Steven joined Somfy as managing director for UK and Ireland in 2019. Somfy’s solutions are developed with comfort, ease of use, security and sustainability in mind. Somfy’s innovations automate and connect rolling shutters, curtains and blinds, gates and garage doors, lighting and heating, alarms systems and more. Somfy are committed to creating useful solutions that are accessible to all, designed for today and beyond.
How did you become involved in the Smart Buildings industry?
I’ve had an interesting journey into Smart Buildings. I started my working life in selling window and door hardware and progressed through different roles selling construction materials. In the middle of my career, I worked for Apple in their retail division just as smart control was being born. It was then I decided that I wanted to combine all that experience in a business offering smart control in buildings.
What excites you about the Smart Buildings industry?
For me it’s about people and the environment. If we can improve wellbeing in buildings whilst delivering a positive impact for the environment it’s a really rewarding space in which to work.
Are there any particular technologies that we should be aware of, but are currently under the radar?
It’s a challenge to keep things under the radar in such an emergent sector. I like to look as far into the future as I can to understand how innovators in our society are thinking and to see what might begin to impact our lives and environments in years to come. I’ve recently been looking into Smart Dust, a system of small sensors or robots that can detect things like light, temperature, vibration or damage on a surface. I can see a complete solution here that will be able to tell us in real-time about changes in our natural environment.
What services does your company offer?
Somfy started as a manufacturer of tubular motors. Today we offer a wide range of solutions in Smart Home and Smart Buildings. One of our most exciting areas is Dynamic Solar Shading. We have a range of building controls that can help deliver energy efficiencies and an improvement in wellbeing in buildings by assisting to control daylight and temperature through shading. Glass has become a massive trend in our architecture but as our climate gets warmer it comes with many challenges. Somfy is at the forefront of helping meet those challenges through controlling the daylight entering the building.
Are people aware of the regulations that they will need to comply with in the near future?
Architects and designers are well-aware of the challenges in this area. As the next generation becomes more active in the climate debate, this will continue to transfer into regulations. At Somfy we try to work ahead of these regulations, trying to predict what will come into law and being prepared to offer solutions now that will help the industry adapt before the pressure to change has arrived.
What are the benefits of a smart building?
It really depends on the purpose of the specific building. When I think about the life of someone today, we spend most of our time where we work. The benefits here are around reducing the cost of these buildings whilst increasing the wellbeing of those who spend a lot of their time there. In the smart home, there are similar benefits but for me, the more important benefits here are around the seamless integration of technology into your life to make it easier. Smart home technology should be subtle and effective, allowing improvements to your home life that don’t feel big but would be missed if you took them away.
Who has been the biggest influence in your career?
I’ve been lucky to have many influential people in my career. Having worked for Apple the obvious choice would be Steve Jobs. However, there was another Steve at Apple who was a strong influence on my career. Steve Cano was head of retail at Apple during my time with the company. In my opinion, he was really forward thinking and I have tried to employ his unique way of thinking outside the box.
What is the question you are most often asked in your business life?
I’m always asked, “What do you do?” For years my friends have said I’m a bit like Chandler from friends and no one really knows! In a way, I’m glad that my job doesn’t define me outside of work.
What are the best/worst things about your job?
People are the best thing, without a doubt. I really enjoy having the opportunity to move a business forward through a team of people. I am also a bit of a technology geek so it’s good to be in a business where I really enjoy the products we offer. That leads me to the worst thing… it definitely means that there’s an easy opportunity to invest in buying lots of technology!
What advice would you give to someone starting out in the industry?
Don’t be afraid to make mistakes, give it your best and learn from everything that you do.
What living person do you admire and why?
There’s a few people I look up to in my work life, one of those is my dad. We were both on the same management team at one time and he is one of my go-to people for advice. However, my wife probably takes the front runner spot. After our second child was born, she decided to become a midwife. I have so much admiration for her ability to be a wonderful mother through 4 years of studying and now having a full-time career whilst supporting me and our two children.
Where would you most like to live?
On a yacht. I love the outdoors and travelling. I have this idea that one day I’ll sell everything to buy a boat and keep moving.
What is your favourite book?
Fermat’s Last Theorem. I’m a bit of a maths geek and I love the story of this challenge and the fact it captivated people for 400 years and was eventually solved by Andrew Wiles in 1994.
How do you relax?
I’ll be honest, it’s not my area of expertise. Often my idea of relaxing is researching something or reading something. I really enjoy music and a couple of hours playing the drums or guitar really does help the stress melt away.
What sports team do you support?
Being from Scotland, I do support a football team in one of the greatest sporting rivalries. Sometimes it’s best left for people to guess on that one! However, my favourite sporting event of the year is the Masters, I try not to miss a single bit of the coverage if I can.
What is your desert island disk?
This is my idea of a nightmare question. I’m somewhat of a music collector. If you really forced me, I could probably pick 12 songs that I could listen to till the end of time, but I’d be a little sad in between each one thinking of all the others left behind.
What is your ideal holiday?
Sailing is definitely my ideal holiday. I haven’t done it for many years, but I think about it a lot. Once my kids are a little older, I’m sure it’s how we will holiday every year.