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Who we are

Our Team

Dearden has a team of highly experienced and skilled consultants who can adapt quickly to the challenges and changing needs of the client. We expect the very best of our team and will continue to recruit talented and passionate individuals who can think creatively and with imagination.


Steve Swayne

Chairman Steve is an established expert in organisational transformation, with particular experience in complex, large and difficult turnarounds. This has included extensive merger and acquisition work. He has developed a very successful turnaround track record at CEO/MD level in the public and private sector. 

Steve has worked extensively in the NHS and recent clients include Princess Alexandra Hospital Trust, Barnet and Chase Farm Hospitals NHS Trust and West Middlesex University Hospital. He has delivered CIPs across a range of NHS organisations, including a number of CIP recovery situations. Steve has real life know-how and strong interpersonal skills, backed up by first class intellectual and analytical ability. He has excellent stakeholder management skills and has worked across organisations in localities, including in Newham, where he delivered a £70 million savings programme for the local authority, having previously delivered the PCT’s CIP, turning a £7m deficit into a surplus in four months. 


Mark Gammage

Managing Director Mark joined the NHS as a national management trainee in the late 1980s and worked in general management and HR roles in acute and community NHS settings. He is now a highly experienced management consultant having managed Dearden since 2002. He has worked as a substantive or interim HR in 14 different NHS organisations including Oxford University Hospitals NHS Trust, Chelsea and Westminster Hospitals NHS FT, London Ambulance Service, Norfolk and Suffolk NHS FT, Princess Alexandra Hospitals NHS Trust, Oxfordshire PCT, Newham PCT, East and North Herts NHS Trust and United Lincolnshire NHS Trust. 

He led the HR work on Shaping a Healthier Future, the remodeling of healthcare across NW London and has considerable expertise and experience in medical staffing, medical productivity and job planning. Mark is also an experienced coach having run over 400 coaching sessions with CEOs, directors and clinicians.

Mark was asked to chair the expert panel appointing the Director of HR to the Northern Ireland Civil service.

Mark has an MBA from Henley Management College and is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (distinction). He has an Advanced Diploma in Management Consultancy and a Certificate in Advanced Professional Practice in Senior Executive Coaching and Mentoring. Mark is an MBTI Step one and Step two accredited practitioner. 


Clare Conaghan

Director Clare joined Dearden in March 2021, bringing with her over 20 years’ experience in HR across a broad range of public, private and charitable organisations. These include retail, financial services, policing, transport, third sector and NHS. Clare has a strong track record of enabling improvement in organisations and a proven ability to make immediate positive impact. She is an accomplished HR Director with extensive experience in developing value-add HR Functions; delivering cultural and transformational change and introducing technology to enhance organisational effectiveness. She is passionate about people and thrives on business change and collaboration to achieve sustainable improvement.  

Clare has recently been working within the NHS, implementing and embedding a new HR structure, to increase productivity and enhance the strategic value of the function. Clare was a key adviser on a multi-award winning transformational change programme to shift attitudes, behaviours and skills within London Underground. She also worked in partnership with the Department for International Development to improve safeguarding and prevent sexual exploitation in the third sector. Collaborating on a series of projects and developing guidance to improve safeguarding practices and organisational culture within the International Development sector.   

Clare is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development and an accredited workplace mediator.


Michelle Hodgkinson

Director Michelle joined the NHS as one of the pilot group of the Graduate HR Management Training Scheme in 2004 and has worked in HR roles in acute and specialist NHS settings. Most latterly, she acted up as Director of Workforce and OD and has worked substantively in Deputy Director roles in both Organisational Development and Operational HR. Michelle has extensive experience of OD interventions, culture change projects, Equality and Diversity programmes as well as operational experience of Agenda for Change, identification and implementation of cost improvement measures, redundancy, change management and TUPE exercises.

Michelle also spent 5 years working as the Head of Operations for the HR Advisory Service of a major law firm, taking overall responsibility for ensuring this employee relations service met client organisations’ individual needs. She acted as a senior point of contact for client managers, maintained a small caseload of complex employee relations work and carried out ad-hoc consultancy work as necessary.

Michelle has a first class honours degree in French and Human Resource Management, as well as a Postgraduate Diploma and Master’s degree in HRM at distinction grade. She is a chartered member of the CIPD and is also an EMCC EQA Coach Practitioner.

Nina Amoo

Nina Amoo

Associate Nina has 19 years’ experience of working in various HR Generalist and Consultancy roles across a variety of sectors including NHS, Private Healthcare and Education.

Prior to working with Dearden, she was Head of HR and the Strategic HR Lead for Diversity and Inclusion at St Christopher’s where she specialised in people management, employee relations and the management of change. She has delivered on several people management and leadership courses from front line managers to senior level executives. Nina is particularly interested in management development and organisational design, providing advice on high performing team structures and job roles including job evaluation processes and recruitment needs. More recently, Nina has become involved in transformational HR and cultural change.

