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What I’ve Learnt: Alistair Munro, Founder and Group CEO, Ryse Energy

Alistair Munro

Alistair Munro is managing director and group CEO of Ryse Energy, a specialist in decentralised renewable energy.

With offices in Blackpool, Ryse Energy’s core technology is small-scale wind with over 180,000 installations globally.

Here, Munro (pictured above with his three sons) shares all the lessons he’s learnt across his life and career, including how he was once a world champion in canoeing…

Which single daily habit or practice could you not do without?

I have to ‘me’ time each day and to discipline myself to make time to clear my head so that I don’t get overly excited or have too much brain ‘buzz’. That might be some long-distance swimming, exercise, or just simply relaxing, but it needs to be my time with nothing else to distract me.

What’s been your luckiest break?

The luckiest break I ever had was moving to the UAE in 1986. I was a world champion in canoeing and wanted to do something completely different so I moved to the UAE and that set me on the path to international business opportunities. In 2017, we used the money from a previous business exit to reinvest into decentralised power applications, grew the businesses and merged them all into Ryse with the UK headquarters in Lancashire.

During my early days in the UAE, I was able to meet a significant number of Indian colleagues and it opened my eyes to the opportunity in that market, and that’s something I’ve continued to follow and build on. We’re now developing a Joint Venture in Gujarat following a trade mission organised by the Department for Business and Trade, which included an introduction to the National Institute of Wind Energy in Chennai. India is a huge market opportunity, and you need patience to build a position there, but it’s worth it.

What’s your best failure?

My first investment into renewable energy. I lost money, but out of that I gained the experience and a much deeper knowledge of the industry that I’ve built on to help get Ryse Energy where it is today.

What is the best investment you’ve ever made, either financial or time?

Time with my children. I have three sons, and the oldest two actually work within Ryse which is great – I never believed I’d be working with my children!

Which podcast or book would you recommend others to read and why?

Sun Tzu’s Art of War. It’s an ancient Chinese military treatise and a lot of the morals and stories in it relate to business today – such as, ‘don’t pick a fight unless you’ve already won it’. I read this book really early on in my career and I’ve given away many copies to colleagues over the years.

What one piece of advice would you give your 21-year-old self?

Never look back. You can never change what’s happened in the past, and you need to be driving forward all the time. If you keep looking back, you only have ‘what ifs’.

Who or what has had the single biggest influence on your working life?

One of my first major jobs was with a Swiss corporate that sent me to one of the top business schools in Europe in Lausanne at the age of 31. It was a huge influence on me, and they saw something in me that I didn’t think existed at the time – I learnt I was better than I thought I was, and it gave me a lot more confidence.

Tell us something about you that would surprise people.

What surprises people the most about me is how many different aspects there are to my life. From my younger age when I was a canoeing world champion, to my business background, to the fact that I was a Scot living in the UAE and Singapore. It’s easy for people to pigeonhole you.

If there was one thing you could change about your career, what would it be and why?

I wouldn’t change anything. I’ve been very fortunate to be in the right place at the right time, several times over.

What does success look like to you?

Success for me is about growing an international business across multiple continents, being respected as an industry leader, and sharing the benefits of that growth with the people across the team who helped create it.

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