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Hilda Sanchez-Madrigal • January 8th, 2024.
In this interview with Sabi Ibarra Guerrero, an agronomist at ClimateAi, she provides insightful perspectives on the intersection of agriculture, technology, and sustainability. Sabi’s background in agronomic engineering and her passion for addressing climate change in agriculture led her to ClimateAi. Her role involves translating climate data into actionable insights, a crucial part of ClimateAi’s mission to create a more climate-resilient agriculture sector. Sabi emphasizes the importance of food security and preparing for the challenges posed by climate change.
“I think the best thing that ClimateAi does…is just to provide data and a little bit more insight for you to make better decisions and to be prepared for the biggest challenge that we have, that our generation has, that the future generations will have. That is climate change.”
Sabi’s drive to combat climate change is personal, rooted in her experiences in Queretaro, Mexico, where she has witnessed the impacts of water scarcity. Sabi praises ClimateAi’s culture, highlighting its collaborative, inclusive environment and commitment to employee well-being. She credits the company for her professional growth, offering opportunities to engage with global agricultural practices and contribute across multiple domains.
Read on for more of our conversation with this ClimateAi changemaker.
Meet Sabi Ibarra Guerrero: Agronomist Cultivating Climate Insights
Welcome to the first edition of “Conversations at ClimateAi,” an ongoing series where we bring you closer to the dedicated professionals at ClimateAi Through just 10 questions (and maybe a bonus one), we’ll get to know ClimateAi team members: hear their stories, understand their roles, and explore how they’re contributing to ClimateAi’s culture, values, and mission of combatting climate change through advanced technology and data science.
Today, we’re shining the spotlight on Sabi Ibarra Guerrero, the company’s dynamic agronomist based in the Queretaro, Mexico office. Sabi’s journey embodies the passion and dedication of ClimateAi’s team members, and her story is a testament to the company’s commitment to fostering growth, innovation, and collaboration.
Q1. Sabi, can you tell us about your background and what led you to join ClimateAi?
Sabi: Absolutely. I have a background in agronomy, specifically agronomic engineering. During my time studying agronomy at Tecnológico de Monterrey in Mexico, I became increasingly passionate about sustainability in agriculture and addressing the challenges posed by climate change. It was around this time that I learned about ClimateAi through a colleague who had worked here. He shared the exciting things the company was doing, including its mission to empower farmers through AI and data science to combat climate change. I was drawn to the opportunity to merge my interests in agriculture, technology, and sustainability.
My decision to join ClimateAi was also influenced by the fact that I was about to complete my studies, and the company was seeking an agronomist with a background in sales, which I happened to have. I was intrigued by the unique approach ClimateAi takes to addressing agricultural challenges, and the prospect of working as a remote digital agronomist, collaborating with colleagues from diverse backgrounds and cultures, excited me. So, it was a combination of my passion for sustainability, the innovative approach of the company, and the opportunity to make a meaningful impact that led me to join ClimateAi.
Q2. Could you share more about your role at ClimateAi and how it contributes to the company’s mission?
Sabi: As an Agronomist at ClimateAi within the Solutions department, my role is quite dynamic. I work closely with various teams across the company, ensuring that our climate data is translated into actionable insights for our customers. This means collaborating with Customer Success to provide tailored solutions, working with Product and Data Science to validate data and create specialized deliveries, and even engaging with Marketing to share insights for content creation.
At the heart of my role is investigating crop behaviors, growth thresholds, and the impact of weather and climate on agriculture. I take this complex information and make it accessible to our product, enabling farmers to make informed decisions. My work directly contributes to ClimateAi’s mission of creating a more climate-resilient agriculture sector, which is both challenging and incredibly fulfilling.
Q3. Could you describe the impact of climate change on agriculture and why your work is crucial in addressing this issue?
Sabi: I think two words would be food security and how to deal with uncertainty. Because in the field and in my profession, we’re always kind of exposed to uncertainty, to changes in weather, changes in climate, and how does that impact not only yield and quality, but the lives of all the people involved from the sowing to the harvest or the pre-planning. You have a lot of steps or stages in the process, and a lot of lives are touched there. And I think that the best thing that Climate AI does, and the mission is just to provide data and provide a little bit more of insights for you to make better decisions and to be prepared for the biggest challenge that we have, that our generation has, that the future generations will have. That is climate change. I think that relates a lot to why I decided to study agronomy.
Q4: Is there anything that personally drives your passion for addressing climate change, considering that some people may not feel its direct impact?
Sabi: Yes. Well, I live in a semi-desert region in Queretaro, where water scarcity is forecasted. While I haven’t experienced it directly in my area, I’ve witnessed people suffering from water scarcity, leading to health and hygiene issues, crop failures, and erosion. Additionally, I’m aware of the challenges faced in other parts of Mexico, like the north’s water shortage and security issues in the south. My parents, a sociologist and an economist specializing in rural areas, have exposed me to stories of people losing homes and falling into poverty due to resource scarcity. These experiences and empathy drive my passion for addressing climate change, as I’ve seen the devastating impacts it can have, especially in developing countries like Mexico. Climate AI’s potential to provide insights and forecasts is inspiring, not only for agriculture but potentially for other industries, offering powerful solutions for those affected by climate change.
Q5. Can you share a specific project or accomplishment at ClimateAi that you’re particularly proud of?
