Sara Wood is the CEO of Kaluza. She is a product leader, non-executive board member and a “builder at heart” who has even helped the UK with its Covid systems. Barry O’Reilly welcomes Sara to this week’s show as they discuss changing technology and the effects of the pandemic on the energy sector.

Transitioning Across Domains

Sara’s wide-ranging experience has enabled her to go from place to place through the lens of “what is interesting here, what’s interesting about the technology there”. She is essentially “a builder at heart”, she says. Barry asks her what advice she would give to someone who wants to transition from one domain to another. She responds, “I think the combination of really being curious about the world around you, about where technology is going, and adaptable to what you find on the other side of that.” [Listen from 1:27]

The Platform Play and Supply Chain

Sara learned supply chain in the fashion industry at Gap. She moved to Farfetch because she was impressed with that company’s platform play, particularly the impact it would have on supply chain. At Kaluza, she sees technology and data as the platform that would enable the transition in the energy industry. What we do now with regard to the climate crisis will inform the future, she points out. She laments that the existing data and technology is not being put to use as they should be. To her, she tells Barry, a platform approach is about “how do we empower people in their homes who are just living a normal life to both understand how they participate in the energy ecosystem and adapt behavior?” She finds that using the technology and data to empower customers and give them more choices is fueling demand for sustainable energy.[Listen from 15:00]

Platform Thinking

Trends and data that exists within the teams she works with, are all information Sara pools together into her platform. Barry applauds this “platform thinking.” Sara says that she jumps into a new industry with a fair amount of curiosity. She believes that product leaders who adopt this mental model are the “CEOs of the future” and are building a system to “create conditions for success.” Her teams have since adopted her approach. [Listen from 19:05]

Going Remote

As a platform technology company, going remote due to the pandemic was relatively easy for Kaluza. The company’s pace of growth has continued. Additionally, during the lockdown, Kaluza was able to fully migrate one of its customers into its newly updated platform. [Listen from 27:50]

Pride of Work

People need to feel connected to the job that they’re doing. For example, Barry says, the workers at Tesco light up when they see how they’re able to help customers. Small acts of kindness and recognition can have a great effect, and leaders should ensure that their teams are able to see the benefits of their hard work. [Listen from 34:00]

Looking Ahead

Sara is looking forward to applying her skills and experience to making energy simple, cheap and safe. She is anticipating that the world would rely less on things that are damaging to the environment. [Listen from 47:05]