A NORTH-EAST building society has again demonstrated its commitment to growing its own talent after promoting a “rising star” into a key managerial appointment.
Chris Blewitt has been promoted to Head of Intermediary Distribution just five years after taking his first step into the financial sector with Darlington Building Society.
Chris, 35, who was born and raised in Darlington, was the winner of the ‘Rising Star – Product Provider’ category at the British Mortgage Awards in 2019.
Now, he is relishing the chance to lead the Darlington Intermediaries team after speaking of his pride at way the Society has remained open for business and “stood shoulder to shoulder” with mortgage brokers throughout the coronavirus crisis.
“It was a really brave decision by the board and the executive team at Darlington Building Society to hold firm at a time when others were running away from the challenge,” he says.
“It would have been very easy to take the view that it was too risky, and batten down the hatches. Instead, the Society went the extra mile for brokers, members, staff, and local communities, and that makes me really proud.”
A former student at Carmel College, in Darlington, Chris graduated from university with a degree in criminology. His father, Kevin, was a prison officer, while his mother, Pauline, worked for the Royal Mail, and Chris harboured ambitions to be a police officer.
He was on track to join Cleveland Constabulary in 2008 but went travelling first. While he was away, the global financial crash happened, leading to the force cancelling its planned vacancies.
Instead, Chris joined telecommunications company Orange, which later rebranded as EE, and rose to become a regional manager, having gained extensive customer service experience.
He joined Darlington Building Society in 2015 as manager of the Tubwell Row branch in Darlington. After qualifying as a mortgage adviser, and gaining an Institute of Leadership and Management Level 5 qualification, he became a Business Development Manager in the intermediaries team in 2018.
A year later, Darlington Building Society took the ambitious step of giving “Darlington Intermediaries” its own brand, and introducing mortgage solutions with increased flexibility, under the promise: “We make complex cases simple.”
“It was great to be part of that, and the support I’ve had at every step has been phenomenal,” says Chris.
“Becoming Head of Intermediary Distribution is a great challenge at a really important time, and I’m excited by the prospect of having a bigger influence.
“We have a fantastic lending proposition, which has benefited the market greatly over the past 12 months. However, the lockdown has, inevitably, made it harder to get the message fully out there, and to make the most of the relationships we’ve established.”
Therefore, the team’s priorities for 2021 will be to grow brand awareness and to re-engage with partners once the lockdown restrictions are eased. A planned expansion into Scotland, which was delayed by the pandemic, will also be reignited.
“From day one, I’ve loved working for Darlington Building Society,” says Chris. “It’s been a privilege to have progressed with a fantastic employer that’s embedded in the community where I grew up.”