An In­tan­gi­ble Lux­ury

Rolls-Royce Mo­tor Cars Re­gional Di­rec­tor and its con­nec­tion to suc­cess. Paul Har­ris pon­ders time

Pinnacle (Singapore) - - VANTAGE -

I once said to an au­di­ence of busi­ness prin­ci­pals, some of whom were Rolls-Royce clients, that time was pos­si­bly the most im­por­tant fac­tor in their businesses.As many of us know, of all the re­sources at our dis­posal, time is per­haps the only one which we can­not ac­quire more of and there­fore need to use wisely.

Time is needed to em­brace new chal­lenges, new cus­tomers and there­fore new ap­proaches. It cer­tainly was time for me to re­flect as we had in­tro­duced more new mod­els to our Rolls-Royce range with Ghost, Phan­tom Se­ries II and the prom­ise of a mag­nif­i­cent new car – now re­vealed to be Wraith. Our busi­ness in the Asia Pa­cific re­gion was also ex­pand­ing. Ev­ery­one knows that mar­kets fluc­tu­ate, and in the long-term, Asia will be­come the heart­beat of the world’s econ­omy. It is only a mat­ter of time.

I then be­gan to re­flect on how im­por­tant time is to me, how tech­nol­ogy has pro­gressed since I started my ca­reer in the car in­dus­try nearly 30 years ago, and how the Rolls-Royce brand has evolved in 109 years since that sem­i­nal mo­ment when Charles Rolls and Henry Royce met over lunch.

Time is hugely im­por­tant to me, as it prob­a­bly is to you. We need to jug­gle myr­iad re­spon­si­bil­i­ties – jobs, fam­ily, health, re­la­tion­ships, “me” time and, in many cases, giv­ing back to so­ci­ety. I re­mark on the lat­ter as I see more and more phi­lan­thropists giv­ing up their time and money for wor­thy causes ev­ery day.

I have ob­served over the years that we tend to have an un­healthy ob­ses­sion with speed. Some­times the race to achieve suc­cess means sig­nif­i­cant things are left be­hind.The rush to mod­erni­sa­tion in Asia, for ex­am­ple, has left some cityscapes ster­ile. While it is al­ways a plea­sure to visit one’s favourite cof­fee chain in a for­eign city, I can­not help but won­der if glob­al­i­sa­tion has left us with noth­ing more than mir­ror im­ages in each Asian me­trop­o­lis which pos­sess lit­tle lo­cal flavour or flair. Some may as­sume that the key to suc­cess is de­voted work time and a strong work ethic. Stud­ies show that the up­com­ing gen­er­a­tion val­ues work-life bal­ance more than their elders, who place em­pha­sis on loy­alty, job se­cu­rity or re­wards.Yet, the as­pir­ing youth of to­day are no less com­pet­i­tive. Man­age­ment gu­rus ex­hort that time is “pre­cious” and “ir­re­place­able”, so we speed up. But para­dox­i­cally, the busi­ness of hand­crafted, be­spoke cars thrives on well-ap­por­tioned time in or­der to en­sure qual­ity, ex­cel­lence, and at­ten­tion to de­tail.

To­day’s rush for ac­com­plish­ment can be bru­tal. In mod­ern, pro­fes­sional sports cul­ture, an ath­lete’s suc­cess is gen­er­ally de­fined as his or her be­com­ing a world cham­pion in his or her early 20s. But fol­low­ing the flurry of me­dia at­ten­tion and pub­lic ado­ra­tion, it is all over by the time the ath­lete is 30. How do we sus­tain re­peated suc­cess? I think there is no clear an­swer.The word

“In­creas­ingly, I see time as a lux­ury. It’s a co­nun­drum that the greater the suc­cess, the greater the

time bur­den.”

“au­then­tic­ity” comes to mind: stay­ing true to one’s val­ues con­sis­tently (brand and prod­uct) while also mov­ing with the times; bal­anc­ing some time-hon­oured virtues. For ul­tra-lux­ury prod­ucts, the need to be time­less in terms of de­sign and crafts­man­ship comes to mind – a feat that I be­lieve we at Rolls-Royce Mo­tor Cars have man­aged to achieve since this new era, in which Rolls-Royce be­gan pro­duc­tion in Good­wood, be­gan in 2003.

How­ever, in­no­va­tion is also a con­stant chal­lenge as prod­uct cy­cles are be­com­ing shorter. Many in­no­va­tive high-tech com­pa­nies are ad­vo­cates of “20 per cent time”. The core idea be­hind this — that knowl­edge work­ers are most valu­able when they are given space in which to ex­per­i­ment — is ap­par­ently more rel­e­vant than ever. We do some­thing akin to this at Rolls-Royce, and some of our best ideas make it to the pro­duc­tion line.

Time also al­lows us to re­flect, rein­vent, and re-adapt. I fondly re­mem­ber this quote that some­one once said to me: “How­ever we re­mem­ber the past, or an­tic­i­pate the fu­ture, we live in the present.”

This has been a mantra that I share with my team. We cer­tainly can­not change what has hap­pened, but we can def­i­nitely pro­gramme our­selves to cre­ate a to­mor­row.

In­creas­ingly, I see time as a lux­ury. It’s a co­nun­drum that the greater the suc­cess, the greater the time bur­den.The usual ad­vice dis­pensed is that we can get it all done with bet­ter or­gan­i­sa­tion. But this surely is a fal­lacy. We will al­ways have chal­lenges to face and ac­tiv­i­ties to do. The so­lu­tion is to re­think how we man­age our time. I re­cently re­ceived an email from a highly sat­is­fied cus­tomer who was on a 2,500km jour­ney in one of our cars. He is cer tainly en­joy­ing his life with a pas­sion. Per­haps this is the way to go.

The re­ward is in mak­ing the time, not just the money.

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