Movers & Shakers: Product manager Laurence retires from Kent Blaxill

Ipswich Building Society has appointed Valerie Dias to the role of non-executive director and chair

Ipswich Building Society has appointed Valerie Dias to the role of non-executive director and chairman of the societys audit and compliance committee and a member of the board risk and assets and liabilities committees. - Credit: Archant

Long-serving manager Laurence Thomas has retired from Kent Blaxill after a 43-year stint with the East Anglian building supplies company.

To mark his retirement, he was presented with gifts by his colleagues and enjoyed an evening out at Milsoms with the senior management team.

Laurence, 63, who joined the company’s Colchester head office in 1971 as a despatch clerk, worked his way up through a variety of roles before becoming a sales representative in 1980, and then in 1990 became product manager with responsibility for company purchasing.

He has also been the Kent Blaxill representative on the Fortis merchant buying group, which has a turnover of over £1.3billion, and where his services were also recognised with a special award.

Managing director Simon Blaxill said: “Laurence is extremely well respected by colleagues, other merchants and suppliers alike. A special award was made by the National Merchants Buying Society in recognition of his services to the industry at a dinner in Coventry recently. Laurence is an extremely conscientious colleague who will also be missed as a good friend.”

Laurence, who lives in Colchester, has recently become a grandparent. His interests include walking and gardening.

Ipswich Building Society has appointed Valerie Dias to the role of non-executive director replacing Charles Tilley who stepped down from the board at the annual general meeting in March 2015.

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In addition to being a member of the board, Valerie becomes chairman of the Society’s Audit & Compliance Committee and a member of the Board Risk and Assets & Liabilities committees.

Valerie Dias is the chief risk officer and member of the executive team at Visa Europe, her role encompassing all areas of corporate and enterprise risk, information security, audit and member bank and third party compliance.

She is a Fellow of the Chartered Certified Accountants (FCCA) and a Companion of the Chartered Management Institute (CCMI). She was also the winner of the Finance Award at the Asian Women of Achievement awards in June 2014.

Valerie joined Visa in 1993 working in various finance roles, and from 1999 to 2005 was executive vice president, chief financial officer. She has represented management on the Visa Europe Board’s Audit, Risk and Finance Committee since its inception and chairs or sits on various Visa Europe decision making committees such as the Risk Committee and Compliance Council. Valerie was also a key player in leading the company through the many steps to successfully achieve incorporation of Visa Europe in 2004.

Before joining Visa, Valerie worked for two publishers, Marshall Cavendish from 1989 to 1993 and prior to that with William Collins plc (now HarperCollins).

Chairman Sarah Evans said: “Valerie is a welcome addition to our team and the board. Her significant experience as a leader in finance, risk and compliance will complement our strong business focus in these areas.”

Ipswich-based building design consultancy David Clarke & Associates has appointed Martin Curtis as a director.

Martin has more than 30 years of experience in building design and construction project management and joins the current management team of David Clarke and David Wife.

David Clarke & Associates Building Design Consultants Ltd was set up by David Clarke in Ipswich in 1978. It is still based in the town centre, but now works on projects of all types and sizes throughout the UK.

David said: “I’m delighted to announce Martin’s appointment which will go to strengthen the core team and help continue the success of the practice as we face the challenges of project management, design and construction in the 21st century.”

Construction consultant Dayle Bayliss has been appointed to the Fellowship of the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS).

This level of membership to an industry body is only given to those who have shown significant achievement, experience and commitment to their sector. It now means she can add the letters FRICS to her name.

Dayle, of Dayle Bayliss Associates in Ipswich, said: “Being accepted as a fellow to the RICS is a huge honour and something I’ve worked hard to achieve. I love being able to make a difference within the construction industry and promote the vibrance and variety of the sector.”

Dayle is an active member of the RICS and currently sits on the Matrics UK Board and the East of England Board.

Road surfacing firm Toppesfield has appointed Sean Gorman to the newly-created post of sales and strategy director reporting to chief executive and founder Matthew Pryor.

Sean joins the Ipswich firm from large regional law firm Brachers LLP, where he was a partner and specialised in corporate finance. In this role he led a broad range of acquisition and disposal transactions. He had particular responsibility for marketing and business development and also set the strategy for establishing a new regional office, which he successfully led from inception.

Sean has joined Toppesfield at a key phase of its expansion, with the company seeing its revenues doubling year-on-year. The company has recently won a range of new projects including contracts from Skanska for the M1 Junction 19 improvements and from Balfour Beatty for work on the A421 at Milton Keynes. These projects are contributing to the company growing to an annual turnover in excess of £80million for the current year.

Matthew Pryor said: “We are delighted to welcome Sean to our senior management team. He brings considerable commercial and legal experience to Toppesfield and will play a key role as we continue to expand our market share. Since we established the company in 2004 we have grown consistently and this is down to a combination of our ‘can-do’ attitude to customer service and the high quality approach we bring to projects. Sean will be a great addition to our team as we build on the success of the last 10 years.”

Sean said: “I am excited to be joining Toppesfield and bringing fresh insight and expertise to such a fast growing company that is well placed to enter the next phase of its expansion. The evidence of Toppesfield’s success is in the pace of its growth while still delivering high levels of service, and it’s clear that the company’s culture plays a huge role in this. I look forward to helping grow the business going forward and contributing to its success.”

Frinton-based employee consultancy The Survey Initiative has appointed Ralph Sutcliffe as business and project development manager.

Ralph has more than 30 years’ experience in the market research and survey software sector and has worked with clients such as GlaxoSmithKline, the BBC and MI5, on a wide range of projects from supporting independent consultants to managing multi-language international surveys.

He is highly proficient in the delivery of software development, is adept at setting up online panels and has previously overseen the integration an online panel provider with an advanced web survey management system.

He is also skilled at delivering workshops and interactive sessions on benchmarking, increasing response rates, questionnaire design and has lectured at numerous universities on the subject of market research and surveys.

In his new role, Ralph will help to provide engagement and internal business communication advice and surveys to a wide range of organisations and will also be responsible for growing the company’s client base.

Ralph said: “I am absolutely delighted to be joining The Survey Initiative. I’ve known the director, Gary Cattermole, for the best part of 20 years as a colleague, client and friend, and having worked together on what must be literally hundreds of projects, we have a very good understanding of how each other ticks. We also share the same work ethic and willingness to go the extra mile to get the job done. It’s great to be joining a well-run and close knit team which I feel I fit into and am a part of already.”

Director Gary Cattermole said: “Ralph is one of the most competent people I have ever worked with. I can recommend him as a person with great integrity and knowledge – he is a pleasure to work with and works hard to ensure any requirements are met, even when faced with tight deadlines or exacting needs. Ralph has always been extremely reliable with an eye for quality and I’m delighted that he has agreed to become part of our team.”

Ralph is a member of the Market Research Society and the Association for Survey Computing.

Away from work, he enjoys planning driving holidays on the continent with his wife, and is quite fond of a little gastronomy, as well as enduring the trials and tribulations that come with being a season ticket holder at Cheltenham Town FC.