Nina is a Chartered Member of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development and a certified workplace coach and facilitator. She has also completed an MA in Strategic Human Resources. 

Rainy Faisey

Associate Rainy is an independent HR and OD consultant, with over 26 years’ experience as a senior HR and OD Manager within the NHS, working with Directors and Board members. Rainy joined the NHS in 1989 and has worked within Regional, Acute and Community organisations. Rainy has been Deputy Director of HR at Dudley Group NHS Foundation Trust and Oxford University Hospitals NHS Trust, acting up to Director of HR on several occasions. 

Since 2011, Rainy has undertaken senior HR interim and project assignments at Oxford University Hospitals NHS Trust, Leicester University Hospitals NHS Trust, Mid Essex Hospital Services MHS Trust, Northampton Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, Barts Health NHS Trust, London Ambulance Service NHS Trust and most recently at London North West Hospital NHS Trust.

Rainy is qualified in 16PF and MBTI psychometric assessment, is an experienced coach and mentor and holds an MBA (HR stream), an MSC in HR Leadership, and is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Personnel Development (FCIPD). 

Viv Walton
Associate Viv is a psychologist who specialises in the assessment and development of clinicians and executives for leadership roles in the NHS. Viv has worked in or around the NHS all her working life and brings a contextual element to the assessment and development that she provides. She is a qualified and experienced coach and an experienced facilitator. Recent work has focused on values and behavioural assessment of candidates for consultant posts and development of leadership qualities in primary care clinicians.
Carol Hunt

Associate Carol is an independent HR Consultant who has over 30 years’ experience at Director level, in healthcare staffing across HR and Operations in both the NHS and private sectors and prior to that, worked as a qualified nurse in the NHS and in Industry. A generalist HR practitioner, she has particular skills and interest in change management, including M&A.

Carol joined Dearden in May 2019, working on projects with HEE and with 2 Mental Health Trusts.

Carol holds an MBA (Cranfield) and Chartered Grad CIPD status. She is also a qualified ILM7 Coach

Jo Dodds
Jo Dodds

Associate Jo is a senior HR professional with over 20 years NHS experience covering commissioning, secondary and primary care sectors. She is educated to a Post Graduate level in Human Resources Management with Chartered membership of the CIPD and has extensive operational experience having led numerous complex organisational change and employee relations issues.  

In her latest role as HR Director for a multi-site ‘super practice’, Jo worked with senior clinicians to establish a “fit for purpose” leadership structure  with a focus on the importance of communication, leading by example and developing a value-based culture.  

She has developed coaching skills, having been trained by YORLMC in peer-to-peer appraisals, and enjoys working with and supporting Practice Managers in their leadership challenges and communication along with their professional and personal ambitions. 

Seema Ahmed

Associate Seema is a HR Consultant  with particular expertise in Medical Staffing matters. She leads training and consultancy services for our sister company, Jane Cole Associates. Seema has extensive NHS experience, working in Medical HR roles including medical resourcing, medical employee relations and medical education. She currently works part-time in the NHS as a Medical Education and Revalidation Manager where she was responsible for implementing an electronic medical revalidation and appraisal process.

Seema is a Member of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development,  the National Association of Medical Personnel Specialists (NAMPS) and the National Association of Medical Education Managers (NAMEM). She has a post-graduate diploma in HR Management. 

Heidi James
Heidi James

Contracts Administrator Heidi’s experience spans support roles for a small scale social enterprise to major corporates. By the end of 14 years working in the proposals teams for two major construction firms, Heidi was leading the Marketing Support team and was advising on business intelligence. More recently, she had a broad support role within the development of an educational organisation with a social purpose. All these skills now come together to ensure that Dearden HR has a fair, transparent and organised approach to contracts and bidding.

Sharon Thumwood

Finance Sharon joined the company in August 2017. She is a qualified Chartered Management Accountant of 13 years and has worked within the finance Sector for over 25 years. Prior to joining us Sharon worked for DHL Express UK as Head of Financial Planning & Analysis managing a team and budget in excess of £130m. Sharon is a mother to 3 young children and in her spare time enjoys running. 

Diversity & Inclusivity

Dearden HR is committed to fostering an inclusive workplace culture that attracts and retains people from a diverse background. At the core of our growth strategy is inclusivity and we are committed to creating a supportive workplace to encourage and enable our talent to express themselves and share their ideas and be responsible for their impact on others. We are proud to be an equal opportunities employer where everyone is encouraged to develop and attain both personal and professional success as we recognise the positive impact this has on our internal culture and therefore with our clients.

We are committed in continuing our efforts in creating an environment where diversity thrives and is equally as important as delivering exceptional work for our clients.

A recent audit demonstrated our commitment to supporting diversity with 50% of the senior positions being held by women in the company, of which 25% represents our BAME talent.