Robert Ettinger – Ettinger
The Chairman and CEO of the British luxury leather goods brand, reveals how he gets things done and shares his insights on advice, inspiration, relaxation and more …
Q: What has been the biggest challenge for the company in the pandemic?
A: For us, like many people, it must be making important decisions without being fully conversant with the facts. We have the benefit of flexibility and to be able to react quickly because we do not have to refer to a board, but the unknown and unpredictability of Covid brings uncertainties to every decision.
Q: What would you say to your younger self?
A: I would say believe in yourself, rely on your own instincts. When I was younger, I wanted to make products for the Royal family and be appointed a Royal Warrant, have my own means of production, and build a Brand. A little more self-belief would have made life easier, but too much belief could have its own set of issues
Q: Who has been your biggest inspiration?
A: No one person, but I have learnt to listen very carefully. So much can be learnt this way. Many years ago, I joined Walpole the British luxury organisation that was set up to promote and help build luxury British companies, both in the UK and overseas. Here I developed new contacts, met other CEOs, attended interesting seminars and dinners and heard many contrasting views. It was and still is an invaluable inspiration
Q: How do you inspire and guide your colleagues?
A: I trust them and I believe in them. I give them opportunities to learn and I encourage them. In a small business everyone must often multitask, due to annual leave and sickness but particularly during Covid. A member of staff may be processing a wholesale order, packing a web order, working on the design of a new product, or dealing with a customer. In this way, they are gaining invaluable knowledge of the whole business which helps them make more informed decisions in their own role and gives them a perfect base for starting their own businesses should they wish, in the future
Q: What does the working week look like for you?
A: I start early with a swim and then I am at my desk in the office by 7am at the latest. I can get so much done at this time without interruption. I can also contact our Far Eastern distributors and customers who are 8 hours ahead. I spend the rest of the day talking to customers, attending important meetings, supporting staff and marketing the Ettinger Brand. I go home about 2pm, to avoid he traffic and finish work at home by 5pm. Some days I do have evening commitments, but I try to keep these to a minimum
Q: Best advice you have ever received?
A: Listen to what others have to say, think about it carefully and reach your own conclusions
Q: Your proudest achievement?
A: Getting the Royal Warrant by appointment to HRH The Prince of Wales
Q: How do you relax?
A: I find sport a great antidote to stress. I love to walk the dog, go cycling, to swim and to ski. My mother was Austrian, so I was brought up on skis. I also enjoy music, eating out and wine. I love to travel in Si Lanka, camp in Oman, cycle tour in Greece or ski in France. I have greatly missed not being able to travel this year as I find if I get away, I can really relax. If I am at home, I somehow still work
Q: Advice for someone hoping to emulate you.
A: Try and get good all round business experience before venturing out alone. I did a business apprenticeship in Germany with a company that specialised in marble and marble gift items. I worked for Mappin and Webb, the jewellers in Quebec, Canada in both their head office and shops. Also try and find a mentor, there are schemes out there to help young talented people start up. I have mentored for many years, initially through the Princes Trust but now with Walpole and the London School of economics. I enjoy it very much; it is a way to give back