Five Minutes with Brighte’s Head of Research and Innovation, Jeroen Boersma
Brighte's Head of People and Culture Hassanah Rudd chats with Jeroen Boersma about what drew him to Brighte and his role in our mission.
By Hassanah Rudd
21 September 2021
At Brighte, we’re making sustainable and affordable energy supply a reality for all Australians, with solutions powered by a never-ending stream of research and innovation.
I recently interviewed Jeroen Boersma, who heads our Research and Innovation team, to find out more about his passion for Brighte’s mission to enable a sustainable future for energy, and his role in inspiring our innovation culture and the evolution of our products. Read our conversation below.
Hi Jeroen, can you provide a little background on your path to Brighte? What drew you to the company?
I was always very interested in people and technology. I decided to study Psychology as I thought that studying human behaviour and irrationality could keep me hooked for a couple of years. And it did!
While studying, I started a mini consultancy in healthcare to make ends meet. Through some coincidental introductions I landed a job at Google, where I was truly immersed in the world of tech. I ended up working in Europe, Asia and here in Australia, on everything from online advertising (AdWords) to Google Nest and Pixel – my projects ranged from data analytics to third-party retail and our go-to-market strategy.
While that gave me the opportunity to work on some of my key interests, a few years ago I decided I wanted to have a more meaningful impact. I was given the chance to teach courses in data, decisions and behaviour at AGSM (UNSW’s post-grad business school), which proved a great first step towards this. It also provided an opportunity to work with talented MBA students and corporates on projects in which we used scientific knowledge to build a more sustainable world.
During this period, I was introduced to Brighte by a good friend. I quickly learned that the company combined lots of the things I had been looking for: a core mission in sustainability, the belief that innovative technology is the way to get there, and strong human values as its foundation.
It didn’t take long to become hooked, especially after meeting the super smart people here and learning that Brighte’s ideas were backed by some solid investors with the right values and time horizons.
And we’re thrilled to have you leading our Research and Innovation team at Brighte. Can you explain your team’s role and the way you work with the rest of the business?
At Brighte, we believe that in order for innovative technology to help us achieve our mission to make every home sustainable, we need to have a deep understanding of consumer needs and technological trends. My team works to achieve that.
We need to be constantly curious and find the sweet spot at the intersection of these areas. For us, the starting point is identifying the things that stop consumers from making their homes sustainable. Then, the development teams use these learnings to build prototypes and design experiments that unveil what product, service or business approaches could tackle consumer pain points.
We never work alone. Throughout the whole process, we work in small, cross-functional ‘squad teams’ that consist of a mix of Product Managers, UX designers, Engineers, Data Analysts, Researchers and others to define what we need to learn, and how we bring our insights to life.
Research and analysis isn’t confined to just one team at Brighte though, is it?
You’re absolutely right. There is a lot of research and insight generation happening all around the business. For example, our marketing team does a lot of work to understand who we should talk to and what we should tell them, and our UX Designers run projects all the time to test whether the products we are building meet our customers’ expectations.
And then there is our Data Analytics team, which comes up with better ways to measure, automate and provide the infrastructure to ensure we can be data-driven as a company.
Each of these teams has their own set of deliverables, but we all help to strengthen the decisions made across the business with data, insights and research. We all contribute different pieces of the puzzle needed for a culture of innovation.
So how is your team, in practice, helping Brighte to sit at the forefront of innovation in the energy and sustainability space?
Let’s take a step back and look at what it means to be innovative for a company like Brighte. To me, it means finding ways to be agile, creative and open minded across each of the areas of our business, and constantly test and iterate new ways to do things that will help us get closer to our mission.
Innovation is a company-wide endeavour and much of this comes down to culture. We should ask ourselves constantly if we are providing an environment that encourages us to take risks, experiment and make decisions based on insights and data rather than heuristics and experience alone.
While it is early days, our ambition as a team is to help inspire this culture of innovation at Brighte. It is our goal to enable everyone in the business to be an innovator, and provide what is needed to help everyone test and iterate and improve their decision-making process, regardless of their job.
To get there, we not only run projects, but also regularly host talks about our research activities. In addition, we hold 'masterclasses' on topics like behavioural economics and innovation. And soon we’ll kick-start more initiatives to enable everyone across the company to bring it into practice.
By putting the right tools and processes in place, we increase our collective ability to innovate in the sustainability space. I believe this is what will place us at the forefront of our industry, and hopefully inspire others to use technology to build a more sustainable world as well.