Ralph Richardson Leadership Influencer of the Sea, Education, Science, and Technology. Ralph’s journey shows how to pause and progress during pivotable times:
• Last century taking technical training and exploring the ocean; [Ralph Richardson 2:36-5:15]
• Nautical History [Ralph Richardson 5:16-13:30]
o January 2008 Ralph Richardson – 1st Non white commodore of the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club. [Ralph Richardson 12:18]
• At the turn of the century moved out of technical into management of people and placement; [Ralph Richardson 14:11-15:47]
• Pursing leadership, philanthropy and mentoring people; [Ralph Richardson 15:47]
• Leaning into graduate studies, becoming a business developer of a private cloud based business; [Michelle St Jane 17:00]
• Exploring retirement and re-emerging as a leader. [Ralph Richardson 17:53-20:30]
Ralph Richardson Leadership Influencer of the Sea, Education, Science, and Technology. Ralph’s journey shows how to pause and progress during pivotable times:
“I just could not feel fulfilled until I did ocean trips” [Ralph Richardson 5:16]
“I was a manager at BFM. We were looking at a few concepts and I really like the soft skills of management. How do you encourage people? How do you motivate people? I was looking for a degree that help me to understand international cultures.” [Ralph Richardson 18:11/19:18]
About the Guest
Currently Co-Owner and President of Winsome Tours and Consulting Limited.
Consulting at the Bermuda College Foundation as Acting Executive Director.
Member of the board and executive committee of the Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences.
Member of the overseers of the Sea Education Association at Woods Hole Mass.
Social media, website and email
Michelle St Jane 0:00
Welcome to my podcast, Life and Leadership: A Conscious Journey. This is a weekly podcast for global leadership and reemerging leadership. A unique destination for conversation around less discussed topics and learning about leadership, conscious stewardship and legacy.
My name is Michelle St Jane and I am your host. I have a vision to create a circle of influence, transcendence leadership for the world and outer space. My life centers on creating innovative podcast content. Channeling knowledge, experience and wisdom into creating quality, virtuous, visionary leadership at its zenith.
Here's the who of this episode. Ralph Richardson, man of the sea. He has gone from chief pilot of the submarine Enterprise to authoring “Bermuda Boater.” And there’s a new course coming online soon. There'll be more information about that.
Ralph has been the Commodore of the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club. He's also contributed to the success of the America's Cup in Bermuda in 2015. Ralph, a conscious steward of education, has turned his textbook, “The Bermuda Boater,” into navigational courses.
Ralph’s work centers on science, education and technology. At the at the turn of the century, he became the executive director of a marine science museum, the Bermuda underwater exploration Institute. He went to become an executive director of a multinational corporate foundation. Ralph's going to share his amazing story. Ralph, I'm going to hand it over to you because there's so much we can share and your story is so inspirational.
Ralph Richardson 1:50
Okay, where would you like to start?
Michelle St Jane 1:56
Perhaps at the beginning, or the highlights? What are you most inspired by Ralph?
Ralph Richardson 2:01
Well, I think what inspires me most is about relationships. I've been doing some writing about myself in a bio. And one of the things that, that I'd see continuous throughout my entire life is the inspiration that I got from other people. The opportunity that many people gave me that I felt I didn't deserve. I’ve had wonderful opportunities, many experiences.
My life started at the Bermuda Technical Institute. I transferred from an academic school, the Berkeley Institute, to a technical school, the Bermuda Technical Institute, which was a Technical High School.
For the first time in my entire life I received the first place in anything was the motor vehicle technology exam done through the City and Guilds of London, an international certification. I finished my first year with a distinction. I learned that physics had a practical application in technical in motor vehicle technology. I had done physics in an academic school, and I couldn't understand why I had to study Boyle's law and Charle’s Law and Ohm’s Law. Things that I thought I would never use. But I found they were very important in a technical field and understood the concepts. Applied Technology is what changed my life. So, eventually after five years, I became a certified technician and had advanced diesel engine certification.
I would leave the technical side and go into the fire service as a fireman. Within a year I was transferred to the engineering division, where we not only repaired our vehicles, but we actually designed and assembled them there at the station. That was a that was a very interesting career as a young man at 21 years old the Fire Service was interesting and exciting. Instead of polishing brass and sweeping floors, for most of the day, I spent time in the engineering division, which was with both encouraging and very, very interesting. Always had something different to do.
Along with that, I was still a fireman and worked my way up in the ranks and eventually became a lieutenant in the Bermuda Fire Service. At one point, I was second in command of the volunteer brigade. In the volunteers. I was the senior training officer. That was my first step into leadership as a lieutenant in the Fire brigade at the age of, just trying to think, 28. I was a Lieutenant and stayed on as a volunteer for many years.
