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Highlights of Our Conversations at ClimateAi Interview with Product Manager Jp Ruz

Jasmine Spiess • April 2nd, 2024.

Conversations at ClimateAi JP Ruz

In our latest edition of “Conversations at ClimateAi,” we dive into the journey of Juan Pablo (Jp) Ruz Cuen, whose transition from engineering physics to product management at ClimateAi exemplifies the innovative spirit propelling the fight against climate change. Jp’s unique blend of technical expertise and passion for sustainability has positioned him as a key player in developing solutions for climate resilience.

Jp’s narrative is one of growth, learning, and adaptation. From his early days coding the initial versions of what would become groundbreaking tools to his current role in steering product development, his journey is a testament to the dynamic nature of work at ClimateAi. His contributions, notably the development of the Climate Analogs and Explore tools, have earned accolades and underscored the potential of data-driven solutions in climate technology.

Central to Jp’s work is a vision to extend ClimateAi’s impact beyond the agriculture sector, aiming to apply the company’s methodologies across industries for a broader sustainable future. This ambition reflects a deep commitment to leveraging technology for environmental stewardship.

Jp’s story is also a window into ClimateAi’s culture of collaboration and mentorship, highlighting the company’s supportive environment that fosters professional growth and innovation. As we explore Jp’s path and insights, we see a vivid illustration of how individual journeys contribute to ClimateAi’s mission.

Read on to uncover Jp’s passion, dedication, and innovation to climate technology at ClimateAi.

Conversations at ClimateAi:
On the Product Frontline of Climate Innovation with Jp Ruz

Welcome to the fourth edition of our “Conversations at ClimateAi” series, where we spotlight individuals making significant strides in the battle against climate change through innovation and collaboration. Today, we talk with Juan Pablo (Jp) Ruz Cuen, a product manager whose journey from an engineering and physics background to a critical role in ClimateAi’s product development exemplifies the fusion of science, technology, and passion for sustainability.

At the heart of his role, Jp orchestrates the bridge between technical development and strategic product vision, ensuring that ClimateAi’s solutions are scientifically advanced and aligned with real-world needs for climate resilience. His path to product manager reflects ClimateAi’s dynamic and evolving approach to tackling climate challenges.

Jp’s narrative showcases his involvement in developing ClimateAi’s most innovative tools, insights into the company’s nurturing culture, and a forward-looking perspective on expanding ClimateAi’s methodologies to new sectors. His story is a testament to the power of interdisciplinary collaboration and dedicated individuals’ impact in driving the mission of climate resilience.

Let’s dive into Jp’s contributions to helping ClimateAi shape a more sustainable and resilient future through climate technology.

Q1: Can you tell us a little about your background and role at ClimateAi?

Jp: As a product manager at ClimateAi, my role is quite broad, encompassing various responsibilities that bridge the gap between our development team and the strategic direction of our products. My path here began with a technical background in engineering physics, which initially led me to join the company as a data scientist. This technical foundation has been crucial in my transition to product management, where I’ve continued to engage deeply with the technical aspects of building a product that is scientifically and computationally complex.

I am involved in most stages of product development, from the initial road mapping of new tools and features to early design and customer validation, and planning and execution. I work closely with engineers, data scientists, and other product managers, ensuring that our product development aligns with our strategic goals and effectively addresses our users’ needs. My role is at the midpoint between product and development, allowing me to leverage my technical knowledge while guiding the product’s strategic direction. This unique position enables me to contribute significantly to how we envision and build solutions that address the complex challenges posed by climate variability and its impacts.”

JP

Q2: What attracted you to ClimateAi?

Jp: I first heard about ClimateAi when Max Evans, one of the co-founders, gave a talk at my school. The chance to work in the climate space aligned perfectly with my professional interests and personal passion for sustainability. My technical background and professional interests made the fusion of science, technology, and sustainability at ClimateAi particularly appealing.

Additionally, the startup environment at ClimateAi was very attractive to me. I was drawn to the small, close-knit team, which seemed like a family, and the significant impact individuals could have due to the company’s size. When I joined, I already knew some people working here from school, which made the transition smoother. It felt like joining a group of friends, enhancing the appeal of ClimateAi as the right place for me to start my career in this industry.

Q3: What do you find most inspiring about ClimateAi’s mission?

Jp: The most inspiring aspect for me is the uniqueness of our focus on climate resiliency. We’re venturing into a new industry where not many have tread before, which positions us at the forefront of something truly innovative. This pioneering stance is exciting both professionally and because it aligns with my interest in sustainability and environmental concerns. The work we’re doing today has the potential to shape the future of this industry, which is an exciting prospect.

Sustainability is a complex and multifaceted issue, and while popular areas like recycling or clean energy receive a lot of attention, niche topics, like water conservation or, in our case, resiliency, are often overlooked. Efforts towards a long-term sustainable future are as important as building short-term adaptability and resiliency. We are facing pressing issues that require immediate action, and these require their own set of solutions. This dual focus is particularly pertinent in sectors like the food industry, where the stakes are incredibly high. The idea that my work contributes to ensuring food security is motivating and fulfilling.

Q4: Could you share a specific project or accomplishment you’re particularly proud of?

