building, but it is an iconic Teesside landmark and it always feels like home when I see it. So much so that I've recently bought a print of it.

What was your first job and how much did you get paid? Minimum wage and working as a Saturday girl in a shop although I had several money making schemes running as a child and teenager with varying degrees of success.

What is the worst job you've had? Working in a transport office for a haulage company. It was freezing cold in the cabins even in the summer.

What would you cook for me if I came around for dinner? Probably something Thai. I really enjoyed learning how to cook some of the Thai favourites while I was travelling and working in Chang Mai a few years ago. They are simple but impressive when cooking for family and friends.

What would your superpower be? Flight. It would be practical in terms of travel and I love to explore new places. Plus we would save a fortune on train tickets.

Name four people, dead or alive, who would be at your perfect dinner party: Michel Roux Jr, Kate Adie, George Michael and Jo Brand.

Most expensive thing you've bought - other than car or house - and how much? A Tag Heure Monaco watch for my 30th birthday present. Having a friend in the trade helped to get a discount but it’s still the most expensive thing I own.

Who is the best person to follow on Twitter and why? Jonathan Fields, founder of the Good Life Project, shares interesting content from across the globe and his insights from ‘deep dive’ podcasts with leaders, business owners and many other inspiring people are great.

Favourite book? This is really difficult to answer. I am in a book club, which has broadened my taste in books and it has pushed me to read things I wouldn’t normally choose. Recent favourites that I have been introduced to include the Harlan Coben crime thrillers – they’re easy reads but fantastic twists that keep you hooked. A great way to relax after a busy day.

When did you last cry? I’m not a big crier but probably when I found out that someone close to me is very ill.

What is your greatest achievement? Sticking to my instincts and building a business when everyone told me not to. It has taken a lot of self-belief but I couldn’t be more proud of the Gradvert team and the partnerships we’ve created across the UK.

What's the best piece of advice in business you've ever been given? Take a step back and celebrate your successes before rushing into the next goal/objective. Allowing yourself time to review, reflect and be thankful for what you have achieved. Gratitude is a powerful thing.

Favourite animal and why? Dogs – loyal, loving and one of the family.

Most famous person on your mobile phone? Lady Michelle Mone or Ruby Wax.

What was the last band you saw live? Fleetwood Mac at Ziggodome, in Amsterdam. They’ve still got star quality.

Describe your perfect night in: I find it difficult to stay in and do nothing so for me it would be cooking up a big meal and inviting my closest friends over for a catch up.

In another life I would be... A travel writer.

Who would play you in a film of your life? Kate Winslet. She’s classic, approachable and doesn’t take herself too seriously.

What irritates you? People who are late.

What's your secret talent? I’m pretty handy with a firearm.