Mike graduated from Newcastle University with a Science degree but found himself running timber factories rather than doing any science. So he packed that in and helped start an electronics business that was developed and sold to a public company 4 years later. With a bit of free time and a bit more money on his hands he enrolled on Durham University’s MBA programme where he met his future business partner Prof Geoff Lancaster. Together they developed Durham Associates with Mike doing the consultancy work and Geoff doing the networking. Mike developed the Group and set up new divisions in education and training which eventually won them the Queen’s Award for Export in 1999. Mike has been active as a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Marketing and is currently President of the local region. Mike describes himself as a reluctant entrepreneur – forced by circumstance to embrace the principles that have taken Durham Associates from a one man band to a Group that employs around 40 people and lives in its own headquarters in a refurbished brewery. He’s glad to pass on any wisdom that might have stuck over the years, and save people re-inventing the wheel.X
Dave began his career in newspapers working as a reporter and industrial correspondent for the Hartlepool Mail and Sunderland Echo. He then joined Tyne Tees Television to launch the Middlesbrough news operation before moving to Newcastle to become News Editor and later became Head of News and Sport for five years. Dave has studied television news in North America and has attended a summer school held by the Magid Institute of Iowa (the leading training workshop for News Directors in the US). While working for Tyne Tees Dave won awards for writing and producing a comedy/documentary on Aids called “Educating Oz” and starring Jimmy Nail and Tim Healy in their Auf Wiedersehn Pet roles. He was also a member of the team which won the Best British Documentary Award for "Crying in the Dark" based on the Cleveland Child Abuse Controversy. Dave was also in charge of the news gathering team which was recognised for its coverage of the Iraqi supergun.
During his time with DA Group, Dave has led a video production team which has worked for a number of clients including Northumbrian Water, Sabic, Cameron’s Brewery, Durham County Council, Hartlepool Borough Council (Tall Ships Race 2010), and North Yorkshire County Council. Public Relations clients include North East Water and Northumbrian Water, Shepherd Homes, Pubmaster and Castle Eden Brewery. Dave has also developed a one day media training course which has been described as the “best course of any kind I have ever been on” by a senior education executive at Durham County Council, and earned the following comment from a leading psychiatric consultant: “It was the best media training I have had and actually set me up to feel confident to do it.” Media Relations clients include several NHS Trusts, Northumbrian Water, Durham County Council, County Durham Fire and Rescue and Transco.X
Prior to joining the board of directors, Tom took on various roles in Media Resources and Promotions for J Sainsbury’s PLC, ILEA (Inner London Education Authority) and Sunderland Polytechnic. He later put his qualifications as a Chartered Designer to good use and became a partner in B&S Design before its merger with Durham Associates.
He manages to form and maintain successful client relationships with senior level marketers. Many would say that this is down to Tom’s likeable and honest nature and that his approach underpins the values of DA Group.
Tom embraced the digital age and became an expert in the field of email marketing, gaining particular experience in the hotel and health sectors. His strategic recommendation that DA Group give particular focus to email marketing has had a significant impact on the shape of the business today.
Tom takes a keen interest in the evolution of email marketing, particularly the impact of targeting and pursing the idea that less is more. He loves that every day brings an entirely new digital challenge that stretches his ageing analogue brain!X
Jon graduated from Durham University in 1996 with a degree in Business Economics and an MSc in International and Corporate Finance. He joined DA Group a year later and became a Director in 2003.
Jon’s skills in databases and programming were key to DA Group’s move into digital media, both online and offline. Jon has led the development work on our suite of marketing products, including Inboxx, as well as being responsible for IT within the Group. Jon is always looking at ways of improving our products and making sure that they can be customised to exactly fit our clients’ needs.
Outside the office Jon is a Parish Councillor, a charity Trustee and Treasurer and Chairman of his local scout group.
Liz joined DA Group as Commercial Director in 2014, having worked with us on a consultancy basis for a number of years. She is responsible for our group commercial strategy, client strategy, key partnerships and commercial product development.