The chief engineer in the workshop was an avid reader. He especially loved to read marine books and he would share them with me. And I read one book that I say changed my life. It was Farley Mowatt’s book, “The Great Seas Under.” He wrote interesting true stories about the sea.
At that point, I just would not feel fulfilled until I did an ocean trip. And that came about quite by accident. And well, I believe in Providence. I did get that opportunity. In 1981, I met Cecilia Unger, she was the first female owner of the world's most famous yacht at the time. It was the “Great Britain II.” It had won the first two Whitbread round the world races.
Cecilia Unger purchased it. She wanted to be the first woman to win the round the world race in the Great Britain II, a 78 foot Maxi yacht.
I went to meet her as I knew that she’d had a problem because the boat had been left in Bermuda after a hurricane in October of 1980. She had to leave it here because her French crew threatened to take her life if she did not come to Bermuda. They were afraid after the hurricane. She came here and she fired all of the crew.
She was going to make another attempt in February of that year to sail this large yacht to England with her ex-husband and a young Belgian friend of his. Not knowing what I was getting into I went to and asked if I could join her. At the time I had a local captain's license I had turned to the sea. We lived on Darrell’s Island at the time. But I had no ocean experience. So I went to see her and she said “have you done ocean and have you sailed before?” And I answered “not really … not really” to her questions. She responded that she wanted experienced crew.
The next day I went back, and asked her, “Have you run the boat?” She said “no, I've got the batteries charging.” So I picked them up in the car and drove them back to the boat. I took them down and I said “you've got a few problems here. Your charging system isn't working,” and so on and so on. And I said, “Well, guess what? I'll do it free of charge.”
For the next 10 days, I went down and I got everything working. And her ex husband said “you have to come I hate the engine room.”
I was going to go and get off in England. She said “I cannot afford to pay your way back. I sold my house to buy this boat.” Now, she just didn't have a lot of money. So I offered to crew, but she could not afford to send me back and I was not gonna go. One day, as I was finishing up, she said “listen, we've been talking to local government.” The reason she had to rush out is that she would have to pay the in-port duty(tax) after six months, which is required in Bermuda. And so she had to move the boat, she said “we've gotten permission from the Bermuda government to sail to another port, and back. And once we get back time is unlimited, we can stay longer.” She had arranged for some off duty Royal Navy sailors to sail her boat back in April of that year.
So I was invited to go on what was to be the most exciting, to this very day, the most exciting portion of my life. I got to sail on the Great Britain II the world's fastest yacht! It has the elapsed time record of 147 days around the world. An amazing opportunity.
I went initially as engineer. My job was to make sure the engines and all the machinery work well. And so I went. Of course, the time I spent at the engine room was about four hours a day. The rest of the time I was sailing, I was learning to sail the boat. We left (Bermuda) in a tremendous storm. In fact, there were 18 to 20 foot seas just after a major winter gale on March 6 of that year. First though, we sailed all the way to the Virgin Islands. We were there in six days. We spent another week sailing around the Virgins. I’d never been to the Caribbean. I remember we pulled into Jost Van Dyke a tiny island with about 200 residents. About a third of the size of Bermuda. We actually just made the trip into a vacation.
Then when we sailed back to Bermuda we found ourselves in a treacherous Atlantic storm with 25-foot seas. Just the type of thing I wanted to experience after reading Farley Mowatt’s book. I wasn't afraid at all. There was no seasickness at the time. We actually had had a couple of major incidents on the boat. Which Cecilia Unger helped to take care of. She never let anyone risk their lives. She would be there first. I admired Cecilia Unger, a tremendous young woman. At 34 years old and owning and captaining her own ship, turned out with six of us as crew. She was able to put together a little crew from Bermuda. They were all foreigners. Jim Ferris and his son, a young Belgium friend, her ex-husband, and myself.
A Dutch guy decided to underwrite the trip. He paid for the fuel and everything. He said, “I'm gonna give you this money, but I have to go I’ve never been to sea before.” He turned out to be a liability on the way down because he couldn't be left alone to do anything. He would make mistakes. But by the time he came back, I always say it and I kept a diary on that trip, it was almost like a light bulb going off over his head. He finally figured out how to steer the boat. He was so good at it that we would leave him alone and relax. He was so excited about it when we sailed back to Bermuda.
I would see the boat one more time when it came to Bermuda under new ownership and, and the then Captain invited me to help him navigate from St. George to Hamilton. And that's the last time I saw the JB two but that changed my life from then on.
I will just move on to say that since then I have had 20,000 miles of open ocean experience. Oh probably 10 ocean races from the United States to Bermuda, Annapolis to Bermuda, Marion to Bermuda and the Newport to Bermuda. I competed in all of those races as navigator. I learned to do celestial navigation in the school year 1982/1983 with Captain Ian Clark, at what is now, the Bermuda College.
