In our January edition we chat with Neil Ryding, recently retired managing director at Fuel Additives Science Technologies Ltd, who speaks passionately of life and work and, despite, a very traditional background, shares some surprising recommendations.
1. Give your career history in 25 words or fewer
Traditional. Engineering degree from Manchester. Graduate apprenticeship. Front-end engineering job on major chemical plant. International sales and business management serving the oil industry. Business owner-director.
2. Describe yourself in 3 words
Loyal. Conscientious. Perceptive.
3. What were your childhood / early ambitions?
All the usual: bus driver, fireman, pilot, scoring 100 for England.
4. Describe your dream job (if you weren’t doing this?)
Golf course greenkeeper.
5. What’s the best business advice you’ve ever received?
Don’t listen to anyone who hasn’t done it.
6. Share your top tips for business success
Know what you’re doing; enjoy what you’re doing; believe in what you’re doing.
7. What’s your most recent business achievement of note?
Keeping our staff safe and healthy during the pandemic whilst staying fully operational and continuing to make progress as a business.
8. Tell us your greatest fear.
Failure – however you define it.
9. Which is most important – ambition or talent?
Talent. Although, regrettably, we live in an age where talent and knowledge no longer seem to be advantageous.
10. What’s the best thing about your job?
Knowing that we supply products and know-how with a high degree of efficacy and provenance without having to rely on half-truths to sell them.
11. Which is the quality that you most admire?
12. What are you most likely to say?
Let’s be realistic.
13. What are you least likely to say?
I’ll have that lovely salad.
14. Describe your perfect day
It is sunny and warm. I’ve played a round of golf on any of the Lancashire coastal courses. I’m pottering in the garden with Test Match Special on the radio and looking forward to a long summer evening barbeque with family, friends and red wine.
15. Do you have a favourite sports team?
Any British/English national team and Penwortham Cricket Club.
16. What’s the biggest challenge of our time?
Maintaining a stable and cohesive society.
17. Cheese or chocolate?
Both and sometimes together. Try it! Wensleydale and dark chocolate washed down with chilled cognac!
18. Share your greatest personal achievement
With my wife, raising four children who are all level-headed, contributing members of society.
19. What’s your pet hate or biggest irritant?
Dumbing down in all aspects of work and life. We should be striving for the best not accepting the average.
20. If you were on ‘Mastermind’ what would your specialist subject be?
BBC sports coverage in the 1970s and 1980s.
21. If you were elected to government what would be the first law you’d press for?
The introduction of a form of (non-military) national service.
22. If your 20-year-old self saw you now what would they think?
Well, that didn’t go to plan!
23. What is number 1 on your bucket list?
An active and comfortable third age involving as much travel as possible.
24. What 3 things would you take to a desert island?
My wife. A permanently charged and connected iPad. The complete works of Peter Kay.
25. Tell us something about you that people would be very surprised by
I’m not really a grumpy old man – honest.
26. Who would you most like to ask these questions of?
According to my colleagues, anyone with a big enough ego!