Jp: Yeah, sure! A project that stands out is what initially was called Climate Analogs and has since evolved into our Explore tool. This tool is like my baby because I started programming it on my second day as a Jr. Data Scientist when I joined ClimateAi. It enables users to identify future locations with a climate similar to their current operational areas, essentially aiding in discovering new, viable locations for their activities in response to changing climate conditions.

Although I transitioned from coding to product management, I retained ownership of this product feature throughout its development. Notably, this tool contributed to us winning a spot on the Time’s Best Innovation of 2022 list, underscoring the impact and innovation of our work. My involvement didn’t stop even as my role changed; I remain integral to the tool’s ongoing evolution. I continue working to incorporate more insights into the tool, which exemplifies how the product constantly evolves in response to customer needs.

Q5: How does ClimateAi’s commitment to sustainability align with your personal values and aspirations?

Jp: For me, ClimateAi’s commitment to sustainability resonates deeply with my own values. What sets ClimateAi apart is that we engage directly with production managers and growers to tackle climate-related challenges, ensuring our solutions have a real impact on the ground. I’m motivated by the tangible effects of our work, knowing that our solutions can make a difference for growers who are struggling with extreme weather events today.

Q6: How do ClimateAi’s culture and core values shape your experience?

Jp: I’m based in Sweden, so I’m the sole ClimateAi employee in Europe, and I’ve found that our company culture transcends geographical boundaries. There’s a deep respect for individual schedules and a strong ethos of collaboration and teamwork ingrained in our culture. Despite the time difference, my colleagues are considerate of my working hours, ensuring I’m not scheduled for meetings past 9 PM local time. There’s an emphasis on finding a balance that enables everyone to contribute effectively, regardless of location. Our ‘Teaming to Win’ mentality, driven by a collective commitment to our mission, fosters interdisciplinary collaboration and makes my experience incredibly rewarding.

The sense of community at ClimateAi is tangible. Relationships within the company feel like friendships that extend beyond professional connections. I’m particularly close to the Mexico team since I knew people beforehand, and it’s the team I’ve collaborated in-person the most with. But over the years I’ve made good relationships with colleagues from other countries and it’s always great to get together when we have in-person events. This makes working at ClimateAi feel like being part of a geographically spread yet close-knit community. The value of ‘Teaming to Win’ significantly shapes our positive work environment, instilling a commitment to mutual support and driving us to go above and beyond in our efforts to contribute to ClimateAi’s mission.

CAI Team and JP

Q7: Can you describe opportunities for professional growth at ClimateAi?

Jp: Yeah, that’s a really good question. When I joined ClimateAi we didn’t have a product team. When the team was formed and I joined, I jumped straight into decision-making. I had great guidance from my mentor but given our size, I had to learn a lot on the job, especially since I hadn’t done product management before.

The startup environment here means everyone’s role is significant. The team is small enough that each individual’s contribution has a huge impact.

Our horizontal structure values everyone’s opinions, letting us come up with our own proposals and challenge existing solutions. It’s empowering to make decisions that shape where we’re going and what we’re doing.

Q8: You mention mentorship. ClimateAi strongly focuses on mentorship, and supervisors are referred to as mentors. Can you share how mentors have influenced your work and development?

Jp: Mentorship has been a significant part of my journey at ClimateAi. While Max was never my official mentor, he started introducing me to product management and asking me about ideas I had to improve our platform. Then Yu Chen joined and became my mentor, and with ClimateAi’s first Product Team, we built what is now our ClimateLens platform. Yu Chen’s belief in me and her guidance were pivotal as I navigated the unfamiliar terrains of product management. Her style of product management deeply influenced how I approach my role today. We both come from more technical backgrounds and we understood each other very well.

I also need to mention Vikram, my current mentor. He has a completely different style of product management, which has been great for growing as a well-rounded product manager. His customer obsession has profoundly impacted my success in this role, always challenging me to focus on what the user needs and experiences. You can build a very flashy, sophisticated product, but if users don’t understand how to use it, then it’s not a good product, and you won’t be solving their problems.

These mentors have kept me grounded and focused, reinforcing the importance of maintaining our guiding light in all we do. Their challenges have been crucial in my development, making it difficult to single out just one mentor. Each has been incredibly influential in my short but impactful professional career at ClimateAi.

Q9: How do you envision ClimateAi’s methodologies impacting sustainability across different sectors in the future?

Jp: Right now we’re going deep into agriculture, and food and beverage sectors, really honing our efforts there. Once we’ve solidified our impact in these areas, the dream has always been to broaden our reach to other industries, leveraging the same methodologies and insights. The vision is to extend climate resiliency beyond food, which, while critical, is just one of many sectors that can benefit from our work. We’ve already made some efforts in finance, energy, and the public sector, and the vision is to go further. Essentially, we’re not just building solutions for today but paving the way for a new industry focused on resilience across multiple sectors. The goal is to inspire other companies to integrate climate resiliency into their strategies, which is still not a common practice.

Q10: What advice would you give to someone considering a career in climate technology?

Jp: Having a passion for the topic is critical, as it’s a common thread that unites everyone in the field. But equally important is being adaptive. Much like the problems we’re tackling, the climate technology industry evolves rapidly, requiring us to adapt our solutions and approaches to meet the world’s needs. We constantly receive new insights from customers that deepen our understanding of the solutions they need to address their pains. This demands certain flexibility as every customer is unique and faces unique challenges. My advice is to embrace the challenge of this ever-changing landscape, armed with passion and a willingness to adapt.

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