Switch Spotlight: Jorde Ranum

Tell us about your role at Switch.  

I’m the Technical Lead – Smart Building Solutions here at Switch. 

I work with our clients and partners to understand their needs, priorities and implement the Switch solutions that best fill those gaps.When we sign new clients, I integrate buildings onto our platform, retrieving the data from their building and connecting it with our platform. 

Then I’ll help guide them through the smart building journey in Switch. First, we integrate and trend data. After that, we deploy the analytics and visualize the data trends through workspaces and dashboards. We might implement control and do some automation to save energy, all those different components. We’ll guide them through the entire process until they’re self-sufficient in the platform.  

What does your day-to-day look like? 

It’s a little smattering of everything. From client calls, meetings, monthly billing and checking in with our clients to ensure the implementation of the opportunities and optimizations that we found. I measure and verify opportunities that we’ve identified in the past to ensure they’re getting closed, and the data supports the closure of that opportunity. 

I also train clients and our newer staff internally on the platform. I’ll work on both the solutions and sales side—architecting a solution for a particular client because Switch has a robust and comprehensive platform. Not every feature is necessarily relevant for every project. If a client comes to me and says they want to focus on indoor air quality and achieve RESET certification, I can help craft a solution that gets the maximum value in the shortest amount of time. 

What are some interesting projects you are working on currently?  

CapitaLand has a smart urban cloud co-innovation lab here in Singapore, which is basically a testbed for smart building and smart city technologies. They have indoor air quality monitors and sensors increasingly used in the market, but it’s not commonplace among our commercial clients yet, so it’s exciting to see. Within the smart lab, we’re now coalescing and aggregating the data from all those systems and showing what a smart building could look like when you have all these hardware layers and smart IOT (Internet of Things) devices with their data aggregated in one platform or one cloud, like Switch can provide. We’re making a testbed now to integrate the IAQ data from the monitors and data from Sharp’s Plasmacluster (Plasmacluster Technology) ionizer system, which is a pretty cutting-edge technology. 

It pumps charged particles into the air and can help render pathogens like Coronavirus useless or inactivate them to ensure that the air is safe and minimize virus transmissions. We’re using data from those systems to develop a scalable commercial model for indoor air quality and how people can maximize safety in their space.  

What were you doing before joining Switch? 

I worked for a prominent healthcare software provider before transitioning into the energy and sustainability field. I worked as an energy and water conservationist and pursued my Master’s in Environmental Policy and Management when I discovered Switch Automation.  

Initially, I joined Switch as a Smart Building Project Analyst, which was a perfect fit for my software background and my energy and sustainability focus. I’ve been with Switch now for four years!  

What do you love most about working at Switch? 

I would say the one that stands out the most to me is definitely the people. I love my colleagues. 

People come to work and they’re smart. They’re energetic. They’re excited about what we’re doing, which makes all the difference in the world! I’m a people person. I like working with our clients and managing client relationships. In the same way, I love to work closely with my colleagues. We have great people, so that’s probably my favorite thing.  

Second favorite, maybe company culture, which goes hand in hand with the people. We have a fun culture in the sense that we take our work and our impact very seriously, but we don’t take ourselves that seriously. We’re able to crack a beer on Fridays, or any afternoon for that matter, enjoy each other’s company and go out for lunch together. It’s that sort of fun culture that makes it exciting to come to work every day.  

What are you most proud of in your Switch career? 

I would say it’s got to be the total impact. Every month, we review our different client accounts. We bring in all their data and look at the energy and carbon savings. To date, we have saved our clients at least 15,000 metric tons of carbon across our portfolios! If you aggregate all the energy savings, it comes out to some massive numbers. Buildings are one of the biggest contributors of carbon emissions in the world. By helping our clients save 10, 15% on energy, whatever it is, we’re having a marked impact on the environment. That’s something that we can all be proud of. 

Any challenges you faced while managing various accounts? 

One of the more common challenges than we all would like is integration. A tricky thing that we do at Switch is ingesting data from all these disparate systems that don’t talk to each other. They’re not physically connected and weren’t implemented using the same data protocols. That’s always a challenge to bring that into one place so you can analyze the data and drive value. It’s one of the things that I enjoy tackling most because it’s one of our biggest logistical challenges as a system integrator, so it’s always really satisfying when you succeed.  

Are there any memorable learning points from your journey here at Switch? 

Lots of learning points! A lot of our services division have a mechanical engineering degree or certification. I didn’t have that background, so I learned the mechanical operation of a building throughout my time at Switch. I also learned the IT and networking side, so that’s where a lot of my expertise lies now. 

I didn’t have any networking background before Switch either. I’ve got to shout out our former Global Director of Integrations, Peter Rake (now Chief Product Owner). He was the initial integrator here at Switch when we originated way back in the day doing residential projects. I was fortunate enough to learn under him in our Denver office just to pick up the language and learn networking through osmosis. I credit him with that part of my job today. I wouldn’t have done that if it weren’t for Peter and his training, so I’m very thankful.  

What are some key takeaways from your time here in the Singapore office, spearheading office development in Asia-Pacific?  

One of my biggest takeaways from being in Singapore is that building owners and operators, facility managers—they’re all experiencing the same problems globally. Culturally, you might have different structures within a building management team. Politically, the teams may operate with each other differently, but at the end of the day, we’re still trying to solve the same problem and buildings have similar issues across the globe. 

Singapore was rated the smartest city in the world for three years running now, and I’ve seen myself, some of the technology applications here in Singapore make life better and faster. That’s undoubtedly prominent, but we still have a long way to go in truly having a smart building infrastructure here. That stands out to me even in the smartest city, there’s a long way to go to make it as good as it can be. 

What do you find most exciting about working in PropTech? 

The most exciting thing for me in PropTech is the control aspects. In my healthcare job, it wasn’t an option to change or control systems if we saw something was wrong. However, we can do that in buildings, and we have the opportunity not just to identify when issues arise but change them and resolve them in real-time through control. 

Historically, buildings have been run in a static way, meaning you set a schedule once, you never touch it again. How do we change from that to an automated dynamic control model where the building changes its operations in real-time according to live conditions? It is done today, but it’s just not done as well or nearly as often as it should or could. That’s one of the challenges and the exciting aspects of PropTech for me. 

If you could give one piece of advice for anyone interested in joining the built environment and PropTech industry, what would that be?  

My advice for anyone interested in joining PropTech would be that training and certification goes a long way as there is a skills shortage. It’s extremely competitive to find people qualified for PropTech jobs. The market demand is massive and it’s only going to grow from here, so I would say any bit of training you can do will set you up very well to be able to pivot and pursue the path within PropTech of your choosing. 

Why should people join PropTech and the built environment industry?  

It’s a great way to invest your time. There’s a website called 80,000 hours which says in an average career, you have about 80,000 working hours to devote to a cause. You spend most of your life working if you exclude sleeping. If you’re spending all this time working, it behoves you to enjoy what you’re doing and feel that you’re having an impact. I reflected, and that impact was environmental sustainability and decarbonization. Buildings are a perfect vector to achieve that goal. 

I think good advice for anyone thinking about joining any industry, let alone PropTech, is why are you doing it? What is it about buildings or Property Tech that intrigues you? If you can answer that question, especially if it makes you feel fulfilled, it’s a great fit for you. 

If you’re looking to expand your career or explore your potential in the PropTech or smart building industry,

we are actively recruiting for roles across our global offices, and you’ll find the latest opportunities on our Careers page.

Learn more on how Switch technology creates impact to help reach sustainability goals.