A NORTH-EAST business entrepreneur is to take a step back in time by returning to the classroom to help point modern day students towards future success.

Paul Mackings, 58, chief executive of land and property development company Cameron Hall Developments, hopes his first visit to South Tyneside College in 40 years will inspire its current crop of learners.

The former Newcastle Falcons CEO will lead two hour-long free masterclass motivation sessions – being hosted by BBC Tees DJ Paul ‘Goffy’ Gough – on Monday, November 25.

Whitburn-born Paul, 58, who lives with his wife in Cleadon, South Tyneside, will tell how taking night classes at the college in the late 1970s changed his life.

The father-of-two credits his two years of studying digital electronics at the end of his working day as helping pave his path to later riches.

At 16, he joined the college on day release as an apprentice electrician, during which time he identified the dawning of the age of digital electronics.

A year later, he decided to improve his career chances by studying the subject twice-a-week at night under his own steam.

Paul believes the qualifications he gained unlocked opportunities that have directly led to him becoming one of the North East’s most successful and respected company bosses.

He said: “I left school with just a few qualifications. I was bright but did not apply myself and was not committed to learning.

“I got an apprenticeship when I left school and it was then that I realised the power of qualifications to get you where you want to be, and I really started to knuckle down.

“I can honestly say that the best thing that ever happened to me was enrolling at South Tyneside College – it focused me on the importance of learning and education.

“I became self-motivated and knew that I had to work hard to get the things I wanted. Digital electronics was just coming in and I saw it as the future, which it has become.

“Going to South Tyneside College really made a difference. Without it, I couldn’t be where I am today.”

Paul added: “I’m very much looking forward to returning to the college, it’s a place that helped shaped my future.

“It really is a case of wanting to give something back to my local community and talking to students, and hopefully inspiring them, is one way I can do that.

“Looking back, the college has been responsible for shaping my life in so many ways, even though I didn’t necessarily know it at the time.

“I’ve followed its progress over the years with a keen interest and I hope I can inspire and give encouragement to students there now.”

Paul’strack record of business success began in 1980 when he worked as a services director, and later operations director, at a dealership of office equipment firm NEP Canon.

During eight years of leadership in which he managed a team of 30 engineers, he boosted turnover to £8m.

In 1990 he was appointed managing director of TWP Waste Management and Recycling which he later bought for £1.2m and sold for £6m, in 1995.

Between 1995 and 2002 he was managing director of Vimac Nursing and Residential Homes whose asset value he doubled.

Since 2001 he has been chairman of Kymel Leisure, which operates a portfolio of award-winning North East and Yorkshires hospitality brands, including Spanish City at Whitley Bay.

In 2009, he became CEO of Cameron Hall Developments, the company founded by former Newcastle United chairman and MetroCentre entrepreneur Sir John Hall, a position he still holds.

Within the sporting arena, his business pedigree has seen him serve as chief executive of West Hartlepool rugby club, between 1996 and 1997, and with Newcastle Falcons, between 1997 and 2000.

Dr Lindsey Whiterod CBE, chief executive of Tyne Coast College, of which South Tyneside College is part, said: “Through talent, endeavour and hard work, Paul has been an incredible success within the world of business.

“As an entrepreneur, he has made a significant mark on the North East, a region which benefits greatly from his expertise and experience.

“It is always with pride and pleasure that I learn of the success of our former students, and it is wonderful to know the positive impact this college has had on Paul’s life and career.

“We aim to inspire students in their careers and to arm them with the skills and qualifications that count. I’m sure Paul’s business masterclass will inspire them further still.”