Former UCG student appointed as Bondholders Head of Marketing at pivotal moment for the Humber

Pictured: LtoR Nicola Baker (current head of marketing) with New Bondholder Head of Marketing, Sarah Downing

A former student at University Centre Grimsby has been announced as the new Head of Marketing for Bondholders marketing organisation at a pivotal moment for the Humber and the region’s fastest-growing business network.

Sarah Downing has been named as Head of Marketing to lead the Bondholders executive team at a time of unprecedented investment and opportunity across the estuary.

Her role will be to lead the strategic place marketing of the Humber to attract investment and talent. And Sarah, who is returning to the region after 12 years developing her career further afield, believes her own story illustrates the positive progress the region has made.

Sarah, who is 32, joins the Bondholders from Gardman Ltd, a £70m pa turnover garden products supplier, where she was Marketing Director and a member of the Operational Board.

Originally from Grimsby, Sarah left the area in 2003 to pursue her career, having completed a BA Honours degree at University Centre Grimsby.

She opted to relocate back to her home region having worked with senior colleagues to develop growth strategies for Gardman. That led to the recent sale of the business to a new private investor. Sarah now lives with her partner in Immingham.

She said: “I’ve been very pleasantly surprised by how much the area has progressed, culturally, socially and commercially. The size and quality of businesses and brands operating in, and associated with, this region gave me even more confidence and optimism about relocating.

“There has never been a better time for people to develop their careers here.”

Sarah was first alerted to the climate of opportunity around the Humber by reading the Bondholders’ Your Life publication, which promotes the career and lifestyle opportunities for people considering relocating into the area.

Having explored opportunities further afield in Yorkshire and Lincolnshire, she found there were an increasing number of high-quality openings around the Humber, including the Bondholders role.

Sarah added: “It’s truly refreshing to be able to promote the area that I’m from and passionate about. This role will also enable me to capitalise upon the skills and experience I have gained over a number of years within commercial environments.

“I’ve been so impressed with the energy of the team and what they have achieved. It’s also clear we have a fantastic support network, enjoy so much goodwill and have great engagement with our members.

“I’m really looking forward to working collaboratively with the Bondholders members, and building upon our relationships with them, to promote the region.”

Sarah takes over leadership of the Bondholders team from Marketing Manager Nicola Baker who will move to become Communications Manager at the University of Hull following a handover period.

For the past 10 years Nicola has held various roles delivering communications that support the region’s economic development, the past four of which have been with the Bondholders. Over that time, membership has grown from 125 companies to more than 280 while, over the past 18 months, the Bondholders has extended its focus to become a truly Humber-wide organisation.

Nicola has led the development and implementation of clear and powerful communications to brand the Humber as the UK’s Energy Estuary. As a result of this work, the Humber is now recognised by key decision-makers, investors and influencers as a place of strategic importance, opportunity and growth.

She said: “I’m so pleased that I will be able to move on having handed over to Sarah, who has the right skills to take the work of the Bondholders even further forward.

“One of the key things we were looking for in the recruitment process was an understanding of the brand and positioning of the Humber and how that is projected. Sarah has that clarity, as well as a real passion for the area and a strong balance of strategic focus and delivery experience.”

Bondholders Chair Peter Aarosin said the new role of Head of Marketing reflected the need for the Bondholders to extend its influence and impact in view of the rapid growth in membership and the scale of the opportunities for the region, such as huge investments in energy industries and the benefits for the city and wider area from Hull’s reign as UK City of Culture 2017.

He said: “Nicola has made a tremendous contribution to the Bondholders and to the promotion of the Humber as the UK’s Energy Estuary.

“With Nicola moving on we have taken the opportunity to enhance the senior role in the executive team and we are delighted that Sarah has joined us. We look forward to Sarah working with Bondholders across the region to make the Humber a location of choice to invest, live, work, study and visit.”