Getting to know Persefoni: Meet Simon Minton
1. And you may ask yourself, "Well... how did I get here?" (Tell us your journey?)
I grew up with 3 siblings in the hills between Bath and Bristol in the UK - an area of undulating hills, narrow lanes perfectly suited to cycling, pretty villages and idyllic country pubs (with beer gardens!). When I look back, most of my childhood was spent on my bike on epic rides with my mates, kicking a football about until it was too dark to see the ball, and playing computer games with my brother and a bunch of our friends. Watching Stranger Things brings back a lot of memories!
I was lucky enough to study at university in Amsterdam and was recruited at my graduation ceremony by IBM, and so began a 20+ year journey working (predominantly) at technology companies. Working in technology has enabled me to live around the world, and I've spent time in both start-ups (Persefoni is my 6th in fact!) and large tech companies like Cisco and Microsoft. I have been able to live in countries including Australia, Spain, the Netherlands, Thailand and the UK. I've also worked in many different functions - from developing apps in Lotus Notes at IBM, to being the (initially clueless) IT guy in the server room when I joined a cyber security start-up in Madrid (later acquired by Microsoft).
When you look back at your life, there seems to be certain inflection points - for me, my time in Madrid is one of them. I met my wife there (who is Italian, and who introduced me to Cannolis) and I spent the next 15 years working in cyber security, mostly in roles which combined strategy and business development.
I'm always asked how I got into Climate Tech, since I don't have a background in sustainability. There's no single answer to that question, but the realization that we have the tools now to actually DO SOMETHING about climate change was a huge motivation. I'm increasingly fascinated by both nature based solutions (did you know that whales play a vital role in carbon capture, indirectly helping capture carbon estimated at 4 x that of the Amazon rainforest?!) as well as emerging technologies (like Direct Air Capture and 'sand batteries'). If you're new to sustainability but want a technologist's view of how to ‘fix things’, Bill Gates’ book How to Avoid a Climate Disaster is a good read, and one I've recommended to others who come from a technology background but want to work in sustainability or climate tech.
I'm grateful to my colleagues and the wider ecosystem for their support for people like me who are new to the world of sustainability. However, In order to scale and innovate, it's vital that we bring people with different backgrounds and skills. Climate change is something that affects every single one of us, we need everyone to get involved.
2. And you may find yourself behind the wheel of a large automobile. (What do you do at Persefoni?)
Good question, it depends on the day!
We are building out our team in the UK and across EMEA to be able to support our customers here and develop new partnerships. As always in software, there are different drivers across different markets, so we are adapting our product and services to those markets. In 20 years of working in high growth technology sectors, I've never seen so much interest and demand from the market.
We're constantly looking at how we continue to automate what was once a highly manual and laborious exercise, how to democratize access to carbon and climate data, and how to embed carbon and climate data in everyday decision making. One thing I learned at Cisco and later when working at Deloitte is that once you democratize access to data by integrating that data into business applications, people will use that data to inform on business strategy and operations. The insights these data provide will be critical in helping organizations decarbonize and develop new, sustainable revenue streams.
3. And you may ask yourself, "Where does that highway go to?" (What are your hopes for your time at Persefoni?)
Until relatively recently, few people had heard of carbon accounting or even the concept of a carbon footprint. Now, we are speaking to stakeholders from many organizations for whom this is now an everyday consideration. In particular, organizations who have publicly committed to a NetZero target, or those that want to tap into new green capital being offered by financial institutions - with decarbonization strings attached, or where regulatory bodies are requiring disclosure of their carbon emissions.
Where's this all going? Measuring, tracking and disclosing an organization's carbon footprint is just the start, there's a lot of momentum building around organizations taking nature and biodiversity into account in their operations. So the challenge will be to measure, track and integrate that nature-related data into decision making. Once we build the technology, ecosystems and processes for this to happen, that's when we can REALLY make an impact. And that's why I am so excited to be at Persefoni.
4. And you may say to yourself, "My God! What have I done?" (Why is Persefoni a great home for you?)
Like Alice, I've fallen down the rabbit hole (or for The Matrix fans, I've taken Morpheus' red pill and rebelled against the simulated reality I was living in). Now I'm discovering how deep the rabbit hole goes, and I want to do my part to help us collectively respond to climate change.
I couldn't be prouder to do that shoulder to shoulder with my fellow Persefonites, an assembled force that surpasses even the Avengers in skill, diversity and courage (it may be becoming obvious that I like fantasy & sci-fi movies!)
5. And you may find yourself in another part of the world... (Tell us about your life/hobbies away from work?)
Like many Persefonites, I spend much of my spare time outside in nature. Now the kids are old enough to carry their own backpacks, we're trekking across mountains, through jungles, taking refreshing dips in freshwater lakes, and breaking bread with the people we're lucky enough to be staying with. Asia is a big draw for us, but we've got plans to go back to Argentina and Chile.
I'm also back on my bike! Not just locally in Wales and Scotland, but in Crete (amazing for cycling!) and Portugal. I have a gravel bike and haven't felt the need for another bike.. until I recently rented both a road bike and tried an e-bike in the Dolomite mountains.... Wow, that was eye opening! But for now I'm resisting the N+1 'rule'!
Finally, I'd love to visit Costa Rica again - it struck me when we visited about 12 years ago how Costa Ricans prioritize sustainable tourism and are guardians of biodiversity and nature. We can all learn from Costa Rica on how to manage our local ecosystems and communities.
Meet other Persefonites!
“Once in a Lifetime" is a series of articles designed to help our customers and partners learn more about Persefoni's truly passionate team. We're not just building award-winning software ... together, we're helping to decarbonize our planet.