A NORTH-EAST building society has invested in the future of the business by attracting experts with a wealth of experience in a range of key roles.

Darlington Building Society's latest recruits include Gemma Dickinson (Head of Learning and Development); Mark Watson (Senior Regulatory Reporting Manager); Jonathan Hedley (Business Intelligence Team Lead); Ian Oyston (IT Operations Manager); Duncan Fitzpatrick (Balance Sheet Manager); and Rachel Dalby (Head of Marketing and Communications).

Gemma, who hails from Sunderland, brings more than 20 years’ experience in human resources, specialising in learning and development.

She said: “Darlington Building Society is an exceptional employer, with a real emphasis on looking after its people.”

Mark Watson, who hails from Belfast, spent 17 years with the Progressive Building Society, having started his career as an office junior. His last eight years were in a senior regulatory role.

“Darlington Building Society felt like a great fit because of the friendly culture, and it offered me an opportunity to progress my career,” said Mark.

Jonathan Hedley started his working life as a support worker in the pathology department of Sunderland Royal Hospital, before becoming a data assurance analyst.

After 18 years in the NHS, he spent a year working for an IT company, Atos, before joining Darlington Building Society in a newly-created role, using data insights to improve the business.

Jonathan said: “Everyone is so friendly, and I love the way the Society is so supportive of the community. It’s just a great place to be.”

Stockton-born Ian Oyston nurtured his interest in IT during an after-school club as a child, and represented the UK in the International Youth Skills Olympics, winning a gold medal.

Before joining Darlington Building Society, he had worked for six years managing a growing IT team at training and education specialist, Learning Curve Group.

“With Darlington Building Society, it’s all about the members and the local community, not just profits,” said Ian.

Duncan Fitzpatrick grew up in Chester-le-Street and, after university, became an accountant with ACC Distribution, an arm of the Co-op.

Duncan then spent 15 years at Newcastle Building Society before moving to Cumberland Building Society as Balance Sheet Manager four years ago. He did consultancy work for Deloitte last year before coming to Darlington Building Society.

Duncan said: “With the development of online banking, there’s huge potential for growth and we can be the ones who do it best.”

Rachel Dalby, below, was born and raised in Stockton-on-Tees and brings more than 25 years’ experience in marketing and communications with a particular focus on the financial services, professional services, and construction sectors.

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She said: “As a Society, we put members before profit, and we put a real emphasis on improving member engagement and member experiences, products and both online and in-branch services.”