OneFit Solutions, based in Chorley, employs ten people and is part of the Logma Group. Business Lancashire spoke to CEO, Audrey Odell about the company’s recent progress, the importance of leadership and why she is pleased to have been nominated for 2017 Lancashire Business Woman of the Year.
Audrey’s first job was as a systems analyst in Poole, Dorset, following in the footsteps of her design engineer brother. This passion for anything technical, from how it works to continuous innovative improvements, has been a core element throughout her career. It is also crucial to the way OneFit approaches its relationships with customers.
“As a software solutions developer, we must always ensure that our software solutions are future proofed and practical, meeting the needs of our customers in a cost effective, customised way” said Audrey
“I learnt at an early stage in my career, designing radar management systems, that delivering operational benefits and improving a company’s bottom line are key drivers. It is not about installing the latest technology for technology sake. The solution must deliver something more, otherwise why should anyone buy it?”
One of the main attributes of the team at OneFit is that they are totally committed to giving objective, detailed advice and solutions, basing a proposal, whenever possible, on a standard OneFit software product, in order to keep the cost down. Options for specific tailoring, if suitable, can also be considered. As a result, a customer’s spend is concentrated on the vision and solution (the How), not the day to day technology required.
At the centre of all OneFit’s customer relationships is Audrey, although she is quick to point out that it is a team effort and that, as the CEO, she does a lot of listening, encouraging and helping colleagues to develop their ideas.
“I am hands-on and I instinctually take responsibility, but I also recognise the need to delegate. If you have a strong, integrated team, like we have at OneFit Solutions, a task should be allocated to the person with the best fit to deliver it, regardless of job designation.”
Her advice to anyone starting a career? “Don’t restrict your opportunities and avoid a silo mentality. Use your strengths and skill set to experience a number of sectors and job roles in order to find out what you are really good at, rather than what you or others may have mapped out for you.
“It is important to develop depth and breadth of understanding, especially of your customer’s operational processes. Then be passionate about what you do, since it will no longer be a 9 to 5 job, but something which consumes your working day with enjoyment and pride.”
With a lifetime of business related knowledge, great experience and clear leadership management skills, it is unsurprising that Audrey has been nominated for the 2017 Lancashire Business Woman of the Year. Except to Audrey that is!!
“Yes, I was surprised to be nominated. I think it is more a recognition of the progress everyone at OneFit has made over the last few years and how we have used these experiences to benefit our customers, by applying these lessons to everything we do. We recognise our strengths and track record, but also know that in a world where technology is rapidly changing, we cannot stand still. To maintain our progress, we must keep up with future software design, development and supporting technology”
Asked to summarise her key characteristics, she modestly replied:” Resilience; tenacity but most importantly, I aim to be a good communicator, which is so important in business, regardless of the job you do. It is vital that you listen to and understand your customer and supply chain needs and then, once you have a solution, be able to explain it in terms of benefits, seamless interactivity and not use IT jargon and gobbledygook.
“My daily buzz is helping customers to improve their processes to grow their business. We reflect in their success but also go to the Nth degree to resolve issues, particularly through customised demonstrations of suggested software, in turn providing practical solutions.
“As my career has evolved, I have realised that everyone in a company has a sales related role, regardless of whether or not you are customer facing. Ultimately, customers have to want to work with you and believe they can trust the people to deliver what they have promised.”
What about the future? “I am very interested in the concept of Corporate Social Responsibility and think it is important to give something back. That’s why I enjoy working with students at Lancaster University to give them practical business related experiences, which they can include on their CVs and hopefully help them get a career in software development.
“Providing technical solutions to a company’s operational issues, is an area which has always fascinated me and still does. Being innovative and creative is all part of being a people person, hopefully being someone that companies want to work with.”