Howard Ruby invented the corporate housing industry by launching Oakwood in 1968 after completing several other niche residential projects earlier that decade, including the South Bay Clubs for singles. Today, Oakwood Worldwide operates throughout North America, Asia, and Europe. Oakwood’s annual gross earnings exceed $600 million, according to its website. The firm has 3,000 employees and manages 20,000 serviced apartments.
TITLE: Chairman, Chief Executive
COMPANY: Oakwood Worldwide, West Los Angeles
How many hours a week do you work?
Approximately 50 hours a week on average.
Why not retire?
Why retire? The prospect is not a happy thought. I have enough time off to do all the things in my leisure time that I enjoy, such as traveling, environmental photography, scuba diving, and hiking. As long as you have good enough health, why not continue on? My role models are businessmen who are still at it – like Rupert Murdoch. I grew up during the Depression and that’s just what people of my era do. Also, I feel mentally challenged when I’m at work.
Does your family want you to retire?
My wife wants me to retire. She thinks that 56 years in the business is enough. I tell her I’m just getting started.
Best part of working past 80?
Being totally involved in the business, whether it’s strategic planning, problem-solving, or the interactions with many of our 3,700 associates and leaders. There are highs and lows, but the feelings and results you get from the highs are much more motivating and internally gratifying than what could be achieved in retirement. I sometimes regret that business often took me away from my family, however the ability to provide for my family and contribute to causes I am passionate about is very rewarding and personally fulfilling to me.
And the worst?
Having to deal with the lows, which are largely caused by situations beyond one’s control. Examples include changes in governmental regulations, changes in the global economy, or any other of a myriad of small or large crises. Other items can include health challenges, which for me also includes some vision challenges.
Are you up to date on technology?
Technology is changing constantly. But I work with my senior staff, I watch my competitors, and I’m always asking questions around how technology can help our associates and our customers. We aim to integrate as much as possible to constantly improve operations.
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