Bee-hind the Scenes: Rahul Raj
byon August 14, 2015
The following is a story from ecobee employee Rahul Raj. Learn more about life at ecobee!
Rahul – I was moving from San Francisco to Toronto and evaluated 246 jobs before I found ecobee. In my job search, I needed to ensure I found a place where profit and purpose united. When I came to Toronto, I reconnected with Stuart, ecobee’s CEO. I’ve known Stuart for about ten years; he was a college roommate of a good friend of mine. Stuart mentioned he was looking for a Marketing team lead. I also knew Executive VP of Business Development, Chris, as we had worked together on a past startup. I saw an opportunity to deliver an important message to the masses with ecobee, one of environmental and social impact.
At ecobee, I can be more of me more often. By bringing my values and competencies to my job every day, I can impact consumers, the environment and our organizational culture. And I know these values are shared with my colleagues and CEO.
As the Vice President of Marketing and e-Commerce, first and foremost I ensure that we have an authentic brand, where our words are fundamentally aligned with our actions: how we treat customers and employees, the environmental credentials of the packaging, the user interface, where we advertise – it’s all part of the decisions we make to influence the brand. Authenticity is my key objective. Secondly, I ensure that I build the business by facilitating the profitable sale of products. Finally, I aim to amplify the good that we are doing in the world. Not only are we saving energy (which is important considering that many people still heat and cool their home when they’re not even there to enjoy it) but we are also thinking about other opportunities to do well in society, and then making those a reality.
My typical day? I wake up at 6 am, read for an hour (articles online) and get points of inspiration on how to be a better manager, build a better team, build a better brand and a better company. I share my favorite finds with my team. Then I bike to work (when the temperature is above 0C). The vast majority of my day is either connecting with the team (individually or in groups) – it’s collaborative and not hierarchical. I want to help people be their best. It’s less about doing and more about enabling my team to succeed and offering provocative thoughts to push their thinking.
I’ve had so many professional highlights. I think my top two are: Advocating that ecobee launch an e-commerce platform to sell directly to the consumer. This was a major milestone in my career. Not only has it gone well, but it’s also enabled us to win a lot of amazing retail listings, for example, Apple, Amazon, Best Buy, and Home Depot. It’s been exhilarating. It was that one decision to go directly to consumer that has resulted in pretty meaningful retail footprint. The second was deciding and spending energy on developing a great consumer package for our ecobee3. We used to sell our thermostats in a brown corrugated box. All of the decisions like the molded pulp trays, the design of the box, were made internally. Seeing this massive evolution to a package that credibly sits on the shelf of retailers, and has received rave reviews from consumers and designers, has been phenomenal.
ecobee is values-aligned and it’s a Canadian company. We’re working to realize a grand vision, and I feel like the transformation that we’ve been a part of has been extraordinary. So in that sense, I’m realizing the meaningful environmental impact and illustrating the value that marketing can play in transforming a business within a Canadian context while playing on a global stage.
Working at ecobee requires a fundamental feeling of ownership. So it’s not Stuart’s company, it’s not Rahul’s company, it’s our company, and you need to internalize that to do the best for our company. You must be committed to go above and beyond for your peers, customers, and company. We have purpose driven people who believe, love their job and are good at it. At the end of the day, we’re helping automate conservation so that we can save resources; we are having a real social impact. Finally, you need synchronicity between drive and humility. We want people that are constantly trying to be better and seek out the best possible solution but at the end of the day they have to have the inherent humility to recognize what they bring to the table alongside the sense they can learn more and always be better.
I’m excited about HomeKit in general. It allows for a single command to trigger a whole series of actions. So, picture the old 50’s sitcoms where people would say, “honey, I’m home” but replace it with, “Siri, I’m home” and everything just magically happens. The right music comes on; the right lighting is set, and your home is at the right temperature. I love this notion of creating scenes where different connected devices (for example, speakers, thermostat, lighting, and locks) work in concert to realize a single piece of music. It’s beautiful.
Most people don’t know that our Customer Support team is in-house. It’s not outsourced, and it’s not international. So when you call into ecobee and need help from us, it’s a dedicated ecobee employee answering your call in the same office as everyone else. When there is a problem we come together to fix it, and the majority of the management team view our customers’ emails. We take customer satisfaction seriously.
Strategy is my favorite part of my job. Being a challenger brand is not easy but it’s exhilarating. We are competing against a noble competitor that has a meaningfully larger budget and access to resources than we do, and at its core I fundamentally believe that our product is better. I enjoy playing out that chess game. It is exhilarating and I love it.
When I’m building out the marketing team, I look for people that go above and beyond, and it needs to be clear in your application. I’m also looking for people where delivering profit and purpose are just who they are. And you can see it throughout their history. It’s not something they stumbled upon it’s in their DNA. They volunteer, they bring their values to their work everyday, and try to find a way to unite these seemingly divergent goals. I’m also looking for people that are smarter than me and bring a unique point of view and expertise so that I can learn from them.
If you want to succeed at ecobee, you need authenticity. This is a core value of our brand, to deliver an authentic experience. You need to do the same in your work.