WegoTalks: Meet WegoWise’s New CEO, Laila Partridge
Last week, WegoWise announced that Laila Partridge would be taking on the role of CEO at WegoWise—an exciting change for our company as we gear up for our next phase of growth.
Laila comes to WegoWise with 30 years of experience in corporate and entrepreneurial settings, having held executive roles in large companies like Intel and Wells Fargo, as well as co-founding start-ups in the technology, health, and workplace sectors.
What better way to introduce Laila to WegoWise’s readers than in her own words?
Tell us about how you found out about WegoWise.
Elyse Cherry [editor's note: Elyse is CEO of Boston Community Capital and President at Boston Community Venture Fund, as well as the Executive Chair of WegoWise's board] and I are both Wellesley College graduates—we met each other and became good friends through an organization called the Business Leadership Council of Wellesley, an association of Wellesley alumnae who are senior leaders in the business and nonprofit sectors.
Earlier this year as I was wrapping up the sale of my last company, Elyse asked me to help out at WegoWise. WegoWise had just raised $7 million in capital and she thought I could help the company prepare for its next phase of growth. As we got deeper into that process, we began talking about my working directly with WegoWise.
What were your past responsibilities as managing director at previous organizations and how does that experience apply to your role here at WegoWise?
In the beginning of my career I was a banker, doing commercial loans for buildings similar to the ones WegoWise is benchmarking. I also did asset-backed debt securitizations on Wall Street, so I understand how loans are packaged and re-sold to the secondary market. In my last company, we promoted cutting-edge technology to store and transfer data more efficiently. This technology enabled a range of Internet of Things (IoT) applications, including meshing sensors in buildings. These experiences should help as WegoWise considers offering new products such as retrofit financings, green loans, and sensor-based utility measurements.
At Intel Capital I was tasked with discovering emerging market trends and driving Intel's response through partnerships, investments and acquisitions. Based on that experience, I am very excited about WegoWise's future. There are a number of interesting market trends in building IoT and Real Estate tech and the WegoWise database is uniquely positioned to take advantage of those trends. We have 6 years of data, almost 900,000 units, 1.5 billion in square footage. That's a lot of data and we can really start to do some really cool things with it!
What makes WegoWise different from other companies you've worked with? What makes WegoWise an exciting opportunity?
First and foremost, WegoWise is a mission company. It is inspiring working for a company that says: "We are going to do good. We're going to improve the world and leave it a better place than we found it." The practical businesswoman likes the challenge of figuring out how to do that and how to do it well. Today we focus on helping building owners improve their operating costs by reducing their utility bills. I see a big opportunity looking beyond that towards retrofit financing and getting a cheaper loan rates via retrofits that reduce utility bills. On one level that means harvesting our database for customers who can benefit from this kind of lending. On the other hand this is also a mechanism to grow our database with retrofit information. The more information we have about retrofits in our database, the more value we can provide our customers and prospects.
In a broader scale, is there one piece of advice you might want to share with technology enthusiasts?
The best advice I can give is to make sure that whatever job you're in—especially when you are young—make sure you have a steep learning curve. Learn as much as you can about absolutely everything, since you never know when it might be useful. What's cool about being in a company that is growing fast, is that there is an opportunity to do all sorts of things. As the company grows—and you're growing with it—your personal career opportunities increase. That means, if you see an opportunity, grab it. If you see a way to improve an internal process or if you see a customer or person WegoWise should be talking to, speak up! Don't be discouraged if that idea is not immediately acted upon. A fast growing company never has enough resources to act on every good idea. So watch, learn, and keep making suggestions.
I joined WegoWise because I saw an incredible opportunity to create a platform with which to drive sustainable energy operations into all multifamily buildings nationwide. WegoWise's products feed the database with information, which enables the creation of benchmarks upon which building owners can act. From this platform, we can build a range of new products and offerings to accomplish our mission—starting with retrofit installations and financing. Our core competency is knowing multifamily buildings; this makes us unique. Going forward we'll look at a range of different opportunities, we'll brainstorm (a lot!) and then we'll focus and get things done. I'd advise you to be open to learning, keep an open mind to trying new things, and have fun! That's the last piece: if the idea of working on these issues doesn't get you out of bed in the morning, then you're in the wrong place.
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Kristina Johnson also contributed to the compilation of this blog post.