Ray Risco is the President of Weyerhaeuser Solutions, a division of Weyerhaeuser that offers consulting and management services designed to help clients develop, manage and commercialize forest assets. He is a member of the GBC’s Global Business Advisory Board.
Tell us about Weyerhaeuser Solutions. What was it like to create a new business division for a company?
Weyerhaeuser Solutions is designed to take our management, business and some IP systems and engage them with third parties outside of the traditional forest products space as part of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development 2050 initiative. I worked with Bob Ewing, a colleague, in developing a business that manages natural resources and assists companies in transitioning to renewable energy supplies, such as electrical utility companies that are looking to co-fire biomass with coal as a green alternative in the UK, and specialty chemical companies looking for organic feedstock instead of traditional sources.
Creating a service division that provides consulting as well as operational management in a traditional products company presented some significant challenges. However, the timing of the idea linked to the 2050 initiative and the support of senior management along with the Board of Directors was a significant plus in successfully launching the business. From inception to official launch took 2.5 years. That may seem like a long period of time, but considering the radically different business model it was a remarkably quick process.
In your career, you’ve worked in accounting, finance, operational and divisional leadership, and new product/business development. Which was the most challenging, and which the most rewarding?
Every role I have had has had its challenges and rewards from a personal and career perspective but one challenge in particular had the largest personal impact. In 2005 I took over the leadership of our Uruguayan operations and had the chance to transform a plantation project into a full blown operating company. My challenge was to set up the productive chain and to find the right people to staff all of the new departments we had just created and set them up for success. Although this was a significant personal challenge and rewarding for the whole team, the greatest sense of accomplishment and pride has come from seeing the immensely positive impact this project has had in the communities in which we operate.
What countries have you lived and worked in?
I am originally from Peru and I have lived in 6 different countries since my childhood including living and working in the US, Germany, and Uruguay. Over my career, I have had direct responsibility for over 22 countries covering Asia, Europe and South America.
What would you tell students about the world of global business?
The world may be getting flat but that doesn’t mean it’s the same – culture, history and tradition matter as one thinks of doing business at home or abroad. At the end of the day you are still dealing with people so respect matters. Be confident in what you know and never be afraid to admit what you don’t. More often than not you will get the help you need.