It’s official. Consult and Design is one of the best places to work in the North East. The top 50 places were named after the search was launched by The Journal.

Organisations that entered were scored on factors including policies for staff development, community involvement, perks and bonuses, and looking after workers’ health.

The initiative is part of ncjMedia’s Invest in the North East campaign, a key aim of which is to make the North East a better place in which to live and work.

As a people focused business, we bring our ethical approach to all our relationships, investing in the development of staff, working with like-minded partners and contributing to community projects at home and abroad.

Investing in our team

We make a significant investment in staff development. The whole team is encouraged and supported to attend conferences and training events where they can network with other experts from across the UK and Europe and ensure that their skills are regularly updated and developed. In recent years staff have had the opportunity to attend international events across Europe and the US including Athens, Vienna, New Orleans, Barcelona, Seville and Amman.

Working with specialised open source software, we provide new team members with onboarding opportunities to work alongside colleagues, developing real projects from day one. Senior team members have decades of experience in the formal and non-formal education sectors and are accredited in supervision and mentoring. We nurture our junior staff through internal mentoring resulting in them developing into leaders in their field, and within the company.

Team members are actively encouraged and given time to develop projects that interest them and support their wider personal development. For example members of the Consult and Design team have developed the hugely successful Sunderland Digital meetup that attracts 30-40 participants to the Software Centre each month.

Contributing back to the community

Consult and Design play an active role in the North East community and beyond.

We support collaboration and knowledge sharing in the region’s digital sector. We have made a significant contribution sitting on the advisory board of Digital Union and were recently an active partner in the development of the Digital Union Manifesto for the development of our sector over the next 12 months.

In recent months, we’ve been active contributors to the Digital Mental Health and Well-Being Think Tank in the region, highlighting mental health issues in the industry and showcasing good practice.

On top of this, our paid work is all about using technology to bring about positive changes in communities. Whether that’s working with great charities like the Equality Trust or North East Child Poverty Commission, or working with the Anna Lindh Foundation and British Council to develop digital tools that engage young people in democracy across the Middle East and North Africa following the Arab Spring.

Ensuring staff engagement

Our policy of holding one-to-one supervision-style meetings with senior leadership means staff have a clear time every month in order to discuss how they are, what they need and how they can be supported further in personal and professional development.

The whole team also play an active role in influencing and informing our strategic planning, and are consulted with regularly on the development of the company. An ideal example of this was our recent brand redevelopment which involved every single member of the team.

Providing a good work/life balance

A healthy work/life balance is big part of supporting the health and wellbeing of our team. At Consult and Design we value and respect the importance of work-life balance. We offer flexible working, and our family friendly policies mean that parents have flexibility over their hours and opportunities to work from home.

We have recently increased our holiday allocation for all staff, and introduced further holidays for those with the longest service. We are not incentivising with money, but with a better quality of life.

A great place to work

A family atmosphere where everyone feels part of the team and everyone is valued and encouraged to grow and develop is how we ensure Consult and Design remains a place that our team enjoy coming to work.

Add to that the opportunity to work with great partners and clients on ambitious projects that really make a difference to people’s lives all over the world and it’s no surprise that over the last five years C&D have had 100% staff retention — a figure that's unheard of in our industry.

David van der Velde

David Van der Velde


David founded Consult and Design way back in 1999 when the internet was held together by string and sticky tape. He takes care of business development and making sure all the i's are dotted and t's crossed.

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