Neha manages several of Comfy’s key accounts, while driving value for project stakeholders. Before Comfy, she spent three years at Sustainable Works in Santa Monica—specializing in reducing environmental impact. While at UC Berkeley, she studied Environmental Economics & Policy, and participated in a consulting club that focused on businesses with environmental initiatives. When not at work, she is likely on a plane, at yoga, or continuing the never-ending quest for the perfect chocolate chip cookie.
Tell me about the path that led you to Comfy.
In college, I initially thought I would major in GIS (Geographic Information Systems), which is to visualize, analyze, and understand patterns and relationships based on location. I’m sort of obsessed with maps, which is funny because I’m still doing a lot of mapping and space visualization in my current role. At community college, where I studied for a few years before transferring to Berkeley, I also had the opportunity to work full-time for an environmental non-profit. That was a truly eye-opening experience and showed me that in order to be effective, you have to work with the knowledge, and the reality of supply and demand. It was also the reason I decided to shift my focus to environmental and resource economics.
At Berkeley, I double majored in Environmental Economics & Policy, and Society & Environment (a mouthful, I know!), participated in the consulting club, interned at PowerSave Green Campus, and had a job as a security monitor “on the side.” At the time, I’d sort of expected I would go work for a big consulting firm—helping businesses find ways to minimize their negative impact on the environment. However, during my last semester, I landed an internship that paired students with really innovative and impactful companies, which gave me the opportunity to work with Comfy. I fell in love...both with the team and with the software, which was this incredible nexus of challenge and fun. Plus, changing the way people interact with their built environment was, and still is, such a fascinating concept. There were only a few of us back then. We could all sit around the same table and have lunch together every day. And we still do...just at a much longer table.
What does your dream office look like?
Oh I am all about that biophilia. Gotta have some greenery around, you know! My ideal office would have a $#*! ton of plants...and wood, everywhere. I’ve also been campaigning for some non-work spaces like a yoga room, a quiet room, and a nap room. My environment at work really affects my performance, so it’s critical for me to be surrounded by good, productive, stimulating energy.
It’s actually funny, back at Berkeley, I would figure out the best place to study based on things like the weather, indoor airflow, and lighting. I knew how stuffy some places were, that others were too cold, too loud, or didn’t have enough light. It wasn’t really until we started looking into the comfort productivity connection at Comfy that I realized how sensitive I am to those things, and how much they affected my work.
"It sounds like thermal comfort rules everything around me...and I guess it really does. I also have an unusual amount of love for clouds."
What’s your favorite productivity tool or trick?
Yeah, so….internet rabbit holes, those are probably my biggest vice. I can get sidetracked really easily and end up deep in the weeds of the latest European data server news or intellectual property laws (thanks to TechMeme). So my saving grace is this app called Pocket! No I’m not sponsored yet, but I honestly think I use Pocket about a dozen times a day...it’s basically an extension of my brain. When I come across something online I want to read—which is often—I’ll just “pocket” it with tags like “to read” and “real estate” and know that I can go back to it at night or over the weekend. So I no longer have a million tabs open or the looming anxiety that “if I close this out, it's gone forever.” Pocket really helps me stay on task and not get distracted by things that are seemingly important but not urgent. I also use Evernote for all things work and life admin.
Not really related to productivity, but one of my favorite internet tools is wunderground.com. I check it when I wake up in the morning, when I go to bed, and all the times in between. They have some great data, and I especially love their satellite mapping. You can add so many factors to anticipate what the weather will be like, like humidity and wind. I find this really useful, since weather is so much more than just a number and the Bay Area is chock-full of micro-climates. Ha, it sounds like thermal comfort rules everything around me…and I guess it really does. I also have an unusual amount of love for clouds. So I check out cloudappreciationsociety.org a lot too…have I outed myself as a complete weirdo yet?
If you weren’t at Comfy, what would you be doing?
I’m really fascinated by the intersection of agriculture and technology, and the more general connection between the food we eat and our bodies. It was actually kind of news to me that I take food a bit more seriously than most people and that the joy it gives me isn’t quite normal. So if I wasn’t at Comfy, I would probably be working with agriculture and technology—something related to resources and conservation. You think of a plot of land, I know some wineries do this, where you can monitor elements like weather, soil conditions, etcetera. All that data can inform how much you need to water, indicate general shifts in weather patterns, soil health over time, and so on. I think a lot of this interest stems back to my classes at Berkeley; Edible Education (taught by Michael Pollan!), Resource Economics, and again, my love for geospatial data.
What is your ideal day off?
I think with startup life in general, it's not really about work-life balance but more work-life integration. I definitely do a lot of reading and research on the side that’s related to work, because it’s stuff that I truly find fascinating. But I suppose in addition to being a workaholic, I like to be outside as much as possible. So doing a lot of hiking, camping, and just trying to be really active...I mean #typical Bay Area right? So my ideal day off would definitely start with brunch, getting the fanciest eggs benedict or souffle pancakes. If it wasn’t already clear, food is my hobby. Everything else falls into place around what food I want to eat that day. Oh but I forgot yoga! Gotta earn brunch, so day starts with yoga. I love a good Vinyasa Flow. Yoga, followed by brunch, then probably spending the day at Dolores Park—people watching of course—and catching the last bit of sun.
I really enjoy talks and panels, and like to throw myself into things that I previously had no knowledge of. Once I participated in this Hardware Hackathon, walking in with zero knowledge about how hardware and software interact. My team wanted to create a wearable device that would track ovulation patterns and identify hormonal abnormalities. We had a larger vision of adding in a geospatial layer that would track extreme pollution, natural disasters, and nuclear disasters, so that we could see obvious endocrine disruptors in specific regions. Essentially, we wanted to empower females to have more knowledge about their bodies, and how the external environment can affect their health. Plus, knowledge is power, right? Our product, LadyTemp, ended up with the "Most Likely to Go to Market” Prize, which felt incredibly rewarding after not sleeping for two nights in a row (hence my crazy face in these photos).
So, yeah, some food, yoga, the outdoors and having knowledge dropped on me—that’s probably the most ideal a day could get in my world.
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