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Highlights of Our Conversations at ClimateAi Interview with Business Operations Manager Ariel Avgi

Meredith Mejia • March 8th, 2024.

Conversations at ClimateAi - Ariel Avgi Business Operations Manager

In this third installment of “Conversations at ClimateAi,” we delve into the world of Ariel Avgi, whose journey from mathematics and climate science research to operational excellence at ClimateAi illustrates the diverse paths leading to the forefront of climate technology. As the Business Operations Manager, Ariel’s role is pivotal in enhancing ClimateAi’s operational strategy and execution, embodying our core values of “Trust and Transparency” and “Teaming to Win.” Her dedication to professional growth and making a significant impact in the climate tech space underscores the unique contributions of each team member to our mission.

Ariel shares her insights on the importance of adaptation in the fight against climate change, emphasizing ClimateAi’s mission to ‘climate proof’ supply chains and ensure food security in an increasingly volatile environment. She reflects on how ClimateAi’s values resonate with her personal commitment to sustainability, from her dietary choices to her lifestyle, highlighting the alignment between personal values and professional objectives. Ariel’s story is a testament to the power of individual actions in contributing to a larger cause, inspiring those looking to make a difference in the climate technology sector.

Read on for a closer look at Ariel’s experiences, her perspective on the challenges and opportunities in climate technology, and her advice for aspiring professionals in the field.

Conversations at ClimateAi
Operational Excellence Meets Climate Innovation: Ariel Avgi’s Role in Shaping a Greener Future

Welcome to the third installment of “Conversations at ClimateAi,” our series that deepens the connection between our audience and the dedicated professionals driving our mission. Through engaging Q&As, we explore our team members’ personal journeys, pivotal roles, and significant contributions, showcasing their dedication to combating climate change with innovative technology and data science.

This edition highlights Ariel Avgi, ClimateAi’s Business Operations Manager, whose journey from mathematics and climate science to operational excellence exemplifies our core values of “Trust and Transparency” and “Teaming to Win.” Ariel’s role is critical in operational strategy and execution, reflecting a commitment to not just professional growth but also to making a tangible impact in the field of climate technology. Her story of resilience and adaptation highlights what makes our team at ClimateAi extraordinary, demonstrating how individual paths contribute to our collective vision for a climate-resilient future.

Q1: Hi, Ariel. Like many team members here at ClimateAi, you have an interesting background. Tell us more about it and what inspired you to join ClimateAi.

Ariel: I graduated in 2019 with a mathematics degree and over the course of my college career I explored the various applications of math in industry. I worked on a climate science research project funded by NOAA, assessing the impact of hot and dry weather extremes on wheat croplands. I also interned at Goldman Sachs leveraging my technical skills in their operational risk division.

I accepted a full-time position at Goldman upon graduation and, over the next two years, learned a lot about technology risk and risk program management. While I admired the culture at Goldman, particularly my division, I realized that my passion wasn’t in finance. I felt drawn to make a difference in an area I truly cared about—sustainability.

ClimateAi presented the perfect opportunity, with its mission to manage climate risk and help businesses adapt to the effects of climate change. It felt right to join a company that aligned with my interests and values, where I could use my skills to make an impact.

Q2: What aspects of ClimateAi’s mission do you find most inspiring?

Ariel: What’s really inspiring about working here is the emphasis on adaptation in the face of climate change. Many initiatives focus on mitigation, which is crucial, but adaptation is equally important. So much damage has already been done, and it’s essential to help businesses adapt to our new environmental reality, especially those in food and agriculture. ‘Climate proofing’ supply chains means giving organizations the resources to continue feeding the world. It’s not just about doing good by the environment; it’s about changing people’s lives. That’s a powerful distinction and a central part of our mission that really motivates me.

Q3: Do you feel the company’s mission and values closely align with your own values? How so?

Ariel: Definitely. My path to sustainability started in college with a pivotal moment in an international relations class: A classmate’s argument about the significant water depletion caused by meat production struck me, especially following a professor’s remark that the next world war would be fought over water resources. This discussion prompted me to research further and ultimately led me to stop eating meat in my sophomore year. I’ve become deeply conscious of how my actions impact the environment.

This consciousness extends beyond my diet to my lifestyle choices as a New Yorker. I recycle, grow my own herbs, and use public transit whenever possible despite having access to a car. These small, daily decisions towards sustainability add value to my life and align with ClimateAi’s mission of adaptation. This alignment of values, focusing on making a tangible impact through both personal and professional avenues, resonates with me deeply.

Q4: Can you share a project or accomplishment at ClimateAi that you’re proud of?

Ariel: I’ve tackled quite a few projects here and feel a sense of pride for each of them for different reasons. Reflecting on this, I think the common thread is the growth I’ve experienced—from initially not knowing anything about the area to producing an end product that’s now invaluable to the company.

