Ron Van Dell, Chief Executive Officer, InspireSemi
Ron has 40 years of experience and an exceptional track record of success and proven leadership skills in early-stage, turn-around, and established businesses. He is the former CEO of Primarion, SolarBridge, and several other semiconductor and hardware startups. He has deep experience in organization design and operational leadership, business strategy, fundraising/M&A, and corporate governance. He has played key roles in industry-leading category development and technology substitutions across power, communications, computing, and renewable energy segments. Ron has served on public and private company boards and earned his BS in Electrical Engineering with honors from Michigan Technological University. Check out his interview below:
What personal projects will you be working on this weekend?
Home woodworking projects: live-edge shelves, furniture restoration. Also, outdoor adventures: hiking, skiing, rafting/kayaking, photography.
What advice would you give to early-career engineers/people wanting to get into your vertical market/people wanting to start a company in the current climate/etc?
To early career engineers: take every opportunity to diversify and broaden your experience base. If you are starting a company: Bring on a leadership that is proven and more experienced than you are.
What was your first job in the industry?
I was Advanced R&D, Power semiconductor discrete and ICs, and unprecedented computer modeling at General Electric.
Who was (or is) your mentor?
John Garrett, President, Semiconductor Sector, Harris Corporation (1990s). Mathew Crugnale, Consultant, Corporate Strategy (1990s).
How do you start (or end) your day?
I start with watching the news and overnight emails and end with watching TV or reading.
What bits of personal tech could you not be without?
Mobile with data service, solid WiFi when not mobile.
Where is your favorite holiday destination?
Iceland in summer and Yellowstone NP in winter.
What are the best and worst things about being a CEO?
The Best: Building a team that can achieve more than they otherwise would. The Worst: Have to make high-stakes decisions in spite of layers of uncertainty.
If you could travel to any time in history, what would you do?
1600 AD, Northern Europe, England, Holland for the explosion of political, scientific and cultural development, and global economic expansion also England at this time: Shakespeare, Newton, Bacon. Holland at this time: Rembrandt, Vermeer, Spinoza, Huygens.
How would you describe your leadership style?
- Push for stretch goals, but be fair in assessments
- Develop people, build scalable business processes
- Only the whole team can win
- Direction > Focus > Speed
- Better Never Than Late
What book do you read over and over again?
Guns, Germs & Steel by Jared Diamond, Lessons of History, Will & Ariel Durant, Essays, Montaigne, Lincoln.
What has been the highlight of your career to date?
- Building team that did first WLAN chipset and led world in WiFi for years.
- Key part of pioneering efforts in MOS-gated power devices and HVICs.
- Get Dimension BU ($6B) on track to be highest performing in Dell Technologies.
- Pioneered micro-inverters for integrated AC Modules for rooftop solar.
How do you talk about technology with your kids?
When they were younger, explain in everyday terms.
Who is your favourite musician, writer or artist?
Sting, Arthur C Clarke, Rembrandt.
What advice do you wish you had when you had graduated?
Technical prowess is necessary, but not sufficient.
What is the biggest threat to society posed by technology today?
Social media apps with unlimited data plans.