How He Does It | Vidir Ragnarsson

Spring is just around the corner, yet April is not a month for the faint-hearted. Add my family’s relocation project on top all that’s been going on around us lately (with the pandemic, the lockdown and the work from home along with an energetic toddler running around the house wondering why there’s boxes everywhere!) and you’ve got yourself a crash-test for both the body and soul. The last couple of weeks have been toughening, no doubt, but the World is going places.

Four weeks into lockdown, I remain one of those voices who feel that there’s infinite growth potential in what we are experiencing. Sometime last month, just when it was all starting, I wrote about efficiently navigating in the bumpy road of this stormy change, contemplating on themes that would drive our society’s radical progress. Three weeks later, I stand firm:

  • We are definitely more aware of the importance of uncontested access to Public Health (and the difference between ICU and CCU!)
  • The World of Work is turning into a much more inclusive and responsive space, especially for working parents who are finally out of the twilight zone and into everyone’s radar. I think we can safely bid farewell to the Secret Parenting plague!
  • Greek education has leaped light-years forward with remote tutoring, distance learning and educational TV instantly rolled-out and aligned, to keep our munchkins both homeschooled and engaged. I see similar steps by other countries as well.
  • Solidarity is reaching an all-time-high, with the private sector behemoths donating resources to the government, other countries dispatching medical equipment and consumables our way, and SMEs repositioning their offerings to match current societal needs (from Giorgio Armani’s making of single use medical overalls to local curtain-makers’ redirected to sewing and dispatching medical masks!)

Given all this movement around all sorts of society-related themes, this month I felt it fitting to introduce you to one of the most inspiring working Dads I know through our How He Does It column.

A father of five (!) who is also a gender pay gap advocate, speaker and activist on the crucial issues of fair pay, equality, diversity and inclusion. One of the warmest Icelanders I know, he is dedicated in creating healthier workplaces.

Thanks to his contribution as Group Head of People Analytics, Reykjavik Energy has managed to close the gender pay gap and has been a leading company with regards to equality in Iceland. His groundbreaking work in leading the implementation and development of Pay and People Analytics at Reykjavik Energy was even featured on an Economist documentary! So proud to bring you none other than Mr. Vidir Ragnarson!

Vidir Ragnarson, Group Head of People Analytics at Orkuveita Reykjavíkur

Tell us a bit about yourself.

My current work is in People Analytics in Reykjavik Energy, which is a geothermal energy and utilities company in Iceland. My responsibilities is using data in the company that in some way describe its people, finding patterns, analyzing it and finding opportunities that can help the company achieve its goals.

I live in Reykjavik, the capital of Iceland, with my wife and our two children, a son that is 13 years old and our daughter is 9 years old. I also have three children from a former relationship living in the north of Iceland, two daughters aged 15 and 20 and a boy aged 16 years old.

Besides having sometimes a busy household, I am very passionate about changing the experience of work for people, either creating workplaces that are kinder and more equal both to women and men but also finding ways for people and businesses to use their skills in their best ways. Some of what we have been doing at Reykjavik Energy in this regard was covered in a special show for The Economist.

Stemming from your personal experience, what is the toughest part of being a Dad, and how do you manage it?

Toughest part of being a Dad of five has been for me to learn to connect with each child as an individual and develop the relationship with each child when there are many siblings around.

Long distance relationship with some of them has not been helping this, but I have managed to break up the visiting, so one “visiting” sibling comes at a time. This has given me a better time to connect to each and every one of them, instead of having to deal with a herd of five. It also creates less tension in the group of the siblings. Of course I also loving having them all together, but it is a lot busier.

Who is (are) your go-to person(s) when you need support as a Father? What type of support are you mostly in need of?

My wife and my male friends who are also Dads are the ones I turn to when in need of support and reflections. The kind of support I mostly need is reaching out to a friend with whom I can be open, and who gives me honest feedback.

What’s the No1 Skill (or Ability, or Knowledge) you have found handy in your role as a Dad?

Number 1 skill is the ability to be humble and to listen. This is a constant struggle within me: to stop myself from acting, and to allow the child to explain so as to meet them in a non-judgmental way. That is the way forward in my opinion: to generate more trust in the relationship.

What advice do you have for a new Father?

Take the time to embrace the new role: it is one of the most important you have been assigned. Enjoy the journey: it will not always be easy, but it is one of the greatest learning trips in life!

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