Appointments: Experienced team appointed to support Tees Valley SMEs

The Tees Valley Business Compass team has been created to help SMEs in the Tees Valley realise their potential for expansion and growth

Gillian Baker, Stephen Carey and Graeme Foster of Tees Valley Business Compass
Gillian Baker, Stephen Carey and Graeme Foster of Tees Valley Business Compass

A Tees Valley partnership that supports small and medium-sized businesses has welcomed on board three new team members.

The Tees Valley Business Compass team has been created to help SMEs in the Tees Valley realise their potential for expansion and growth. The three new recruits – Stephen Carey, Gillian Baker and Graeme Foster – all bring a wealth of experience to their new roles which will strengthen Business Compass’s already strong offer to local businesses.

Tees Valley Business Compass, a partnership between Tees Valley Unlimited (TVU), the five Tees Valley local authorities and a number of other public and private-sector partners, is a support service for small and medium businesses in the area that offers advice and guidance on how they can access the most appropriate support to help them to achieve their growth potential.

Stephen and Gillian have both taken up roles as growth hub SME advisers. Within these roles, they are responsible for engaging directly with SMEs across Tees Valley and establishing Business Compass as the first port of call for business support in the area.

Much of their work will also focus on making businesses aware of the support that is available including how to access different types of finance and grants, help to train staff, mentoring and coaching, advice on product development and how to export products.

Stephen has more than 35 years’ experience working with SMEs through previous roles including working at BT as well as first-hand experience running his own IT and procurement consultancy.

He said: “I have always enjoyed working directly with small and medium businesses, helping them to grow or to resolve issues and problems as well as supporting their ambitions to grow. This is what I’ve done for the vast majority of my career, whether it be during over 20 years working with BT or during my time running my own business.

I believe I have a good understanding of the issues which businesses face, having both witnessed them in other businesses and faced some of them myself.

“These are exciting times for Tees Valley so I’m very pleased to be part of the Tees Valley Business Compass team.”

Gillian is also bringing experience of working both in business supporting roles and running her own companies. She set up an accountancy firm and later a multimedia company before going on to work for Teesside University.

Gillian, who lives in Stockton, said: “I was attracted to the role with Business Compass as it utilises my past experience helping SMEs maximise opportunities and access the relevant support available to them.

“As well as providing support to local businesses, Business Compass is also playing a vital role in the economic success of the Tees Valley and it’s really rewarding to be part of that.”

Graeme Foster, from Hartlepool, has been appointed as growth gub supply chain officer. He will be working with companies and stakeholders to understand and help develop key manufacturing supply chains in the Tees Valley.

Graeme, who has more than 20 years’ experience in the electronics manufacturing sector, said: “I previously worked in the private sector for companies including Samsung and Valeo and more recently with voluntary and community sector organisations in the Tees Valley on an infrastructure development programme.

“I’m looking forward to working with Tees Valley companies to help them to develop and strengthen their position in existing supply chains and identifying opportunities for them to diversify into new supply chains within the Tees Valley and beyond into national and international markets.”

Stephen Catchpole, managing director of TVU, said: “We’re pleased to welcome Graeme, Gillian and Stephen to the team. The experience and knowledge they are bringing to Tees Valley Business Compass is second to none. Their appointments will serve to strengthen the already high level of support we currently provide to businesses within the Tees Valley.”

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