Tim Rook

Chief Markets Officer at Clade Engineering Systems

With over 16 years of experience in the industrial and renewable energy sectors, Tim is a board level executive who develops and executes business strategies for technology and revenue growth. He is passionate about delivering innovative solutions that address the global challenges of climate change, sustainability, and digital transformation. As the Chief Markets Officer at Clade Engineering Systems, Tim leads the strategy and business transformation of the UK’s leading designer, manufacturer, and installer of large-scale CO2 heat pumps that help customers achieve net zero carbon.

Sustainability and environmentalism is a big thing for Tim. As well as being proud to be part of a team that is driving net zero buildings with Clade’s natural refrigerant heat pumps Tim also runs a rewilding and forest garden project in the south west of England. Using low impact and traditional approaches to increase biodiversity as well as produce food which is health and very low carbon.

What is your typical day, and how do you make it productive?

My day starts at 5am with a morning of exercise – usually a bike ride. Not only is this a fantastic way to get the blood pumping and prepare your body for the day, but I also feel it’s important to get out in the world, take in the sights and experience the weather.

I’ll start work at 7am to get focused tasks out of the way before the calls and emails start rolling in! When it comes to productivity and task management, I’ll either do a task straight away (if it would take less than two mins to complete) or I’ll schedule time for it in my diary.

This might go against the grain for many, but I don’t work from “to-do” lists. They just get longer and longer, have no prioritisation and can be depressing to look at.

I make a point to finish every day with my family, working on our rewilding project. As important as work is, it’s vital to find a healthy balance and take time to be by yourself or with loved ones. Working overtime might seem like a good way to get ahead of the curve, but more often than not it leads to burn out and loss of focus – resulting in less productivity.

How do you bring ideas to life?

Make sure they have a strong market value proposition, either now or in the future and that you can clearly articulate it. If you don’t, no one is going to take it seriously.

Focus clearly on what the idea is and visualize from the users point of view. I love IBM’s Enterprise Design Thinking framework, which I find is a fantastic way to get an idea started.

Make a plan to achieve the necessary steps and identify who will (and can) partner to help.

Be resilient and drive forward at all times. Even if it’s a small step, get it done as soon as possible and don’t accept delays from others. If there’s an issue, go around or over it. Relentless forward progress.

What’s one trend that excites you?

It’s really pleasing to see more and more people caring about the environment. Things like water quality and biodiversity are vital for human health, yet we’ve trashed them over the last 50 years. But now it’s in the news, awareness is rising and it’s getting on the political agenda, which is great.

What is one habit that helps you be productive?

Turn off unnecessary notifications! Distraction is the enemy of productivity, and it’s all around us. In fact, many smartphone apps are intentionally designed to distract us, so we have to actively counter that effect. Social media can be great for communication, but I only ever engage when I want to. Keeping distractions at bay enables me to get good quality work done, reduces errors and avoids the time penalty of constant task switching.

What advice would you give your younger self?

There’s a load of stuff I’d say to a younger me! “Go buy a flat in London”, “don’t waste time, you can’t have more”, “you’re more capable than you think”, “don’t worry about what others think”…and so on.

But, life is a journey and we develop and learn every day as we roll down the road. As long as I’m learning new skills and succeeding against my ambitions, and as long as my family is healthy, there’s no point in looking back regretfully. You’re bound to make mistakes along the way, but the important thing is to learn from them and learn how to better handle those tricky situations in the future.

Tell us something you believe almost nobody agrees with you.

That’s a tough question! Maybe it’s that cycling uphill is better than going down!

Sure, cycling downhill is fun, but uphill is more physically challenging (especially on a mountain bike) and I find a highly rewarding sense of achievement from uphill battles (both literally and metaphorically) that puts me on top of the world!

What is the one thing you repeatedly do and recommend everyone else do?

This year, I’ve started avoiding ultra-processed food at every opportunity. I’ve noticed a vast improvement in my general wellbeing, and am much healthier as a result. Of course, I’ve been telling everyone who’ll listen to follow suit! When you look into UPF, it’s pretty horrifying what we’ve been eating and not many people seem to have realised what’s going on or what’s going in their food, so I’m spreading the word!

When you feel overwhelmed or unfocused, what do you do?

Large-scale tasks can often seem overwhelming when viewed in their entirety, and it can be tricky to know how or where to start sometimes. No one person is going to be able to move a mountain in its entirety, but it might be possible if done piece by piece. Focus on one or two simple tasks that chip away at the bigger problems and do something – no matter how small it might seem at the time – to move things forward. The first step is the hardest, but once I’m on the way, it seems to get a little easier with every step.

What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business or advance in your career?

It’s really important for me to understand what the incentives are for the different stakeholders I work with. Once I understand how people are motivated, I can help them achieve what they need to and they’ll reciprocate to help me. I believe the reciprocity principle is a strong motivator for us humans, so give help first even if it’s just a small bit of market intelligence it will have a positive effect.

What is one failure in your career, how did you overcome it, and what lessons did you take away from it?

Leading a business means being in sales – whether it’s selling to investors, customers or even selling new ideas to your own staff. Failure is endemic to sales; you won’t win everything. But, I think it’s only really a failure if you don’t learn from it.

Some time ago, my team and I worked on a software deal for over 4 months and invested a lot of money and time into the deal. The customer team’s engagement was great and everything was looking good and we had a solid plan of action. What we couldn’t foresee, however, was when the customer company was sold to a multi-national company…and our deal fell flat.

Clearly, the exec’s knew what could happen but weren’t in a position to say anything. It was a huge blow to all of us, but I looked for the positives where I could. Despite the loss, the experience brought opportunity for learning and development for myself and the team. I acknowledged that the time and money was a sunk cost, and I just had to move on to the next deal. I’ve learnt that having the right growth mindset is vital to progression.

What is one business idea you’re willing to give away to our readers?

Having ideas is the easy bit…it’s making them happen that’s hard! Given this, I’m happy to share an idea – How about this one?

The future energy world is going to be a very different place, building the technology to help people manage their energy use has tremendous value. There are a lot of complex market and energy systems, plus a host of consumer needs to be met…tying all this into an easy-to-use app would be awesome. I don’t have time to make it, but perhaps you do?

What is one piece of software that helps you be productive? How do you use it?

I use a Remarkable2 paper tablet to take notes and sketch ideas in a distraction-free way. The simple UI and lack of functionality really enable focus, but it’s better than paper as I can keep all my notes in a tiny device rather than a load of notebooks (which can very quickly stack up!).

What is the best $100 you recently spent?

As you may have guessed from some of my earlier answers, I do an awful lot of cycling. Recently, I had to buy a pair of cycling gloves, having forgotten to take mine on a trip. I purchased a fairly cheap pair, but it turns out they’re really good – a great fit and very well made. It’s always worth keeping in mind that not everything that’s good is branded or expensive!

Do you have a favorite book or podcast from which you’ve received much value?

I really enjoy “The Rest is Politics” with Alastair Campbell and Rory Stuart. They discuss politics and current political affairs from both sides of the political spectrum, in a way that is non-confrontational. It’s how political discourse should be, not the shouting matches and sound bites that seem to prevail.

What’s a movie or series you recently enjoyed and why?

I’ve just watched season six of Alone USA, which I really enjoyed. It’s really interesting to see the physical and psychological effects of hunger and being alone but also the toughness and determination. It’s a window into a world without our society, engineering, farming, and shows how hard life could be.

Key learnings:

  • Health and mindset are vital for success and have to be actively cared for
  • Look at everything through other people’s eyes to find the value
  • The future is full of opportunities