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Switch Spotlight: Patti Mason

Switch Spotlight: Patti Mason

Get to know our Switchers as we share our journeys in the smart building industry and what it’s like working at Switch!

Tell us a bit about your role at Switch. 

My title is the Chief of People, Culture and Impact. This role is considered a more strategic HR role to rethink human experiences and focus on being people-centric and impact-driven. 

Part of my job involves career pathing with our employees and organizational design because we're on a growth path. There's huge potential for growth at Switch, which will open up tremendous opportunities and new careers. It's essential that the management and leadership team understands what career paths their teammates aspire to have by keeping employees engaged and allowing them to pivot a career or advance into a new field. I've also had a chance to work on our diversity, equity and inclusion metrics. It aligns with this idea that we're a learning organization and that we recruit people who are very interested in learning and growing at Switch. 

What does your day-to-day look like?  

As we are in a growth phase, my day-to-day has been dominated by recruitments, interviewing and onboarding. I'd say 30% of my week is dedicated to those processes.  

The first phase of the experience at Switch starts from the first interview, and often I get the opportunity to be that first interaction that a candidate has with our company. So, I enjoy that part of my job to introduce Switch to the best and brightest talents in the world. 

My day-to-day also includes thinking about and actioning different ways to build employee engagement and finding new avenues for increasing the diversity at Switch. Sourcing candidates from more diverse places and interacting with industry organizations or associations to help convene more diverse audiences i.e., Women in Green or Women who Code. 

I get to be involved in ensuring that our product aligns with high-performance designs like the WELL building standard, LEED building certification, RESET, NABERS, Energy Star, etc. There are so many opportunities for us at Switch to leverage technology to help propel those programs and be a part of the advocacy for buildings and moving the needle, and I am the face for Switch when it comes to policymaking. 

How do you navigate the different cultures you encountered globally and their understanding of the built environment? 

Over time, I learned that global experience is not when people from other countries and cultures visit you and learn about your culture and see what you do. Global experience is you reaching out and going the other way. 

For me, that's been a real eye-opening experience. There are such diverse and different types of people out there, and I love learning about new cultures. There's something humbling about the fact that I've never been to any of the places where I'm interviewing our candidates. You have to be very open and humble about that and curious about other people's cultures. Now I feel like I better understand the world and how our unique cultures help make this place possible. Switch is such a crash course in global experience. 

 Any interesting projects you're working on.  

One of the projects I'm working on is the International Living Future Institute's JUST program we are pursuing. The JUST label is a certification for the business, and we'll be submitting to ILFI to review and assess how we're doing in providing a truly just and inclusive workplace where we could continue to walk the talk. Switch has a lot in place right now, but we don't necessarily have all that in writing and documented clearly for all our employees. 

So I'm excited about the JUST program and learning more and being more involved with other programs with ILFI. 

 What were you doing before joining Switch?  

I was the Mountain Region Director for U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC). I had a team based mainly in Denver, but I oversaw a team of staff throughout the mountain region, including Idaho, Arizona, Utah, and the Rocky Mountain region. At US Green Building Council, we were very much a part of advancing third-party certification for the built environment. We had a suite of different certifications. The one that's most well-known is LEED. The leadership and energy and environmental design program. 

At USGBC, I was also much more closely involved in the policymaking at the local and state level, occasionally representing in Washington, DC, and supporting the federal advocacy team as needed. I got to be involved in that piece of market transformation, which was cool. 

What led you to join Switch?  

Towards the end of my time at USGBC, they realized that a performance-based approach to certification would be a lot easier for existing building operators, managers, and tenants. 

That's how I met Switch.  

In my opinion, the magic for Switch is that we can help sustainability leaders and facility engineers and people on the ground of real estate companies with real-time and data-driven visibility. As a sustainability leader, we provide that ability to action the data.  

I met with Deb (CEO) a few times, and eventually, we decided to create the VP of Operations role for me. As time passed, we grew, and I progressed to my current Chief of People, Culture and Impact position. 

What are you most proud of in your Switch career so far?  

I am proud to have brought a few of my networks and relationships from my past lives. There are several projects that my network and community building helped in accelerating our growth.  

In a way, I think I'm a salesperson at heart. I love connecting the dots and helping see the company grow. It feels rewarding to have a couple of my network work with us and making an impact with Switch.  

What do you think is unique about the Switch culture? 

It's this nerdy, but cool thing. We are all a bunch of building nerds here, but there's also something fun about being surrounded by brilliant people. 

I think that the Switch culture is also unique in that irrespective of our diverse backgrounds, it's more about what you can bring to this company than what you have already done. The people that do well at Switch are the ones that show up every day and are very curious in that they like to break things and rebuild them - Switchers that are not afraid of taking risks but owning it.  

What are some of the initiatives that the Switch team has been doing to keep up the morale during this pandemic?  

We launched an initiative called Switch Kids! During the pandemic, we were navigating the experience of a global lockdown and not being able to move about our communities. So, we had an engaging educator lead weekly virtual meetings with the kids of Switch. 

We had all these little kids online from all around the world. It was diverse and new, and early on, before our children had their learning moved online. My son had the chance to learn about virtual meetings and the technology and experience of engaging with other kids before his classmates did. 

We also tried to replicate our FridayFun with our Friday virtual game nights! We kept evolving as the pandemic continued and kept our engagement virtual across all our offices. 

Switch Kids

What is the type of personality that might be a good fit in Switch? 

There's not any specific personality. We welcome anyone that is intellectually curious and has a resilient nature, especially for our challenging industry. 

If you have any piece of advice for those looking to join our industry, what would that be?  

Call me, we’re hiring! 

But honestly, to follow our socials online, learn what we're passionate about building, and start engaging with us since this space has so much growth. 

There's plenty of room for anyone that wants to get involved in PropTech. We welcome anyone to bring those skills that you've created in your former career. Bring them along with you. Cause that's what we need and we always need more people. With this industry that we're trying to disrupt, we value everyone's knowledge and background at Switch. 

Thinking back to when you joined the team, how would you approach your understanding of People, Culture, and Impact today?  

When I joined, we were recommended a book: The Hard Thing about Hard Things.  

In our landscape, there are hard things. Growth is not easy. Change is inevitable, but I learned to remain open-minded and regularly communicate with my colleagues, especially in the middle of a pandemic.   

I learned that my role might not have all the answers but to start asking the right questions with our people to build this together. When I was in Operations, I focused on the process, especially in the company's growth stage. As Chief of People, Culture and Impact, I am more people-centric in understanding how our processes makes the experience for the people.  

If you weren't working as the Chief of People, Culture and Impact, what would you be doing?  

I would be a swim instructor. 

I enjoy helping people and love seeing it click for people. I love seeing people figure it out on their own, and when you're a swim instructor, you take a kid from practically drowning in a pool to being able to swim independently. 

And it's the most rewarding thing ever teaching someone a life skill! I guarantee that no matter where I am professionally, it will always involve impact. 

Talk to a smart building expert to learn more about how Switch helps portfolio managers reach their sustainability goals.

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PUBLISHED
December 7, 2021
Switch Team
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