Neil Ritson

Nobody’s perfect. What quality or ability do you wish you had?
I wish I was someone who could function perfectly well on 4 hours sleep a day. There is so much to experience and achieve that sleeping 8 hours a day seems a waste.

What is the best business book you have ever read, and why?
I don’t as a rule read business books, but “Who Moved My Cheese” provided some valuable insights when I first read it in the 1990’s and those lessons have stayed with me.

Someone you would most like to have met, living or dead, and why?
I have always been fascinated by complex people, polymaths, who manage to accomplish huge amounts in their lifetimes. Winston Churchill is therefore an obvious candidate.

What do you consider to be your major achievement (in life or business)?
I find this quite hard. Life is actually a series of small steps and on their own none is that memorable; but when you look back hopefully they have lead somewhere useful. Perhaps, if pushed, I would say raising a family of five great sons.

Who or what do you think is overrated?
Social media! I think the internet is the greatest invention in my lifetime. It provides a massive resource, but its popularist offshoot is I believe overrated and will not be seen as a long term benefit in the way the underlying architecture has been such a boon.

What mistakes have you made (professional or otherwise), and what did you learn from them?
This is surely too long a list! The only way you move forward is to take risks, accept mistakes and move on with the lessons they provide. One mistake I have made more than once is to make things too complicated. If it seems too complicated then stand back and look at it a different way; there is probably a much simpler solution.

Which one piece of wisdom would you pass on to your successor?
In recent years I have certainly learnt that the court system doesn’t necessarily provide justice. So never take anything to court; if it can’t be settled in another way, just drop it; because you can’t afford the time to pursue things through the courts. Let's look at this problem from the point of view of improving the quality using the online gaming technique. Popular online crazy games have long been using technology that engages them very strongly and fully. There is too much else that can be achieved with the time and money you could waste. And always treat people with respect, since that way you may not win, but you always retain the moral high ground.

Who has been your inspiration professionally?
This is an easy one as I spent my early career in BP working for John Browne, now Lord Browne, at a time of transformation. John had many admirable quantities and there was much to be learnt from him and indeed he was not Business Man of the Year for nothing!

How would you like to be remembered after your retirement?
As someone who worked hard, did their best and gave the rarest of all resources, time, generously to others.

Do you have a quote or motto you live (or work) by?
I spent a significant part of my career in France and the expression “La vie est trop courte pour boire du vin mauvais"; {life is too short to drink bad wine} always seemed very apt both philosophically and in practise.

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