Park, which is the largest independent electrical wholesaler in the North East, has a long history of growing its workforce, with apprentices operating across the business.
However, the appointment of Paul Dixon, 25, as apprentice accounts administrator, is particularly significant for Bridget who joined the company as an accounts apprentice, eventually rising to finance director and board member in 2007.
Bridget, from Stanley, County Durham, manages a seven-strong finance and accounts team for the £20 million turnover business, which has its head office on the Team Valley, Gateshead, with branches in Sunderland, Newcastle and Teesside. In addition to its wholesale operation, Park has four specialist divisions – lighting design, energy solutions, building technologies and industrial services.
Bridget said: “The company is a far bigger operation than the one I joined as an accounts apprentice all those years ago and my department, in particular, is exceptionally busy all of the time. Thankfully, we have robust processes and protocols in place which means that we are in a good position to absorb the increasing level of demand placed on us.
“I am a great believer in the apprenticeship route as it allows us to mould and develop a young person in the way that we do things here. They tend not to arrive with preconceived ideas and as long as they have a positive mind set and willingness to work hard, they are on the way to having a good career.
“The company has very strong core values, putting a huge emphasis on supporting and developing staff throughout their career. We have a number of people who have been with the company for 20 years or more – including those of the board of directors – and they lead a young, talented group of people, from which we believe we will develop the next senior management team.”
Park, which employs 68 staff, of which three are apprentices, utilises EDA Training & Development, Durham College and Access Training as the source for its apprentice recruitment, with all three having a strong track record of providing high quality candidates.
Paul, from Consett, will embark upon a one year apprenticeship with training funded by the company, including day release at New College Durham. Beyond that point, training for the Association of Accounting Technicians qualification is paid by the company, with Paul attending college during his own time.
Paul said: “I have really enjoyed my time at Park so far. I have learned a great deal and that is down to my co-workers and to Bridget Harold who has been an excellent mentor. Realising how far she has come in the company makes her an ideal role model.”