Previously Liz worked for Bauer Media for 10 years, most recently as Head of Commercial Programming for Kiss. Here she managed multi-platform branded content (radio, online, mobile, social media, brand-partnerships and events) with responsibility for growing revenue and delivering effective and engaging content for advertisers and audiences. As part of the management team, Liz was responsible for the strategic planning of the Kiss brand to ensure delivery of Branded Content budgets and emerging revenue streams. With this remit, she successfully led the team devising and developing a new mobile app for Kiss, which then rolled out to 26 Bauer Radio brands. On behalf of Bauer Media Group, Liz also led joint ventures and strategic partnerships with record labels, event companies and external sales teams, including the Wireless media partnership with Live Nation, and developing and launching a new music act with Sony/RCA.
Prior to Bauer Media, Liz worked in advertising for regional newspapers, the Hartlepool Mail and the Sunderland Echo, and in PR and marketing for a customer magazine publisher, River. In her 15 years in the media, Liz has worked closely with clients including BlackBerry, L’Oreal, Coca Cola, Peugeot, GiffGaff, Bacardi and Unilever. She also specialised in public sector marketing, leading campaigns for the Met Police, NHS, local and national government.
Liz first worked with DA Group while she was at university, 18 years ago. She helped to build up a telesales team, making appointments for financial advisers and at one time we had a mini-call centre in operation at the Old Brewery! She also made friends with Tony Blair when he came to give us the Queen’s Award for Export in 1999, by pointing out his resemblance to our MD Mike. Mr Blair suggested that Mike could have a lucrative second career as a lookalike!X
Ally started his career researching and producing display graphics on historic buildings before becoming a Designer for Birse & Sterling Design. He has been a Designer at DA Group for the past 19 years and has worked on some high profile projects including Tony Blair’s Labour Party election victory material and website in 1997. He has an HND Graphic Design and a BA (Hons) History of Design & Architecture and although he’s passionate about all elements of design, he finds working for architecture-related clients particularly interesting. His favourite thing about his role is that each job can be different to the last.X
Bradley joined DA Group after leaving secondary school and has been part of the team for 2 years. He has completed a level 2 course in AAT and is now working towards level 3. Bradley enjoys learning new skills every day, working as part of a large team and meeting new people.X
Chris has been part of the team at DA Group for a total of 15 years, working his way through various roles within the studio. Chris’ most memorable, large scale project was when the team were commissioned by Pyxis Multimedia to produce a CD-Rom. The disk was to be circulated to every doctor as part of a UK-wide educational initiative on antibiotics. He edited all audio and visual aspects to produce the finished item. His current position is Studio Project Manager and he’s responsible for managing and co-ordinating the workload across multiple projects at various stages for all of DA Group’s clients. Chris is passionate about making sure that clients are kept happy at all stages of implementation.X
El has a particular interest in social media and enjoys being part of large scale promotional campaigns and seeing them come together to produce results.
After graduating from Durham University, El spent the early years of her career in a commercial environment at Bauer radio station, TFM. As Sponsorship & Promotions Executive her role involved maintaining the values of the 40 year old media brand whilst enabling sponsors to form positive associations and ultimately enhance the marketing of both brands. Here she worked with local brands such as NHS Tees, Wellington Square Shopping Centre and Cleveland Police as well as national brands such as McCain, Natwest and O2. Following this, El looked after the marketing at the Wynyard Hall Country House Hotel. Here she was responsible for putting together, and delivering, the marketing strategy for all departments of the hotel. This included managing the website, social media channels, production and sales of advertising space of the in-house magazine, PR liaison and all advertising.
El joined DA Group in 2015 and looks forward to building on the well-established media, digital and design studio and developing the brand to attract and serve many more.X
Hannah graduated from Newcastle University and went to work as an Events Assistant at Wynyard Hall Hotel. Here, she was promoted to Events Manager and was responsible for arranging large public events such as Wynyard Hall’s annual Christmas Shopping Fayre which attracted up to 10,000 people. She also dealt with bookings for private events such as Anniversary Dinners or special birthday celebrations. Working with clients on events which were so important to them has helped Hannah to gain vital customer service and organisation skills.
