One of the region's most prominent academics has spoken about it being on a 'strong upward trajectory' as she prepares to address a key business event on Thursday.

The Northern Echo's Level Up campaign will be at the the Riverside stadium - home of Durham County Cricket Club - on Thursday to host a panel discussion on talent and recruitment in the region. With experts from a range of sectors, we will be looking at strategies to attract, retain and develop the right people in the right roles.

The keynote speech will be given by Prof Claire O’Malley, Pro Vice-Chancellor (Global) at Durham University, before the panel discussion, and then networking over lunch.

  • Get your FREE tickets for Thursday's event HERE

We asked Prof O'Malley for her thoughts on her role, the region's performance and the potential of a highly-skilled workforce.

Q: Could you briefly outline your background and role at the university?

"As Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Global) I’m responsible for the strategic leadership and implementation of Durham University’s international agenda. I’m also the University’s strategic lead for local and regional engagement. My academic expertise is in psychology and I have previously worked at universities in the UK, USA and Malaysia.

The Northern Echo: The Level Up event will be discussing talent and recruitmentThe Level Up event will be discussing talent and recruitment (Image: Newsquest)

Q: What is your opinion of how well the North East is performing as a region?

"North East England is on a strong upward trajectory. We’re working with partners to ensure that continues and accelerates. We are a world-leading university and proudly part of North East England. As we approach our 200th anniversary, an independent study has shown we’re worth £650m GVA to North East England and support over 11,000 jobs.

Q: The event will be discussing growing and attracting talent to the region – are we succeeding at that from an international viewpoint?

"Durham is a global university: we have over 120 countries represented among our staff and students; over 40% of our academic staff were born outside the UK.

"We’re internationalising and diversifying our student intake, as well as recruiting more students from our region and underrepresented backgrounds. We’re regularly ranked one of the most international universities worldwide, and we’re working hard to attract more of our graduates to stay and build their careers in the region."

The panel on Thursday, drawn from partners who have supported our Level Up campaign to bring more investment and jobs to the region, will be:

Julie Brayson, Director of Culture and Transformation at believe housing

David Hodgson OEM Account Manager at Cummins

Tees Valley mayor Ben Houchen

Amy Harhoff, Corporate Director Economy, Regeneration and Growth at Durham County Council, our event partners

Mark Wilkinson, Commercial Director of razorblue group

Helen Easton, Director of People and Culture at Darlington Building Society

Alan Kennedy Managing Associate at law firm Womble Bond Dickinson