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The DEI Digest with Irina Tikhomirova, OpalAI


Welcome to ‘The DEI Digest’ with Romey Oulton, a Q&A focused on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in the Built Environment.

This Q&A series is an opportunity for our North American Consultant Romey Oulton to discuss Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in the Built Environment with lead changemakers in the space who are championing DEI.  Each week we will ask burning questions, providing a platform to share career advice, discuss innovative strategies to overcome challenges, and how to lead by example. 

This week we have been in touch with Irina Tikhomirova, Director of Product Marketing at OpalAI.

OpalAI are developing a downloadable App that in conjunction with the latest mobile phones can generate an extremely accurate floor plan of a property within minutes.

No tape measure, no note pads, and no moving any furniture. This AI-enabled App automatically declutters a fully furnished house and delivers a complete floor plan with an accuracy of a fraction of an inch within minutes with no special hardware other than your phone.

Just move around, take a video, and let the App do the rest.

What does diversity, equity and inclusion mean to you and why are they important? 

Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) are essential values that promote a culture of belonging and respect for all individuals in a workplace. For me, these values first and foremost mean promoting the representation of diverse perspectives and backgrounds, ensuring equal opportunities for all, and creating an inclusive environment where everyone feels welcomed and valued.

As a person who had a chance to work in the multicultural environments – I spent several years early in my career in China, and then did my MBA at UCLA Anderson School of Management with a very diverse student body, I recognize the importance of diversity and a variety of perspectives, skills, and experiences in the workplace, which ultimately lead to a better decision-making, increase innovation and creativity, as individuals with different backgrounds bring unique insights and ideas to the table.


What steps has your company taken to promote DEI initiatives both internally and externally? 

OpalAi is still a small, but quickly growing team. From the moment the company has been established OpalAi has been committed to promoting diversity. We have employees from more than 10 different nationalities and about 40% of the team are females. We aim to promote an inclusive culture, where everyone feels valued and heard, which includes open communication, soliciting feedback from employees, and promoting diversity and inclusion initiatives through company-wide events and activities.


What are some tips and/or hard lessons learned throughout your experience building teams?  

OpalAi is in an intersection of tech and construction, and both industries face challenges with underrepresentation of women. Tapping into university career networks such as UCLA, USC, UCSD has been helpful for us in terms of recruiting a more diverse workforce. University career networks can be a valuable resource for businesses looking to hire new talent, particularly from underrepresented groups. Many universities have programs and resources specifically designed to promote diversity and connect students from diverse backgrounds with potential employers. 

Additionally, being open to remote and hybrid work opportunities can also help to promote diversity and inclusion in the workplace. Remote work can provide greater flexibility for employees with caregiving responsibilities or other obligations, allowing them to more easily balance work and other commitments. It can also help to attract and retain employees from different geographic areas or with disabilities that make commuting difficult.


What’s been your most challenging moments as an entrepreneur/start-up junkie? 

Success is never guaranteed, and setbacks are inevitable. However, it is important to understand that setbacks and failures are a natural part of the journey and to maintain a positive and optimistic mindset even in the face of adversity. This mindset allows me to stay focused on the long-term vision and adapt to changing market conditions.


What do you love most about the sector that you work in? 

One of the most exciting aspects of working in proptech is the opportunity to leverage technology to improve and streamline processes in the construction and real estate industry. Proptech can bring a range of benefits to general contractors, developers, property owners, agents, buyers, and renters, including increased transparency, efficiency, and convenience.

For example, OpalAiutilizescutting-edgetechnologytoquicklyandaccuratelytransform mobile 3Dscansinto accurate as-built drawings and 3DCAD/BIMmodels.Something that was previously taking months of manual work can now be performed in a day, saving time and reducing costs for all parties involved in a transaction. Overall, working in proptech offers the opportunity to be at the forefront of digital innovation in the construction and real estate industry, driving positive change and delivering value to stakeholders.


Share a fun fact about yourself

As someone who is always looking for ways to learn new skills and expand my horizons, I have recently taken up ice skating classes as an adult. As I progress through my classes, I am learning new techniques and tricks, and am continually surprised by the sense of accomplishment and satisfaction that comes with mastering a new skill. It’s never too late to learn something new!

LMRE are specialist PropTech recruiters, if you need help growing your business or making any key hires please get in touch via the form below!

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