While preparing a report in her office, Therese Liddle’s attention was caught by one of the workmen singing outside NRG’s headquarters. She went over to the window and rewarded him with a round of applause – a subtle way of letting him know he had been heard. The singing duly stopped.
Such a beautifully handled situation seems typical of Therese. By her own admission a ‘people person,’ she is clearly not remote from her staff, or the workmen for that matter, despite having the top job at one of the North’s leading recruitment businesses. Having been with the business for 26 years, spending the last 12 months as chief executive, Therese admits her least favourite part of her new role is having to be more removed.
“I think the theory is that as CEO, I’m supposed to work on the business rather than in the business, but that’s perhaps something I haven’t mastered yet,” she smiles.
“NRG is a real people business; that’s something I am proud of and something I think makes us stand out. We support our people here and continually invest in their development and progression, as I know from my own experience.
“Our expertise and knowledge, combined with our approach of working closely to understand our clients, is evident in the success of the business. We take very seriously the responsibility of recruiting for each client to ensure the fit is positive both for them and the candidate. Quality underpins all that we do.”
Now in its 40th year, NRG has firmly established itself as one of the leading recruitment businesses in the North of England. With its headquarters on Grey Street in Newcastle and an office in Middlesbrough, collectively employing about 100 people, NRG continually evolves to offer a comprehensive range of services to businesses across a range of sectors, placing candidates from board level to operational roles. Its RPO (recruitment process outsourcing) business secured NRG’s accreditation by Recruitment International as one of the top ten UK RPO providers – delivering partnership solutions for major clients including Geoban, part of the Santander Group, and Atom Bank.
Therese sees the next phase of growth in the business to be investment in Total Talent Solutions, which looks to further integrate with clients to ensure all of their resource requirements and talent pipelining are met.
Back in 1989 when Therese joined NRG, she admits to not being overly familiar with the company or her new role. Having started her career in retail with Sunderland-based Joplings, she decided she wanted a change, so went for an interview with NRG.
“I came here quite by accident really, I knew nothing about recruitment and nothing about the company but I was looking for a job and thought this was something I could probably do. I started doing secretarial recruitment in our Middlesbrough office, but to be honest, I don’t think I even knew what a secretary was. Looking back, I think it was serendipity that I ended up here,” she remembers.
“Of course, back then, it was a totally different world. There were no mobile phones or computers, we used desk-based flip card records systems and everything was paper-based.
“Recruitment, the industry and our regional business landscape have changed massively since then and NRG has stayed ahead of the change, often punching above its weight and taking risks which have helped our longevity and success.”
Mother-of-two Therese, who was born and bred on Wearside and continues to live there, cites two women as having a huge impact on her life and career. The first is her mother: “She’s always been an inspiration to me and I feel so lucky to have had such a supportive family background,” she says.
The other is Lorna Moran, founder of NRG. The North East business leader has been a “great mentor and influence” on Therese’s career. In today’s world, where the glass ceiling is so keenly felt, both Therese and Lorna are examples of what is possible.
“I do think a glass ceiling for women exists in certain industries, although I have never come across it in my experience in NRG, or in recruitment,” says Therese.
“I was asked to join the NRG board as a 35-year-old mother of two and feel I have always been encouraged and judged on my ability and commitment to the job.”
And with Therese’s ‘people person’ personal approach, it’s little wonder that that ethos runs throughout the business: “At NRG, we try to support women and men equally. If they are parents with responsibilities to juggle, we try to be flexible to help them achieve that balance. We are mindful that we employ real people and our clients are real people too; we always try to strike a fair balance.”