Take my first project, for example. It was all about cleaning up our customer relationship management database. I had no experience with sales or CRM systems, didn’t know the lingo, and needed to figure out what we needed to track. From that starting point, I managed to revamp the system, creating a structured database that our sales team could effectively utilize—a system we still use today.

Another recent project I’m proud of is developing our revenue forecasting model. Earlier this year, we faced a gap when my direct manager went on leave and another key finance person left. Stepping into that gap, I worked closely with our CFO to build out the model. Despite my limited background in finance, I’m proud of what we achieved. The company’s trust in me–apparent in both these experiences–catalyzed my success, instilling a confidence that allowed me to excel despite the challenge.

Ariel and ClimateAi Team

Q5: How would you describe the company culture at ClimateAi?

Ariel: Our culture is shaped by our values, most notable to me being ‘Superhuman but Human.’ This value perfectly encapsulates our drive for excellence while acknowledging our humanity. We’re a team deeply committed to our work, fostering an environment of support and understanding. For instance, this past summer, my mom was sick, and I experienced this value firsthand. My colleagues’ support during this time was extraordinary, showing flexibility and understanding, underscoring the caring culture we have.

We’re also a remote team. I was the first New York hire, and watching our team grow has been exciting. Despite the challenges of remote work and navigating different time zones, we’ve maintained a strong sense of camaraderie and trust. Our culture thrives on this balance of professional dedication and personal empathy, ensuring no one feels isolated.

We’ve found unique ways to reinforce our bond, particularly in New York. Even though we work from home, the New York team uses WeWork spaces for monthly meetings, and we always make time for a bit of fun as well. The company also encourages cross-functional meet-ups we call ‘garages’, where members of different teams from various locations come together to collaborate on key problems. These are opportunities for us to clear our calendars and focus on the task at hand, reminiscent of starting a new project in a garage. This approach to co-located meetings has been invaluable for fostering team unity and driving forward our objectives.

Q6: What opportunities for professional growth has ClimateAi provided you?

Ariel: The growth opportunities at ClimateAi have come in unexpected ways. In an environment where everyone wears multiple hats, I have had the opportunity to take on responsibilities outside my initial job scope. Stepping into unfamiliar areas or filling in when the company needed support have been key to my development. This flexibility and willingness to learn create opportunities for professional growth. Also, the mentorship at ClimateAi is exceptional. My manager has played a pivotal role in my professional development, helping me refine my communication and adapt my working style.

Q7: How do you see your role contributing to a more sustainable future?

Ariel: In my role, I empower our business team by supporting sales, customer success, and occasionally marketing. My work involves building and standardizing processes that enhance our team’s efficiency. This foundational support enables us to scale, aiming to grow from servicing less than 50 companies to reaching 100 and beyond. A sustainable future, particularly from a food security standpoint, depends on our ability to feed our population. This challenge is exacerbated by climate change’s frequent extreme weather events, making our mission even more critical.

By ensuring our business team can effectively sell our solutions and communicate our mission, I contribute to ClimateAi’s goal of providing organizations with the insights needed to anticipate and plan for these events. It’s about enabling a more strategic approach to dealing with the impacts of climate change, thereby contributing to a broader effort to ensure food security and sustainability.

Q8: What advice would you give someone looking to pursue a career in climate technology?

Ariel: My advice for anyone considering a career in climate technology or joining ClimateAi is to recognize there’s no single path or ‘one fit’ in this field. The diversity of challenges we face in climate adaptation requires a variety of skills and perspectives. Whether you’re a meteorologist, a climate scientist, or, like me, someone focused on business operations, there’s a place for you. Though not directly linked to climate science, my program and process management background have proven valuable in enabling our business team to communicate our mission effectively and sell our products.

It can be daunting at first, especially if you’re from a different industry and wondering if your skills are relevant. I’ve been there, questioning whether a background like mine applies to a tech or climate tech career. The answer is a resounding yes. If you’re passionate about making a difference in our warming world, there’s room for your skills to contribute. It’s about identifying what you excel at and how those abilities can be applied within the industry to support its mission. Don’t underestimate the impact your unique skills can have in helping to shape a more sustainable future.

Q9: Is there anyone you’d like to give a shout out to for their impact on your career at ClimateAi?

Ariel: I’d like to shout out Nicole Eaves, who was my first direct report and has taught me a great deal about managing and supporting someone else’s career growth. Her development and success have been incredibly rewarding to witness.

Ariel and Nicole

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Thanks to Ariel for sharing her experience and insights with us.

Stay tuned for more inspiring conversations with the incredible individuals shaping the future of climate technology at ClimateAi. We look forward to sharing more passion, dedication, and innovation stories in future articles.

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