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7 Questions with Richard Rabins
7 Questions with Richard Rabins
Name: Richard Rabins
Current title: CEO
Current organisation: Alpha Software Corporation
Richard Rabins focuses on strategy, accelerating global growth, and scaling the organization. Richard also served as CEO of SoftQuad International from 1997 to 2001, when it owned Alpha. In addition to his 30 years with the company, Richard played a key role as co-founder and served as president and chairman of the Massachusetts Software Council (now the Massachusetts Technology Leadership Council), the largest technology trade organization in Massachusetts. Prior to founding Alpha, Richard was a project leader and consultant with Information Resources, Inc. (IRI), and a management consultant with Management Decision Systems, Inc. Richard holds a master's degree in system dynamics from the Sloan School at MIT, and a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering, and a master's degree in control engineering from University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa. He has served on the boards of Silent Systems, Legacy Technology, and O3B Networks.
1. What have you found most challenging as a leader of a small or medium enterprise?
Office politics can become a huge hindrance to getting work done. It's critical to establish a team culture and hire people who enjoy being a part of highly productive teams. Be very careful about setting priorities because SMEs don't have the resources to do 100 things - you must stay focused.
2. How did you become a leader of an SME? Can you please briefly tell the story?
In my case, entrepreneurship was something that was prized in my family. I knew it was something I wanted to do. It really was as simple as quitting the job I had and jumping into a new opportunity.
3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?
I start my day with an early morning walk with my dog, Winston. After that, I do extensive reading of the morning news sites and papers. After that, I spend as much time as possible talking to customers, partners, and other executives. I can then use insights from those conversations in internal meetings to direct my team to opportunities or to combat challenges.
4. What's the most recent significant leadership lesson you've learned?
Going virtual during covid and keeping communications going has taught me a lot. If you've hired self-starting, competent people, transitions like this are easier, because your team will think for themselves and adapt quickly.
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?
I have enjoyed reading books about Winston Churchill. He had a clear mission and always encouraged teamwork. He was fully honest with people, sought to inspire them, and recognized great performance. There's a lot to learn from his dogged, persistent approach to goals.
6. How do you build leadership capacity in an SME?
Choosing the right people who can take on leadership and more responsibility is even more important in an SME because you don't have room for error.
7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a leader of an SME so far?
Listening to your customers is very important. Some of our product innovations, including our patented offline apps technology, came out of conversations with our customers. Customers will tell you what their business challenges are and what they need products to do for them.