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Thinking 'glocal' while staying local

Thinking 'glocal' while staying local

As a company Optimation is about more than just supplying professional services, according to its new CEO.

Rhoda Holmes, who has been in the position for just over a month, says the company takes a ‘glocal’ approach.

“We have a long-standing relationship with an Indian IT infrastructure company called Satyam. I use the phrase ‘glocal’, as we’re a local company with this global backing and huge capability to do work onshore and offshore.”

She says another great thing about the relationship is there’s not a lot that Satyam hasn’t tried elsewhere.

“We have access to fantastic intellectual property, case studies and customer references for what Satyam has already delivered.”

Optimation provides services right across the software development life cycle. Holmes says this can include business analyst issues, along with helping businesses select suitable applications for their technology needs then assisting them in implementing the applications. “We do that through a range of engagements such as architecture; sitting with a business client working out how their architecture works and how they want their applications to sit within the architecture stack.”

She adds that Optimation has its own Java Opensource and .Net skilled people. With offices in Auckland and Wellington, the company works for government departments and large companies such as Vodafone, Telecom and Air New Zealand. “These are predominately enterprise level businesses, but [we’re] still able to scale what we do to work with the smaller businesses as well.”

Holmes says she would like to change the way the company does business with partners. “We have strong relationships with IBM, Oracle, Sun, F5 and Fortinet. You’ll see us do a much more proactive, combined approach to the market in the coming year.”

After working at Gen-i Australia for the past five years, she says a flat leadership structure makes for quite a change. “We haven’t got layers and layers of managers between me making a decision and the guys out there doing their jobs. This gives us the opportunity to respond really quickly to what our customers want to do.”

There are around 75 staff in Auckland and another 75 in Wellington, so Holmes splits her time between the two offices. “We have been quite successful in attracting some top notch project management resources out of the UK. These are people who have been looking for that lifestyle challenge. Optimation is a company that is geared to grow significantly over the next two years. We’re increasing our people capability in the areas that we see are going to grow.”

Optimation has been operating for 17 years and is owned by Neil Butler. He was previously chief executive, but has stepped back to take a role on the board. “We have a really strong board of Neil Butler, Garth Biggs, Robert Knox and Michael Richard Palmer. I couldn’t be luckier with the board I get to work with,” says Holmes.

Another recent arrival to the company is Ken Fairgray, who was hired around the same time as Holmes from Crossware. He is focusing on new business development, whether it’s direct or through partners.

Optimation was recently featured in the MIS Strategic 100 and in Unlimited magazine’s Best Places to Work survey and Holmes is keen to build on this. “If we’re going to attract and grow we want to attract the best people. Our value proposition has to be unique, because of the way we look after their learning and training.”

Holmes tries to ensure people have fun at work. “A lot of the time our staff aren’t in the office, because they’re based at places like Vodafone. Some of our people have been working on projects for four years so you have to give people a reason to want to be a part of Optimation, which is why we have the strategy sessions.”

The strategy sessions are held every two weeks in both offices, so she can hear feedback from staff.

Holmes is really enjoying her new role. “I make it a philosophy in life never to do anything that makes you miserable and I’m really enjoying it [here]. I see a huge growth potential here.”


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