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A high-level appointment to strengthen leadership and strategic planning in the region has been made by the North East Local Enterprise Partnership.

Sophie Haagensen joins the North East LEP in the new role of deputy director this month to play a central role in driving and implementing the North East LEP’s regional strategies, including the Strategic Economic Plan.

Sophie has previously held key roles with government offices in London and the North East. She joins from the Department for Work and Pensions where she led strategy management, heading a team responsible for providing advice to government ministers on the viability of new policy proposals. She also advised on the long-term digitalisation of services and a major organisational restructure.

She was formerly with the Cabinet Office in London where she project managed the setup of Big Society Capital, the world’s first social investment bank, and oversaw the £150m loan book of the Futurebuilders fund.

Edward Twiddy, director of the North East LEP said:
“Sophie is a strong addition to the North East LEP’s team and an excellent replacement for strategy manager Gillian Roll. She brings new skills and experiences to this key role for the LEP. She has recognised expertise in strategic roles and an impressive track record of leading complex projects.

“Sophie’s understanding of the region’s private, social enterprise and public sectors will add strength and depth to the LEP team at an important time, as we near the end of consultation for the region’s long-term strategic economic plan before it goes forward to government in March.“

The Strategic Economic Plan, drafted by the North East LEP, is an essential piece in the development of a North East agenda for growth. Produced with partners it sets out a clear vision and investment programme for the area, identifying key priorities and actions.

The final SEP will become the core of both the North East LEP’s bid to Government’s £2bn per annum Local Growth Fund, and other programmes that will be funded from local, national and European sources.

Sophie Haagensen said:
“Having held strategic management roles within central government, I am delighted to now join the North East LEP to help shape the development of long-term plans to create jobs and economic growth in my home region.

“Social investment is also an important priority for the region. The North East LEP is committed to making this region the most advanced market for social enterprise in the UK, and it is built into all of the LEP’s strategies. This focus will help establish commercially viable social enterprises that will have a lasting impact across the region.”

Sophie has an MBA from Newcastle Business School, where she received the award for the ‘best postgraduate student’ as well as an award for her research dissertation on business clusters and the Newcastle Science City development. She also developed an idea for a social enterprise, which won Northumbria University’s business competition and was runner-up in the Blueprint regional finals.

Sophie’s first Civil Service post involved implementing a new service delivery model across Tees Valley district. She gained business experience in the private sector in the North East prior to joining the Civil Service. Sophie was born and schooled in Durham, where she now lives.

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