Niki Barker is at the heart of making Darlington Building Society not only a great place to work, but an organisation that is embedded in community life.
As well as being the lead on people – making sure the Society is supporting members and employees in the right ways – she also manages the Community Impact Strategy.
And the mum-of-three says the two sides of her role are naturally interlinked: “It boils down to creating the right culture and environment for people to prosper,” she says.
Born in Easington, County Durham, Niki is proud of her North-East roots. Her dad was an electrician down Horden Colliery before taking an opportunity to work offshore, and her mum worked in human resources for the civil service.
Niki studied for a four-year Bachelor of Arts degree in HR Management at Northumbria University, with her third year spent working in the HR department at North Tees NHS Trust, where she was able to put the theory she had learnt into practice.
After graduating, she wanted to add private sector HR experience to her CV. For the next seven years she worked leading HR teams in the outsourced and managed service sector for major utility and retail brands before moving on to support financial service contracts for a multi-national outsourcing provider.
In 2015, she joined Darlington Building Society as HR Manager, attracted by its ambition and value for its people. In 2017 she was promoted to an executive position as Director of People and Culture.
“I love working for Darlington Building Society because it has a truly authentic culture, with fantastic people who really want to make a difference, both within the organisation and our local community,” she says. “We really believe we offer a truly unique and great place to work for all”