KRIS Baker-Rain isn’t afraid to get his hands dirty.

As general manager at Probio Energy, a waste-to-energy company based in Hartlepool, such an attitude may not come as a surprise.

However, the former RBS senior area branch manager, who was charged with overseeing the progress of its banks from Darlington to Berwick, really does know all about mucking in.

He chuckles as he recalls its very definition, recounting experiences of cleaning up drinkers’ excesses in Newcastle’s Grey Street the morning after the night before.

Today, Mr Baker-Rain remains equally hands-on, though nowadays he concentrates on diverting rubbish away from landfill.

Probio is known for providing biomass and waste-to-energy fuels, for helping turn waste wood into panel board or supplying it as a source of power to create steam and energy for factories.

It also helps give natural wood a new lease of life in kitchen tops and bolsters cement production by shredding tyres.

Earlier this year, it announced a deal to export 100,000 tonnes of UK waste to Scandinavia for heating in homes, and is continuing to expand through partnerships with companies including Hartlepool-based recycler, Niramax, and major power firms, such as Eon and Vattenfall.

It’s a very different environment from the cosy surroundings of a bank, but Mr Baker-Rain says he wouldn’t have it any other way.

A key facet in that belief comes from the fact he has retained his personal approach to business.

Where once he would help banking customers through their financial issues with a friendly discussion in an office, now he’s more likely to be found abroad, ensuring clients’ deliveries are being met, or overseeing quality inspection on the production line.

But just how did a bank manager become an expert in waste?

The 32-year-old said: “When the banking bubble burst, the company was cutting down more and more on staff and the work just got too much.

“I found it really hard; it felt like we’d had our wings clipped.

“The bank didn’t know where it was going and it wasn’t the bank I knew.

“The hardest part for me was speaking to people and having to say to them, ‘I can’t do it’.

“We went from being quite highly-regarded people to being thought of as the lowest of the low.

“It was very hard for me because I was so customer-focused, I would always find a solution to their problems.”

Recycling, it seems, plays an important part in Mr Baker-Rain’s life, be it his career or the focus of his business.

He said: “Moving into the energy sector was a learning curve, but I enjoyed it.

“It was do or die and I re-invented myself.

“At Probio we are passionate about what we do and passionate about being forward-thinking too.

“I’m always the first point of contact for everyone and take a lot of pride and care in what we do.”

But, he says, there are facets of the industry he’d like to revamp, most notably people’s perceptions of waste and the UK’s stature in the waste-from-energy market, which he says lags behind European rivals.

He said: “I think sometimes people don’t really understand that companies are out there and are diverting waste from landfill and creating a circular economy.

“I don’t know if they are not bothered but, once you do talk to them, they are interested.

“Once you sit them down and explain, they are fascinated.

“Working around Europe, you see the mindsets are totally different; everyone in the schools is taught from an early age about waste.

“However, we are moving in the right direction.”

Five minutes with... Kris Baker-Rain

Favourite North-East building and why? There isn’t a specific building that I prefer, but I do love Grey Street, in Newcastle. Having worked there for many years, it’s such a pretty place first thing on a summer morning.

What was your first job and how much did you get paid? Telesales for Budget Windows. My hourly wage was £3.90 plus commission.

What is the worst job you've had? I’ve never had a bad job, I’ve always made the most of the opportunities that have come my way. My most challenging role was area manager for Royal Bank of Scotland, particularly during the recession.

What would you cook for me if I came around for dinner? I’d take you to Hotel du Vin, in Newcastle. I’m not a fan of mess at home and my work involves entertaining a lot of international clients and I do tend to eat out a lot. Hotel du Vin is like my second home.

What would your superpower be? My role at Probio Energy involves a lot of travel and I spend a lot of my time at airports and flying, so it would be the ability to transport myself from one place to another with the click of a finger.

Name four people, dead or alive, who would be at your perfect dinner party: This is a hard question. A dinner table with four others and me (I’m presuming I wouldn’t have to cook or we might have a problem) it would have to be: Sir Richard Branson; Ricky Martin; The Moffatts, from Gogglebox - I would need all three there for comedy value - and Madam Clicquot. She could provide the drinks.

Most expensive thing you've bought - other than car or house - and how much? That would have to be my watch. It’s probably best I don’t say how much it cost.

Who is the best person to follow on Twitter and why? Having grown up in Newcastle, I do take an interest in an old school friend of mine who is now a singer/judge as I like to see what she’s up these days.

Favourite book? I tend to like an autobiography but usually on auto book. I listen to them when travelling and love to find out about a person’s journey.

When did you last cry? I’m quite controlled when it comes to emotions, however, where animals are concerned that’s a different story. I recently had to say goodbye to my cat Raule. Taking the decision to end his pain was just awful.

What is your greatest achievement? Being appointed as bank manager at the age of 23 for Royal Bank of Scotland, in Newcastle, followed by a change in industry four years ago from banking to the energy sector.

What's the best piece of advice in business you've ever been given? It was actually from my business studies teacher at Walker Technology College, Miss Page. She said if you fail to plan, you plan to fail. I think of this quote daily and also plan everything to the last detail. It appears to have worked well so far.

Favourite animal and why? Giraffe. They always make me smile.

Most famous person on your mobile phone? In my eyes, anyone that makes it into my phone book is famous in his or her own way.

What was the last band you saw live? I’m not really a band person, I’m much prefer the London’s West End theatre.

Describe your perfect night in: An open fire and a bottle of Rioja.

In another life I would be... A house cat in a loving home. I could only wish for the life my cats have.

Who would play you in a film of your life? Michael Parr.

What irritates you? Nothing annoys me more than a person eating loudly. I tend to pick up on little details and sounds the average person wouldn’t even notice.

What's your secret talent? My other half is always telling me off for this, but I do tend to have the ability to strike up a conversation with anyone.