The Institute of Directors (IoD) has appointed experienced business leader Fiona Standfield as its first Ambassador for Skills for the North East.

Fiona has more than 20 years’ experience in high profile, executive and non-executive board level roles within the public, private and third sectors. She joins forces with the IoD to raise the profile of North East business and to promote collaboration between the private sector and education.

Fiona began her career as a civil servant in Whitehall before enjoying a 13-year career with Royal Mail, undertaking operational, training and management posts in the UK and abroad.

Since returning to the North East, Fiona has built a consultancy practice, providing language services, project management and business development support to SMEs.

She has held change leadership roles most recently as director, Newcastle Science City and North East programme director for Safe Families for Children. She is currently working with social enterprises across the region, businesses in the tourism sector and lecturing at the Universities of Durham and Sunderland.  She is also a governor at Northumberland College.

Fiona said: “Throughout my career I have been an advocate for learning and development, which are such a key part of IoD membership. I’m looking forward to working with the regional committee to explore how we can cultivate the right skills to bring greater prosperity to the North East.”

Dr Joanna Berry, chairman of the IoD in the North East, said: “The IoD believes in the need for higher standards and greater competition in education and a skills system that genuinely responds to employers’ needs.

“Fiona has the perfect blend of experience to help us move this agenda forward in a meaningful way.”

The North East Ambassador network also includes: David Cliff of Gedanken; Prof Michael Whitaker of Newcastle University; Paul Barron, managing director of Brunswick Executive Search; Lucy Batley, owner and director of Newcastle-based design and digital agency Jump; and manufacturing expert and chartered engineer Janicke Aitken.