As the leader of a company, you are there to set an example, to lead and inspire a team individuals to achieve a series of business goals. But how do these business leaders go about their daily routine?
Business Leader spoke to Richard Vann – CEO of RVA Group about his working day.
What time do you usually wake up?
I’m an early riser, so will usually be out walking the dogs – Ben and Jerry – by 06:00.
What do you typically have for breakfast?
I know many will frown upon my breakfast choice, but I rarely eat in the mornings – hot water with ginger and lemon is my go-to start to the day.
What is the rest of your morning routine before you start work?
It depends what my working week looks like, but if I’m in the UK, I’ll usually be in the office for 07:30-08:00. So, I listen to the news with my wife and son before I drop him at school.
What is the first thing you do at the start of your working day?
We have long had an international presence – and are increasingly working further afield including the Middle East – so I always prioritise responding to any emails that have inevitably come in overnight. I am a big fan of virtual meetings too, especially with clients and colleagues based outside of this country, as I think face-to-face contact is important regardless of location.
Then I’ll focus on the strategic priorities I’ve already set for myself the previous day, which could include supporting particularly complex bids for upcoming projects, liaising with our teams as they progress large-scale decommissioning works in virtually every corner of the globe, or working on some of the seminars that we routinely deliver at industry forums internationally. We’ve got presentations coming up in Amsterdam, Prague and Moscow, for example – all in Q1 of 2020.
How do you prioritise your day’s work?
I’ve always been really disciplined with what needs to be both dealt with and delegated. This has helped me prioritise as the company has grown, it’s a skill I’ve relied on more and more – and I encourage it in others.
I am protective of my time and try to always think clearly about what are the must-do tasks, what are nice-to-haves, and what is – in truth – unnecessary.
Do you plan meetings or are they a waste of time?
I have never been a fan of meetings for meetings’ sake, and I’ll politely cancel – or at least reschedule – an appointment if there’s nothing to discuss. That said, sometimes the purpose of a meeting is to develop relationships or foster trust, so sometimes things beyond an obvious agenda need to be considered too.
I think anyone who does commit time to a meeting should plan what needs to be covered – including the ‘softer’ stuff. But I don’t think you always need to be in the same physical room for a meeting to be effective. We’ve begun to increasingly rely on technology over the years, opting to use tools like Teams where we can, for example. This cuts down on travel, alleviates diary pressures and means long-distance relationships are prioritised with the same magnitude as closer ones! Having said that there are occasions where sitting around a table to debate issues and observe the body language of all participants is essential.
Do you have a working lunch or is it good to take a break?
A similar response to my breakfast – I have a very light lunch, usually of fruit and nuts, so I don’t really need to take a break.
When does your working day finish?
I do try to prioritise a work-life balance – especially after 45 years of working – but the day finishes when it finishes. I could have a really late finish, particularly if I’ve been travelling. However, I’m a big believer that it’s not the time you put in, it’s what you do with the hours you’ve got, that counts.
How do you prepare for the next day’s work?
I’m a huge paper-phobe – the only thing I carry is a small A5 book, and it’s now a luxury that I can’t be without. I use this to list my ‘must-dos’, which means I’m better equipped for the day ahead.
Favourite piece of technology?
It’s an obvious thing to say, but my smartphone as it’s my ultimate connectivity to all the personal and professional things that matter to me. Thanks to our secure cloud I can work from anywhere in the world, which is important both as a leader of an international business and someone who likes travelling too!
How do you switch off?
I try to get to the gym at least three times a week, at weekends or before or after work, and have taken up the guitar again – I find being in the studio really therapeutic and ‘me’ time. I also have a particular interest in the period between the rise of Communism and the end of WWII, as my library at home and my wife’s frustrations with my ‘obsession’ testify.
Best piece of advice you’ve received?
Three golden nuggets in my book:
1. Be confident in deciding which projects to take and which to walk away from.
2. Do what you do best and leave everything else to others.
3. Never chase quick money and always focus on longer-term success.