Welcome to Rising Star!

What we do and what we're about

Rising Star is a recruitment business totally focussed on helping young people find employment. Whatever your career aspirations and whatever your starting point, we’ll help you map out the steps you need to take to achieve your employment goals.

We work with a broad range of employers who are looking to recruit young talent for their organisations – so whether it’s an apprenticeship, a traineeship or full time employment you’re looking for, we can help you find the opportunity that’s right for you.

We’ll work with you on your CV, interview technique, presentation skills, or whatever aspect of the recruitment process you need help with to ensure you secure that opportunity. And if it’s further training you need to help you climb that first rung on your chosen career ladder, we’ve got a huge network of contacts we can signpost you too.

Meet the team

Get to know us!


Justine Shepherd

Training Delivery Manager

Justine started working in the training sector in 1994 when she started working for a local training company. Justine’s role is that of Training Delivery Manager. In a nut shell she oversees the delivery of funded and non-funded training for people aged anywhere from 11 years up over. When away from the office her two children take up the majority of her time. She also enjoys cycling, motorsports and relaxing at the local pub with friends.

Val Barella

Learning & Development Coach

Val has over 30 years’ experience working in training and has worked for several of the region’s major training companies along the way. She is a corner stone member of our training team and is one of our Learning and Development Coaches. Outside of work Val enjoys shopping, socialising and volunteering. She’s also our social media queen and is never shy of a tweet or two!


Steven Welsh

Candidate Engagement Consultant

After attending University for 18 months, Steven decided it wasn’t for him. He contacted our Rising Star young people’s recruitment agency for some advice about what to do next and the rest is, as they say, history. After successfully completing an apprenticeship with Zenith he joined our training team as Candidate Engagement Consultant. He’s responsible for working with all of our Rising Star candidates and helping them find work. When he’s not busy doing that he’s a keen footballer and enjoys watching Newcastle United too! (Well most of the time).

Keith Oliver

Recruitment Consultant

Keith joined Zenith December 2015, prior to this he worked as an Employer Services Advisor for 4 years. He oversees business development and engagement with employers to secure recruitment, pre-employment training and apprenticeship opportunities. In his spare time, Keith enjoys football and he is huge supporter of Newcastle United. He also spends a lot of time watching his son play football and his daughter at gymnastic competitions.


Jo Perks

Training & Quality Administrator

Jo started working at Zenith in November 2015. Prior to working at Zenith, Jo worked as a Compliance Manager for a private training company in South Shields. Her role is to establish, co-ordinate and administer all training related systems, processes and data requirements and implement robust internal auditing systems in order to ensure total compliance with various external rules, regulations, guidelines and legislation. In her spare time Jo likes to Scuba dive and enjoys going to the cinema.

Susan Joel

Learning & Development Coach

Susan has worked at Zenith since November 2015. Before working at Zenith she was a Primary School Teacher for 6 years and prior to that worked in Welfare to Work at Working Links for 9 years. She stared to work for Zenith as a Learning & Development Coach and now can be seen delivering careers sessions to various schools and delivering training courses/ bootcamps for various employers across the region. She has 3 year old twin daughters which keep her busy but she still finds the time to keep fit where she can and loves the odd glass of wine now and then.