After completing a navigation course and celestial navigation using the stars and the sun I competed in the Marian race in 1983. We actually won a trophy. In 1987 we were the first boat in class A, the largest boats out of 147 yachts, we were third across the line, I won the navigators trophy again. In 1993, the trophy because we were using celestial, we weren't using all the fancy electronics, except at the very beginning at the very end. You could put on the electronics just to help to navigate through the reefs. But for the rest of the race 630 nautical miles, using the stars in the sun.
Now sailing with all these guys, they were members of a yacht clubs, I'd never been a member of a club. But after the race towards the end of the last century, I was invited to join the Bermuda Yacht Club in 1999. In 2000, January, I became Commodore and after the launch of The Bermuda Boater, second edition of my book, I was invited to join the executive. Then they asked me if I’d joined as a flag officer. I became Commodore in 2008. I became the first non white Commodore of the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club. I served for successfully two years as Commodore of the Club, everyone does two years.
I've taught navigation at the Warwick Community School for more than 20 years. For four years, I taught royal yachting Association courses at the Bermuda college. So that's my that's my nautical history in a nutshell. I started teaching navigation, that's coastal navigation at the Warwick community school. Just after one of my races, that would have been around 1989 or so.
In 1992, I published the first edition of The Bermuda Boater and second edition 2004. The second edition and still teaching navigation. After 25 years, I gave up teaching navigation until now we'll talk about that later. But that's a little bit of my boating history. The third edition of Bermuda Boater was published in 2016.
From a point of view of leadership. As I mentioned, my first leadership role was as a fireman. A junior officer, at first as a leading fireman then as a sergeant. Then in the volunteer Division I became a lieutenant and like I said, second in charge of the volunteers.
My next guess real leadership role came as I decided to get into insurance. Actually, the next leadership role was on a submarine.
I was invited to take on the role as chief Operations Officer of the tourist submarine, The Enterprise, it was a 44-passenger submarine that could carry 44 passengers down to 200 feet. With no submarine experience, I went off to the Virgin Islands for three months to look at another submarine, and get into operations. I work with them for three months. I came back and I felt I understood enough to get started. I ended up having to write the operations manual for the submarine Enterprise in Bermuda. We started carrying passengers in 1986.
I left in 1994. It actually continued one more year after I left and then discontinued. During that year, I'd gotten into the insurance industry at Bermuda’s largest insurer. Bermuda Fire Marine which became BFM. I was in claims because that's something I knew about. I didn't know much about insurance. I certainly knew about boats, cars and some construction in Bermuda. I was a loss adjuster for that company for two years. Then they moved me to underwriting. After two years of that, they asked me to apply for a manager's job. I didn't think I was able, I was studying insurance and I managed to pass my first two exams and so I was really into insurance. I managed the personal lines for the BFM for two years.
Then I was offered an executive director job at a science museum. And then after two years, I was offered an executive director's job with ACE an international insurance company. I became the executive director of their foundation, the second largest corporate foundation in Bermuda. I did that for 10 years before semi retirement.
Note: The ACE Foundation is now known as the Chubb Charitable Foundation (see resources at the end of the transcript).
It was the master's degree that caused me to quit my job. I started a masters degree thanks to Michelle St Jane, who encouraged me to continue my studies.
I started a master's degree with the University of Liverpool. After one year, I determined that I could not finish it and work. So I took an early retirement. Took two years off to study. Then we started our own business. And so that's a little bit of where we are now.
We have we have a consulting business, a tour company, and we do a little vacation rentals. So that's what we do in our retirement.
I feel retired because everything I do now I'm enjoyed doing. I think I've taken a page from Michelle’s book, that if you're going to enjoy life, you should enjoy what you do. I think those who are doing, what they're hardwired, what they were created to do are happier than those who don't.
Michelle St Jane 17:00
Thank you, Ralph. I really enjoy how your story shows the that pivot of the turn of the century, where you moved out of technical into leadership and management people and mentoring people. And then the pivot happened again, from looking from what I know of you, but also looking like anyone to be business development of a private cloud-based business. And you know, again, it's bringing technology in.
Then of course you're loving people, using tools and consulting you know, I just love it.
I have one question. With your University of Liverpool degree, you decided to do a Masters of Science and International Management. How did you make that choice? I mean, I see education. I see technology. I see your community spirit. What drew you to that degree particularly?
Ralph Richardson 17:53
Something to study that was interesting. The thing is I had no degree. That was on my bucket list of things to do. I looked at all the options. I didn't want to do an MBA, because they seem to be dime a dozen. Everybody seems to have an MBA. I wanted to do something that would pique my interest.
