Inside SCEE: Jim Ryan

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Tonight at the SCEE gamescom press conference, Jim Ryan will take to the stage as part of the handover that will see him take over the role of President and CEO of Sony Computer Entertainment Europe.

It is the culmination of 17 years with the company during which time he has gone from international finance officer to the position that will place the future of PlayStation in Europe under his supervision. I caught up with him to find out what his average working day entails and get his perspective on the last 17 years of PlayStation. For more background you can also read his interview with my colleagues over at eu.playstation.com

In his own words:

I get in to work at 8am because I’m a good early morning person and between 8 and 9 I clear all of my emails. Well… I do my best to clear all of my emails and then typically I’m in meetings for the rest of the day. I travel a lot and 30-40% of my time is spent overseas on business.

The beauty is that I get to experience many different cultures and I meet hundreds of people, many of whom are long-standing friends. Working in so many different countries is fascinating. Russia and India, for example, are very different places to do business – different planets, almost.

I’ve been at PlayStation for almost 17 years and the biggest change I have seen is simply the sheer scale of the company, from the number of people we employ to the range of countries we work in. When I joined it was nothing and now it is a multi-billion dollar business.

While embracing growth we’ve worked really hard to retain some of the small company values we had right at the beginning. You won’t see many people walking around in suits and ties and we’ve kept the humanity that small businesses have – we haven’t become too monolithic.

I remember setting up the German office and actually having to go to a furniture store to buy the desks and chairs. We did pay extra to have someone put them together though, which was really pushing the boat out in those days.

To pick a standout achievement for the PlayStation business over the last 15 years… that’s a good question and I honestly couldn’t pick one out. There are so many things that have been outstanding and that is not a word that I ever use lightly. I’m incredibly proud of what has been achieved over a sustained period of time.

My reason for joining the company back then was simple: I needed a job. Back then we weren’t called Sony Computer Entertainment, we were called Sony Electronic Publishing Ltd. and PlayStation was still clouded in secrecy.

It was only after I had been working for a few months that the mist around this project called PlayStation started to clear and we started to realise that it was something quite special.

Outside of work, I’m passionate about good novels, fine wine and Newcastle United. I’m a huge fan of Charles Dickens and I’ve just finished Barnaby Rudge, which was the only one I hadn’t read yet. The first half was hugely disappointing but it redeemed itself in the second half.

The gamescom press conference will be my first keynote and anyone that doesn’t profess to being apprehensive about standing in front of a thousand journalists would be lying. But, over the years, I’ve done quite a lot of public speaking and a great deal of preparation so I’m sure it will go well.

The future of SCEE is looking very good. We’ve introduced new products such as PlayStation Move and we have a network offering that is growing more confident by the month. We have PS Vita coming and fantastic software as far as the eye can see – it would be a foolish man that wasn’t confident about these prospects.

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