In 2013 she decided to pursue a career goal which she’d held for some time and started studying to become an Accountant. She aims to complete AAT Level 4 and progress as far as she can with her Accounting qualifications. Working for DA Group since October 2014, she has enjoyed getting to know the diverse mix of characters in the very friendly team.X
Heather joined DA Group in 2015 taking on the role as Account Manager. Heather is responsible for managing our existing client relationships as well as bringing in new business from across the company's range of design and digital development products and services. Heather brings a wealth of experience in both customer relationship management and business development. After graduating from Northumbria University, Heather began her career working at Sunderland Football Club before moving to Northern Rock Plc, Sunderland University, and more recently Protius (a development company which provides industry leading software solutions). She has worked with companies such as the NHS, Newcastle City Council, Durham University and Nissan to name a few. From the range of marketing and business development positions that she has held, Heather has a sound understanding of marketing and business strategy which enables her to fully appreciate the services her network of clients require and advise them appropriately.
Heather looks forward to continuing the fantastic service and support to our existing clients whilst meeting and getting to know people from other companies who require DA Group’s marketing tools and services.X
Ian looks after the support helpline for DA Group’s email marketing platform, Inboxx. He’s always on hand to help if clients have any issues when creating e-communications. Ian has in-depth knowledge of the Inboxx system and prides himself on being able to quickly and efficiently respond to any day to day tasks Inboxx clients may need help with. Ian enjoys the diverse nature of his role and assisting different types of clients. He also welcomes any opportunity to further his technical skills.X
Julie joined the organisation in 1984 when print was very much the marketing tool for many companies. Her attention to detail was a vital part of the day to day running of the busy creative department, where her proofreading and ability to make sure jobs got out of the door on time were very important.
Those skills have translated into the digital age where she continues to ensure accuracy and her attention to detail. Her people skills have also been a major help to the PR department especially in helping a housebuilding client who encountered particular difficulties, and who had to rehouse families while medial work was carried out.
Julie has also provided support in helping clients create their emails, regularly building campaigns for Panacea Financial Advisor.
She is passionate about having happy customers and she believes that it’s important for our clients to feel that they can pick up the phone to us at any time.X
Mason joined the team in 2015 as Junior Developer, on an apprenticeship scheme. He is currently working towards his Professional Competence for IT and Telecoms Level 3 qualification.
Studying Art & Design, Business studies and ICT at school has given him a strong academic background to start his career in web development. He enjoys learning to create codes and tags for websites and email templates.
During his time at DA Group he has created email templates and prepared performance reports for various email marketing clients.
Mason’s dream client would be FIFA as he has a keen interest in football!X
Paul’s life as a designer began in the 1980’s after studying design and illustration in Sunderland. After working for Durham University and a printing business in the early 90’s he joined B&S Design which was eventually to be taken over by DA Group. As a designer Paul loves a new challenge, nothing pleases him more than when a thought in his head turns into something that works for the client. Paul and the rest of the team have worked for many blue-chip companies over the last 25 years and he is still as excited about design now as he was when he started.X
Samantha has been Assistant Finance Manager at DA Group for 3 years. She studied AAT and completed CIMA (Chartered Institute of Management Accountants) to become a qualified Chartered Management Accountant. She enjoys expanding her skills, in particular within management and learning how to improve the team. She also takes an interest in new guidelines and reporting within the Accounting industry. Samantha is a problem solver and loves to be involved in projects which take a bit of thinking about. She describes herself as a crazy cat lady, who likes to bake and attempts to run now and then!X
Working on DA Group’s SportNetwork website is the ideal job for the former Ice Hockey netminder who has a HND in computing. Stephen joined the company in 2008 to work mainly on the network of sports sites, but since then his skills have come into play on a host of web applications including our email marketing toolbox.
He has also played a major role in finding solutions as we continually develop sites for our clients to match their changing needs.X