Getting To Know RAIN Alliance’s New President And CEO, Aileen Ryan

What do Johann Sebastian Bach’s piano concertos, electrical engineering, the Italian language and technology startups have in common?

Answer: They are activities that the RAIN Alliance’s new President and CEO Aileen Ryan has a good deal of experience with.

A classically trained pianist and clarinetist, she is fluent in English, French and Italian.  That’s the right side of her brain.  The left side of her brain is all about electrical engineering and computer science along with an MBA.

Ryan is also an experienced strategic leader and board member specializing in the commercialization of leading-edge technology. She has worked with or led a number of companies and organizations.  However, she still finds time to volunteer serving as a Mentor to Cambridge Judge Business School Venture Projects and Cambridge DeepTech Labs accelerator cohorts.

To get to know her better we asked her a few questions recently.  Here are her answers


Can you share a little more about your professional background?

I have experience running both for-profit commercial organizations and also a large not-for-profit membership entity, which means that I have a unique perspective on the similarities and differences between the two. I also have experience in different types of roles – from corporate strategy to operations, in both large and small companies, in different parts of the world, and spanning both the for-profit and not-for-profit sectors.

My professional background spans the full technical stack – from the semiconductors right up to software, and my focus is on the value derived from the use-cases enabled by the data RAIN technology produces and how this value flows to all the various stakeholder members of the Alliance. I can understand the concerns of our diverse member stakeholders, as well as the dynamics of this rapidly growing market and I hope to be able to help our members be poised for success.


How do you see your experience translating into the vision for the RAIN Alliance?

RAIN technology has excellent adoption rates in some sectors, like retail, and the information that we learn here can be leveraged to move rapidly into other sectors – specifically automotive and healthcare.

I think it’s important to note that the cultural and societal changes ushered in as a response to the pandemic have laid the foundations for acceptance and desire for increased digital transformation and connectivity in all aspects of our lives. The last 2.5 years have demonstrated that the companies who have a better understanding and control of their supply chain have outperformed their peers. As a result, I believe this industry stands on the cusp of massive opportunity – I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t believe that!


The RAIN Alliance now has 160 members. How do you plan to best serve the members and to grow the membership? 

In my experience, an industry Alliance like this one, serves its members best by doing three things:

  • Shining a light on market opportunities (for example new use-cases and/or new market sectors)
  • Eliminating any barriers to adoption, maximizing interoperability, minimizing any technical friction
  • Providing an excellent environment for members to connect, create partnerships, and collaborate

If we do these things well, other industry players will be attracted to become members, thereby creating a virtuous circle where more resources come to the table where important topics are discussed, and significant decisions are made to help us all move more rapidly.


What do you do for fun and do you think Bach would use RAIN RFID solutions if he was an engineer?

Well – I know you asked me that question in jest but Johann Sebastian Bach was actually highly innovative in his day, ingeniously finding a way to balance two opposing, contradictory forces in music – diatonicism and chromaticism.

For businesses to succeed today they need to master contradictions more than ever before – managing the business as it is today while looking ahead to how it might need to operate tomorrow.

Looking at RAIN RFID – our challenge is to outline a big and bold vision for how this technology can radically transform our lives in many different ways, and simultaneously show a practical roadmap for how we can get there. Combine logic and imagination. Be visionary and grounded. Think about the “now” and also the “then”.

So – yes I think Bach would have been totally in his element in this RAIN RFID space!

The other part of your question – what do I do for fun? I am in MY element when I’m learning and growing, challenging myself physically or intellectually. A bit of a daredevil perhaps! I run, swim and cycle and combine those disciplines in long-distance triathlons. I’ve abseiled off the British Airways i360 viewing platform in Brighton (137m above the ground) for a charity fundraising event (see photo). I’ve sailed across the Atlantic. And, with my young son, I’m enjoying learning “everything you ever wanted to know about dinosaurs but were afraid to ask”!