As the outgoing president and CEO of Washington CleanTech Alliance, Tom Ranken has been close to many of the biggest and some of the smallest businesses in the region.
What they all have in common, Ranken says, is a goal to change the world.
Ranken had plenty of business expertise – Immunex, VizX Labs, Axio Research – on his resume before joining the Alliance in 2010 as its first full-time president & CEO. At that time, the clean-tech industry trade association had 35 members. Under Ranken’s leadership, the Alliance now represents more than 400 member organizations spanning 10 states and three Canadian provinces.
“You may get into a controversy over climate change but you never get into a controversy over jobs,” Ranken says. “Everybody is interested in finding ways to get people jobs.”
The definition of what qualifies as a clean-tech job has changed over the years.
“We figure there are about 80,000 (clean-tech) jobs in the state, but the definition is important,” Ranken says. “With some of our members you see their job title or company name and you know it’s clean-tech, like a solar installer.”
According to Ranken, a lot of the CleanTech Alliance members are bigger companies with a mission of being clean and green. They also find that being green makes good business and environmental sense.
Another common thread through Ranken’s career has been the Boy Scouts.
Beginning as a Cub Scout in Oak Harbor, Ranken’s Navy family meant he took scouting with him around the world. He eventually became an Eagle Scout in Virginia.
“My experience has led me to believe that the two most important lessons learned in Scouting are leadership and persistence,” Ranken says. “Most Scouts have spent more than half their lives in the program when they become Eagles, and each has persevered over personal challenges.”
As he steps away from the CleanTech Alliance, Ranken says he hopes to have more time to play music in his band named, what else, The Ranken File.
“We have three guitars, bass and drums,” Ranken says. “We are developing our own songs, but mostly we play classic rock.”
Episode length: 56:10
- Tom Ranken LinkedIn profile
- CleanTech Alliance
- Soundview Innovation Campus
- Cascadia CleanTech Accelerator
- Snohomish County Economic Development Initiative
- Nuclear fusion/University of Washington
- Nuclear fusion/Forbes
- University of Washington MBA program
- The Ranken File band
- Tom Ranken on the value of Boy Scouts
- Boy Scouts of America
- “Range” by David Epstein
Ken Harvey is Communications Director for Sno-Isle Libraries. Ken brings broad professional experience from his service with Community Transit, Sound Transit, Reno, Nev., and several positions in radio and TV.
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Paul Pitkin is Director of the Sno-Isle Libraries Foundation. He also plays guitar, along with several other instruments, sings and writes music.
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