Meet the CEO: Tammy Richards

The CEO of VolunteerNow on her strategies for success.

Tammy Richards says she has always had “a passion for helping others,” even in her past jobs. The 55-year-old CEO of VolunteerNow came aboard as the top executive in December 2013 after previously working for Texas Instruments and as assistant dean of SMU’s Lyle School of Engineering. After earning her BS degree in industrial engineering, Richards went on to get her MBA from Harvard University. These days, with her team at VolunteerNow, she is working on promoting and improving the functionality of Voly.org, an online service that matches nonprofits with volunteers, based on their interests.

First Job

I worked for the highway department in San Antonio. It was the first summer after high school, and I was helping document the condition of the guardrails.

Management Style

I like to establish a vision—understand where we’re headed, what we want to accomplish—and place a strategy that allows us to get there while making sure we have the pieces. 

Strengths

I can take something complicated and break it down into processed steps, and also into a way that other folks can understand and see their part in. And I’m a closer. If you want something finished, taken off the list—I love to do that.

Weakness

Making time for that strategic and long-term thinking, because you get so caught up in finishing whatever today’s project or crisis is. 

Biggest Challenge

I’m a fairly reserved person. Being that “out there” person has always been a challenge. 

Advice

Get all the education you can afford to get. Make sure you invest in yourself. Never feel bad investing in yourself in that way. Make sure you never think you’re done, because when you do, you’re probably obsolete.

Reading List

Right now I’m only reading travel books about Australia and New Zealand. But I’m an old-fashioned newspaper reader, and I love the serendipity of not knowing what I’m going to find on page three or four and then realizing it has relevance to something that I’m doing.

Success Strategies

Having a great deal of discipline, being willing to work through all the steps of education, being willing to take every job very seriously, and always reaching out to people who have experience or insight I might not have to complete the package. 

Pets

We have an orange tabby rescue cat named Henry. He came with the name, but it fits him. He’s sort of doglike and he likes to be with the family unit. 

TV Shows

My son, daughter , and I watch The Bachelor and The Bachelorette together. It’s kind of bonding, as well as an interesting look into people and their motivations.

Favorite Destination

The Big Island of Hawaii. There’s a place called Hapuna Beach, and if I were extremely wealthy, that’s where I would live.

Stress Relief

I love waterslides and boogie boarding. I’ve never met a waterslide I didn’t love, which is good because I’m sort of a buttoned-up gal.  

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