Richard Chown

richard chown

It was an enjoyable chat with Richard Chown, an unassuming leader, humble and kind. An exceptional communicator, Richard has a natural ability to stand in the other person’s shoes. This results in him being able to understand what his clients and colleagues need and because customer service is important to him, he has a lot of repeat business. Outside of work he coaches kids rugby, always looking to help others grow and develop. An inspirational leader. 


What is the book (or books) you’ve given most as a gift, and why? Or what are one to three books that have greatly influenced your life?

I particularly like reading autobiographies and gave Becoming by Michelle Obama to my Wife and Mum who found it inspiring. I enjoyed reading Martin Johnson The Autobiography.

The fictional thrillers from Christopher Brookmyre are fascinating. There are usually 3 or 4 separate stories going on until towards the end they all merge.


What purchase of £100 or less has most positively impacted your life in the last six months (or in recent memory)? (Brand and model, where you found it?)

I’m a petrol head and love anything with two wheels. Few months ago I went mountain biking with the kids and I’ve never seen them have so much fun. It was a beautiful experience we shared together. Fresh air, exercise. I recently bought bits and pieces to upgrade their bikes.


How has a failure, or apparent failure, set you up for later success? Do you have a “favourite failure” of yours?

I’ve learned more from failing than from success. I failed more when I was younger and only really analysed this years later and put things in place to be more successful. 


If you could have a gigantic billboard anywhere with anything on it —metaphorically speaking, getting a message out to millions or billions — what would it say and why? It could be a few words or a paragraph. (If helpful, it can be someone else’s quote: Are there any quotes you think of often or live your life by?)

Smile. Be nice. Be happy. Keep it simple.

Through your actions do things for others.


What is one of the best or most worthwhile investments you’ve ever made? (Could be an investment of money, time, energy, etc.)

I get an awful lot out of coaching kids at sport. I love to see kids develop a passion for sports that I love. It’s kind of giving back and seeing them flourish like I did. Sport means so much to me both as a participant and spectator. It helped shape me as an individual. It’s where I learned my core values of teamwork and fair play. 


What is an unusual habit or an absurd thing that you love?

Apparently I’ve always got my finger up my nose!


In the last five years, what new belief, behaviour, or habit has most improved your life?

Self-belief. Since starting my own business 5 years ago I realised that I can do more than I imagined.


What advice would you give to a smart, driven student about to enter the “real world”? What advice should they ignore?”

Don’t be afraid of making mistakes or ask questions. There are no silly questions.

Beware of getting involved in office politics. 

Ignore anyone that suggests qualifications are everything. I don’t have a Charted Engineering status but I’ve created a successful career nevertheless. In my experience enthusiasm trumps qualifications any day of the week.


What are bad recommendations you hear in your profession or area of expertise?

I tend to work with people who share similar values to me. But the insurance industry that operates in my field does frustrate me because they continue to blame Covid for a bad culture. However, in my view it’s all been self-created. There’s a skills shortage because they haven’t put the processes in place to hire staff and train them and look after them. These days technically complex engineering is being driven by accountants, so the engineering gets diluted. 


In the last five years, what have you become better at saying no to (distractions, invitations, etc.)? What new realisations and/or approaches helped? Any other tips? 

It’s difficult to turn work down. I’ve realised it’s better to be able to deliver a level of service clients are paying for, that I can put 100% effort Into. I reluctantly and regrettably say no.


What does a balanced life look like to you? Has a work or a project you have been focused on caused you to neglect other areas of your life?

Work-life balance has tipped towards work since starting my business, The last year in particular has been very busy. Ideally, I’ll only work for the next 10 years. Some factors are going to be outside of my control on this though.


When you feel overwhelmed or unfocused, or have lost your focus temporarily, what do you do? (If helpful: What questions do you ask yourself?)

I normally go and lie under the duvet! Then I go on my push bike or mountain bike and I find a solution.


What does leadership mean to you?

Lead by example. Listen and value other people’s points of view. People want to follow and invest in the aim.


Which people have most inspired you in your life and why?

The person that has inspired me most in recent times is the late Doddie Weir. How he tackled his own personal battle with Motor Neuron Disease whilst using his own platform to raise awareness and funds for research into this terribly debilitating disease was completely selfless and inspiring.


What do the words principles and values mean to you?

They are the cornerstone of my character and what I believe in.


If you had a forum to speak to 50 leaders, what question would you pose to them, to get them thinking about and being better leaders?

What do your employees really think of you? What would they most like to change about you?


What one thing could you do that you aren’t doing now, that if you did on a regular basis, would make a tremendous positive difference in your personal life?  What one thing in your business or professional life would bring similar results?

Personally I’d like to get back to my regular exercise routine of yoga and pilates 15 minutes a day because I know it will help my relationships and professionally I know it will give me more energy and more focus.


Have you ever engaged with self-help, mentoring or coaching? If so, how?

Yes, after the boys were born I went through a period of self-doubt so I had counselling sessions and went to self-help classes. I’d got into the habit of questioning why things weren’t as I’d expected them to be. The counselling provided me with a lot of clarity.

Topic: 50 in 50