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



Peterlee-based electrical test and measurement company Seaward has taken on a new cohort of apprentices.

Jack Robinson, Emma Barker and Karl Pollard have joined Seaward’s Calibrationhouse, which undertakes specialist UKAS accredited calibration services for electronic, optical and dimensional test equipment. Elsewhere, Mia Maitland will be an apprentice working across Seaward’s group export activities while Rhys Swan comes in as an operations apprentice.

The five apprentices, who will combine work-based learning with their classroom studies at East Durham and Houghall Community College, will undergo training throughout the business to gain a range of administration, business development and test and measurement skills and experience.

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With an office also in the USA, Seaward currently employs 200 people and is a sector leading manufacturer of electronic test and measurement instruments used in a wide variety of electrical, medical, industrial and energy sector applications.

Wendy Chaplin, HR Business Partner at Seaward, said: “We are proud of our investment in North East talent to help us secure our future resources and the skills - we wish them every success in their apprenticeships with us. I very much look forward to welcoming more apprentices to the business in future as we continue to invest in our growth and development strategy.”



North East-based architecture practice JDDK has appointed a new Director, as the company celebrates a successful year of growth and strong pipeline of projects upcoming in 2024.

Clair Sanders joins fellow Directors Nicky Watson, Mura Mullan and Adam Vaughan. Having been with the business for the last 17 years, Clair was the natural choice when a rare opening for a new Director came up.

Joining the practice in 2006, Clair began her career in architecture at JDDK, after graduating from Newcastle University. She has worked as an Associate Director before moving into her new position earlier this month.

A former co-chair of RIBA North East’s Housing Group, her recent work has included leading new build and conversion social housing projects for clients such as Your Homes Newcastle, Karbon Homes and South Tyneside Council.

She said: “It means a lot to now have the chance to influence our future. I joined the practice as a graduate and the team has played an instrumental role in shaping my career.”

Armstrong Watson

Armstrong Watson has made a key appointment in its growing Corporate Finance team with the hire of new Partner David Wilson.

David, who will be the firm’s North East Corporate Finance Partner, joins Armstrong Watson after eight years with Clive Owen LLP, where he was head of Corporate Finance.

Having worked in local practice for more than 15 years, completing in excess of 100 transactions including MBOs, MBIs, trade acquisitions, disposals PE investments and numerous restructures, David has vast experience of the North East region and the finance market.

His appointment follows the hires of Corporate Finance Executives Ellis Kerton and Jordan Dixon in the last 12 months and comes at a time when Corporate Finance Activity remains buoyant despite increasing interest rates and a threat of recession.

In his new role, David will be responsible for delivering M&A transactions for North East clients and clients across the wider firm, using his experience and knowledge of the region to continue to grow Armstrong Watson’s service offering and provide a first-class service.

He said: “The M&A market faces tough, economic challenges, but I have no doubt that our transactions will remain buoyant due to the ‘can do’ approach of North East entrepreneurs combined with my knowledge and experience of the region’s deal market and the exceptional team at Armstrong Watson.”


Independent technology consultancy Opencast has appointed a head of social impact.

Stef Monaco’s appointment comes months after the company submitted an application for B Corp status – an accreditation designed to measure a company’s social and environmental impact.

The Northern Echo: Stef MonacoStef Monaco (Image: Press release)

Stef, a native of Buenos Aries in Argentina, joined Opencast as a service design lead in the summer of last year, before taking up the newly-created role last month.

She explains: “I was already working in the social impact space for the company, and was helping create a long-term social impact strategy, so I’m delighted to have taken up my new role and my sole focus will now be on Opencast’s social impact agenda.

“Social impact is about the effect an organisation’s action – or inaction – can have on people and communities. Nowadays, people are expecting far more, morally and ethically, from the businesses they work with.”

Once granted, B Corp certification verifies that a business meets high standards of performance, transparency and accountability in areas including employee benefits, charitable giving and supply chain practices.

“There are all sorts of reasons why social impact is important to Opencast,” says Stef. “For instance, it will help us to achieve one of our core values, which is to do the right thing – for our clients, their users, our team and the wider community.

“By having a clear social impact framework and metrics we can showcase its impact to clients – while investing in social impact keeps us ahead of where the market is going, as there’s no doubt the Government is placing more emphasis on this area.

“Lastly, being recognised as a purpose-driven company prioritising social impact gives us a compelling edge in terms of recruiting and retaining staff,” she adds.

Stef has had a varied career since graduating from Pontificia Universidad Católica in Argentina with a degree in international relations.

After jobs teaching English as a second language, Stef moved into marketing, supporting a non-profit organisation in Nicaragua before coming to England in 2012. In the 11 years since arriving, Stef has worked for tech companies, marketing companies and non-profit organisations and charities, including Unicef.

Coleman James

Specialist recruiter Coleman James is celebrating the continued growth of its Built Environment team, amidst several new appointments to its Building Services, Civil Engineering and Construction Divisions.

The Northern Echo: The Coleman James teamThe Coleman James team (Image: Press release)

Over the past few months, the firm has welcomed four recruits. These include Lauren Robson and Jordan Forster as Civil Engineering Senior Consultants. Abigail Lincoln has joined as a Construction Senior Consultant and Ben Bishop has joined the Building Services Division as a Delivery Consultant.

With eight years of experience, Lauren has worked with blue chip organisations including Caterpillar Inc, and is responsible for delivering permanent white-collar candidates within the Civil Engineering Division, while Jordan recruits specialist contractors within the Civil Engineering team. Highly experienced recruiter Abigail works within the Construction team, recruiting white-collar contractors for our long-standing client base.

Meanwhile, Northumbria University graduate Ben Bishop adds additional support to the Building Services team, working alongside experienced Associate Director Robyn Haswell.

Coleman James partners with a range of Tier 1, national, regional, specialist and sub-contractors, as well as M&E contractors and design consultancies, including: Meldrum Group, Kier Construction, EQUANS, SES Engineering Services, TClarke and Dalkia.

Founder and Managing Director, Andrew Mackay, said; “Confident, experienced and credible, each individual is a mature, high-calibre professional we’re excited to have onboard.

“Not only do they embody our core values of relationships, integrity, knowledge and excellence, but they have impressed the team with their proactive, positive attitudes and dedication to delivering tangible results for their clients and candidates. They have all brought a great amount of energy and drive.”