A BUSINESSiQ round-up of the key moves at influential companies around the North East - who’s in and who’s out


Begbies Traynor

The Teesside operation of rescue and recovery specialist Begbies Traynor has strengthened its team with the addition of experienced insolvency director Claire Dowson who is relocating from the firm’s Sheffield office and returning to her roots in the North East.

With 18 years’ experience in insolvency, Claire joined Begbies Traynor in Sheffield in 2015 having already passed the JEIB exams to become a licensed Insolvency Practitioner. She has extensive knowledge of all aspects of corporate insolvency.

Claire, who was born in Darlington and still has family in the region, said: “The continued growth of our Teesside office provides a great opportunity for me to help bolster our offering to the North East market, while also returning to live and work in a region I know and love.

“I’m excited to be joining the team here in Teesside, adding capacity and knowledge to further grow our offering to businesses across the region at such a challenging time.”

Ian Royle, partner for Begbies Traynor who leads the Teesside office, said: “Over the last 12 months, our Teesside operation has seen record levels of clients requiring the firm’s services and in such a tough economic climate, it’s vital that we have experts like Claire on hand to support them.”


Rigel Medical

Peterlee’s biomedical device test and measurement specialist Rigel Medical has appointed a new engineer as it invests in developing its international capabilities and customer operations.

Bringing extensive technical and product engineering experience and expertise to the role, Donavan Loader has moved across from Seaward Electronic to support the Rigel Medical product portfolio across UK and international markets.

His overall responsibilities will see him ensure the integration and optimal performance of test equipment, while duties include the delivery of training and workshops along with technical assistance to customers and distributor support.

The appointment of Donavan, who originally joined Seaward as a technical support engineer in 2018, comes at a time when the market for advanced biomed safety and performance test products continues to show strong growth - revenue in the UK medical technology market is projected to reach in excess of £15bn in 2023.

He said: “Rigel Medical continues to build a strong reputation and presence in the industry at a time when the market is rapidly growing. I look forward to working alongside a team focused on providing high quality products, unsurpassed customer service, and innovation that adapts and expands to meet market standards.”



Newcastle law firm Muckle has added another solicitor to its ranks, strengthening the firm’s employment and business immigration offerings.

Teesside-based Imaan Choudry advises clients on all aspects of employment law, ranging from day-to-day HR advice to more complex matters such as tribunal claims and employment law disputes.

Prior to joining Muckle, Imaan studied MLaw at Northumbria University before working and qualifying at a national law firm, specialising in employment and business immigration law.

She said: “I chose to specialise in employment and business immigration law as I enjoy the variety that it brings, as well as the ability to work directly with clients.”

Partner Chris Maddock said: “We’re delighted to welcome Imaan. Her appointment strengthens our employment team and diversifies our business immigration capabilities.”



An experienced leader in digital transformation has returned to her native North East to help power the expansion of one of the UK’s fastest-growing tech consultancies.

The Northern Echo: Janet OnyiaJanet Onyia (Image: Press release)
Janet Onyia, who grew up in South Shields, has moved back to the region from Scotland to take up the newly created role of director of transformation and change at Opencast.
After completing a degree in politics and international relations and business at the University of Aberdeen, Janet worked for the Scottish government’s international development agency and a manufacturing and services company before being appointed a senior technology strategy consultant at the University of Edinburgh.
Based in the Scottish capital, she then moved to Lloyds Bank as a project manager and scrum master and then on to professional services giant Accenture where she was a strategy and operations delivery lead.
“I’d been looking for a new challenge and I also wanted to return to the North East, so the timing of this new role was perfect for me,” says Janet, who has moved to Newcastle.
“I firmly believe in doing good while also doing well – of a firm having a purpose, but also being successful and sustainable. This is exactly what I saw with Opencast – the company’s values align perfectly with mine and I’m so happy to contribute to something special.”
Janet’s role, a new one within Opencast, is to oversee all transformational activities within the company, with a specific focus on change management. Since 2022 the company has more than doubled in size, and opened city hubs in London, Edinburgh, Leeds and Glasgow.
She said: “I want to ensure we have the right fundamentals and foundations in place for further expansion. I’ll be focusing on our internal change management and transformation activities to allow us to keep growing at the rapid rate we’ve been expanding.”
Janet is a fellow at Founders of the Future, a programme for the UK’s most promising tech entrepreneurs and a non-exec board member of Sheffield Hallam University. In 2021, Janet was named in Google’s UK top 10 list of black business role models.



Leading North East financial advisory firm, Lowes Financial Management, has strengthened its leadership team with the appointment of its first Commercial Director.

The Northern Echo: Barry HopperBarry Hopper (Image: Press release)
Barry Hopper, 53, takes up the new role after working in various positions within the multi-award-winning Newcastle-based IFA for almost 20 years.
His experience within Lowes means he has a strong knowledge of the business, with a unique understanding of the needs of clients and the role advisers play in their lives, helping them achieve their financial goals.
He also brings a valuable corporate experience to the role having previously worked as a Financial Director for Sage, and before that within British Airways for around eight years.
Barry said: “It’s an exciting time to be taking up this new role. With a degree in accountancy, I bring a combined understanding of corporate and personal finance to the job. I believe I can add some value to the board while appreciating the vital role our advisers play in growing the firm.
“Pre-pandemic I was advising Lowes clients across the UK, from Glasgow to Southampton, and of course the North East. Since early 2022, I have been more involved in Business Development strengthening our professional connections.
“My new role will see me maintain a business development focus, while supporting Ian Lowes and the board more. I will be helping drive the business forward with a renewed emphasis on clients, our people and company value.”
Ian Lowes, MD of Lowes Financial Management, said: “For a successful business with a 50-year history under our belt, we need a dynamic board and team to drive the business forwards, to cement Lowes as the largest and best IFA in the North East.
“Barry will be important to ensuring Lowes continues to expand our client base while strengthening our growing national reputation.”