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Athletics legend motivates staff at North-East building society

ByPeter Barron

Mar 2, 2019

LEGENDARY athlete Steve Cram has inspired staff at a North-East building society with a speech about how lessons from sporting success can be applied to running a business.

Cram, who broke three world records within 19 days in 1985, was keynote speaker at Darlington Building Society’s annual staff conference.

His appearance coincided with an announcement that the award-winning building society has been named as one of the North-East’s top 30 employers.

The Best Company Survey, carried out by Deloitte, assesses how well businesses engage with their employees and get the best out of them.

Cram, the BBC Sports Personality of the Year in 1983, congratulated the society on having had a “cracking” year in 2018, during which it won seven industry awards.

He told the conference – held at Theatre Hullabaloo in Darlington – how he had reached the pinnacle of athletics by learning from his defeats and redoubling his efforts in training to improve results.

Mo Farah was used as another example of someone who had “the courage to change everything” to become the best in the world.

“Mo had lots of opportunities to quit,” explained Cram. “He was bullied as a child, didn’t like to train, rebelled against the system at times, and suffered from injuries. But he did the toughest thing in 2009 by uprooting to America, changing his coach, dedicating himself completely to maximising his talent, and found incredible success.”

Cram said the key to success was in responding positively to difficulties, adding: “Every athlete has a team behind them, and everyone has to play their part. If everyone works together to create a culture of excellence, we have a sustainable system.”

Andrew Craddock, who took over as the society’s chief executive in December, said: “I am immensely proud to have such a talented and committed team. The business is performing really well but I am sure there is huge potential to do even better.”

Mr Craddock, who previously worked for Barclays, Allied Irish, and Buckingham Building Society, outlined the company’s priorities for 2019:

  • Increasing membership
  • Investing in further improvements to the branch network
  • Developing a robust digital platform for customers while retaining personal customer service
  • Building on the society’s reputation as an employer of choice
  • Expanding the range of products
  • And becoming more efficient through smarter use of technology

He has also pledged to maintain the society’s pledge to invest five per cent of its profits back into good causes in the region, saying: “It is fundamental to our ethos as a business that we are embedded in the community and make a difference to people’s lives.”