Sabi: One project I’m really proud of is the system we built to provide agronomic insights to various departments within ClimateAi. This system allows us to share valuable agricultural knowledge with data science, software engineering, product development, and customer-facing teams. It has enabled me to collaborate with different departments effectively and provide agricultural insights that enhance our products and services. When I joined, we had limited agronomic insights, so it’s been rewarding to see how we’ve expanded our expertise and optimized processes for over 60 crops in just two years. We’ve transitioned from short-term to long-term risk assessment, reflecting our commitment to quality. Overall, this project has allowed me to grow as a professional and contribute to the company’s mission of addressing climate change through data-driven solutions.
Q6. What role does technology play in ClimateAi’s solutions, and how does it differentiate the company in the climate technology landscape?
Sabi: Well, in my opinion, what sets ClimateAi apart from other organizations in the field or any other place I may have worked, is a combination of factors. While I don’t have extensive experience with other climate companies, I’ve heard from colleagues and peers who have either left or joined us that our company culture is a standout feature. We have a very positive and inclusive culture, and we’re driven by very specific goals.
And then, our technology and accuracy are second to none. We prioritize precision and speed in our solutions, which is crucial when addressing climate-related challenges. Customer obsession is another key aspect that differentiates ClimateAi. We’re committed to providing the best service and solutions to our clients, and that dedication is reflected in everything we do.
I believe our strong team culture, focus on goals, cutting-edge technology, accuracy, speed, and customer obsession are the biggest factors that distinguish ClimateAI from the rest of the field. Our culture and commitment to excellence truly make us stand out.
Q7. How would you describe the company culture at ClimateAi and the team you work with in Mexico?
Sabi: One of the standout aspects of ClimateAI’s culture is our strong spirit of collaboration. We have a close-knit team that genuinely supports each other, and we see our core values in action every day. It’s all about embracing the ethos of American entrepreneurship while fostering a healthy competitive spirit. We encourage each other to be the best at what we do, and we find ways to support one another in achieving that goal.
What makes our culture unique is its horizontal structure. Despite being a larger company, we don’t feel distant from our leadership, and there are ample opportunities for in-person interactions. We also prioritize respecting personal lives and well-being, understanding that mental and emotional health are just as important as our work. Despite the intense startup environment with tight deadlines, we always feel valued as individuals.
Our team is young, not just in terms of our time in the market but also in our demographics. This youthfulness brings us together on both professional and personal levels. When you work here, you’re not just striving for our goals; you’re doing it with friends, in an environment of mutual respect and open communication. It’s this blend of camaraderie, respect, and over-communication that truly defines our work culture.
Q8. Which of ClimateAi’s values contribute to a more positive and inclusive work environment?
Sabi: I believe several values and principles at ClimateAI contribute to the positive and inclusive work environment we have here. One key element is over-communication; we prioritize clear and open communication channels within our teams. Feedback is also highly valued – it’s not just about receiving feedback but also providing it constructively to help everyone improve.
Another principle we embrace is ‘teaming to win.’ It means we collaborate effectively, supporting each other’s success rather than competing within the team. Micro-entrepreneurship is also encouraged, which means we take ownership of our tasks and projects, fostering a sense of responsibility.
Trust and transparency are fundamental values at ClimateAi, and I personally find them crucial. It’s essential to work in an environment where you can ask questions, provide feedback, and know that there’s honesty and openness. We aim to eliminate any gossip or toxic elements by prioritizing these values.
Q9. How has ClimateAi provided opportunities for your professional growth and development during your tenure?
Sabi: ClimateAI has played a pivotal role in my professional growth right from the start. They entrusted me with significant responsibilities, which I eagerly embraced. What makes my journey unique is that there are few agronomists doing what I do, so comparing my experience to others isn’t straightforward.
At its core, ClimateAI has provided me with a platform to share my knowledge through a climate lens. I’ve had the privilege of engaging in meaningful discussions with esteemed customers worldwide, gaining valuable insights into agricultural practices across diverse regions, and witnessing the far-reaching impacts of climate and weather. This exposure has expanded my horizons, not just within agronomy but also in sales, solutions, and product development.
One particularly exciting aspect has been my deepening understanding of the startup environment. It’s been a journey, and I’ve become proficient in adding value to various facets, including business, product, and data science. If I had followed a more conventional career path, I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to explore the realms of business, technology, software, and more.
What truly distinguishes my experience at ClimateAi is the consistent respect and professionalism I’ve received, even when I began as a junior. This unwavering support has significantly bolstered my confidence, both as an agronomist and as a professional.
Q10. What advice would you give to someone considering joining ClimateAi or pursuing a career in the field of climate technology?
Sabi: I’d say, go for it and be brave. Climate technology is crucial in the present and future. While it comes with challenges, it also offers opportunities to create a significant impact. ClimateAi, in particular, is a place where you can build your own path and work with like-minded people to change lives.
Bonus Question: Is there someone at ClimateAi whom you would like to recognize for their support and mentorship in your professional growth?
Sabi: I could name about 20 people, but here I’ll say Max Evans. He’s not with the company now, but he is one of the co-founders of ClimateAi, and he was instrumental in my success here. He gave me the opportunity to join the company and trusted me from the beginning. Max’s vision for building this beautiful company aligned with my passion for combating climate change through technology, and I’m incredibly grateful for his support and mentorship. His decision to bring me on board set the stage for my growth and contributions to ClimateAi’s mission.
Thanks to Sabi for sharing her experience and insights with all of us.
Stay tuned for more inspiring conversations with the incredible individuals shaping the future of climate technology at ClimateAi. The journey has just begun, and we’re excited to share more stories of passion, dedication, and innovation in articles to come.