By Katy Spence
Laura Orvidas has never worked in an industry that wasn’t male-dominated, from her early days consulting to her last 19 years of working for Amazon.
Orvidas was named the new CEO of outdoor tech company onX in June 2018. She comes to the Missoula-based company from a position at Amazon as the Vice President, Consumer Electronics. She said onX’s decision to hire a female CEO is exciting, not only for Montana but for a male-dominated industry.
“That speaks volumes to the board, Eric the founder, and the leadership team– that they would hire a woman from Chicago to run a tech company in Montana,” Orvidas said. “I think it really showcases that people recognize diversity is important and are trying to make positive change.”
Eric Siegfried will remain onboard as Founder, continuing work to enhance the off-pavement location experience, as well as leading advocacy efforts for public lands and access. Siegfried said Orvidas’ experience will help propel onX into their next stage of growth.
“Laura’s expertise in growing leaders, attracting talent and creating a people-focused growth culture was far beyond what we could have hoped for,” Siegfried said.
Orvidas came to Montana from Amazon in Seattle, where she ran different business groups, managed global hardlines, worked on branding and manufacturing, and ran the technology team that worked on features and functionality. This capped a 19-year tenure with the retail giant, much of which Orvidas spent in management and strategic roles. Orvidas started in the finance department at Amazon in 1999 and worked her way through most departments over the years, including Toys, Software, and Movies. Prior to working at Amazon, Orvidas was a senior associate at the Parthenon Group in Boston.
Orvidas said she enjoyed her position at Amazon, but onX’s growth appealed to her at a time when she was already looking for a career change.
“I needed something that was attractive enough that would pull me out of the Amazon ecosystem, but I wanted something that was smaller, that was growing, that had great product market fit, and where I really enjoyed the people,” Orvidas said. “I found all of those things in onX.”
onX closed a $20.3 million growth equity investment led by Summit Partners in February and announced their intentions to create dozens of jobs between Missoula and Bozeman. Orvidas is excited by the company’s growth and is looking forward to working with a smaller team. Orvidas said Amazon corporate headquarters is the size of the city of Bozeman, but the change is not unwelcome.
“I didn’t know every person on my team [at Amazon], but it’s achievable here,” Orvidas said. “It’s exciting to be at a place where there’s still a lot of growth ahead of you.”
Orvidas and her husband have family in Helena and spent a lot of time with their two children in the state before Orvidas accepted the position. The proximity to family and outdoor recreation opportunities for her son and daughter helped sell the move.
“It definitely wasn’t a tough sell,” Orvidas laughed.
Coming from the tech- and people-saturated Seattle, Orvidas said the closeness of Montana’s business networks surprised her.
“I’ve met more people in different aspects of the industry in the first two months working here than in several months in Seattle,” Orvidas said.
She’s met people in investment, cartography, potential clients, and other tech leaders who offer business advice, as well as tips about getting settled into her new Montana home.
“The willingness of people to help me integrate into Montana and figure out what place to live and what schools to send my kids and, you know, where to get a haircut, is really helpful when you’re changing locations and starting everything new,” Orvidas said. “That’s been really a positive surprise.”
With her at the helm, Orvidas said onX will continue to provide an excellent customer experience and serve existing users while looking to attract additional demographics.
Orvidas herself has been on hunts before but doesn’t consider herself a hunter — yet.
“I have been a partner on some hunts with [my husband], especially upland bird hunting,” Orvidas said. “We have bird dogs, and it’s really cool to see them work in the field.”
Orvidas has settled in Bozeman with her husband and two young children.
About the Author: Katy Spence is the Staff Writer and Digital Content Specialist for the Montana High Tech Business Alliance. She worked previously with the Missoula Current and Treesource, and has an Environmental Journalism Master’s Degree from the University of Montana.
About the Publisher: Launched in 2014, the Montana High Tech Business Alliance is an association of 350 high tech and manufacturing companies and affiliates creating high-paying jobs in Montana. For more information visit MTHighTech.org.