I was a manager at BFM. We were looking at a few concepts and I really like the soft skills of management. How do you encourage people? How do you motivate people? One of the things that impressed me at BFM, during the time I was there, was that we did an assessment of all the staff on the ground floor. We found that some people were square pegs in a round hole. And we wanted to see how can make sure that every round hole has a round peg. We tested everyone for their communication styles and skills. We ended up dividing the Customer Service Group into two. One group who loves to prepare policies and do the support work and the other group love to talk to people. We separated them with the people who didn't like talking to people in the back, sending out policies and they were thrilled. That's what they wanted to do all day. And the people who love people, we put them up front.
I was really interested in some of the management concepts that I was getting from Ghislaine Lemay, who was a consultant working there at the time. And so when I was looking for degree, I wanted one that would help me to understand international cultures. About half of my classes were similar to the MBA degree, accounting and organization, all those types of things.
What really fascinated me was that I would be studying global cultures. What makes people tick the differences between the extreme difference between the collectivist societies like China and Asia and individualistic societies like America and the western communities.
How could you manage with groups from all those different cultures?
How could you manage with people from India who seemed to have a holiday every other week; and
These are some of the challenges of managing interesting cultures.
I discovered, as I studied, that most American managers that go abroad did not end up completing their first term, because of the inability to accept various cultures. And so for me, learning the culture and these differences I did not wanted to manage again. I was getting close to the end of my career. But the excitement of learning about that is what I enjoyed. For me, it wasn't about the destination, it was really more about the journey. I don't have my certificate hanging on a wall. My wife wants to hang it in my house. So it was not meant to show people how I did in school. It's simply about the journey. So that's what excited me, learning about people.
Michelle St Jane 20:39
And you are all about people. I'm gonna say thank you and pause here. Any other words that you want to share?
Ralph Richardson 20:50
I was asked by the Bermuda college to be a keynote speaker to the graduation of the PACE (Professional And Career Education). The professor called me at home and she said, “if you had a personal statement, what would it be?” And I thought about it, and I can't remember verbatim, but I can tell you what it meant. It meant that money, education, the ability to do something well, pails in comparison to the ability to make and sustain meaningful relationships. That's my statement.
Michelle St Jane 21:22
Ralph, thank you very much for contributing to this podcast.
As a steward of meaningful leadership in the world, and wider cosmos, I have a passion for service through sharing wisdom, strength, and hope. Thank you for the opportunity to foster open conversation, discussions, and an exchange of ideas that create understanding and connection among diverse groups. Your support is valued. Please subscribe, leave a review and a rating. More importantly, share with your connections. Thank you.
The Grey Seas Under: The Perilous Rescue Mission of a N.A. Salvage Tug, Farley Mowatt, 2001
The Meaning of the 21st Century, Dr. James Martin, 2006
The Ultimate Nautical Marathon, The New York Times, September 6, 1981 https://www.nytimes.com/1981/09/06/magazine/the-ultimate-nautical-marathon.html
Chubb Charitable Foundation – Bermuda (previously the ACE Foundation – Bermuda) https://www.chubb.com/bm-en/about-chubb-bermuda/chubb-charitable-foundation-bermuda-donations.html
Ghislaine Lemay linkedin.com/in/ghislaine-lemay-8a806a19
PROFESSIONAL & CAREER EDUCATION (PACE)
Bermuda College Foundation (BCF) https://www.bermudacollegefoundation.com
Reach out. I am interested, do you have a topic you'd like to explore? It would be great to have your feedback.
Dr. Michelle St Jane
Podcast Host: Life & Leadership: A Conscious Journey
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© Michelle St Jane 2020-2021
Co-owner & President Winsome Tours and Consulting Limited
Has a wide variety of experience from a broad array of occupations and studies. Is now focusing on role as Co-Owner/President of Winsome Tours and Consulting Limited. Currently consulting at Bermuda College Foundation as Acting Executive Director
Retired as Executive Director of ACE Foundation Bermuda 2010
Is Past Commodore of the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club (2008 - 2009)
Served as Claims Adjuster then Manager Personal Lines BF&M Ltd.
Deputy Chairman of the Board, then full time Executive Director BUEI
Was Operations Manager and Chief Pilot with Enterprise Submarine with 700 hours underwater as Pilot and Trainer.
Author, The Bermuda Boater, a local navigation and marine piloting text book, third edition published in 2016. Is a former adjunct at the Bermuda College, Royal Yachting Association Navigation Courses as well as Bermuda Navigation courses, based on his text book, the Bermuda Boater, a local best seller.
He especially enjoys public speaking, having given several keynote addresses including a presentation at the International Young Entrepreneurs Conference in Brazil (2006) and a 2014 keynote address at the international Captive Insurance Conference held in Bermuda in 2014 and the Bermuda College PACE Graduation.
Received a Master of Science Degree, International Management, University of Liverpool.