Tim Ringo is an author, speaker, board advisor, and senior executive. Here he tells Business Matters what he plans to do now that he has ‘pro-tired’.
What do you currently do?
I recently retired as an executive in SAP Successfactors, a large German software firm. Or as I like to call it “pro-tired”, as I have switched my attention to focus on doing the things that really inspire me, and doing them when they fit in with hobbies such as boating and playing music in a band.
After 30 years working as a senior executive in companies like SAP, IBM and Accenture, it felt like the right time switch gears. Today I am an author, consultant, conference speaker and non-Executive Director on the board of an HR software start-up, all which I do through my company TimRingoDOTcom Ltd. My most recent book, Solving the Productivity Puzzle (Kogan Page) was published on August 13th, 2020, so I am also spending time supporting the book with press interviews, podcasts and webinars (everything is virtual these days!).
What was the inspiration behind your business?
I am regularly asked to do board advisory work and conference speeches/workshops, given my years of experience in the HR space. I really enjoy doing these activities, however you have to have a point of view to talk about, and I found in co-writing my first book, Calculating Success (Harvard Business Review, 2012) it is a great way to lay out your expertise and views in an easily digestible and portable format. I have always been fascinated with helping people and organisations embrace technology and change, so there is endless content to be written about!
So essentially, I set up my business around content offerings: books, blogs, speaking engagements, workshops and advisory. It was a natural progression, which these days is easy to do: I set up a website (timringo.com) and YouTube channel (Tim Talk), and was off and running.
What defines your way of doing business?
First of all, having what I believe is a unique point of view on business effectiveness and transformation and sharing that with other business leaders is the core of what I offer. As a management consultant, I have architected and led some of the largest and most complex business change programmes, and more recently, as an executive in a software firm, I understand all sides of the change equation – technology, processes, change and operating models. I have learned what works, but more importantly, what does not work!
Second, for me, it is all about being humble. Sure, I have seen and experienced quite a bit over a 30 year career, but I don’t know everything. Saying you don’t know something, when you don’t says as much as what you say when you do, know something.
Who do you admire?
I admire people who are innovative thinkers and, more importantly innovative doer’s. I cannot help myself from constantly thinking about and asking the question: how could things be better? So, I admire people and organisations that ask themselves the same question, and then do something about it. It makes work so much more engaging and fun! A great example is Elon Musk and his SpaceX organisation. He is leading an unprecedented effort to put humans on Mars, requiring a complete rethink of space travel. Everyone in the organisation is completely focused on this goal with Elon’s permission to think and do differently every step of the way.
What do you admire?
Innovative thinking and, more importantly innovative doing. I cannot help myself from constantly thinking about and asking the question: how could things be better? So I admire people and organisations that ask themselves the same question, and then dosomething about it. It makes work so much more engaging and fun!
Looking back, is there anything you would have done differently?
I have, for some time, been a supporter of the core idea of Black Lives Matter, which is that, unfortunately, there are just way too many instances of people of colour being injured or killed because of stereotypes about their skin colour – not just in America, but in other regions in the West. This needs to stop.
It is a complex issue with many factors – let’s be clear about this – but I fundamentally believe that white people should re-examine their views and attitudes and say to themselves: “should I think and do differently” when it comes to race relations. After the George Floyd murder, I asked myself this question. Unfortunately, I did not like the answer.
I believe I managed to do my fair share in addressing gender equality and gender pay in the workplace, however, I don’t think I did enough in finding, recruiting and placing people of colour into my teams. No, my teams were never all white, but I feel I could have done more in my career to tip the balance more in hiring people of colour. Going forward I will look to correct this.
What advice would you give to someone starting out?
Follow the advice of Rumi, the 13th century Persian Poet: “Everyone has been made for some particular work, and the desire for that work has been put in every heart”
Keep it in mind for yourself and for the people you lead.