A PASSION for learning and supporting businesses is at the core of the new North East England Chamber of Commerce president’s approach to her working life.

Work has taken her around the world and back to her company, AES Digital’s base in Billingham, near Stockton.

Lesley Moody’s early career was spent teaching food technology in secondary school.

A slight shift in direction both geographically and academically proved a launchpad for her digital career when she appointed to develop Cleveland Council’s High Technology Initiative. The aim of this project was to help schools have leading edge technologies in the classroom.

This early insight into web development, in particular, formed the bedrock of AES Digital, set up in 1992 with her business partner Joe Telford, who had been working on the same initiative.

Initially the business focused on providing education resources and training materials for corporates.

It has subsequently expanded to design and create technology.

Lesley said: “We have always prided ourselves on developing bespoke products for our clients and are constantly looking at new systems which can add value to businesses. One of the latest business tools is aimed at careers support. There are three distinct systems which work well together.

“The first of these is an assessment system for pupils and students which indicates what they are good at and what careers they could think about. It also provides examples of actual jobs in that field and associated career paths

“There are two further complementary systems where schools, employers or local authorities can draw on information about young people who are specifically interested in roles available within their business. This is currently being trialled in three Tees Valley schools.

“The third element of our offer is an intern and placement management system where opportunities are flagged as being available without need for substantial input from teachers and employers to make it as easy and flexible as possible.”

Lesley’s reputation has grown to such an extent she was awarded an MBE for services to business, education and international trade. A further honour followed when she was appointed a Northern Powerhouse export champion by the Government.

AES Digital has been a Chamber member since the business was started and Lesley has been a member of its council for three years before being elected president in May.

She said: “It is a huge honour to be elected Chamber president and contribute to our North East business community’s on-going success.

“The past president John McCabe focused on mental health awareness and I want to build on this work with an emphasis on flexible working.

“Many of us will have employees who sometimes need support to care for children or relatives. In my experience, when you are flexible not only do you retain staff, you reap reward in a myriad of ways.

“North East England Chamber has 3,000 members from SMEs to major regional employers and I’m so proud to be helping them grow their businesses.”

Five minutes with Lesley Moody

Favourite North East building and why?

Bamburgh Castle because it’s so imposing and has a real wow factor.

What was your first job?

I was a Saturday girl in a fruit and frozen food shop in Gateshead underneath the old Michael Caine Get Carter car park, run by a neighbour in Northumberland where I lived.

What was your worst job?

Working in a dry-cleaners. The smell of chemicals triggered an asthma attack. I lasted two days.

What would you cook for me if I came round for dinner?

A three course meal, starters of prawns or scallops, beef wellington or venison casserole and a choice of desserts but definitely caramel and pecan cheesecake.

What would your superpower be?

I would love to travel back in time to either Tudor or Egyptian times, as an observer, unless I was wealthy.

Name four people who would be your perfect dinner party.

Chris Evans, Tim Berners-Lee for developing the internet, Capability Brown as I love gardening and he was from the region and Elton John.

Who is best to follow on twitter and why?

Steph McGovern as she is honest and funny.

Favourite book?

Wolf Hall

When did you last cry?

At each grandchild being born safe and well.

What is your greatest achievement?

My family – We are a very close family! My daughter and son each have the most wonderful husband and wife. They both have 2 children, a boy and girl, so I’m blessed with 4 beautiful grandchildren. And of course I also have my very supportive husband.

What is the best piece of business advice you have ever been given?

Be selective about the projects you take on and make sure you only agree to contracts that show your company to best effect. Its important to exceed expectations and sometimes you may have to walk away from a project if you can’t do that.

Favourite animal and why?

Dogs, I used to have wire-haired fox terrier called Dandy when I was a child

Last band you saw live.

Rumours by Fleetwood Mac.

Describe your perfect night in.

Making a meal and spending it with my husband.

Who would play you in a film?

I’ve often been told I look like Joanna Lumley so she could do it perhaps.

In another life I would be ….

Something to do with food. My family are always saying I should go on Bake Off!

What irritates you?

People who make promises but are then too laid back to follow things through.

What’s your secret talent?

I make amazing wedding and birthday cakes, so I’m told.