Meet the Team

Working in Partnership with you

Our dedicated team is here to help and advise employers about the wealth of training and development options that the College offers. We’ll come out to visit you wherever you are in the North and guide you through the options. From Apprenticeships and Traineeships, through to bespoke and specialist courses and qualifications. From student placements, to advising on the availability of our meeting rooms and other College facilities, we’re here to help.

Please call the Business Development Team on 01207 585914.

Nicola McKegney, Assistant Principal - Business Development

Nicola joined Derwentside College in 2017 having over 8 years of experience within Education and Training.  Nicola's background has seen her work across both the public and private sector, advising and supporting employers to maximise on their training potential. 

Nicola's passion lies in apprenticeships and she works with large employers across the region to transform businesses by offering a range of recruitment and training solutions. 

Nicola is focused on the consistent delivery of quality service and excellence and this is supported by the wealth of knowledge she has gained whilst in her role in funding, delivery and operational practices within the Business Development Team.

Alex Muir, Assistant Principal - Adult Learning

Alex joined Derwentside College in 2019 having worked in business development roles in the further education sector since leaving university in 2009. 

Alex has worked across awarding bodies, membership organisations and private training providers, successfully negotiating strategic partnerships for skills delivery using a range of funding streams.

With a particular focus on the Adult Education Budget, Alex works in partnership with employers, Jobcentre Plus and other stakeholders to provide opportunities for unemployed people to move into sustainable, meaningful employment.

Lianne Marston, Business Development Manager

Having worked in further education for over 16 years, Lianne’s passion is to provide excellent account management to businesses to enable them to continue to grow. 

Lianne provides high quality, professional advice to a wide range of internal and external stakeholders. 

With a focus on the construction sector, Lianne sources opportunities for young people to start their career as apprentices and continuously work with businesses in this sector to ensure they have the right staff in place with the right skills.

Stephanie Nicholson, Senior Business Development Consultant

Stephanie has extensive knowledge of the Education and Training sector and has worked at Derwentside College since 1997. 

Stephanie has a wide knowledge of a number of vocational areas.  Stephanie works primarily with a number of large Public Sector employers including the NHS. 

Stephanie works to recruit new apprentices, whilst identifying training opportunities for existing staff to enable the use of Apprenticeships and training to strengthen the employer’s workforce.

Paula Bruntlett, Senior Business Development Consultant

Paula has been at Derwentside College since 2008 and has a wide knowledge of the Education and Training Sector with experience in a number of vocational areas.

Paula’s primary responsibility within the Business Development Team is working within the care sector, having developed strategic partnerships with many different care companies which have been extremely beneficial to their business.  This includes all aspects of care from complex needs, residential care and homecare care.

Paula works closely with employers to help with practical solutions to upskill the care workforce by creating strong and lasting relationships through offering exemplary levels of customer service.


Julia Atkinson, Senior Business Development Consultant

As an Early Years Practitioner, Julia joined Derwentside College in 2016 with 15 years experience in Further and Higher Education, having taught and assessed students of all ages. 

Julia’s background in Early Years helps her recognise the challenges and identify the support employers need for staff working in childcare settings. 

Working across all areas of childcare, from nursery schools to educational establishments, Julia forges successful partnerships with local authorities’ children’s services teams on behalf of Derwentside College

Deborah Leighton, Business Development Consultant

Deborah joined Derwentside College in 2018 with over 16 years of knowledge and experience in Training and Apprenticeship provision in Further Education.

Deborah has an established background in the Electrical and Engineering sector and has successfully built relationships within Business Management and Professional Services.  Deborah also has fantastic links within the Hospitality sector, working alongside large employers in the North East.

Deborah’s role is to identify and engage with potential new clients and build successful partnerships to increase business and enhance existing relationships.

Joanna Edwards, Business Development Consultant

Joanna joined Derwentside College in May 2022 as a Business Development Consultant, having previously worked in Further Education for 15 years.

Joanna has worked on multiple ESF Projects and Apprenticeships covering several sectors whilst sourcing, securing, and managing employer accounts.

Joanna has a proven track record of working with employers to identify their training needs and providing training solutions for upskilling their existing staff to succession planning and recruiting apprentices, ensuring that skills and knowledge are retained within the business.

Bethany Kemp, Lead Recruitment Officer

Bethany joined Derwentside College in 2019 as an apprentice, having previously worked within the NHS after qualifying as a Podiatrist.  Bethany decided to have a change of career and found that an apprenticeship was the best route to achieve a recognised qualification and be able to gain experience within a different sector of work.

Bethany’s role is to support the recruitment of apprentices across all occupational areas by working with both apprentices and companies to ensure all vacancy requirements are fulfilled.  Bethany helps support with the Adult Education Programmes, communicating with applicants and working in partnership with JCP.  Bethany deals with a large volume of applications and enquiries on a daily basis.