How did you become involved in the Smart Buildings industry?
It's been an evolutionary journey. Redstone made its name, and built a formidable reputation in the structured cabling and LAN spaces. Yet we were increasingly installing building technologies such as IP security, access control - key building elements. For building owners and managers, it makes sense to have those that understand the network, install services on it. Increasingly customers are also looking for one point of accountability and are seeing the benefits of building services being integrated in a 'smart' way. Our solutions portfolio has innovated and evolved from there into the smart buildings provider that we are today. I find it an exciting area with so much potential.
What excites you about the Smart Buildings industry?
The level of innovation going on is remarkable. The need to make buildings work smarter is driving an incredible pace of change, but it’s also interesting to see how consumer behaviour is heavily affecting the workplace. If you easily connect to Wi-Fi and access what you want at home, why should you have to go through lots of bureaucracy in the workplace? The user experience should be the same wherever you are. And while the promise of remote working has long been touted, what we're really seeing is an evolution of working - a mix of remote and in the office, in varying patterns. The workplace has really lagged behind what we want as workers and the potential for innovation to catch up offers a lot of opportunity.
Are there any particular technologies that we should be aware of, but are currently under the radar?
I think we'll see an increasing fusion of technologies, such as mobile phones being used to do more in the workplace. Devices like the iPhone are already offering fingerprint-level security to secure banking and payment. While employees could be wary of giving fingerprints to employers, they are happy giving it to their phone. So then imagine being able to use that phone as a point of access control, or to access services within the office. It offers a lot of potential and is more secure than the traditional smart card method that has no authentication process to protect it or the user.
What services does your company offer?
We do everything from structured cabling to the active network equipment right through to smart building technologies. On top of that we also design and build data centres, in particular for the financial services industry. Smarter Buildings, Smarter Spaces, Smarter Performance.
Are people aware of the regulations that they will need to comply with in the near future?
Energy compliance is still flying under the radar and there needs to be a campaign to raise awareness. As of last month companies with a certain number of employees or revenue have to be ESOS complaint. Basically this means you have to have your energy audited. But over the coming years certain buildings will be illegal to lease as they don't reach a minimum efficiency level. So building owners in particular need to start working on making buildings efficient now before they are caught out.
How big are the benefits of a Smart Building?
The benefits of smart buildings are infinite. At Redstone, we talk about smart buildings leading to smart spaces and ultimately smart performance since the three are inextricably connected. In terms of benefits this means making spaces that are critical to a business, work smarter and harder (both physically and financially). If we can do this, then the way that people interact with and within that space can aid better thinking, better innovation, and ultimately improve lives by creating spaces that people want to work and live in.
Who has been the biggest influence in your career?
Tom McKay, who was the founder of McKay's Electrical and my first boss in New Zealand. He was a real visionary and an optimist. When he brought TVs to the area, and the TV signals were low, he worked with competitors to fund an antenna. It's just one example of how he saw the potential in something, didn't let issues get in the way and worked with others to achieve mutual success. He saw the market potential and helped build it.
What is the question you are most often asked in your business life?
What is a "smart building?” And it's not always easy to answer, since so many people have different views on what it encompasses! I fundamentally see the answer as another question: "is your building as efficient as it can be?"
What are the best/worst things about your job?
The best part is seeing the new technologies being developed by Redstone and other companies and the opportunity it offers. In particular, I'm really proud of OneSpace - a Redstone creation to manage desk space. It allows companies to make better use of office space, which in turn reduces costs and environmental impact. Employees get flexibility to work with a modern system that puts the shame of 'hotdesking' to rest. I'm very proud of what we've achieved. The downside is that sometimes people still think quite short term, about the CAPEX now rather than the OPEX or usability later. A good example is one year ago energy costs were hot on the agenda, now people will start thinking they can lower the priority of energy reduction initiatives. But it's our job to say you shouldn't, as you need to think ten, twenty, thirty years in the future. It's difficult to change what's always been done and to really think long term.
What advice would you give to someone starting out in the industry?
Don't be held back by what 'was has gone before'. Offices will only change and evolve for the better if people come in with fresh ideas and change the approach. Challenge the norm and say "No, that's inefficient and unacceptable and doesn't need to be that way."
What living person do you admire and why?
Richie McCaw, why? Because he is the world’s best flanker, and the most capped All Black ever (103). He has tasted victory 84 times in 95 Tests, that’s an amazing 88% success rate - the most by any All Black. He’s also captained the All Blacks to 51 victories in 58 Tests, and has been the IRB Player of the Year a record three times (2006, 2009, 2010).
Where would you most like to live?
I grew up in New Zealand and still love it, but the UK is my home. There's so much opportunity here if you work hard. I don't want to be anywhere else.
What is your favourite book?
Legacy by James Kerr: an amazing, inspirational book. James went behind the scenes to learn what the All Blacks can teach us about the business of life. He was also the guest speaker at our Symposium a couple of years ago and he wowed the crowd. I must love it - I've read it five times!
How do you relax?
With my two gorgeous kids…it’s what life is all about
What sports team do you support?
The All Blacks, need you ask?
What is your desert island disc?
What is your ideal holiday?
Anywhere hot…splashing in the pool with my kids.