Thank you to the 1,400 leaders who’ve generously done the 7 questions!
I hope reading
7 Questions with Ian Robinson
helps you in your leadership.
7 Questions with Ian Robinson
Name: Ian Robinson
Current title: Vice President of Quality
Current organisation: Teledyne
I am 49 years old with a wife and 2 fantastic children. I am currently working within a medical device organisation after spending the majority of my career in Automotive. My career started in Finance before I moved into the field of Quality and Regulatory. My passion lies within Quality and continual improvement where I am constantly looking for ways to reduce waste and improve ways of working. My mantra is "there is always a way".
1. What have you found most challenging as a CEO or executive of a large enterprise?
I have worked across several different countries and cultures and the main challenge has always been understanding the cultural differences and how to get the best out of the associates. Any organisation is only as good as its people.
2. How did you become a CEO or executive of a large enterprise? Can you please briefly tell the story?
I had to overcome many obstacles to follow my desire to succeed. I started my career within finance at a large automotive OEM where I started to learn the Japanese methodologies and best practices, which later in my career has held me in good stead. I moved into Quality within the same organisation where I was able to apply the best practices within the supply base. I found myself being held back from reaching my goal due to the fact I did not have a formal qualification so I decided to study for my Masters Degree during my spare time which was a huge challenge and a great achievement. I successfully passed my Masters Degree in 2014 in the same time period as a full time student which required me to study from 04:00 each morning while still working full time and while still looking after my family. Once I put together my qualification along with my learnings from the Japanese OEM I moved on from strength to strength and gained promotions within different organisations. This did not come without a cost as I had to make family sacrifices in order to follow my dream and required me to move to different countries across Europe while leaving my family in the UK.
3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?
Generally my day is structured by achieving the daily tasks such as approving changes and answering emails within the first 2 hours of each day. Then my day is used to follow up on action plans and coaching my managers in the best practices that I have learnt by implementing standards around TQM reporting, reporting and time management. During the many meetings at this level I also ask the required probing questions to ensure the organisation understands the regulatory and compliance requirements to ensure continual improvements. The rest of my day is spent working on the strategy for improvements which leads me to writing a to do list at the end of the day to ensure I know what priorities need to be followed up on for the next day. I always carry a notepad with me so I can jot down any items or ideas that come to mind during the day.
4. What's the most recent significant leadership lesson you've learned?
The most significant lesson I have learnt is that not all people are the same however there is always a way to improve, therefore when faced with a challenge, not all associates will understand the required output in the same way. By understanding this I am able to change my approach to the challenge and come at it from different angles to ensure they understand what we are trying to achieve. Additionally it is vital that you take your team members with you on your journey of change and do not leave them behind. This requires many different reflection steps to align understanding and confirmation of the requirements is still understood and accepted.
5. What's one book that has had a profound impact on your leadership so far? Can you please briefly tell the story of how that book impacted your leadership?
My go to book is "Who moved my cheese" which briefly explains how we need to adapt to change and aligns beautifully with Einstein's theory of insanity. If we keep doing the same things then we cannot expect to achieve different results. Any organisation needs to embrace change as a chance to succeed.
6. How do you build leadership capacity in a large enterprise?
For me leadership capacity is about willingness to learn (everyday is a school day), be willing to make mistakes and learn from them, be willing to tackle the difficult situations at the earliest opportunity and always question the status quo (there is always a way....). By embracing these attributes your organisation will follow and will not be afraid to make suggestions or make mistakes. It is only by making mistakes and learning from them are we able to improve and move forward.
7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a CEO or executive of a large enterprise so far?
My meaningful story is a combination of the answers supplied above. It is about understanding the strengths and weaknesses of each person and utilising them to achieve the best possible results. Embracing change and looking for ways to continually improve by questioning the status quo. A leader and organisation is only as good as the people who they work with and coach. There is always a way and always a solution to every problem and by being open minded to change and challenges can you achieve this.