Francesca Brady was recently appointed CEO at AirRated, Bradley Bartlett co-founder of LMRE caught up with her to discuss her plans, advice, inspiring CEOs and lockdown.
Francesca was previously Head of Environment Research at AirRated, prior to that Environmental Specialist at Meitrikus. She studied Environmental Science at University and was always drawn to IAQ.
AirRated: The Global Benchmark for Indoor Air Quality. They use the latest sensor technology to collect data on Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) then assess it using leading medical research and industry best practice, resulting in an Air Score.
The AirRated Vision:
“Our aim is to create an internationally accepted industry standard for measuring and classifying air quality across all use classes in the built environment. An AirScore is an easily recognisable benchmark and a reliable measure for IAQ. At AirRated, we aim to support our clients in promoting healthy environments by raising awareness of IAQ and providing strategies for air quality improvement.”
What is first on your agenda as CEO of AirRated?
First on my agenda as CEO will be to create greater awareness and understanding around the importance of measuring IAQ for our health, wellbeing and productivity both at home and in our workplaces. And dispelling the misconception that poor performing indoor environments will be expensive to remediate.
What is your top piece of advice for those looking to improve quality of indoor air?
My top piece of advice would be to make sure you have good ventilation. Well ventilated spaces will dilute the build up of pollutants (bad for our health) and CO2 (a productivity killer). Enhanced ventilation has been highlighted as a key factor for mitigating the risk of COVID transmission indoors.
I’m sure its all top secret but what can you tell us about the future of AirRated?
There are lots of exciting things going on behind the scenes and the future of AirRated is bright! We have seen a lot of interest in the UK but also a healthy appetite from abroad too. The future for AirRated is to establish ourselves on the world stage as the 'go to' building certification - we want to change the mindset from 'nice to have' to 'must have'.
As a woman in a largely male dominated sector what do you think needs to change?
I think proptech is fairly progressive as a 'new' industry - the fundamental change has already begun with greater awareness and open discussion on the topic. I've been very lucky in that I've had very supportive men and women around me. Not just those who I work with day to day but so many throughout the industry. I would say continuing this inclusive evolution through supporting and championing women who choose to enter the industry is a great way to change things. It would also be great to see more women as decision-makers - this is a change that needs to happen across the board and is not limited to our industry.
What drew you to environmental tech?
I studied Environmental Science at university and was always drawn to IAQ - the overlooked, 'ugly sister' of outdoor air quality. My first job out of uni was working at a tech start-up that focussed on aggregating data from IoT devices - one of which was an environmental sensor. Having studied the science behind IAQ and it's impact on the human body, being able to track my own exposure to elevated CO2, PM2.5, low humidity etc. through the use of technology was amazing to me. This is where the passion for environmental tech began.
What has made your journey to CEO unique?
What has made my journey unique has been the closeness to the AirScore. Having been so hands-on with the creation and development of the certification, I feel hugely invested in maintaining it's high level of quality and truly believe in it's value.
What are your three biggest accomplishments in your career so far?
What other CEO’s do you look up to?
Thru Shivakumar - CEO of cohesion
Michelle van Vuuren - CEO of Black Gate
Oyvind Birkenes - CEO of Airthings
What was the best advice anyone ever gave you, and did you follow it?
The best advice I've been given was 'don't be afraid to ask for help' - this advice was from way back in school but it still applies today. No one person knows everything and people are always there to help. Business is a team game, and for me the most important thing about leadership is knowing how to leverage all of the different skills within your team.
Have you seen an increase of business following the initial lockdown period?
Yes we have. To begin with, a lot of the conversations we were having were discussing the importance of IAQ with regards to COVID-19 (and other forms of virus like the common cold/flu) - this was increasing awareness and education on the topic. No one has a budget dedicated to an IAQ certification, because it's a new concept. As the understanding of the value of an AirScore grew, people started to find a budget for this badge of assurance and confidence. We are now seeing an awful lot of those initial conversations convert into real business.