Meet the MD: Janet Bowden of Woodbank Office Solutions

Janet Bowden

Meet the MD: Janet Bowden of Woodbank Office Solutions

Woodbank office solutions provide office technology solutions to businesses of all sizes. Managing director Janet Bowden talked to BQ about her career so far and her plans for the future of the business.

What is it the company does?

Guided by our relentless commitment to customer satisfaction, Woodbank Office Solutions are  regarded as a high quality provider of office technology solutions. Our mission is to enhance customer print productivity using the very latest technology and innovation. Many companies don't actually know how much they spend on document processes and printing devices.  Flexible and easy-to-use, our range of professional multifunctional devices boost productivity with features to suit the needs of small workgroups or large departments. Whatever your printing, scanning and copying needs, the flexibility, capacity and user-friendliness of our multifunctional printers and copiers will help you to work a better way. We strengthen businesses no matter what size by providing them with the very best office technology which helps them avoid security risks, and streamlines the overall workflow and productivity of the company.

Describe your role in no more than 100 words

As the founding director of Woodbank my role has evolved over the past 30 years from ‘doing everything’ during start-up mode, through sales and distribution. Today, my role is to ensure that the ‘nuts and bolts’ of the company are in place whilst at the same time identifying new business opportunities. I lead a very capable team of account managers and service engineers. To this day I  still act as an account manager for my own customers who have signed with me since day one. I am more focused on the strategic direction, growth initiatives, and more offices.

Give us a brief timeline of your career so far – where did you start, how did you move on?

I didn’t start out in sales, I started in the world of catering. After obtaining my City & Guilds in Hospitality and Catering at Ashton College I decided to take a new direction with Rothschild’s Bank in Manchester, where I worked as a leasing account manager and then as an underwriter finding funding for businesses wanting to buy photocopiers. Once I had made my mind up to set up on my own and this was the career path I wanted to take, there was no stopping me.

What do you believe makes a great leader?

Exactly that, being a leader not boss. Being a leader is not about you it’s about the people that are on your team and how you can help them to succeed. 

What has been your biggest challenge in your current position?

Without a doubt my biggest challenge has been competing in a male dominated industry. Nowadays it has got a lot better. When I started in the copier industry there were hardly any women, especially copier business owners! I am ambitious. Ambition is not a character flaw, I categorically believe ambition is a perfectly acceptable characteristic for anyone wanting to better themselves.

How do you alleviate the stress that comes with your job?

When I’m not in the office or working at all, when I’m completed relaxed I love to fish, drink lovely red wine. I also play the guitar…not a lot of people know that about me.

When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?

I always wanted to work as a chef on a cruise liner!

Any pet hates in the workplace? What do you do about them?

I cannot stand having a meeting for the sake of ‘a meeting’ and also I despise negativity. I don’t want to hear and it also spreads like wildfire across the rest of the team.

Where do you see the company in five years’ time?

Our five-year plan includes significant growth. We want to continue to work on current initiatives to ensure that everyone at Woodbank has the opportunities to progress whilst increasing turnover.

Internally we have moved from being a relevantly small company to a medium sized company. Soon we will have bigger branches compared to what we have today; a head office in Stockport, South Manchester and then smaller offices in Liverpool and Leeds. We will be much bigger but our mission and core values will always remain.

What advice would you give to an aspiring business leader?

Don’t be afraid to employee people who are better than you.

What do you wish someone had told you when you started out?

It sounds pretty simple but you must work hard on building relationships with staff, suppliers and above all customers. Most of the time it’s the small things that make a big difference.

Woodbank Office Solutions were crowned Business of the Year (up to 1-5M) at the annual Stockport Business Awards 2017. We would also like to say congratulations to all the other finalists and winners. On Thursday 12th October, Woodbank team joined around 400 other local business people at Stockport Town Hall to celebrate the best that Stockport business has to offer.