ArchformByte Chief Executive, Pennie Hudson talks to BQ about taking a bite out of the international market
What is it the company does?
ArchformByte is a specialist orthodontic laboratory based in Sheffield. We make anything that straightens, whitens or protects teeth including mouthguards for sports people, snoring aids, CThru clear aligners for straightening teeth, Monarch mouthguards, surgical wafers, anti-snoring appliances, digital models and model scans. In simple terms, if you can describe it, we can make it.
We also work to develop innovative products, treatments for malocclusion and have patented the Hudson InCligner, a digital functional appliance.
Describe your role in no more than 100 words
As ArchformByte’s Chief Executive, I try to work ‘on’ the business as much as ‘in’ the business, as often as possible. I make sure that ArchformByte is growing, as effectively and organically as we can, while looking for new opportunities that will aid that growth.
Give us a brief timeline of your career so far – where did you start, how did you move on?
I started out working for a US orthodontic product manufacturer, developing their distributor network in Europe in the late 80’s, then I worked for Churchill China expanding their distributor network in North & South America.
Following that, I had a career break due to my husband being terminally ill. I re-entered the orthodontic arena in the early 2000s.
My roles have always been in business development, exports, and now with the advent of digital intraoral scanning and 3D printing, the barrier to exporting in the orthodontic appliance market has been removed. Clinicians from any geography can send 3d scans of the mouth digitally and we can communicate electronically throughout the treatment process. We have already established trade links with clinical partners successfully across the UK and we now have an efficient export service available to dentists in USA, Spain and Portugal.
What do you believe makes a great leader?
I think that a great leader should aspire to be good at a mix of things. It is important to be good listener with strong interpersonal skills, and I also believe that a great leader gives encouragement to the team and should be someone who leads by example.
What has been the biggest challenge in your current position?
On a business level, the biggest challenge for me has been competing with a US global giant corporate which is well established and has dominated the market for years. ArchformByte is fighting to break that mould. We want to place our British-made products at the forefront of the industry.
How do you alleviate the stress that comes with your job?
I find that the best way to alleviate stress is to do something I really enjoy, so I try to go sailing most weekends with my partner, George. We enjoy sailing on the south coast and across to the Channel Islands and France. It’s exhilarating, great fun and a brilliant stress buster!
When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be a ballet dancer!
Any pet hates in the workplace? What do you do about them?
I don’t really have many pet hates. I am a stickler for tidiness and cleanliness and believe that a clean tidy work environment is healthier, happier and more efficient for the team. I also disapprove of tardiness but that is about it.
Where do you see the company in five years’ time?
Our main focus for the next few years is exporting and to tap into markets that haven’t been properly introduced to our products and our services. Our flagship product is the CThru clear aligner, so the biggest goal for the next five years is to establish the CThru brand, in both clinical and patient vocabularies in Europe, and further afield.
What advice would you give to an aspiring business leader?
I think the best advice I could give is for anyone who has a dream to go for it and to always trust your instincts.
What do you wish someone had told you when you started out?
On reflection, I wish that someone had told me to have more self-belief and confidence, but that does come with time and experience. Being self-sufficient is the best way forward, and self-funding where possible makes a big difference, as decision making is uninfluenced by external financiers.
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